The Content Gap Map is a tool that you can use to do a deeper dive audit of your content, to help you identify your most significant content gaps and to identify content that is not aligned to user and business goals. This tool is meant to be used only after you have a strong understanding of your primary user types and their specific goals/needs as well as an understanding of the high-level steps of their journey in relation to your product or website. This tool gives you a structure for evaluating your content through the following lenses:
- User Types
- User Journey Steps
- User Goals
- Business Goals
- Identify your primary user types.
If you don’t already have a clear sense of who your primary users are, then go back to the research, maybe create some personas to help you organize the research, get alignment from your client, and then work with the client to prioritize those user types.
- Identify the primary steps in each user’s journey.
Think about the steps each user will need to go through in the course of interacting with your product or website. Think big picture steps like, for a Potential Buyer, the user journey steps might be : Product Research → Product Comparison → Product Demo → Product Purchase → Product Support. While in reality there may be even more steps in between the larger ones, we’ve found that it’s helpful to keep these steps fairly high level for gap map purposes, usually keeping it to 4–5 steps.
- Identify the user’s primary goals at each stage of the journey.
Refer to your research as a baseline and put yourself in the shoes of those users. Think about the specific goals and information needs that users expressed, and figure out which step each goal falls under in the user journey. It is okay for each step to have multiple user goals. It is also okay for each step to have just one user goal. If you ever find yourself in a situation where no user goals align with a certain step, then either that step doesn’t really exist, and you need to go back and revise the user journey, or you need to do more user research to understand what the user needs at that stage.
- Identify the business’s primary goals at each stage of the journey.
This is where the business needs get captured. These goals are ideally metrics-focused and measurable, although it doesn’t always pan out that way. The obvious goal that all businesses have is to move users through the whole journey. But how can you break that down a bit more? Let’s take the earlier user journey steps as an example. What could a business goal be if a Potential Buyer is in the Product Research step? It could be to acquire prospects, or get traffic to the product page, or to increase shares on social media. The specific business goals you land on will vary from step to step and from user type to user type. It’s okay if you wind up having the same business goal at multiple steps (this often happens with something like ‘acquire prospects’), but try to avoid doing that too often.
- After all that, the map is complete, and it’s time for you to go audit your content.
This is the time-consuming part. You’ll need to add columns to your audit spreadsheet for each of the items in the gap map that you want to evaluate your content against: User Type, User Journey Step, User Goal, Business Goal. Then you spend a few hours or weeks (whatever you have time and budget for) reading through the content and documenting what user it’s aimed towards, which step of the journey it addresses, what user goal it is meeting, and what business goal it is meeting. Note that the time allocated for audits varies widely and it is not always possible to get as granular as the user goal level. In those cases, we recommend that some auditing is better than no auditing, so make the adjustments that you need to in order to make it work. If you can only audit the user types, then audit the user types. That will still give you more insight than if you did no auditing at all!(If you haven’t set up your content audit spreadsheet yet—refer to the Content Audit tool.)
- Analyze your audit data.
Time to crunch some numbers. Use Excel formulas to get total counts for all of your data, and put all that information in a separate spreadsheet for safekeeping. Think about what you want to find out. Often, the process of going through the audit sparks some ideas on what patterns to look out for. What percentage of content was aimed at User Type A vs User Type B? Is 90% of your content addressing user goals at Steps 1–3, but 10% at Steps 4–5? Are there any user goals not being met at all? Are there any differences in breakdowns by content type (e.g. article content is meeting needs, but video content is lacking)? There are so many ways to break down and compare this data once you have it.
- Transfer the data insights to the Gap Map.
Once you are armed with your data, transfer that information back onto the map using color coding so that you have an easy at-a-glance reference to use to help you focus your content prioritization efforts. Use green to highlight the user goals that are well addressed, yellow to highlight user goals that are minimally addressed, and red for user goals that are debatably addressed or not addressed at all. From there, you can use this map to help you make decisions regarding content priorities going forward.
This tool is an adapted version of the Content Gap Map spreadsheet created by Strategic Content.