The How & Why to Performing a Competitor Gap Analysis

Find out how a content gap analysis can uncover big opportunities for your eCommerce website with our complete guide.

Anyone in the SEO and content marketing world has faced the dreaded question:

“What should I write?” 

The right answer to this question will improve your organic rankings, bring in more traffic, and improve sales for eCommerce sites. The wrong answer won’t improve your rankings (at least, not in a way that matters), will be largely ignored, and will lead to stagnating sales. 

So, how do you decide which path to take for your content creation?

Content gap analysis, also called competitor gap analysis, can help you distinguish the right and wrong choices for your website content strategy. But you have to perform this analysis correctly. Do it wrong, and you’ll waste time, energy, and money. Your SEO strategy will languish while your competitors move ahead. 

Don’t worry — this guide will make sure you do it right the first time. 

In this article, we’ll walk you through every step, explaining:

  • What a content gap analysis is (and why it’s important)
  • Why understanding your audience is key
  • How to conduct a competitor content gap analysis
  • And how to find quick actions for easy wins with existing content

What Is a Content Gap Analysis?

A content gap analysis is a process of reviewing the content on your website and determining where significant information gaps exist.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll look at three types of gaps:

  • What consumers want that you don’t have
  • What competitors are succeeding with that you don’t have
  • What is missing from current content that keeps it from ranking well

Content marketing includes all different types of media, so you could find these gaps anywhere — in category pages, product pages, landing pages, product pages, blogs, and more. 

How Content Gap Analysis Helps Your SEO & Content Marketing

A content gap analysis reveals which important content your website is missing. It helps you identify any critical steps in your buyer’s journey where you lack the information to help them commit to your product or service. 

More specifically, competitor gap analysis shows where your competition is succeeding (and your brand is losing). You can use this progress to figure out which of their content is working better than yours and identify which questions are driving people to your competitors’ site instead of yours. 

We’re not just talking about content marketing, either. This analysis can also help you improve your product and/or service offerings overall. 

But, most importantly, content gap analysis can reveal why some of your content is not working as well as hoped — including the key elements that might be missing, preventing it from climbing to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs).

How to Do a Content Gap Analysis

A content gap analysis is usually performed over three stages. In the first stage, you want to use your analysis of the buyer’s journey or customer journey to shape your digital marketing efforts. In the second stage, competitor gap analysis, you analyze the content on a competitor’s site and see where it is outperforming the content on your own. Finally, you design an action plan based on your analysis, which should include updating and upgrading current content for quick and easy SEO wins. 

Stage 1: Help the Buyer on Their Journey

Every purchase is a journey. A buyer travels from awareness of a need or problem, through the discovery of potential solutions, to choosing a solution, and deciding whether they are happy with their choice. 

Your brand should provide informational content for every step in this process.

Describing the Buyer’s Journey

Your website should act as a friendly and informative guide for buyers on their journey, answering their questions and steering them to the best solution to their problem (usually yours, of course). This is also called the sales funnel. 

To do so, your website should include types of content related to all the major phases of the journey:

  • Awareness: A customer is aware that they have a need, problem, or pain points, but haven’t yet put words to their needs. 
  • Consideration: A customer has defined their need or problem and is considering possible solutions. Social media is good marketing for this step, because it can help you reach more potential customers. 
  • Decision: A customer narrows down their list of possible solutions to the one or few that they will purchase. 
  • Validation: Once the buyer has paid for the product or service, do they have buyer’s remorse — or are they content with (and even excited about) the purchase?

Ideally, you’ve already mapped out this journey to build your content marketing strategy. If not, take the time to do it now. Create buyer personas that reflect the people that you know buy your product and those you hope to attract. This is your target audience. 

Then imagine how each persona would travel through these stages. What questions do they have that need to be answered? What information do they need to ask the next question? What information is likely to turn visitors into conversions? What information will help them make a decision they’ll be happy with?

Need help creating your buyer personas? Download our Persona Topic Matrix now to organize your content topics by audience type.

Icon: Persona Topic Matrix.  Click Here to access.

A Website for All Phases

Next, make sure you have content for all stages of the buyer’s journey on your website. 

Remember, Google is increasingly emphasizing search intent in the results it delivers. It’s not enough to target keywords to top the SERPs; you also have to understand what people mean when they use these phrases. Bonus: Understanding your customer’s journey will help you do this, which in turn will help your content perform better.

Learn more about matching search intent to content with our keyword research guide

The bulk of your digital content should be related to the consideration and decision stages for your customers. Not only is this where most of the relevant information will be found, but that’s where the most valuable content will be — the content that can steer people into a decision to buy your product or service. 

