I’ve just spent $18,199 on a Kawasaki ULTRA 310LX jet ski. And I live nowhere near the sea.
Well. It started with a Facebook post advertising jet skis for sale.
Interest piqued (I’ve always wanted a jet ski), I then watched a video. Liking what I saw, I visited the Kawasaki website. Over the course of about two weeks, I consumed six blog posts, watched another three videos, read every single review I could find, and devoured the FAQ section.
Then, I bought it.
Ok, I might be slightly mad, but Kawasaki definitely isn’t.
It’s a well-known fact that content generates over three times as many leads as any other form of marketing – and I can completely understand why.
Throughout my entire jet ski journey with Kawasaki, I was provided with the right content at the right time, in the right format. This led me to purchase the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought (apart from my house).
How did they know what content to show me? How did they know when to show it? And how did they know how to serve it?
With a content map.
Which, coincidentally, is what this WordSmiths post is all about. So, join me as we find our way through the following topics:
- What a content map is & how it works
- How to create a content map in 5 simple steps
- Every content teams need a content map
Grab your compass and let’s get started.
What a content map is & how it works
A content map is like a road map. It lays out your customers’ journey, it highlights the places they’re likely to stop, and it tells you what content they need to see, to help them move forwards and continue their journey with you.
It’s a tool that helps you understand your audience better, and allows you to determine what content you need to produce to reach and engage them in the best way.
“It connects every piece of content to a stage of the customer journey and visualizes opportunities to better meet the needs of your audience.”Alexa Blog, How to Use Content Mapping to Create Effective Content
How does it do that?
How do content maps work?
Let’s imagine that content marketing is like driving a taxi. To pick up customers, you need two basic things: Headlights and fuel.
The headlights are your content map, guiding you forwards and enabling you to see which roads you need to take to reach your customers. And the fuel is the content you produce to help you get to the customers you want to pick up.
But, you can’t switch your headlights on and put fuel in your taxi without first knowing who you’re picking up and where they are.
Once you understand who your customer is and where they are in their journey with you, you can then work out the best way to reach them with the content you produce.
That’s what a content map is and how it works, but how do you create one?
How to create a content map in 5 simple steps
As we’ve established, a content map helps you understand what content you need to create to keep your customers moving through each stage of their journey with you.
And you can create one in five simple steps.
Creating a content map step #1: Develop buyer personas
“Buyer personas are frameworks that represent segments of your target audience.”Content Mapping: Save Time, Money & Dominate Your Competition, Strategy Beacon
To create content that meets your customer’s needs at every stage of their journey, you need to have an in-depth understanding of who your customers are.
Look at their demographics: How old are they? Where do they live? What do they do?
But don’t stop there.
Establish what their pain points, pet-hates, and problems are. Discover what they like, what they’re interested in, and what their opinions are. Find out how they act as consumers and what they’re looking to achieve.
Comb through Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook. Read reviews and blog comments. Use social listening tools and start to build up detailed pictures of who your customers are.
These pictures will allow you to create targeted content that suits them, specifically.
Creating a content map step #2: Map out their buyer’s journey
Once you’ve got your buyer personas drawn up, you then need to map out the journey these buyers are likely to take with you. Work out what they’ll be thinking and how they’ll be behaving at each stage.
A customer will usually go through the following five stages on their buyer’s journey:
Stage 1. Awareness: This is the moment you catch the attention of your prospective customer.
Stage 2. Engagement: They’re now engaged with you and what you’re offering, but they’re not fully committed. They’re still shopping around and keeping their options open.
Stage 3. Evaluation: When they reach this stage it means they’re preparing to make their final decision and are evaluating their options: Do they or don’t they choose you?
Stage 4. Purchase: They’ve carefully made their choice and they’re now ready to make the transaction.
Stage 5. Post-purchase: They’ve made their purchase but they’re now looking for some added reassurance that they’ve made the right choice.
Your main aim is to keep your customers moving through these five stages of the buyer’s journey – which is where your content comes in…
Creating a content map step #3: Establish content for each stage of the buyer’s journey
“When the customer journey is laid out, it’s more clear what content you should create to attract, nurture, and guide customers during their journey.”Alexa Blog, How to Use Content Mapping to Create Effective Content
Now you know what your customers are likely to go through on their journey with you, it’s time to look at what content you need to produce to keep them moving through each stage of their journey.
Your content needs to achieve several different things at several different points. It needs to capture their attention, keep them engaged, provide clarity to aid decision-making, make it easy for them to purchase, and offer them reassurance.
So, unfortunately, a couple of blog posts and a video or two won’t cut it.
Let’s revisit the customer’s buyer journey and establish what types of content you should offer, to keep them moving onto the next stage.
