By Colleen Jones published July 9, 2010

5 Tips to Save You from Content Analysis Paralysis

A smart content strategy starts with content analysis. I love analysis and enjoy explaining how to do it. The challenge? Content analysis can overwhelm you—especially when you have a lot of content or many audience segments. To prevent analysis from slowing you down, follow these five tips.

Remember the end goal

Keep in mind that you’re not conducting a full-fledged research study. You’re putting together an intelligent game plan for content on your website or in your content marketing efforts. Pay attention only to the details that help you make smart decisions for your content plan.

Sample, sample, sample

When you have a lot of content or a large audience, you need to sample. Remember the 80/20 rule. You can get a good understanding of the strengths, weaknesses, and characteristics of your content by reviewing a representative sample. You also can get a surprisingly deep understanding of each group of your audiences or users by interviewing a representative sample. I find interviewing five people for each major user group works well.

Focus on the important audiences or users

Segmenting your audiences or users is good. Over-segmenting them is bad. In my experience, it’s not useful to focus on more than three key audiences or user groups. And, usually, you can prioritize those three groups. When you simplify who you’re trying to reach, you simplify your content needs. This simplification almost always leads to better content and, ultimately, better results.

Use competitive analysis wisely

Think hard about whether you really need a competitive analysis as part of your content analysis. Once you review the competition, it’s often tempting to copy it. But, the real intention of a competitive analysis is to identify opportunities to be different or better. If you or your team will misuse competitive analysis as a shortcut to copy ideas, then you probably don’t need it.

Take heart in iteration

Once you finish your analysis (congratulations!), you have not only valuable insights but also much data. As you plan your content strategy, you might have a new question or idea, and you can look at your data again for help. In other words, if you don’t think of every possible strategy question to answer during your analysis, it’s okay.

These five tips will help you conduct a content analysis efficiently AND effectively. With the insights you gain, you will have the power to form a content strategy that brings you results.

Want to learn more? Here are some articles from me as well as others that I highly recommend:

I’d also love to hear your ideas on how to keep the content analysis process in check. Share your thoughts in the comments!

Author: Colleen Jones

Colleen is the author of Clout (New Riders) and the principal of Content Science, a boutique consulting firm in Atlanta, GA. As a pioneer of user experience and content strategy, Colleen has guided or supported strategic initiatives for a wide range of organizations including Equifax, InterContinental Hotels Group, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Cingular Wireless (now AT&T). Her upcoming eBook, "Does Your Content Work?" will be released in 2014. Follow her on Twitter at @leenjones.

Other posts by Colleen Jones

  • http://www.sdicorp.com/Resources/Blog/articleType/AuthorView/authorID/24/lkunz.aspx Larry Kunz

    Thanks, Colleen. I'm going to bookmark this. Content analysis can be very daunting, which is probably why so many people try to avoid doing it. These tips make it a lot less scary and a lot more do-able.

  • http://twitter.com/leenjones Colleen Jones

    Great point, Larry. Fear is a terrible paralyzer, but we don't have to let it hold us back. Good luck with your next content analysis!

  • Anonymous

    Just wanted to say good work before i i forget.