Stage 2: Conduct a Competitor Gap Analysis

Once you’ve identified all the initial cost gaps where you’re not meeting consumers’ needs, it’s time to refine your list by evaluating which content your customers are finding on your competitors’ websites that can’t be found on yours. 

A true competitor gap analysis can get somewhat technical. At a minimum, use a content audit toolkit to help you track your results. However, it’s often best to hire an SEO specialist to perform this step for you. 

Everything you need to perform a comprehensive audit of eCommerce catalog content. Get Instant Access.

Step 1: Identify Direct Competitors

Before you dive into detailed competitor analysis, make sure you’re comparing the right brands. Start by finding your competitors online with data, not just gut feelings. We recommend this step even if you think you already know who your competitors are.

Step 2: Use a Research Tool

Next, use a gap analysis tool to identify the gaps between you and your competitors. We recommend  Semrush’s Keywords Gap and Ahrefs’ Content Gap

Both content gap tools work basically the same way. You enter your site URL and competitors’ URLS, and the tool compares your rankings against your competitors for various keywords. 

Step 3: Sort Keyword Results

Refine and sort the results using various parameters to help you get the most useful information. Select keywords that:

  • Have a high search volume
  • Fit in your buyer’s journey (ideally in the “consideration” or “decision” phases)

Make two lists of your competitors’ keywords. On one list, record the keywords where you show up in positions 11–100. These are content opportunities you want to consider for your “quick wins” efforts

On the other list, record the keywords where your competitors rank — but you don’t show up at all. These new keywords will likely require new content, and that takes time and money, so you’ll have to make these long-term goals

Stage 3: Finding Gaps in Blogs and Pages

Now that you’ve identified your gaps, it’s time to close them.

Start with your potential “quick wins.” For anything ranked 11–30, optimize the content’s meta information (title tags and meta descriptions) for a high-impact update. If you find obvious mismatches between the keyword you want to appear for and the meta information, make sure to fix that, too; it could push your content to the first page. 

Next, select a piece of content that shows up in the 31–100 range for important keywords. Double-check the Google Analytics organic traffic data to confirm they’re underperforming on key metrics. 

Then, do a Google search for the keyword you want to target with that content. Read through the results on the first page to understand what Google considers “quality content” for this keyword. Look for information that’s on these pages — but not on yours. If you find some obvious gaps here, fill them. 

These simple changes can help your content perform significantly better, sometimes causing it to jump to the first page itself!

Of course, sometimes adding content alone isn’t enough to put your content on the top of the SERPs. You might also need to add backlinks, but that’s an entirely separate issue

Repeat this process as often as needed to continually optimize your content and improve your site quality. Along the way, you’ll often find brand-new content ideas, too. It’s the perfect cure for writer’s block.

Conduct Your SEO Content Gap Analysis Today

In conclusion, a well-organized content gap analysis can help you dramatically improve your website’s rankings, traffic, and sales. Remember: It’s important to be methodical when documenting the information you find about your website and your competitors, so use our Content Audit Toolkit to get started. 

However, if you find that the technical nature of this type of analysis is too much for you, we’re also here to provide professional help. Contact our SEO team for a free, personalized proposal, including a content audit for improving the organic search performance of your website.

Please don’t fill new channels with bad creative

TechStyle Fashion Group’s pandemic pivot might be considered rare in a world when marketers say most ads are lackluster and repetitive.

The post Please don’t fill new channels with bad creative appeared first on Marketing Land.

For nearly a year, marketers have operated in a pandemic world where digital channels are all they’ve got. But saying you’re going to tap new channels and then actually delivering results there depends on just how strong your content game is. But just how quickly must you get strong?

“Almost overnight,” said Aubrie Richey, vice president of customer acquisition and media at TechStyle Fashion Group. “We had to rapidly adapt to understand how to get the perfect photo, social media ad or commercial from home, all with the added challenge of developing relatable marketing content for a consumer base experiencing altered life experiences in response to the pandemic.”

TechStyle,  which manages fashion brands like JustFab, FabKids and Savage X Fenty, the inclusive lingerie line designed by music icon Rihanna, had already invested in five in-house production studios. Each was staffed by professional photographers and creatives that drove out content across more than 20 channels and networks, developed TV and social media campaigns and supported their flagship web destinations.

But now the company found itself sending production equipment to influencers and brand ambassadors so they could build their own “mini-studios” at home. This way, they could keep up with campaign imagery for monthly new product drops and other promotions, Richey said.

“Our brands began leaning into our vast libraries of influencer-generated content, and ensuring that our influencers had the equipment needed to develop their own content,” Richey stated.

