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How to Create a Content Map That Drives Business Growth

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There’s more to content marketing than publishing content to rank high in Google. Every successful brand and marketer knows this.

If you can’t create content that meets your prospect exactly where they are in the customer’s journey, you’ll have it tough building authority, nurturing leads and converting prospects. No matter how much quality content you publish.

That’s where creating content maps comes in – a result-driven approach to tailor your content to the precise need of your audience.

Effective marketing means delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time.

And that’s exactly what content maps help you achieve. This article will teach you how to create a content map that drives business growth. Let’s get right in

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Content Map?

A content map is a plan document that outlines how each piece of content you create aligns with your buyer persona and the stages in the buyer’s journey.

In other words, It’s a way of organizing your content to ensure it reaches your audience when they need it the most.

What are the Basic Elements of a Content Map?

Your target audience is your content map’s basic and most important element.

After that comes other elements, such as your objectives and content strategy, which will differ depending on each audience’s position in your marketing funnel.

If you run a business, you’ll have more than one audience in your funnel.

When Should You Use a Content Map?

Every time. All time. In fact, you shouldn’t create any piece of content without clearly mapping out what audience it will serve in your marketing book.

Using content maps helps you get the most out of your content as it meets buyers’ needs at a particular point in their journey, thereby driving them gradually toward conversion.

What You’ll Need to Create a Content Map

Creating a content map requires some preparation. Here are the essential things you need to get started

  • Your Content Calendar: To ensure your content map keys into your overall content strategy, you’ll need a content calendar. A content calendar is a tool that helps you organize and plan your content. It can include important dates, holidays, and events relevant to your audience, business and industry.
  • A Visualization Tool: Many online and offline tools can help you create a visual representation of your content map. This can be simple tools like pen and paper. You also create a content map using Google Sheets, an Excel spreadsheet, or even more advanced software like Trello and Asana.
  • A Distribution Channel: You don’t just create a content map for the sake of it. Think about the channels you will use to distribute your content. This can include social media platforms, email newsletters, your website, and more. The goal is to choose the relevant channel where your audience hangs out.

How to Create a Content Map: The Basics

Before showing the steps involved in creating a content map, let’s examine why It’s so important and why every successful brand uses it.

Content maps make your marketing more efficient and effective because it helps you address your content directly to your buyer persona, which many customers expect.

According to a study by Salesforce, 66% of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations.

The overall goal of content mapping is to ensure every piece of content you publish purposefully supports the customer’s journey as they move gradually from the top of the marketing funnel till they buy your products.

But it doesn’t stop there. Here are some benefits of using a content map;

  • Deliver Targeted Content: Depending on their position in the customer journey, your prospects seek different information at different stages. To give them the best experience, you have to ensure you deliver content that covers the information they are looking for every step of the way. Content mapping helps you achieve that.
  • Discover Content Gaps: A content map allows you to organize and audit your new and existing content and define its purpose. With that, you can easily identify redundant topics and determine which content to update, which to optimize and which is good for repurposing. A content map helps you identify the gaps in your marketing effort.
  • Save Time and Money: With a content map, you save time and money on your marketing by creating purposeful and targeted content for the right audience. Rather than the old “publish and hope” strategy, you can match content types to the platform and the persons they are best suited for.

How to Create an Effective Content Map Step by Step

  • Step #1: Define Your Goals and Your Audience
  • Step #2: Segment Your Target Audience into Different Buyer’s Persona
  • Step #3: Create a Customer Journey Map
  • Step #4: Brainstorm Content for Each Stage of the Customer Journey
  • Step #5: Map New and Existing Content to Align with Each Stage
  • Step #6: Identify Gaps for Future Content

Step #1: Define Your Goals and Your Audience

To create a content map, you must be clear about your content marketing goals and the audience you are trying to reach.

First, analyze your content strategy and list the goals it aims to achieve.

Some of the most common marketing goals include creating brand awareness, building brand trust, educating your audience, increasing subscribers and boosting sales.

