While shopping or seeking information online, consumers go through four stages: awareness, engagement, evaluation, and purchase–also, in some cases, postpurchase. Content mapping ensures that you have appropriate coverage of various types of content to support consumers throughout the process.
Often referred to as the “buying funnel,” a content map can be segmented into two parts:
Top of funnel, where you interact with the consumer, e.g., through media and social channels.
Bottom of funnel, where the consumer has engaged with you in some way at a far greater level of detail.
By aligning content creation with audience needs, you stand a much better chance of further encounters as consumers undertake information-gathering tasks.
Follow these five steps:
1. Develop customer personas.
Create customer personas with the following data:
The type of information in which individuals in that persona would be interested.
The full set of your ideal customers and the content that you produce for them. For example, if your company caters to developers, designers, and marketers, those are your target personas for content mapping.
Start small: Instead of identifying all your personas up front, iterate once you start to see success. A case in point: A bank might start with two personas, business and personal, then divide personal into borrowing and lending, and, finally, add demographic, location, and income data to target mortgages versus car loans.
2. Define the stages of your customer journey.
Given the nature of omnichannel interactions and social channels, the typical customer journey is now far more complex than before, often with the first brand interaction on Tiktok or Instagram, not your website. Not only that, customers are starting to curate their own brand experiences, which might not resemble your assumed customer journey.
Nonetheless, a content map is still valuable to verify that the right content exists for where consumers are. Also, since some of their earlier understanding might be from sources like social channels, which are outside your control, you must see to it that consumers have other ways of furthering their knowledge of the core concepts.
Oftentimes, a consumer journey’s stages are related to “jobs to be done” and the ways in which your product can assist them in those tasks. Most marketers go with these four stages:
Awareness, which is content that relates to acquiring new customers, typically advertisements, social media, and SEO.
Consideration, which is the next level of detail that answers common questions on the product, e.g., features and costs.
Purchase, which is the information required just before deciding whether to purchase, e.g., product or shipping details. Again, consider your audiences. For those in Canada who often buy from the U.S. or Europe, for example, information on shipping and customs is extremely important. E-commerce websites that lack those details would be left in the dust.
Retention, which are insights that help customers use their purchases effectively through either enablement or support channels.
Advocacy, by far the most interesting—and hardest!—stage, which depends on three factors:
An in-depth understanding of your audiences.
The channels those folks engage with.
Your customers being your fan base, i.e., metrics, such as a net promoter score, indicate that they would actively advocate for your brand and either share your content or generate their own for you.
3. Identify the key content that matches all the phases.
Small organizations often use a spreadsheet or Airtable app to track the personas, the content types appropriate to them, the phase in the customer journey, and, for earlier stages, the actual content schedule. For large enterprises, a tool like Gather Content
or Optimizely Content Marketing Platform
might be more appropriate.
Be sure to build and curate coverage for each of the phases. You might see gaps at the beginning but, over time, you’ll be able to gauge content success and retire underperforming material or personas.
4. Consider opportunities for repurposing content.
One way to optimize content effectiveness and cost efficiency is to repurpose successful content by changing its format or channel, e.g., make a video of a captivating whitepaper or republish it on social media with additional commentary or context.
fosters content reuse by making it easy to connect to underlying content sources and repurpose them into new contexts and channels. That practice is especially common in e-commerce, where you frequently combine content from social and review sources while building product-detail pages or promotional campaigns.
5. Inform editorial calendars with your content map.
As noted earlier, content mapping is closely linked to editorial planning. That means your editorial calendar must consider not only how much quality content to create, but also how to time it so as to avoid overloading your marketing and social channels for a given audience.
As customers move from evaluation to purchase, you’re less likely to be overloading acquisition channels, hence less need to build a content schedule. In other words, for established clients, generate and publish content that will add value to their purchases. Since growth often comes from retaining customers, post sales content is crucial for properly supporting and maintaining relationships.
You can tactically leverage your approach for segmenting and creating content for specific audiences through personalization by more effectively guiding them to the content that’s most likely to meet their needs. Uniform Context
is a remarkable tool that effectively manages content reuse for personalization with a unified view of different sources of customer data, setting customers on the right path.