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How To Find Gaps in Your Content Strategy

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How To Find Gaps in Your Content Strategy

Inside your content strategy lies holes that you can’t easily see.

These gaps may manifest themselves from the very beginning or materialize over time. But no matter their origin, these crevices present opportunities to improve your brand’s content marketing.

Target audiences and sales enablement are two common areas where gaps exist. If you’re not performing keyword research, conducting social listening, and generally keeping a pulse on what your target audience wants to learn, you could leave loads of opportunities on the table.

Among the marketers’ top two content marketing challenges identified in CMI research are creating content for the buyer’s journey and aligning content efforts across the sales and marketing teams, according to the same research. When marketers craft content to equip salespeople to share with prospects, they can help grow the company’s client base. But this can’t be done piecemeal.

Your #ContentStrategy has holes. It’s time to find them, says @Kelsey_M_Meyer via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

So, how do you identify the gaps so you can address them and allow your content marketing to achieve its goals? It requires a four-step assessment.

How to perform a content gap analysis

Each step is designed to show what might be missing from your content marketing toolkit.

1. Perform a content audit

content audit reveals what’s missing from your strategy and what your content competitors have that your brand doesn’t. That insight can inform future subjects for your blog, white papers, case studies, and other owned content. 

To begin, inventory all the content on your website along with their essential metrics. You can put this together on a spreadsheet to compare and contrast the success of each asset. Don’t get caught up in flashy metrics. Instead, focus on the metrics that connect to your business goals, like page views, bounce rate, average visitor time on page, page-one keyword rankings, and backlinks. These metrics also reflect your audience’s reaction to your content.

Next, inventory your competitors’ content to identify what outranks your assets in search engine results for your targeted words. Track their strongest-performing content’s publicly available metrics, such as comments, shares, and backlinks, to identify topics you could reimagine in your content plan.

Inventory your competitors’ content to identify what outranks your assets. Reimagine these topics in your #content plan, says @Kelsey_M_Meyer via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

2. Conduct keyword research and social listening

Keyword research can unearth a treasure trove of insight into what content your audience wants to know. Crack open a tool like Ahrefs or Moz’s Keyword Explorer to see what words people use to search for content related to your industry. Sift through these keywords to identify questions asked within your area of expertise that you can answer through new content assets.

See what your audience talks about on social media. Social listening tools like Sprout Social, HubSpot, and Hootsuite can help. You can analyze conversations, including mentions of your brand or industry, to learn more about your audience. You may identify new content opportunities by understanding how your audience feels about your brand, their needs and goals, and their most common challenges related to your industry and offerings.

3. Identify the failed marketing goals

Every content marketing strategy should have documented goals quantified within an achievable timeframe, such as 50 marketing-qualified leads per month. With your goals laid out, you can quickly review them and spot any goals you haven’t achieved. They indicate potential gaps that need to be closed.

For example, if you continually fall short of those 50 leads a month, look at your traffic numbers and conversion rates from individual assets or check page views for landing pages to identify how those numbers trend with your lead numbers. Or what percent of visitors who download an asset complete the call to action? Asking these bigger questions can help you highlight any anomalies in your strategy and reimagine a better flow.

4. Crowdsource your way to discovering what’s not there — and should be

While the first three steps in the content gap analysis look at past behavior, this step looks forward. Ask followers and subscribers what they’d like to know more about. Send a brief poll or survey by email or post to social to open your eyes to content themes your audience craves.

Survey your audience to see what #content themes they crave, says @Kelsey_M_Meyer via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

You also can ask inside your company, given it is likely stacked with intelligent, talented people with a lot of experience. Ask them what they think is missing from your content or content marketing strategy. You can do it formally with a poll or survey or informally in face-to-face conversations. Among the questions to ask:

  • Do our competitors share content on subjects you think we should cover?
  • What industry-related new stories have you read that you would like to see our leaders talking about?
  • Why do you think we’re missing [insert goal] repeatedly? What do you think could be done to help reach it more consistently?

This input can reveal content gaps you didn’t realize. If you’re lucky, it also can shower you with creative ideas.

Close the content gaps

Even the strongest marketing departments in the world have gaps in their content marketing strategies. However, they aren’t afraid to pinpoint and rectify those gaps, which gives them a competitive edge. If you want to join their ranks, you need to do the same. As a reward, you’ll be more likely to reap better returns on your content investments.

All tools mentioned in this article were suggested by the author. If you’d like to suggest a tool, share the article on social media with a comment.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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Marketing Team Reorgs: Why So Many and How To Survive

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Marketing Team Reorgs: Why So Many and How To Survive

How long has it been since your marketing team got restructured? 

Wearing our magic mind-reading hat, we’d guess it was within the last two years. 

Impressed by the guess? Don’t be.  

Research from Marketing Week’s 2024 Career and Salary Survey finds that almost half of marketing teams restructured in the last 12 months. (And the other half probably did it the previous year.) 

Why do marketing teams restructure so often? Is this a new thing? Is it just something that comes with marketing? What does it all mean for now and the future? 

CMI chief strategy advisor Robert Rose offers his take in this video and the summary below. 

Marketing means frequent change 

Marketing Week’s 2024 Career and Salary Survey finds 46.5% of marketing teams restructured in the last year — a 5-percentage point increase over 2023 when 41.4% of teams changed their structure. 

But that’s markedly less than the 56.5% of marketing teams that restructured in 2022, which most likely reflected the impact of remote work, the fallout of the pandemic, and other digital marketing trends. 

Maybe the real story isn’t, “Holy smokes, 46% of businesses restructured their marketing last year.” The real story may be, “Holy smokes, only 46% of businesses restructured their marketing.” 

