Content is critical to Inbound Marketing. It supports all areas of your strategy from traffic generation and lead conversion to the final sale and follow-up. But to use your content effectively for the purposes of Inbound Marketing, you need to be thoughtful and deliberate in what content you are posting, where and when.
Firstly, you need to ensure you’re delivering the right content to the right person, through a process called content mapping.
Content mapping is focused on developing content based on your prospect’s intent. To do this, you need two very important pieces of background information:
Your buyer persona is a fictional representation of your target customer. The buyer persona can help everyone in your organization get a better understanding your target audience, and as a content developer, will help you create content that addresses your persona’s specific needs, challenges and behaviours.
The buyers journey on the other hand, is the process that your potential buyer goes through before making their final purchase.
There are three lifecycle stages of the buyer’s journey – awareness, consideration and decision. It’s important for you to understand where in the buyers journey your prospects are. I recommend you check out our blog on Mapping Your Buyer’s Level of Awareness to the Buyer’s Journey for more information.
Once you have a strong understanding of your buyer persona and buyer’s journey, you’re ready to start mapping your content!
The first step in your content mapping process is to determine what each persona’s goals are at the different stages of the buyer’s journey. Ask yourself, “what is my buyer persona looking for at this point in their buyer’s journey?”.
At the awareness stage, your personas will be looking for educational content that will help them identify their problem or opportunity. They want information that relates to the symptoms of the problem, the pain points being felt, potential causes of those pain points and tips on the various solutions. So as an Inbound Marketer what content can you develop to best help an individual at this stage of the buyer’s journey. We recommend blogs, whitepapers, eBooks and checklists as the best type of content for this stage of the journey.
At the consideration stage, your prospects are considering different solutions and will want content about your specific product or service to educate themselves on their choices. Does your solution fix their problem? Here we recommend product brochures, expert guides, comparison charts, case studies, demo videos and webinars at this stage.
At the decision stage, they’re ready to make a decision and the buyer will gravitate towards specific content that tells them exactly what they have to do to become a customer. Offer your prospects vendor/product/service comparisons, solution assessments, customer success stories, demos, consultations and free trials, and of course they will be very tempted to find out more about pricing.
These are very general guidelines for determining your personas goals at each stage of the buyer’s journey – but you can see what we are doing here is mapping the specific types of content against the stage they are at.
We recommend taking the time to make the content more specific to your personas. This will help improve the quality of your content mapping and increase the conversion rates that you need.
Once you have finished identifying your personas’ goals, it is time to brainstorm content.
Focus on one buyer’s journey stage at a time and brainstorm a variety of content topics and formats – you may remember that you should have a good idea of what your persona is looking for at each stage and what questions they will be asking.
Start with the awareness stage and don’t worry about silly ideas. For now, write out everything you can think of to help your persona find information. You can perfect your ideas later, once you are done brainstorming.
Do this for the next two stages, consideration and decision, then move onto the next persona. If you find that you are coming up with ideas for different personas and stages, while you brainstorm, go ahead and skip to that section.
While it is easier to start from the beginning, creating your content maps is not necessarily a linear process.
Content mapping is all about your persona. Once you are able to develop the content they need to answer their questions and solve their problems, you will be on your way to an amazing Inbound Marketing strategy.
So, have fun, take your time and get content mapping!