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A 4-Step Customer Journey Map Process for Better Content Results [Template]

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A 4-Step Customer Journey Map Process for Better Content Results [Template]


Did you bring a map (digital or otherwise) with you on your last road trip? Most people do – It’s the best way to ensure that you arrive exactly where you intended to go.

Yet relatively few marketers create a map when planning content. They should. A customer journey map is a great way to lead prospects and customers to a destination that meets their information needs (and your marketing goals.)

The journey mapping process also can provide the strategic direction your team needs to know what kind of content to create to help move website visitors and other prospects through the sales cycle.

Though journey mapping can seem like a complex and tedious time suck, it doesn’t have to be.

A streamlined journey mapping process helped fintech company Datasite transform random acts of content into connected, customer-centric experiences.

Convince & Convert’s Jenny Magic worked with Datasite Vice President of Marketing Americas Marcio Moerbeck to create the company’s customer journey maps. Here’s a detailed walkthrough of the process they followed (and a template you can use to get started) from their presentation at Content Marketing World 2021.

Marcio and Jenny also explain why customer journey maps are a critical part of any content marketing strategy and what they can help your brand achieve in this short video:

What is a customer journey map?

A journey map is a visual representation of the customer journey that defines:

  • All the points where customers and prospects interact with your brand
  • What they want to accomplish at each one
  • The path they take from point to point as they move toward a purchase

Jenny describes it as representing the intersection of buyer needs and your organization’s calls to action. “It’s thinking about what they need, what we need, what do we want them to do, and why would they want to do it. It helps content marketers get out of their own heads and see their brand through the eyes of customers,” she says.

Creating a customer journey map for your #ContentMarketing helps you see your brand through your prospects’ and customers’ eyes, says @JennyLMagic via @CMIContent @semrush. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Journey mapping is a marketer’s “secret superpower,” Jenny says. “The intersection of your brand strategy, your personas, and your journey maps is true content marketing gold.”

Why create customer journey maps?

Viewing your brand’s value through that lens helps you evolve your content experience to become more customer-centric.

That’s particularly important because customers want to do their own research. According to TrustRadius research, 87% of buyers want to self-serve part or all of their buying journey, and 57% of buyers already make purchase decisions without ever talking with a vendor representative.

87% of buyers want to self-serve part or all of their buying journey, and 57% already make purchase decisions without talking with a vendor rep, according to @trustradius #research via @joderama @CMIContent @semrush. Click To Tweet

And they’re less patient with marketing that prioritizes the brand’s messages and goals over a useful and contextually relevant content experience.

“Every single content preference study gives marketers a thumbs down on whether or not the content is objective versus being biased; whether it is focused on substance over style; whether it’s the right amount of material or an overwhelming volume, and finally, whether or not it’s extraneous to their research,” Jenny says. “This means [marketers] are not doing a fantastic job telling them what they need to know to make that decision.”

Working through the mapping process keeps you focused on customers by:

  • Enabling cross-team alignment around customer needs: The mapping process brings sales, marketing, and customer support together to define what customers need to know before they buy, what they need after they purchase, and the stories marketing can tell to support those interactions.
  • Guiding content priorities: It’s easy for teams to get distracted by the next shiny object, the next social media channel, or some exciting idea from the C-suite. A journey map that clearly articulates audience needs helps ensure the team stays true to what your audience wants and needs.
  • Inspiring customer-centric content. Auditing your content during the mapping process can reveal topic gaps you should create content to fill.

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A streamlined customer journey mapping process and template

Jenny recommends a customer journey process that focuses on a narrow set of information selected to help you plan more effectively and create higher-performing content.

I’ll walk you through the steps of this process, using a template Jenny built in Airtable to illustrate the steps (you can access her template here). You can use Excel, Google Sheets, or any other project management tool to create a similar tracker.

Step 1: Define your personas 

Click to enlarge

List your customer personas in the first tab on the far left of this template and fill in their most important characteristics. Jenny’s example shows details for three personas (A, B, and C), including their job titles, who they report to, and their role in the decision-making process.

If you haven’t yet created detailed customer profiles as part of your content marketing strategy development, consider this quick-start personas guide.

For journey mapping, Jenny recommends including only those details that are relevant to the decision journey – mindset and motivation.

These are the must-have insights she includes:

  • Triggers: What drives their interest in changing their current solution or taking action on a new purchase?
  • Influences: Who or what influences them on decisions like this?
  • Value proposition: Which of your advantages and benefits will resonate with them most?
  • Motivations and frustrations: Why have they chosen to engage with your business, and what do they need to do or solve right now?

