Content maps are the marketing equivalent of a playbook.
Your team has goals to accomplish. The playbook contains all the plays and strategies to achieve them.
Without a playbook, you’re doing things that may not contribute real progress towards your goals. Your content and marketing will be all over the place. Nothing is aligned, which is a recipe for disaster.
This is where a content map is essential. It reins all your marketing efforts into one cohesive strategy. It gives actual purpose to each piece of content you create. You not only have a destination but a plan to get there.
So, let’s explore more about this success playbook and how you can get your team (and customers) all the way to the finish line.
What Is a Content Map?
A content map is a marketing strategy centered around the needs and relationships of your target audience. They’re essentially a content marketer’s playbook for successfully winning a prospect. Like any professional sports coach, they adapt their strategy to each team or person they face.
The key principle of content mapping is delivering the right content to the right people at the right time. Each content you create should fit and support the customer at any stage of the buyer journey.
A quick refresher: the buyer’s journey depicts the steps or path a customer takes to make a purchase. It considers all the decisions and actions one makes throughout the journey, from identifying a problem to purchasing a product or service that solves it.
In the buyer’s journey, there are three main stages:
- Awareness: The prospect becomes aware they have a problem and must find a solution.
- Consideration: The prospective buyer researches and considers several potential solutions.
- Decision: The prospect decides which product or service will help them solve their pain points at the right price.
So, what does the buyer’s journey have to do with content mapping?
Why Content Mapping Is Necessary
A content map supporting the buyer’s journey sets you up for marketing success in three main ways.
Helps with planning your content
Content maps and the buyer’s journey work together to serve as your framework. Prospects will need to have different questions answered at each stage of the process. In other words, the things they want to know in the awareness stage will be different from the consideration stage.
So step in your prospect’s shoes and think of what questions they’re asking themselves. Then, plan and create a blog or social media post that precisely answers them. Content maps help you avoid wasting time writing about a topic that isn’t relevant or valuable to the reader. Instead, it keeps you concentrated on the things that matter most.
Improves customer experience
Content maps allow you to produce content tailored to the prospects’ needs. Not every individual will have the same questions. So when your blog post or email solves a specific pain point at the exact time they need it, they’re likely to consider or even choose your product or service.
It’s a way of getting potential customers more engaged and invested in your brand. The more people interact with you, the more likely they’ll buy from you.
Guides the prospect towards your product or service
There’s a reason why you tailor your topics for each stage in the buyer’s journey. The goal of a content map is to lead the prospect through all the steps in the sales funnel and toward your product or service.
So you may post on social media about a pain point — raising their awareness. It leads them to a blog post providing a solution for said pain point — placing you in consideration. Then maybe a couple more blogs or emails could help seal the deal and decide to purchase from you.
How To Craft a Content Map
Maps give us directions. That’s no different in content marketing. So, how do you go about constructing your own content map? There are three major steps.
1. Identify buyer personas
A buyer persona is a fictionalized representation of your ideal customer. You use general characteristics and attributes to help you better understand your audience and how to create content tailored for them.
Think of it as creating a character in a movie. You develop a hero or main character and give them a name, personality, and origin story. What are the hero’s motivations? Goals? What’s the conflict they’re trying to overcome? How do they overcome it?
You’re essentially writing a fleshed-out character to which you and others can relate.
Apply this mindset to content marketing. Your ideal buyer is the hero in this situation. As you develop their character, you want to define attributes such as:
These are key characteristics you should define when creating your main character. But the big question is: where or how do you find information about your target audience?
There are two ways to do so:
1.Look at your current audience.
Start with what you already have. Your current audience can consist of past customers, leads, social media followers, email subscribers, or anyone who’s interacted with your business. Use them as a guideline for your buyer persona.
It’s efficient because you’re gathering information from people who have already purchased or shown interest in your product. You have a better idea of what type of audience your brand attracts. So, your buyer personas should be a reflection of your current customers. The goal now is to determine how else you can cater to them.
2.Use competitors and online research as a guide.
If you’re just starting your business or have no customer data to pull from, look at your competitor’s audience as a frame of reference. Use their target customer to give you an idea of the type of people you could target.
You can also research online to find your ideal customer. Read customer reviews. Do Google searches. Observe social media engagement. Use your online scouting skills to help you with audience research and create buyer personas with little raw data.