She added, “Our brands rethought core campaigns and key holidays, shifting messaging to be more resonant to consumers who may be adopting a Zoom holiday celebration or more low-key family gatherings. We found that these shifts in strategy resonated with consumers across brands, and that by developing relatable marketing content we were actually strengthening our consumer base.”

Can we be more … creative?

The downside of the sudden influx of channels to consider during COVID-19 is just how much content is needed to fill those gaps. But many marketers say the demand has not been met with worthy creative. In fact, you might say the opposite is happening.

Nearly 69% of the 250 marketers recently surveyed by creative automation provider Celtra say ads are far too repetitive. In fact, 63% concluded that “very few brands are doing creative ads right now.” 

But TechStyle has committed itself to being one of those few.

For its JustFab brand, Richey said the company adapted to consumers dwindling interest in workplace and street styles in favor of more quarantine-appropriate athletic wear and loungewear. Its FabKids brands focused on the adjustments parents and children were making for remote learning.

“Each of our brands had to take a reflective look at how to adopt their various marketing strategies to their respective ‘new’ consumers,” she said.

The FabKids content team began recruiting parents to shoot the content of their children in home environments, reflecting the changes to everyday life that families were experiencing. As a direct result of these new strategies, TechStyle launched 25% more ads in 2020 than the preceding year.

And not only were there more ads, but they resonated with consumers’ lives, Richey said.

Nurturing what’s next

Relevance isn’t just about the content, though. It’s also about where the content is seen.

Celtra’s survey found 73% of marketers use Facebook and/or Instagram “the most to engage with their customers.” This was followed by email, at 55%, and 35% through Twitter.

Only 12% of marketers said they use TikTok the most, which is at least an indication that brands with similar audiences are seeing opportunities to expand through that channel. The main takeaway is that brands should keep looking and be ready to pounce if there’s a good match.

For TechStyle, they have made TikTok a priority this year by launching an initiative they call the “#techtokstyle challenge.”

“Our teams saw a gap in TechStyle’s social media presence, and have created a new virtual challenge to grow and scale our presence on TikTok,” said Richey. The challenge asks employees “to express their brand pride and get involved with the content creation process, all while creating relatable ads for our members.”

Here’s hoping they can pack that all in to 15 seconds or less.

 

This story first appeared on MarTech Today.

 

 

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Getting off on the right foot with DAM

Taking the first steps to kick off, or refine, your digital asset management program.

The post Getting off on the right foot with DAM appeared first on Marketing Land.

“It’s critically important to start the process before you even look at a piece of technology.” Advice on getting started with digital asset management from founder of The Codified DAM Consultant, Mark Davey.

He was speaking on a recent episode of MarTech Live about getting started on the DAM journey the right way. The data model and the information architecture needs to be right — or as right as possible: “It’s an iterative process,” he said, “like mowing the grass. You’ve got to keep doing it, keep refining it, keep looking at the people, the processes and the systems to make those things work.

Call for librarians. There’s a role in enterprise DAM systems for librarians, Davey said. “The thing about librarians is, they love to share to knowledge in a way that’s understandable, a bit like a teacher. Sadly, there aren’t enough librarians doing the taxonomy and vocabulary work. They tend to end up being keyword taggers. Keywords are an important part of this, but we’re talking about information, knowledge and information being distributed in a format that everybody can understand — and then serve up curated experiences using that knowledge.

“For me,” he went on, “librarians and information architects are a must have.”

Watch all the 2020 episodes of MarTech Live here.

Best practices. Davey went on to talk about best practices for getting started. “Step one is gap analysis, using people, process, information and systems. Where are your people? What are the technical capabilities of your people? Is [your DAM] ad hoc, is it incipient, is it formative, is it operational, is it optimal? You can do a self-assessment on that.”

Davey referred to the DAM Maturity Model, something he had some past involvement with. “It helps you gauge where you are on that spectrum.”

As an enterprise consultant, he tries to identify pain-points. “How long are they searching for content, how many different systems do they have to use, how frustrated are they, and when do they just give it to the agency?” Metrics like these can form a basis for understanding ROI on a DAM investment.

Davey’s consultancy recently performed an assessment for a large pharmaceutical organization which involved surveying some 12,000 people about gaps in the business about gaps in the content lifecycle. After the assessment and gap analysis comes a resource audit: “How many tools, systems and processes are in effect for the lifecycle of content; and at the same time you’re starting to think about the governance around the data model. Then you start to build use-case scenarios.” If a vendor is not able to fulfill requirements identified in use-case scenarios, “they’re not going to help you for the long journey.”

Why we care. All marketing is essentially content marketing, and content marketing can’t be done efficiently if content assets (which today means primarily digital assets) aren’t effectively managed.

 

This story first appeared on MarTech Today.

 

 

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