Content Mapping 101: The Template You Need to Personalize Your Marketing

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Content mapping allows you to deliver highly targeted, personalized content at every stage of the buyer’s journey, pushing leads and prospects toward a purchase decision. In this post, we’ll review what a content map is and how you can start content mapping for your brand.

Let’s get going.

Download Now: Free Content Marketing Mapping Template

Why are content maps important?

Creating a content map is important because it personalizes your audience’s experience with your brand. They’re not receiving a one-messaging-fits-all offer or email. Instead, they get content that speaks to them at the proper moment.

The thought of a content map may seem new, but it’s not. Marketers hear it all the full time: The content you create needs to be personalized. It needs to be aligned with the wants and needs of your customers (and prospective customers). It needs to resonate with them. It needs to feel like it was created simply for them.

On its surface, this sounds like great advice. Personalization, giving people content that they’re actually interested in… it makes sense. But coming up with the particular topics that make for a highly targeted content strategy isn’t that easy.

To help you brainstorm and map out content ideas for targeting specific segments of your audience, we’ve created a new free template resource: Content Mapping Template: Using Buyer Personas & Lifecycle Stages to generate Targeted Content.

content mapping template

Down load Your Free Template Now

I’ll talk more about how you can use this template in a bit. But first, let’s have a look at how this whole “content mapping” business works.

And when you have this notion down, you’ll want to have a look at HubSpot Academy’s free content marketing training resource page to master how to map a content strategy for your business.

Content mapping supports the customer journey and creates a far more cohesive, personalized customer experience.

With regards to content, one size rarely fits all. To ensure that your company’s content is effective at generating and nurturing leads, you need to deliver the right content, to the right people, at the right time. Content mapping is the means of doing just that.

With content mapping, the goal is to target content according to:

  • A buyer persona, e. g. The characteristics of the person who will be consuming the content.
  • The buyer’s lifecycle stage, e. g. how close that person is to making a purchase.

Let’s review these two qualities at this time.

Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They allow you to understand your customers (and prospective customers) better, and make it easier for you to tailor content to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different groups.

The strongest buyer personas derive from market research as well as on insights you gather from your actual customer base (through surveys, interviews, etc . ). Depending on your business, you can have as few as one or two personas, or dozens. If you’re just getting started with personas, don’t go crazy! You can always develop more personas later if needed.

Lifecycle Stages

The buyer persona you target with your content is just one half of the content mapping equation. In addition to once you know who someone is, you need to know where they’re in the buying cycle (i. e. how close they’re to making a purchase). This location in the buying cycle is known as a lifecycle stage.

For the purposes of our Content Mapping Template, we’re divvying up the buying cycle into three lifecycle stages: Awareness, Consideration, & Decision.

  • Awareness : In the awareness stage, a person has realized and expressed symptoms of a potential problem or opportunity.
  • Consideration : In the consideration stage, a person has clearly defined and given a name for their problem or opportunity.
  • Decision : In your decision stage, a person has defined their solution strategy, method, or approach.

By combining buyer personas with lifecycle stages, you are able to really hone in on specific segments of your audience and tailor content to resonate with all of those segments.

As you get more acquainted with content mapping, you’ll want to consider website content mapping as well.

Internet site Content Mapping

Website content mapping is the process of planning the pages, blog posts, and offers you’ll publish on your site and identifying which buyer personas those pages and posts will serve. Website content mapping also identifies which pages and posts address different lifecycle stages.

Website content mapping is a key element of website personalization. Basically, you’ll create different pages, posts, and offers to address different buyers at different points in the buyer’s journey.

But before you can write all of that content, the content map comes first. Fortunately, you don’t have to create one from scratch.

With the right content mapping template, you can get create a content map that resonates with your audience.

Content Mapping Template

content mapping template

Download Your Free Template Now

To help you create a content map on your own team, we’ve created a downloadable content mapping template. The template includes an introduction to content mapping, a crash course on buyer personas and lifecycle stages, a content mapping template (plus examples), and bonus buyer persona templates.

With the template, you’ll:

  • Learn to understand buyer personas and lifecycle stages.
  • Identify issues and opportunities your audience needs help with.
  • Brainstorm highly targeted content ideas that incorporate personas and lifecycle stages.

