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    10/06/2023 |

    What Is Content Mapping? How To Guide the Buyer Journey

    Between competition, technology and the internet, it’s become more difficult than ever for businesses to reach and engage their target audience.

    Effective content marketing involves more than just creating and sharing content. You need a strategy to consistently deliver valuable and relevant content that attracts the right prospects, retains customers and converts better leads. 

    Content mapping is an important step in developing a strong content strategy. It’s the process of identifying and categorizing content to guide people through every stage of their buyer journey, with resources tailored to their questions, challenges and needs.

    Understanding the Importance of Content Mapping 

    But why is content mapping so important for B2B businesses specifically? There are two core reasons you need a strategic approach to content development and delivery. 

    1. Build Trust and Credibility

    One of the primary objectives of content marketing is to build trust and establish credibility with your target audience. Unlike traditional advertising, which can often come off as pushy or sales-y, content marketing allows you to educate people about your industry, products or services without directly promoting them.

    By mapping out high-quality, informative and valuable content for every stage of the buyer journey, you highlight your expertise and demonstrate your commitment to helping people find the right solution.

    This not only helps build trust but also strengthens relationships with customers, who are more likely to continue using a company they view as knowledgeable and credible.

    2. Capture Attention in a Crowded Market

    It’s harder than ever to grab someone’s attention. Anyone can create and share information online, making it more challenging for even savvy buyers to sift through it all and make informed purchase decisions.

    You need to provide content with value – resources that resonate with your target audience, addressing their needs and pain points. By developing a roadmap to deliver valuable, relevant information, you offer a clear path through the chaos. 

    So, how does content mapping work?

    Start With a Blueprint

    Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach that focuses on creating and sharing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience. 

    Depending on where prospects are in their buyer journey, your content can educate them about your industry, showcase your expertise and acknowledge and address their challenges. You can develop blog posts, infographics, videos, social media posts, e-books, whitepapers, podcasts, webinars – the list goes on. The key is to choose the right type of content that resonates with your target audience and aligns with your revenue goals.

    Before you can develop a successful content strategy (or begin to map relevant assets or tools), you have to understand your buyers’ needs and interests. This is where buyer personas come in.

    Start by asking yourself: Who do you want to attract? From there, delve deep into demographics, behaviors and preferences, based on your current customer base and what you know about the people you want to reach.

    Armed with this knowledge, you can tailor content that speaks directly to the needs and pain points of your personas. As you start drafting your strategy, divide the buyer journey into its essential stages: Pre-Awareness, Awareness, Education, Consideration, Evaluation, Rationalization, Decision and Ongoing Delivery. Each stage represents a distinct opportunity to engage prospects and customers.

    (See a few more stages than you’re used to? There’s a reason for that. The buyer journey is more complicated than ever.)

    The next step: Draw your content map. No, really. Start at the beginning of the buyer journey and create a visual guide – maybe it’s a flowchart, rather than a map – of what content can best address your personas and their pains throughout their buyer journey. This helps ensure that each piece of content leads to the next, as you begin to identify specific topics (and formats).

    Build Trust, Generate Leads and Nurture Through Conversion

    Think about your target personas as a community. They share goals, needs and challenges. They want more than reading materials – they want tools that help them try what they’ve learned. 

    During the early stages of the buyer journey (Pre-Awareness through Education), your leads are seeking answers to their problems. Provide educational content that addresses these issues and establishes your company’s expertise and introduces you as a trusted source of solutions. 

    What types of content might be best? You know after building out your personas that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. However, some formats in particular fit well during these early stages:

    • Templates
    • Frameworks
    • Checklists
    • Guides
    • Short videos 

    In the Consideration and Evaluation stages, people have a clear understanding of how to define their challenges and options. Your task now is to offer comparative content, showcasing your unique differentiators and how you stack up against competitors. Your content map might include: 

    • Case studies
    • Success stories
    • Product comparisons 

    When your prospects reach the Rationalization and Decision stages and they’re still engaging with your company, you may think you can coast a bit – but don’t! Just because you’re on the short list doesn’t mean they’re not still weighing options. 

    At this stage, content starts to look a little different. You’ll want to provide options that encourage direct engagement, such as:  

    • Incentives (like free trials) 
    • Demonstrations
    • Personal consultations 
    • Pricing and guarantee information 

    Map Your Impact

    Once you've developed and implemented your content strategy, it’s essential to leverage technology to ensure you can adapt as needed to drive lead and revenue generation. 

    Make the most of marketing automation and your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform. Track user interactions and deliver personalized content efficiently based on their pains and current stage in the buyer journey. 

    Seeing more leads and conversions? Then you’re off to a great start – but keep going. Even if you work hard to build a library of “evergreen” resources, the content that resonates now may not be relevant in six months or a year. You need to constantly re-evaluate your map and companion strategy, making sure your offerings are aligned with personas’ desires and pains. 

    Yep, just like every element of an effective revenue generation system, it only works when you can measure your performance. 

    As you share new content, make sure you identify key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure its effectiveness. Track metrics such as conversion rates, engagement levels and lead quality. Set up a regular schedule for analysis and optimization and make data-driven adjustments to refine your content map and drive even greater success. 

    Heather Bowlan, Copywriter headshot

    Heather Bowlan, Copywriter

    Heather Bowlan's writing and editing experience has ranged from B2B/B2C website copy to travel guidebooks and poetry reviews to nonprofit fundraising campaigns. Her background in creative writing and critical thinking keeps her inquisitive and interested. Whatever the message or medium, she loves the opportunity to develop content with impact.

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