Content for stage 1: Awareness
At this stage, your customer knows little about you. They’re likely to be curious and have a lot of questions that need answering.
To satisfy their curiosity, create a range of informative content, like the following for example:
- Buying guides
- How-to guides
- Industry reports
- How-to videos
- Social media posts
Give your customers the information they’re looking for in a digestible, easy-to-find way.
Content for stage 2: Engagement
This is where you need to work hard to keep your customer interested. They need to stay engaged with you and your product otherwise you’ll lose them to the competition.
Make sure you have plenty of interactive, engaging content like short, snappy videos with valuable messages or interactive newsletters with strong CTA’s. Social media campaigns driving traffic to your website could work too.
Anything to keep your customers engaged.
Content for stage 3: Evaluation
Did you know that 65% of consumers spend over 16 minutes comparison shopping before making a purchase?
To stand any sort of chance against your competitors, you need to cover the basics. Make sure your offering is understandable, your benefits are clear, your USP is strong, and your price is competitive.
Customers at this stage of their journey will be looking for details. They’ll be on the hunt for further information. They’ll want to know why you’re better than the rest and how you can help them, specifically.
Targeted content in these formats works well for customers in this stage:
- Reviews and testimonials
- Landing pages
- Case studies
- Demo videos
- Free samples
Prove to your customer that you’re the best option. Help them to see why you’re the answer to their problems by giving them enough information to help them through to the next stage.
Content for stage 4: Purchase
Your customer has carefully considered their options and they’ve chosen you. But, it’s not a done deal yet. There’s still time for your customer to get cold feet and back out of the purchase.
Content at this stage needs to make your customers feel even more confident about their decision to choose you. Make sure targeted ‘How-to guides’ and FAQs are visible for last-minute questions and customer reviews and testimonials are on hand for last-minute worries.
Content for stage 5: Post-purchase
Congratulations! Your customer has made it through their buyer’s journey. But it doesn’t end here. This is where their next journey with you starts: Their customer success journey (that’s another story for another time).
Despite what you might think, this stage is the most important part of the buyer’s journey.
“Because it’s far easier and roughly 5 times cheaper to retain an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one”Power, How to Deliver Value at Every Stage of the Customer Journey
This is where you need to maintain the trust you’ve worked so hard to build up. After they’ve made a purchase, you need to follow it up with them. Show them that you care by checking that they’re happy and asking for their feedback.
Content like this would be a good idea to create for this stage:
- Testimonial requests
- Discounts for future purchases
Show your customers that they’re worth more to you than a simple sale.
Creating a content map step #4: Catalog your existing content
You now know what content you need to produce for each stage of the buyer’s journey. But, what content have you already got?
This step is all about auditing your existing content and assigning each piece of content to the appropriate stage of the buyer’s journey. You need to do this so that you don’t a) duplicate any content, and b) waste time recreating unnecessary content.
This is a great example of how you can catalog your existing content and map it to the right phase of the buyer’s journey:
Creating a content map: Step #5: Fill the gaps & create targeted content
Now for the fun bit!
Once you’ve mapped the content you have to the various stages of the buyer’s journey, you’ll be able to see where the gaps in your content are and what you need to create to fill them.
Creating new content can take up a lot of time and resources, but you don’t need to create brand new content assets to fill every gap in your content map.
Look for ways to repurpose what you have and use it in other stages of the buyer’s journey. Or, use a tool to centralize your content assets and sync them to your content calendar so you can schedule and distribute the right content to the right channels, at the right time.
So, that’s what a content map is, that’s how it works, and that’s how to create one. But, we still need to establish why…
Every content team needs a content map
“Leads nurtured with targeted content produce an increase in sales opportunities of more than 20%.”Power, How to Deliver Value at Every Stage of the Customer Journey
As we’ve established you can create a content map easily, in five simple steps.
But why? Why do it?
A content map gives you an overview of all the content you have, it helps you identify pot-holes in your content strategy, and it makes sure that every single piece of content you produce is created with a purpose and is optimized to serve that purpose.
It takes the guesswork out of content creation. You won’t waste time writing ineffective blog posts or unnecessary landing pages because you’ll know exactly how to reach your audience with the right content, at the right time, and in the right way.
Content mapping provides you with a deep insight into your customers and offers you the opportunity to improve interactions with them.
“With the customer in power, marketing doesn’t work without a target. You need to align your content to the buyer’s journey.”Conductor, What Is a Content Map? The Definitive Guide
And there we have it. That’s what a content map is, that’s how you can use it to reach your customers in a powerful and effective way, and that’s why I bought a jet ski when I live nowhere near the sea!
Have you ever made a content map? Let us know how you manage your content in the comments below! 👇