This template is available in both Google Docs and Microsoft Word.

Whether you want to down load our content mapping template or create your own, let’s dive into the structure of a content mapping template.

HubSpot Content Mapping Template: How to Use

In our content mapping template, we created a simple grid system. The buyer persona (and a key problem or opportunity that persona is struggling with) is at the start of the grid. As you move from left to right, you’re effectively moving down the funnel.

HubSpot content mapping template

Here’s how to fill out each one of the sections in the template.

Awareness Stage Content

Your awareness stage content should target the top of the funnel (TOFU). People in this segment are just becoming aware that they have a problem. At this stage, don’t try to beat them over the head with product-focused content. Instead, think of how your content can help people become more informed about the problem in general, and you will (hopefully) find that they continue moving down your funnel as they search for solutions.

Consideration Stage Content

Your consideration stage content, in contrast, can more explicitly mention how your product or service could potentially solve a problem. Keep in mind, but that at this point in the buying cycle, people are still evaluating their options. So while case studies and demo videos are fine, save your valuable more sales-focused content (estimates, free trials, etc . ) for the next stage.

Decision Stage Content

At the decision stage of the overall game, you can really lean into marketing your products or services. If some one has reached this stage, they’ve already identified a problem and an answer, and are now on the point of pull the proverbial trigger. You can begin to send more “salesy” emails and offers that push the buyer toward a purchase decision.

Unsure of what this all can look like when put together? Let’s have a look at an example below.

Content Mapping Example

Content mapping examples from HubSpot

You now know what content mapping is, and you have the template you need to get started. What sort of tools can you use to start content mapping?

Content Mapping Tools

Content mapping may seem like a struggle that requires highly specialized software. It’s incorrect — it requires simple business tools you might already be using in your day-to-day.

We’ll begin with the most basic tools you need to start content mapping, such as word processors and visualization tools. Then we’ll move into the tools that will get you the data that you need to address different buyers, such as a CRM.

– Google Docs

Content mapping tools: Google Docs

First up in your content mapping tech stack is your preferred word processor. That is where you’ll outline your articles map and create the actual content once it’s time to create it. We suggest Google Docs as it makes it easier to share work across your team, and you not have to worry about backing up your content map.

Pricing : Free

repayments Lucidchart

Content mapping tools: Lucidchart

If you’re more of a visual person, then the flowchart tool is a must. Also, if you’d prefer to create an actual content map — with lines and diagrams — then you need a more sophisticated tool than Microsoft Paint (and Microsoft Paint is great, nonetheless it may not be what you need). Lucidchart’s flowchart maker is a top-of-the-line tool that also allows you to connect different apps and services. Like Google Docs, it allows you to work collaboratively.

Pricing : Free; $7. 95/month (Individual); $9/month (Team); Custom (Enterprise)

3. HubSpot

Content mapping tools: HubSpot's CRM HubSpot’s CRM is the one tool you will need to compile your entire data from current and prospective customers. You’ll have access to names, emails, prior engagements, and website visits all in one intuitive place. HubSpot will allow you to discern different lifecycle stages and pinpoint commonalities between customers that are ready to purchase — and customers who are not. As such, you’ll be able to make data-driven decisions as you create your content map.

Pricing : Free

4. Marketing Hub

Content mapping tools: Marketing Hub

Once you have usage of the customer data that you’ll require, it’s time to write the content and distribute it. For that, you need a marketing automation tool. Marking Hub comes bundled with everything you need to create a personalized experience for your leads and prospects, such as for example email marketing tools. It’ll help you execute your articles map once it’s ready for deployment.

Pricing : $0/month (Free); $45/month (Starter); $800/month (Professional); $3, 200/month (Enterprise)

5. CMS Hub

Content mapping tools: CMS Hub

A content management system is probably the most important tool for your content mapping efforts. A CMS will allow you to publish personalized content that targets different site visitors at — you guessed it — different stages of the buyer’s journey.