TIP: To avoid bringing unintentional biases into your work, don’t give your personas names. “If we use a gendered name like ‘Driven Daniel,’ we instantly picture a male, and that may not be [relevant] to the decision process,” Jenny says.

Don’t give gendered names to your audience personas because that can introduce unintentional biases in your #ContentMarketing, says @JennyLMagic via @CMIContent @semrush. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Step 2: Define your calls to action (CTAs)

Click to enlarge

In the second tab, fill in your top 20 or so business CTAs – the activities that drive consumers toward a purchase decision.

Jenny says marketers tend to rush through this step or skip it entirely. But this step keeps content teams focused on desirable business outcomes rather than vanity metrics.

Think about these CTAs in terms of the behaviors you want to drive, such as:

  • Assessing readiness to make a purchase decision
  • Learning how to evaluate our type of solution
  • Requesting a demo

Bring sales and customer support teams into your planning conversations to share insights and real-world scenarios at this stage.

“Sales might have a whole set of activities that they’re judged and rewarded on that are often very different from the [marketing team’s] CTAs – and very different from what the support team wishes our clients knew once they signed on the dotted line,” Jenny says.

She recommends bringing the teams together and getting them to agree on which CTAs to prioritize. Although this part of the process can feel arduous, Marcio confirms that it delivers important benefits: “The great moment of this exercise was that we came to a consensus on a set of CTAs that we can go and activate. Be patient and be resilient through that process because, for us, that was the win,” says Marcio.

Get sales, customer support, and marketing together to agree on which business calls to action to prioritize in your #ContentMarketing, says @JennyLMagic @AskMarcio via @CMIContent @semrush. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Step 3: Define your customer experience

Once you’ve defined your audience targets and CTAs, use the Journey Map tab to align the persona details and journey stages with your content and CTAs. You can also fill in the emotions that likely drive your persona’s actions at each journey stage (as Jenny has done in this example). But don’t worry about the content column just yet – you’ll have that information once you do the audit in Step 4.

Click to enlarge

When filling in these fields, don’t nitpick every word choice or haggle over the fine details. Just summarize the essential information. In the remaining columns, Jenny recommends distilling your customer insights into answers to these four questions:

Think of this step as a narrative exercise that results in a first draft, Jenny says. It’s not meant to serve as a definitive resource to answer all your content planning questions.

Step 4: Audit your existing content

A comprehensive content audit is never a bad idea. But Jenny suggests speeding things up for journey mapping with this focused approach:

  • List the titles of only your 50 highest-performing evergreen content pieces. They’ll serve as a representative sample of your best content.
  • Determine which of your CTAs would be most relevant for each asset.

In Jenny’s full template (not pictured), you’ll see additional fields you can fill in if they’re important to your business (such as the asset’s URL, and target formats and channels).

But even if you just outline the content you have and the CTAs each one aligns with, the process will reveal two key content insights:

  • Gaps: You’ll find out if you lack content for specific CTAs or topics. This insight will help you set priorities for future content creation.
  • Waste: You’ll identify topics you’ve covered sufficiently (or more often than you need to). You can deprioritize these topics in your list of new content to create.

Transform random acts of content into connected customer experiences

These steps help you create the framework for a living content plan you can build on by adding more insights and ideas over time. As you brainstorm new content pieces or look for ways to refresh and repurpose the assets you’ve already created, use this template to set priorities and track results through your creation and distribution workflows.

Deciding what content pieces to create – and how to connect them to provide a seamless, customer-focused experience – can seem intimidating in the absence of a linear process. Try Jenny’s suggestions to help simplify your decision-making, increase your strategic focus, and achieve better marketing results.

Want to learn how to balance, manage, and scale great content experiences across all your essential platforms and channels? Join us at ContentTECH Summit (May 31-June 2) in San Diego. Browse the schedule or register today. Use the code BLOG100 to save $100.

Note: No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools (from your company or ones you’ve used) in the comments.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute





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State of Content Marketing in 2023

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State of Content Marketing in 2023

I just pressed send on the manuscript for my book to be released in September. It’s called Content Marketing Strategy (snappy, eh?), and Kogan Page will publish it.

Last week, marketing professor Philip Kotler wrote the foreword. I won’t spoil it, but he mentioned the need for a strategic approach to owned media.

He writes, “(T)he company doesn’t carry an account of showing these marketing assets and their value. As a result, the company cannot show the CEO and company board members a return on owned assets or content.”

Luckily, my upcoming book shows exactly how to do that. Funny how that works out.

