Last year, HubSpot interviewed 3,400 marketers from around the world to determine the best strategies that helped them to exceed their goals. One statistic that is particularly relevant is that 60% of them indicated content was either 'very important' or 'extremely important' to their overall strategy.
Content marketing is more than just posting a graphic, quote, or comment on social media. It is a well-thought-out strategy that focuses on creating and sharing relevant content that targets specific segments of your audience.
Most marketers use content mapping to help them determine the most suitable content to use along the buyer's journey. It may sound overwhelming, but it's a strategy that works.
What Is a Content Map?
When you create content, your goal should be to either generate or nurture leads. A content map is a plan that helps you to determine:
- What relevant content to create
- The best audience to deliver it to
- The right time to send it
It bases these on the characteristics of your potential buyer or buyer persona. These are the people who will be consuming your content depending on the state they're at in the buying journey or life cycle. The buying journey identifies how close a prospect is to making a purchase.
Your content should therefore be relevant and targeted to your audience. It should provide information that helps a potential customer make a decision or solve a problem. They should feel that you created the content specifically for them.
Your content map can be as simple as a spreadsheet that lists out topics, the persona that it relates to, the stage of the buyer’s journey, and when you Intend to publish. That way you can make sure you have a good range of content going out, to attract and engage different buyers.
Benefits of Content Mapping
Content mapping not only provides you with a place to start when creating content but also guides you regarding the type of content and channels to use. Here are some other benefits:
It Gives You a Better Understanding of Your Customer
Doing business with your customer helps you to understand their needs, goals, and issues by determining their behaviour. You can use this information to create effective marketing strategies and even improve your products and service along the way, by listening to feedback at every stage of their journey.
It Helps You Guide Customers Along the Buying Journey
Content Mapping helps you to guide customers by providing resources at the right time and stage of their journey. Through an effective content plan, you can engage and nurture them until they make a purchase.
You'll Know Everything You Have in Your Content Library
Once you start creating a content library that's regularly audited and catalogued, you lessen the chances of duplicating content. This overview will also help you determine the content that you can repurpose or reuse. And you’ll be able to find content that was published a while ago and could do with being refreshed.
It Ensures Your Content is Relevant
It's important that you focus on the quality of your content and not the quantity. Using a content map ensures you put thought into your content and that it serves a purpose. If you have a lot of topics that mirror one another, you can combine them to create a more comprehensive piece rather than repeating the same things.
Creating a Content Map
Using a content map sounds easy enough, but it's often difficult to know where to start or decide which topics will be best. HubSpot provides a free content mapping template that guides you through the process of creating your brand's buyer persona based on their stage in the buying journey.
Here are the key steps involved in creating a content map:
- Understand and define your audience by creating a buyer persona to determine their thought process, the solutions they desire, and how they go about solving their problems
- Outline the journey your customer may take before purchasing your product or service
- Analyse your content to determine what will be most relevant in each phase of the customer journey or sales funnel
- Audit your content by creating a catalogue that lists all the content you have
- Use your existing content and create a map to see where it can work best in the buying journey or sales funnel
- Then create a new content map and indicate where the new content can be used to supplement or enhance existing content as well as fill any gaps
A content map will inform your content strategy. It's important because, without the right content, you can lose prospects along their journey because they can't relate to you or the information you're providing.
What is a Buyer Persona?
A buyer persona provides a general representation of what one of your ideal customers would be like. Although fictitious, it helps you to determine their demographic details, interests, and behavioural traits.
This will make it easier to craft content that will appeal to them. This content should address their concerns or provide information to satisfy their needs.
Many companies use market research to help define buyer personas which can range from one or two to dozens depending on the size of your company. You can start by creating the most relevant personas and then add more later.
You can also obtain information through surveys or interviews of your own customers.
What is the Buyer's Journey?
The buyer's journey or buying lifecycle determines how close a potential customer is to purchasing your product. It is one of the three elements along with the buyer persona and sales funnel that you need to consider when doing your content mapping.
There are three stages in the buyer's journey. However, before your customer's journey begins, they're in a stage called the 'unaware stage'. They may fit one of your buyer personas, but they don't know about your product or service yet, nor do they know they might have a need for it. At some point, this changes and they begin their journey as a buyer.
Awareness - At this stage, the person realises that they have a problem or need that they wish to solve/satisfy. They determine that they can do this by using a product or service. Content at this stage would include social media posts, blog posts, whitepapers and eBooks.
Consideration - In identifying the product or service needed, the person starts researching to find out the best product or service to suit their needs and resolve the problem. Content at this stage would include case studies, comparison guides, and free samples.
Decision - Based on the research conducted, the person decides what product or service to purchase. Content at this stage would include live demos, consultations, free trials, and coupons.
The Sales Funnel
The sales or marketing funnel defines each stage a customer goes through before purchase. It could include a website visit, an email subscription, or a call to the sales department.
Just as with the concept of an actual funnel, which filters a substance from the top to the bottom, customers at the top of the funnel are further away from purchasing. The lower down the funnel a potential customer travels, the closer they are to purchasing.
Your sales team will usually use different strategies depending on where a potential customer is along the funnel.
Top of the Funnel - At this stage, you should try to a potential client. This is usually the job of marketing. They will use social media posts, SEO, and call-to-actions (CTAs) among other things.
Middle of the Funnel - The prospect is usually handed over to sales from marketing as a qualified lead. Sales will them and offer options that will solve their problem or need. They may offer case studies, product lists, datasheets, eBooks and whitepapers to help inform the customer's decision.
Bottom of the Funnel - The last stage before a prospect becomes a customer. This is the point where you want to really focus on conversions, because the people at this point are at the decision stage of their purchase
You can provide post-purchase information or incentives to purchase again through coupons, surveys, social media posts, email newsletters, or user guides. You can also create a website content map to dedicate specific landing pages for each of your products or brands.
When using these three elements you will start to see a pattern where the same type of content overlaps based on the buyer persona, the customer's stage of the buyer's journey, as well as where they are along the funnel. The information you obtain when you review each to populate your content map can help you effectively segment your audience and create tailored content to suit their needs.
Planning Your Way to Better Content
Modern consumers expect easy access to information to make informed decisions. It's the best way they can make sense of the many options available to them. They want to make quick, yet sensible decisions, so they will immediately disregard content that isn't useful to them.
This doesn't have to be the fate of your content. Using your buyer's journey and content mapping can help you provide meaningful content that resonates with a potential or current customer and ultimately grows your business.