The good part is that each of these goals can be mapped to your customer’s journey and your marketing funnel.

Meaning you can create different goals for your content at each stage of the journey. You’ll learn more about this soon.

Next, identify your target audience and how you can provide value to them.

Knowing your audience gives you directions on how to reach them.

For instance, if your target audience is college students, you have to research what they are looking for, the problem they are trying to solve and what new opportunities your content can bring them.

Starting with this keeps you on the right track and helps you avoid confusion as you create your content map.

Step #2: Segment Your Target Audience into Different Buyer’s Persona

Now you’ve identified your audience, the next step is to understand them better.

To serve them right, you have to dive deep into their needs, interest, motivation and fears and create content that addresses each.

You can use several means and tools to research and segment your audience.

Social listening tools, website analytics, customer survey and interviews, focus groups and your business CRM are great tools for learning more about your audience.

Once you have enough data about your target audience, you can then segment them into different buyer’s persons using the data.

A buyer persona is a hypothetical profile of your ideal customer.

It’s central to the content map because it offers an in-depth description of someone who represents your target customer.

A good buyer persona capture as much as the following:

  • Demographics: Age, gender, location, income, education, etc.
  • Roles: Job titles, company size, and industry.
  • Values: What motivates them to make decisions?
  • Goals: What are they trying to accomplish?
  • Challenges: Pain points, concerns, and objections.
  • Influences: Where do they look for information and insights?
  • Purchasing habits: When and where do they buy? How long is the decision period?

The more detailed this buyer persona is, the better. Depending on your business, you can have more than one or two personas.

Once you create an accurate buyer persona, it will be easy to map contents to their preferences.

Step #3: Create a Customer Journey Map

Beyond identifying who your ideal customer looks like, you need to know where they are in the buyer’s journey or sales funnel.

How close or far are they from making a purchase?

Every customer goes through this life cycle. So you have to define your customer’s journey.

The widely accepted customer life cycle model splits the journey into 3 distinct stages, each corresponding to a stage in the marketing funnel.

  1. Awareness (Top of the funnel, TOFU): Customers in the awareness stage just identified their problem. They are looking for more information to understand it better.
  2. Consideration (Middle of the funnel, MOFU): In the consideration stage, they now completely understand their problems, the dangers and their need for solutions. They are looking for an opportunity.
  3. Decision (Bottom of the funnel, BOFU): Customers in the decision stage have defined their desired solutions. They are looking for a provider.

These broad categorizations of a customer’s journey are relevant to most industries.

However, they may differ slightly for some businesses. The most important thing is documenting how your own customers navigate the buying process and create a befitting journey for them.

Once you map your buyers’ personas with their stages in the customer journey, you’ll have an idea of what type of content they are most likely to engage with, and you can then brainstorm content for each stage. That’s step #4.

Step #4: Brainstorm Content for Each Stage of the Customer Journey

Since your prospects’ concerns and interests at each stage differ, you’ll need to segment content accordingly.

For instance, a buyer in the awareness stage will likely not want promotional content, and that can be an early turn-off for them.

You’ll have to determine what content type will work for each phase before you can match them on your content map. Let’s look at the type of content buyers consume at a stage of the journey.

1. The Awareness Stage Content Type

The awareness stage is the first stage of the buyer’s journey. It’s where you attract new visitors to your brand.

Customers in this phase are just becoming aware of their problem, and you have to think about how to help them get more informed about the problem.

They will have a lot of questions at this point. Your focus is to furnish them with as many detailed answers as possible.

Here are a few questions that can guide you.

  • What problems are they trying to solve?
  • What are the causes of the problem?
  • What are the signs to identify the problem?
  • How can we build trust with the information we provide them?
  • How can we give them more value than our competitors?

From the above questions, you will see that this stage is not where you push product-focused content.

What you need is customer-oriented content that educates and gradually builds trust.

