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Part 2, The Content Gap Analysis: Identifying the gap between the content you have and the content you need

By Beth Bader , Thursday, October 10, 2013

So, a few hot weekends into summer, some doses of ibuprofen, and hours of hard labor later, our little garden area is cleared of weeds. The Home Owners Association took us off their watch list. But, it looks … sparse. In fact, it looks nothing at all like the plan I scribbled out on the back of an envelope and really nothing like the sexy photos I pinned on Pinterest. It’s time to take a look at what’s planted and what’s in my plan and figure out how to make the two match. This is gap analysis.

First, you need a plan

Web sites are a bit more complicated than my garden, thus your plan for the site should be more robust than my scribbles on the back of an envelope. Your plan may, and should, include a foundation for your content strategy. And, that plan should also include the guiding information that you leveraged for your Content Audit and will need again for Gap Analysis:

  • Personas and scenarios. These capture your key site audiences, what their needs and goals are and how they will interact with your site.
  • Stakeholder interviews and Brand Guidelines. These inform the project’s business goals, brand requirements and key performance indicators for the final site.
  • Site and search analytics. These tell us what users were looking for from your site and which content was the most successful, as well as where problem areas are that need to be addressed.
  • Digital insights are also helpful to understand what your users are asking about or what influencers are talking about — they allow you to capture the leading edge of conversation before your competitors do.
  • Your budget and timeline. Because we have to be realistic.
  • And, of course, you will need your Content Audit (link to previous post).

Time to find the gaps

Using a summary of all the findings above as a checklist, pull out your Content Audit that you’ve completed. If you’ve spent the time needed to do a well-documented audit, this task should be a lot simpler. To begin with, sort your Content Audit to show only the keep and modify content items. Hide the items to be deleted, or move these to a separate sheet. As you review the list this time, you’ll be looking for what you don’t see in the audit:

  • Does the existing content support all the user goals for your primary design personas? Note which goals do not have supporting content.
  • Are all of the business goals supported? Which goals are not currently supported?
  • Is there content to support each phase of the customer lifecycle (and for each of your customer types)?
  • Are all of your products supported with the site content?
  • Will any of the items marked “modify” be revised to better support these goals?
  • If your brand is being refreshed, does the current content fully support the new brand?
  • Based on your search, analytics and insights, is there content that needs to be created to address new customer needs or interests?
  • Are there marketing objectives or campaigns that the new site will need to support that are not reflected in the current content?

Prioritize, prioritize

I saw about fifty great ideas for my garden oasis on Pinterest. Most of them would have cost about $50,000 each to implement, too. This is $49,899 more than my budget even if I did the work myself — and my carpentry is even worse than my gardening.

All projects are subject to the reality filter of time and money including your new site content. Thus, you’ll need to take your newly created content “wish list” and put each item through the filter of; value to users or business, implementation effort, cost, and time to produce. As no web site is ever “done,” your goal here is to identify what should be done for launch, and then what can be accomplished in subsequent phases. Now, you have a solid plan for the new site’s content.

What’s next?

For one, you can use your audit and the new content list to create an informed site architecture. As you’ve identified the content and site features you need, wireframes — or the blueprint for your site templates — can also be based on the features and content you are keeping and the content you know you need. Best of all, because you have already planned for your content to be aligned with your personas, business goals, customer lifecycle and your product set, you will be ready to deliver a relevant and targeted message to your users once your site is migrated to the Sitecore platform.

Related Items:

1. Part 1, The Content Audit:  Getting your existing content “out of the weeds” and into Sitecore

2. “Unleashing Personalization Beyond Your Website: Delivering a Relevant Customer Experience Across Marketing Channels”