Getting started with content analysis.

Content is King v3

Content is King. Context is Queen. Repeat ad infinitum. That essentially sums up every article about content that exists in the ether in 2021. It's snappy, granted. But, it doesn't exactly give you any deep insight into how you go about organising the coronation for your content. Or in what context the word context is used.

Fear not - help is at hand. In this series, we're going to introduce you to different elements of the content journey and give you actionable insight to help you produce better content at scale.

First things first - content analysis.

Content analysis aims to understand the actual effectiveness and impact of content produced by a brand. This can be the written word, imagery, video or smoke signals (if you're an authentic heritage brand). Everything has a measurement, and everything has a purpose. In the analysis stage, your challenge is to understand the impact of your content. Not to optimise, to understand.

When taking a content-first approach, our job as marketers is not to create more content … it’s to create the minimum amount of content with the maximum amount of results.’
Robert Rose

How do you analyse content?

The intelligent answer in 2021 is - through some use of machine learning, and we'll come to that.

First and foremost, to analyse effectiveness, you need to have a set view of what effectiveness means. What is the purpose of your content? A product image on an e-commerce site has a very different purpose to a TikTok video.

You should have a content inventory that includes every piece of content you produce across your estate. It's fair to say that not everyone does. So, start small - list content types and the different channel each content type exists in. Once you have this, you can give each type and channel combination an expected outcome. Why is it there? What is it supposed to be doing? Why did Dave in Marketing create that TikTok video of your staff dancing to a snippet of a Jason Derulo track?

This high-level analysis gives you the basis for the rest of your content journey. The why. Why does the content exist in the first place? Without that “why?” it's nigh on impossible to establish if it's performing as it should.

Once you have your why you can start to judge your content to a higher standard. The word content is exceptionally broad, and this is just a taste of what you can measure in terms of effectiveness - the scale is essentially limitless. Exclusion is most likely related to lack of space/time as opposed to any slight on a content type.

Where do we start?

At Sagittarius, our primary focus is on digital experiences - from the first time someone sees brand messaging to the point where they become advocates following a glowing experience.

That journey has content at every stage, and it's a total experience for a user. Each piece needs to flow to the next without any noticeable seam. Let's say you're running a paid media campaign, utilising video ads, display and search as part of a combined strategy to move people from channel to landing page. 

Three content types, all with the same objective - driving traffic. The analysis here is relatively simple: which creative treatments and copy drive the most significant volume of people to the landing page for the lowest cost. 

But that's just people reaching the landing page. And this traffic has now handed over to site content to work its magic. The site's goal? To move traffic from a landing page to a lead. 

But there are ways to move people - the landing page likely contains copy, images and videos. Traditional measurement would look at how many people moved from the landing page -> conversion. But, the 'landing page' is nothing but a collection of parts, hopefully formed into a cohesive visual hierarchy. Each element will play its role, but some will be the equivalent of the first chair in the orchestra, and some will be the person playing the triangle. 

It's critical to analyse the landing page (or any page on your site) to understand:

  • what content is actually viewed

  • what content is engaged with

  • what content is helping to drive the next action

Analytics platforms are excellent for their ability to feed you information about what sees engagement and which journeys contain views of which content. Google, Adobe, Sitecore (path analyser is especially handy) and pretty much all top-tier analytics platforms can help you understand the journeys that come from content consumption.

Often though, it's tricky to understand if the content is converting or if people are converting in spite of the content.

Video is often vaunted as the doyenne of content. It sits on most pages now because humans like to interact with engaging content. But how well is it working?

You can measure clicks on the video, and how much of a video has been watched, but you can't measure its impact. Unless you remove it - and that's optimisation, and a topic for another day.

Understand why your content exists. Measure everything that happens with your content and after it. And then track forward from consumption and backward from conversion.

‘The most difficult thing, but you have to become indifferent to your content to be able to see it for what it is. If it’s not working – switch it up because it doesn’t really matter what you think of your content – it matters what it is doing for your business.’
Dan Kelsall

Mind the gap

Missing content is equally as troubling as having content that doesn't serve its core purpose, and a gap analysis is a vital part of any content analysis. What do you want your brand to talk about and to be known for? What gaps exist in your current landscape that stops this from happening?

That is the crux of a gap analysis. It can be approached from an SEO standpoint, using tools like DemandJump, or the sparring pair Ahrefs and SEMrush. Where is there high volume available, where do we have something to say, where are we currently missing out? Or, you can approach it from a pure content delivery view - what content is on the site that is either thin (which is as bad as being non-existent) or lives in an indefinite redirect loop through various iterations.

A gap analysis is just as powerful to run on your competitors. After all, a customer doesn't just look at your content. It's a mortifying thought. But a gap analysis can help you understand not just where you are weak but also where your competitors are weak.

As a concept, a gap analysis or content effectiveness review can seem huge - there is so much they can take in, but simplify the idea - is the content we have working and do we have the right content?

That's the crux of this. Dressed up with marketing words (yes, we know the word doyenne has been used in this blog) but a clear, simple idea at the core. That's not to say it isn't a bit of work though - which is where automation comes in.

Using automation for good - tool up

Just say AI Content Analysis, and you'll have yourself a Unicorn. Or AI anything. Luckily, content analysis is an area where machine learning has enabled scaled analysis to take away some of the legwork from an incredibly arduous digital content audit while still requiring human nuance.

Optimizely (nee Episerver) has analysis built into the CMS, Monetate is an excellent tool for testing content impact at scale, and semantic analysis exists in pretty much every content tool on the market.

But there is some exciting tech in the market - Datasine's Connect tool can analyse the makeup of an image and the effectiveness of the individual elements within - at scale.

SparkToro enables you to understand where your content should be and who your audience are, so that your ‘why?’ can resonate with the wider world and be crafted appropriately to aid effectiveness.

And so on. You could buy 1000 tools to help you with content analysis, finding gaps and defining your audience. And they have their place, alongside human research.

Humans win

Google Analytics will tell you what is happening, but you have to ask the right question and then consider the ‘why?’ behind the ‘what?’.

Optimizely will make content suggestions that will be logical but miss the lateral thinking of a creative. 

And your mum will be able to tell you if your content makes sense - and her view is far more helpful than that of your checked-shirt wearing creative colleague. Why? Because we, at times, live in a marketing bubble. And actually, asking humans to analyse content is a bizarrely underutilised tactic.

Wynter offers a brilliant service for B2B brands to create copy, landing pages or any form of content and then provide this to a curated panel that matches the intended audience. And then they rip it apart. But the insights gathered exceed anything AI can give you because it's actual human feedback from a carefully selected audience.

The Sagittarius way

Brand interactions are a journey, and content moves you through that journey by engaging you, challenging you and even finding you in the first place. It can highlight a problem you didn't even know you had and sell you a solution you didn't know you needed. 

We follow a simple approach - we establish why content should exist, what it should be delivering, and whether it is working hard enough to justify its existence.

Our analysis is deep, using quantitative and qualitative data while considering the entire competitive landscape and business and customer needs. And this all culminates in a straightforward question 'Is your content delivering its expected outcomes'? 

If it isn't, we can help you. And we do that by beginning to optimise your content...which is a topic for tomorrow.


want to speak to one of our experts?

Kier Humphreys
Kier Humphreys
Head of Customer Experience
Kier has worked both agency and client-side, with 13 years experience taking in the full marketing mix and a passion for insight-led business optimisation. His career has seen him working with national and international brands across a variety of sectors, from multinational professional services to tech start-ups.
Kier Humphreys

Kier Humphreys

29 Mar 2021 - 10 minute read
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