The more you give answers to their questions and concerns, the more they see you as a friend, meaning you can be trusted.

The goal here is to build a relationship with them so that your brand will come to mind whenever they have a new question or concern.

Informational and educational contents are best at this stage.

This type of content includes buying guides, infographics, explainer videos, insightful blog posts, social media posts, ebooks and Webinars.

2. Consideration Stage Content Type

Once your customers are well grounded about their problem, its causes and symptoms, and know it can be remedied, they will seek the right solution.

This time is now ripe to start delivering content that addresses that.

In the consideration stage, customers decide if your brand is a good fit for them.

The best type of content here is product-focused content that explains how your solution can solve their problems and transform their lives.

They will be weighing their options, your job is to help them narrow it down to the best, which is your product.

Examples of content for this stage include whitepapers, product reviews, landing pages, comparison sheets, and videos comparing products and offers.

3. Decision Stage Content Type

At this stage, the buyer is ready to make the final decision. Your job is to help them feel more confident about their decisions and incentivize them to choose you.

If your buyer has reached this stage, you have to worry about why they might not choose your solution more than why they will. Your content must address all potential objections.

Your competitors may have a juicier offer or more authority in the market.

While some of these scenarios cannot be ruled out, you must give them enough reasons to choose you.

Buyers don’t want to make mistakes. They need a guarantee that your solution will meet their needs and expectations.

You have to give them that by answering all potential questions they might have about your solution.

Content that works well at this stage includes case studies and data-focused content that support the effectiveness of your solution, customer testimonials, FAQs, social proof, product demos, and special offers via email campaigns and social media.

Step #5: Map New and Existing Content to Align with Each Stage

Now that you understand your buyer persona and their needs. And you also know what type of content works at each stage of their journey; it is time to map your content.

You’ll do these for your existing content as well as new content. You can make the process more efficient by using a template.

You can download this Free Content Map Template from HubSpot. Or, If you like, you can easily create one on a spreadsheet using these steps:

  • List all your buyer persona in the first column.
  • Enter the 3 buyer lifecycle stages (awareness, consideration, and decision) in the next three columns.
  • Under each persona column, define each customer’s problem, primary goal or motivation and how using your product can help them.
  • Under each customer journey stage, list relevant content ideas that answer your audience’s questions in that stage.

Here’s what your final content map should look like.

Once you have this ready, you can put every piece of content (blog post, social. media post, emails, podcasts, videos, Ebook, etc) you create on the content map.

As you do, you’ll see which buyer stage you lack content and which you are overdoing, which buyer persona you are over-addressing and which you are not doing enough.

That’s one of the benefits of creating a content map- to identify where you can improve going forward.

Step #6: Identify Gaps for Future Content

Once you have a content map, your content strategy shifts from “what you think your audience needs” to “what they actually need.” There’s a big difference between both.

Look at the stages and the personas that are underrepresented in your map, and brainstorm for content ideas to fill those gaps.

Not only does a content map helps keep your content marketing streamlined and on point. It helps you understand how it fares and what you should address.

More Helpful Online Content Tutorials:

  • How to Repurpose Content: If one of your content is performing well as a blog post, it’s likely to perform well as a video, infographic, social media post etc. This guide teaches how to repurpose content in various forms.
  • How to Create Eye-Catching Headlines: Stop losing audiences to toothless headlines. Learn how to write powerful and eye-catching headlines with this detailed guide.
  • How to Update Website Content: Updating your existing content is a powerful way to improve SEO and requires less work. Learn how to make your old content relevant again in the detailed guide.

Wrapping up

If you want to elevate your content marketing game, there’s no better strategy than creating a content map.

A content map lets you delight customers by delivering content that meets their needs at every stage of their journey.

With a well-thought-out content map, your lead generation, nurturing and conversion will be frictionless. You have everything you need to create yours in this guide.

What do you think about content mapping? Are you ready to start using it? Share your thought and concern with us in the comment section below.

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