2. Consider each question the persona may have at each buyer journey stage
Next, you will take the skeleton of the buyer journey and add some meat to it. In this step, you’re putting yourself in their shoes and trying to understand every possible thought and action. We point out each question you should ask yourself when planning content for each stage.
Awareness: The prospect realizes they have a problem and wants to find a solution for it.
Questions to consider:
- How can your product or service help prospects?
- What obstacles are they facing?
- What keywords are they searching for?
- Where are they going for reliable insight? Which sources or sites are they going to?
- Who or what do they listen to for advice?
Consideration: The prospect tries to find a solution. They look at several products or services and try to determine which one is better.
Questions to consider:
- How can you prove your product or service is better?
- What aspects or properties matter to them when making comparisons?
- What other solutions do they look for first?
- What are the major benefits of your product or service?
- What are significant drawbacks that can lure people away?
Decision: After consideration, they decide on the best solution and make a purchase.
Questions to consider:
- How can we provide proof that our product or service is good?
- What else are people saying about your brand?
- Could you offer a free sample or trial to help with their decision?
- Who is involved in the decision-making process?
- How else can you make your brand and its offerings stand out?
Understanding what your prospective buyer experiences at every stage will help you determine the content you produce for them.
3. Brainstorm content for each stage of the buyer journey
You can start brainstorming content ideas now that you know how the prospect feels and what they need. Notice that each stage of the buyer journey has different questions they need to be answered. So, your content should reflect the same.
Awareness stage content
You’re looking to create content that helps put you on their radar. The goal is to get your brand noticed as a viable solution to their problems. Examples of awareness stage content could be:
Consideration stage content
Now, your brand is in the prospect’s line of view. But so are others. The potential buyer has several options in their consideration and is trying to determine which one is better. So, how can you show them that your product or service is a better fit? Here are some examples of consideration stage content to help put them over the hump:
Decision stage content
The prospect is close to choosing your brand, but they need a little more. They’re trying to gain more reasons why they should buy your product today. In sports talk, this is your late-game situation. Crunch time. It’s time to close and bring it home. What content do you produce to help you win? These content ideas are examples of winning plays to help you score a lead or customer:
As you can see from these content ideas, you’re going beyond your product or service. You’re showcasing the intangibles. Your brand. What are your company values? What’s your mission? What’s your personality? What are people saying about your product? What kind of communities do you appeal to?
One thing to note is many of these content types can be used in multiple buyer journey stages. For example, a white paper can be used for the consideration and decision stages. So feel free to create content that makes sense for your needs.
Tools for Content Mapping
Putting together your content map might seem overwhelming at first. It’s understandable. There are many factors to consider, from awareness to decision. But these tools will help you create an excellent visual blueprint to direct and guide your content marketing efforts.
You can create mind maps like flow charts and bubble maps within Google Docs. Their comprehensive drawing tool gives you all the shapes and visual elements to craft a clean content map. Plus, they have pre-made templates for product roadmaps and content trackers. Not to mention, it’s free.
Miro is the go-to for visual workspaces. You can quickly start your own content map from one of their many templates. They have numerous templates for all types of business processes, such as customer journeys, SWOT analysis, and project timelines. It’s quickly becoming one of our favorites and definitely one you should try for your content maps.
Ubersuggest is a great research tool to help you with what content to make for each stage of the buyer funnel. It is a keyword tool where you can see what people are searching for and how much traffic your website drives. In addition, it provides you with content ideas related to your keyword to give you some ideas on what to create.
Answer The Public is a good social listening tool to help you see what people are discussing. You get insightful search data on what questions people are seeking the answers to. It’s a valuable way to determine how to create content that addresses their curiosity.
Canva is perfect for when it’s time to create your content. Whether you’re making a social media post, advertisement, eBook, or infographic, you can do it all on Canva. They come with a vast library of templates and design assets to help make the design process easy and fun.
Time to start your road to success! Content maps give you the game plan for connecting with your audience and turning them into customers. No matter what stage of the buyer journey they’re in, you’ll be prepared and have content ready to address their needs.
Providing the right content to the right people at the right time will help place your brand at the top of their minds. So start masterminding your content playbook today!
And don’t let content creation hold you back. Let us be part of your team! People First Content can help you write and design high-quality content, such as social media posts, blogs, and eBooks. Tell us the play, and we’ll execute it just how you like it. Let’s talk if you want to learn more!