How to Develop a Content Map

Align content to your persona’s pain points

Author: Zach Dilworth Thursday October 28, 2021
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Content Maps: An Essential Ingredient in Marketing Automation

Content mapping is an essential component of the buyer’s journey. It’s the alignment of the content or digital assets to each target persona’s concerns at any given stage of the buyer’s journey. Content maps help you deliver the right content to the right person at the right time and ultimately leads to higher engagement and lead conversion rates. It’s such a powerful element that should not be overlooked. 

As a side gig entrepreneur, it’s imperative to develop repeatable processes to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the marketing and sales onboarding process. Spend time building a good content map with an accompanying messaging table so you can spend more time on managing your business and less time manually nurturing leads.

Marketing Automation Basics

A highly effective content map is based on a critical component: a buyer persona. 

Defining a buyer persona is arguably one of the most challenging facets of inbound marketing. After all, people prefer anonymity when navigating the Internet and have the predilection to avoid a website landing page that requires them to fill out a long and tedious form or a form that requires them to share personal information they deem as “sensitive.”

However, your target audience is more likely to share personal information with non-intrusive data collection tactics such as offering a lead magnet (ebooks, whitepapers, assessments, etc) in exchange for the prospect to divulge some of their information on a form. Taking that a step further, progressive profiling enables you to build a profile for each prospect based on their interactions with your website, emails, and downloadable content.

Meanwhile, a buyer’s journey refers to your target customer’s journey towards making his or her final purchase. According to Hubspot, the buyer’s journey often has four major stages: awareness, consideration, decision, and delight. Although, this can be tailored to your side gig startup’s sales cycle. By knowing which stage any given prospect is in, you can customize your content and deliver it at the right time.

How Do I create a content map?

Audit your content

As a side gig startup, you probably don’t have a lot of content to audit, but if you happen to have a blog, you can start with that. Review each content piece and determine the stage of the journey that the content supports, the persona(s) it resonates with, pain points associated with it, industry, and assign a value to it based on the quality of the content being offered. 

Use the following stages as a guide to assign a lead funnel stage to the content.

Awareness Stage 
  • At this stage, your personas are experiencing symptoms of a problem, but may not have necessarily defined the problem yet. This content should be educational and help connect their symptoms to a problem. This content should not be promoting your company as a solution yet. Focus on adding educational value to your audience. Typical content pieces offered:
    • Blogs, checklists, infographics, guides, ebooks
Consideration Stage
  • During this stage, personas have defined the problem and are exploring solutions to the problem. The right content during the consideration stage includes value-added content with a good mix of showcasing your product as a possible solution without overly promoting it. Typical content assets available at this point include:
    • Whitepapers, case studies, templates, research reports 
Decision Stage 
  • At this point, the persona is comparing solutions and is making sure that your solution meets the technical requirements. Hence, the persona is ready to purchase and with stiff competition, your sales and marketing team should provide additional information to capture your persona’s attention. Content to include at this stage: 
    • Free estimates, assessments, live demos, consultations, detailed product brochures, spec sheets, case studies
Delight Stage
  • This is the stage that is often forgotten, but it’s the best stage to convert buyers into advocates of your product. If you’ve done a great job in each of the previous steps, had a smooth onboarding process, and delivered on your promises, your customer is likely to share his or her experience with friends, colleagues and write great reviews.
  • Do you think they will do all this on their own? Capture their excitement by engaging your customers with surveys and ask for their feedback. Additionally, consider offering referral incentives to help them sell your product for you. Involve your customers in company milestones and holiday parties. A little bit goes a long way.

2. Index Your Content Assets

If you’re starting from scratch, be sure to index each content asset properly so you can stay organized and easily plan your buyer’s journey. Take note, the buyer’s journey does not end with the decision stage. After the purchase, your customers will most likely need additional information on using your product or service. If you put the same amount of effort in post-purchase as you have done in the previous stages, you will have the most potent marketing tool: Happy clients who influence others through word of mouth and testimonials.

3. Align your messaging

A messaging table acts as the bridge between the buyer persona and the content map. While often overlooked in the process, it’s probably one of the most instrumental pieces of any marketing automation campaign. Simply map the pain points of the persona to each lead funnel stage. Additionally, under each pain point, list the messaging for how to overcome that pain point. This will help you align your content map to the messaging at any given funnel stage. It’s extremely helpful to write content for each email or landing page as you simply follow the guidelines from the messaging table. 

4. Determine Your Drip Cadence

How long should a prospect be nurtured? When it comes down to assigning content to specific lead stages, consider supporting each of your buyer persona’s pain points in each stage. How many content pieces do you need per stage? Start with what you have, but three is the magic number. 

Depending on the length of your sales cycle, you’ll need to adjust your buyer’s journey to continue nurturing your prospects for as long as a typical sales cycle. For example, if your typical sales cycle is 6 months, then you’ll need enough emails and content to nurture your prospect for 6 months at each stage. If you plan to email your contacts once every three weeks in the awareness stage, you’ll need 8 emails to engage your prospects for 6 months. In the consideration stage, if you plan to reach your prospects every two weeks you’ll need 12 emails to last 6 months.

5. Maximize Each Content Asset’s Lifespan

By sticking with three content assets per stage, you have the opportunity to multiply the emails you can use for each. Think of it like this, each email can be written to resonate with specific pain points, so if you have fou pain points, one content asset can have four emails. Additionally, for people who do not open one of those emails, you can send the same email to those people with a different subject line. Your naming convention gets really important at this point. I like the following naming convention: 

  • Persona – Funnel Stage – Lead Magnet – Pain Point – Asset – Subject line #
  • Ex: Bob the buyer – Awareness – Marketing Guide – Time – Email – SL2

This way, you can easily find, track, and place each of the emails and corresponding landing pages. 

On a side note, there should be one corresponding landing page for each piece of content offered. So, if you have four pain points for your persona, you can use one content piece from your content map, four emails (each focusing on one pain point), and one landing page to bring them back to. 

If the content is gated, then the content will only be available once the prospect fills out the form. However, in the awareness stage, it’s common to use ungated content such as a blog. Check out our blog on progressive profiling to unlock the secrets of building a profile for your personas without having them fill out a form. 

Maximize the ROI for each piece of content. There’s really no need to have one email per content asset unless you’re sitting on a mountain of content.