Put simply, marketing teams are now in the business of changing frequently. 

It raises two questions.  

First, why does marketing experience this change? You don’t see this happening in other parts of the business. Accounting teams rarely get restructured (usually only if something dramatic happens in the organization). The same goes for legal or operations. Does marketing change too frequently? Or do other functions in business not change enough? 

Second, you may ask, “Wait a minute, we haven’t reorganized our marketing teams in some time. Are we behind? Are we missing out? What are they organizing into? Or you may fall at the other end of the spectrum and ask, “Are we changing too fast? Do companies that don’t change so often do better? 

OK, that’s more than one question, but the second question boils down to this: Should you restructure your marketing organization? 

Reorganizing marketing 

Centralization emerged as the theme coming out of the pandemic. Gartner reports (registration required) a distinct move to a fully centralized model for marketing over the last few years: “(R)esponsibilities across the marketing organization have shifted. Marketing’s sole responsibilities for marketing operations, marketing strategy, and marketing-led innovation have increased.”  

According to a Gartner study, marketing assuming sole responsibility for marketing operations, marketing innovation, brand management, and digital rose by double-digit percentage points in 2022 compared to the previous year.  

What does all that mean for today in plainer language? 

Because teams are siloed, it’s increasingly tougher to create a collaborative environment. And marketing and content creation processes are complex (there are lots of people doing more small parts to creative, content, channel management, and measurement). So it’s a lot harder these days to get stuff done if you’re not working as one big, joined-up team. 

Honestly, it comes down to this question: How do you better communicate and coordinate your content? That’s innovation in modern marketing — an idea and content factory operating in a coordinated, consistent, and collaborative way. 

Let me give you an example. All 25 companies we worked with last year experienced restructuring fatigue. They were not eager creative, operations, analytics, media, and digital tech teams champing at the bit for more new roles, responsibilities, and operational changes. They were still trying to settle into the last restructuring.  

What worked was fine-tuning a mostly centralized model into a fully centralized operational model. It wasn’t a full restructuring, just a nudge to keep going. 

In most of those situations, the Gartner data rang true. Marketing has shifted to get a tighter and closer set of disparate teams working together to collaborate, produce, and measure more efficiently and effectively.  

As Gartner said in true Gartner-speak fashion: “Marginal losses of sole responsibility (in favor of shared and collaborative) were also reported across capabilities essential for digitally oriented growth, including digital media, digital commerce, and CX.” 

Companies gave up the idea of marketing owning one part of the customer experience, content type, or channel. Instead, they moved into more collaborative sharing of the customer experience, content type, or channel.  

Rethinking the marketing reorg 

This evolution can be productive. 

Almost 10 years ago, Carla Johnson and I wrote about this in our book Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing. We talked about the idea of building to change: 

“Tomorrow’s marketing and communications teams succeed by learning to adapt — and by deploying systems of engagement that facilitate adaptation. By constantly building to change, the marketing department builds to succeed.” 

We surmised the marketing team of the future wouldn’t be asking what it was changing into but why it was changing. Marketing today is at the tipping point of that. 

The fact that half of all marketing teams restructure and change every two years might not be a reaction to shifting markets. It may just be how you should think of marketingas something fluid that you build and change into whatever it needs to be tomorrow, not something you must tear down and restructure every few years.  

The strength in that view comes not in knowing you need to change or what you will change into. The strength comes from the ability and capacity to do whatever marketing should. 

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute 

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Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

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Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

2. Understand topical authority: Keywords vs. entities

Google has been talking about topical authority for a long time, and in Discover, it is completely relevant. Traditional SEO includes the use of keywords to position your web pages for a specific search, but the content strategy in Discover should be based on entities, i.e., concepts, characters, places, topics… everything that a Knowledge Panel can have. It is necessary to know in which topics Google considers we have more authority and relevance in order to talk about them.

3. Avoid clickbait in titles

“Use page titles that capture the essence of the content, but in a non-clickbait fashion.” This is the opening sentence that describes how headlines should be in Google’s documentation. I always say that it is not about using clickbait but a bit of creativity from the journalist. Generating a good H1 is also part of the job of content creation.

Google also adds:

“Avoid tactics to artificially inflate engagement by using misleading or exaggerated details in preview content (title, snippets, or images) to increase appeal, or by withholding crucial information required to understand what the content is about.”

“Avoid tactics that manipulate appeal by catering to morbid curiosity, titillation, or outrage.

Provide content that’s timely for current interests, tells a story well, or provides unique insights.”

Do you think this information fits with what you see every day on Google Discover? I would reckon there were many sites that did not comply with this and received a lot of traffic from Discover.

With the last core updates in 2023, Google was extremely hard on news sites and some niches with content focused on Discover, directly affecting E-E-A-T. The impact was so severe that many publishers shared drastic drops in Search Console with expert Lily Ray, who wrote an article with data from more than 150 publishers.

4. Images are important

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. If you look at your Discover feed, you’ll see most of the images catch your attention. They are detailed shots of delicious food, close-ups of a person’s face showing emotions, or even images where the character in question does not appear, such as “the new manicure that will be a trend in 2024,” persuading you to click.

Google’s documentation recommends adding “high-quality images in your content, especially large images that are more likely to generate visits from Discover” and notes important technical requirements such as images needing to be “at least 1200 px wide and enabled by the max-image-preview:large setting.” You may also have found that media outlets create their own collages in order to have images that stand out from competitors.

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

One of the most important parts of having a website is making sure your audience can find your site (and find what they’re looking for).

The good news is that Google Search Essentials, formerly called Google Webmaster Guidelines, simplifies the process of optimizing your site for search performance.

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