In any event, all this struck me that now is an opportune time to look at where the beloved practice of content marketing stands today.

First, let’s go back to 1999 when Kotler published Kotler On Marketing, one of his more than 70 books. The latter 1990s – a time of tumultuous change – fueled most of the thinking for the book. But he knew that it was merely the beginning.

Kotler concluded the book with a section called “Transformational Marketing.”  In the next decade, he wrote, “marketing will be re-engineered from A to Z. Marketing will need to rethink fundamentally the processes by which they identify, communicate, and deliver customer value.”

Well, it’s taken over two decades, but it’s finally happening.

Consumers have changed, but marketing operations are just starting to

In case you didn’t notice, almost every marketing conference these days starts with the same four or five requisite slides:

  • Digital technologies, such as search and social media, empower consumers today.
  • Consumers research, engage, buy, and stay loyal to brands in ways that have fundamentally changed.
  • First-party data and privacy are of the utmost importance.
  • Artificial intelligence begins to threaten the idea of the usefulness of search and pressure companies to deliver better and more personalized experiences.

You get it. Consumer expectations in the age of the social, mobile, and AI-driven web are different than they were.

However, the continuing challenge in 2023 is that content and/or marketing operations in enterprise companies are only beginning to evolve. Most marketing departments have remained as they were when Kotler wrote his book — they still work from mid- to late-20th century hierarchies, strategies, and processes.

Most marketing departments still work with mid- to late-20th-century hierarchies, strategies, and processes, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Content marketing isn’t new, but a content marketing strategy is

For hundreds of years, businesses have used content to affect some kind of profitable outcome. But the reality is this: Whether it was John Deere’s The Furrow from the 1800s, Michelin’s guide to car maintenance in the early 1900s, or even Hasbro’s GI-Joe partnership with Marvel in the 1980s, content was not — and is not for the most part now — a scalable, repeatable practice within the function of marketing. In short, companies almost always treat content marketing as a project, not a process.

That fundamental change will finally take hold in 2023. It could happen because of the digital disruption and ease by which you can now publish and distribute content to aggregate your own audiences. It could happen through the natural evolution that the ultimate outcome – more than the marketing – matters more.

As we roll through 2023 and beyond, content — and the exponentially increasing quantities of it produced by every organization — deeply affects not just your marketing strategy, but your business strategy. Content in marketing is now bigger than simply content marketing, and it should be dealt with as a component of that business strategy throughout the enterprise.

#Content in marketing is bigger than #ContentMarketing. Treat it as a component of the business strategy, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

In 2023, the No. 1 focus of my consulting and advisory practice these days: help companies transform content into a repeatable, scalable, and measurable function that drives value through a multi-channel strategy. It’s bigger than publishing a blog, creating a lead-generating resource center, or sending an email newsletter. Today’s content marketing team is being absorbed into marketing because marketing and its various operations are fundamentally transforming into a content-producing machine.

It is not good enough to produce content “like a media company would.” The goal must be to operate as a media company does. Your job is not to change content to fit new marketing goals. Rather, your job in 2023 is to change marketing to fit the new business content goals.

Your job in 2023 is to change #marketing to fit the new business #content goals, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

The unaware builds a case for the aware

The term “content marketing” continues to evolve. Even today, I run across those who still call it “brand publishing,” “custom content,” or “inbound marketing.”

My take matches with what Kotler described in 1999. I always thought the term “content marketing” would become part of “marketing” more broadly. In 2023, that happened. So, returning to the lexiconic debates of 2013, 2014, or 2015 doesn’t seem terribly productive. Content marketing is just good marketing, and marketing is just good content marketing.

That said, two kinds of companies do well at the broader view of content marketing. Some of them, such as Cleveland Clinic, Red Bull, Arrow Electronics, HubSpot, and REI, have purposely devised content marketing strategies as differentiating approaches to their marketing. They are succeeding.

Others, like Amazon, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, and Peloton, backed into a smart content marketing strategy. But executives at those companies probably don’t recognize it as such. If asked (and some have been), they would say acquiring or launching a media company operation was just a smart business strategy to diversify their ability to reach their consumers consistently.

They’re right, of course. Many have yet to read books about content marketing, been influenced by the Content Marketing Institute, or even recognize content marketing as a separate approach (as far as I know). And they are also succeeding.

Consider this proof: As I write this article, six companies have a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion. Four of the six wholly or partially use the business model of media creation to further marketing and business strategies. Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, and Amazon are all, in part, media companies that also sell products and services.