CMS Hub is fully built-in with HubSpot’s CRM platform and Marketing Hub, allowing you to produce a seamless experience for the customers as they get the content you’ve created for them. It will help you execute your content map flawlessly. Even more importantly, with CMS Hub, you can continue testing and re-testing your content for better results.

Pricing : $23/month (Starter); $360/month (Professional); $1, 200/month (Enterprise)

Not exactly convinced that content mapping is worth it? Let’s hear from some marketers that are actually doing this stuff…

Content Mapping Tips From the Pros

1 . Educate your audience.

Content mapping tip from Adanna Austin “We all have to create compelling content to attract our ideal customers, build an active and engaged audience, and acquire daily sales. Spend some time building your audience by educating them and engaging using them. No one has built a company by posting the exact same image or form of image everyday on socials and not having convoys with their audience. It is not just about turning up, but doing so with intention so you can attract your ideal customers who will buy from you. ”

– Adanna Austin (Business Coach and Consultant, Marketing Dynamics Business Solutions)

2 . Give your prospects the information they need before they ask for it.

Content mapping tip from Laura Hogan “With content mapping, you are able to give your prospects the information they are seeking before they even ask for it. Buyer personas and lifecycle stages allow you to be one step ahead of the game by mapping out what your prospect’s next steps are and delivering them the content from numerous different avenues.

We create buyer personas as part of our onboarding process and everything we do from content offer to daily tweets is centered around that document. We also always ask ourselves, ‘Would business owner Bob open this email, click this tweet, or download this offer? ‘”

– Laura Hogan (Founder, Digital Atlas Marketing)

3. Provide different conversion paths for different personas.

Content mapping tip from Marc Herschberger “When mapping out content for your site’s visitors, it is critical to remember that when it comes to purchasing decisions (BOFU conversions, especially for B2B and high-priced items), there are some personas out there who does rather speak to some one on their terms as opposed to fill out a form for a consultation. Understanding how they’re most comfortable when it comes to making decisions can help you understand what points of conversion will be the most relevant and successful for that persona.

Optimizing your internet site pages (landing and thank you pages, as well), TOFU & MOFU offers, and workflows with direct contact information (phone #, email, and so on ) is a great method to ensure that visitors, prospects and leads who may shy away from form submissions still have readily available, alternate means of converting. ”

– Marc Herschberger (Director of Operations, Revenue River Marketing)

4. Create specific content that appeals to specific personas.

Content mapping tip from Spencer Powell “Mapping out buyer personas and lifecycle stages is extremely important when creating content. In terms of buyer personas, it’s easy to see that a Marketing Director will have different questions, information needs, and interests compared to a CEO. Both of these personas may be searching for your product or service, but are going to looking for different topics. By creating content that appeals to each audience, you can be far better in attracting that specific audience.

By the same token, each persona of yours may be in a different stage of the buying process, so it’s important to think through and create content that appeals to someone looking for basic, high-level information such as an ebook, as well as specific information like a pricing guide or example.

One tip I’d suggest for anybody with pretty different personas would be to dedicate an entire section of your site to each audience. That way, when you pull in your audience, all the content is directed toward them.

We actually took this concept and went a step further by creating unique brands for each one of our vertical markets. Each brand has its own part of the website, its own weblog content, and its own premium content (downloadable offers). It’s really helped us attract and convert visitors at an increased rate because all the content is more relevant to that persona. ”

– Spencer Powell (Chief Executive Officer, Builder Funnel)

4. Pull content topics from your sales process.

Content mapping tip from Diona Kidd “By taking the buyer and purchasing stage into account when creating content, you can be sure you’re designing content to help move them through the buying process.

As well as mapping content to the buyer profile and purchasing stage, we regularly pull topics from the sales process. Then we offer the content in later sales calls. This helps us not only evaluate the relevancy of the content but also the interest of the buyer. We encourage clients to do exactly the same. ”

– Diona Kidd (Managing Partner, Knowmad)

Content Mapping is paramount to Your Company’s Growth

Delivering the proper content at the right time can do wonders for your company’s growth. By meeting prospects’ needs based on their persona and lifecycle stage, you’re delighting them at every turn, boosting your chances of winning a loyal customer and turning them right into a brand evangelist.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2014 and it has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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