Why would you not avail yourself of that same model?

The future looks cloudy and bright

As for the overall state of enterprise content marketing, it’s in transition, as all marketing is. As a focused project-based approach, working in ad-hoc ways across a business, content marketing appears to have proven its worth. Hundreds of entries every year to the Content Marketing Awards feature myriad case studies using content marketing techniques in strategic ways to profitably affect business results.

And yet, it remains to be seen whether you can make content marketing a scalable, repeatable, measurable function within marketing.

As to what the discipline’s future holds? At last year’s Content Marketing World, one of my favorite events, the Executive Forum gathered senior leaders from brands succeeding with content marketing. As we talked about the future, one participant said: “The only certainty is change. I can’t tell you where or when, but I do know there will be change, and this is the principle we build on now.”

As for my take, Kotler’s idea of transforming the marketing function seems to have gotten lost along the digital road traveled by marketers. In so many cases, marketing – and especially content – remains just an on-demand service function within the business. Its sole job is to produce ever more voluminous amounts of content that describe the value of the brand (or its products or services) so that sales can sell more efficiently, customer support can serve more effectively, and all manner of customer interfaces are more beneficial to both sides.

However, and maybe because I need to rationalize now that my book is finished, I passionately believe it’s finally time for marketing to reclaim its ability to create value — not just reflect it in the polished shine of your traditional products and services.

Almost 27 years ago today, Microsoft founder Bill Gates wrote an essay called Content is King. In it, he said that “(C)ontent is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”

It certainly was one of his more prescient moments. Nearly three decades later, his words have proven true. The essay title has become the rallying cry for thousands and thousands of entrepreneurs who now make their living on creating, managing, optimizing, and measuring content on the internet. (A Google search for “content is king” nets more than 1.7 million results.)

But it’s the last line of his essay that I find the most visionary: “(T)hose who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products – a marketplace of content.”

That’s what content marketing is for me in 2023. It’s just marketing – optimizing the value of ideas, experiences, and products in a marketplace of content.

Time to get to work.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

Get Robert’s take on content marketing industry news in just five minutes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries

Watch previous episodes or read the lightly edited transcripts.

Subscribe to workday or weekly CMI emails to get Rose-Colored Glasses in your inbox each week. 

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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27 Best About Us and About Me Page Examples [+Templates]

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Your about page summarizes your history, values, and mission — all in one place. That’s a tall order for just a few paragraphs. If you’re feeling stuck, turn to these about-page examples for inspiration. 

about us page example: laptop held in palm of hand

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MarTech’s marketing operations experts to follow

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MarTech's marketing operations experts to follow

Marketing operations is what makes the magic happen. These are the folks who see that your martech stack doesn’t get stuck. They are the maestros, modelers and makers who make sure the trains run, the data is digestible and that you have the programs you need. Where would we be without them? That’s too scary to think about. Here’s our list of MOps experts who have the ear of the profession.

Darrell Alfonso

Darrell is director of marketing strategy & operations at Indeed and the former global marketing ops leader for AWS. He’s the author of “The Martech Handbook: Build a Technology Stack to Acquire and Retain Customers.” In addition to speaking at many conferences, Darrell was named one of the Top Marketers in the US by Propolis 2022 and among the “Top Martech Marketers to Follow” in 2020 by Martech Alliance. He’s a regular and popular contributor both to MarTech and the MarTech conference; you can find all of his articles at this link.


Eddie Reynolds

Eddie has been in business a long time, starting his first company when he was 14. “A pretty minimal enterprise,” he told one interviewer. “I had a tax ID number, a legal entity, and a company name. I even had the IRS coming after my dad for sales tax that I failed to report properly.” Today he is CEO and revenue operations strategy consultant of Union Square Consulting. He publishes The RevOps Weekly Newsletter and the podcast RevOps Corner. Eddie’s large LinkedIn following attests to the quality of the insights he shares there on  sales, marketing, service, and admin roles. 


Sara McNamara

Sara is an award-winning marketing and sales operations professional whose work has been recognized by awards from the likes of Salesforce (Pardot), Adobe (Marketo), Drift, and LeanData. She is a Senior Manager, Marketing Operations at Slack and a martech stack (+ strategy) solution architect. That and her passion for leveraging technology and processes to improve the experiences of marketers, sales professionals, and prospects, explains why she’s a regular guest on MOps podcasts.


Ali Schwanke

Ali is the CEO and founder of Simple Strat. The firm specializes in helping companies get the most out of HubSpot — from CRM strategy and setup to marketing automation and content creation. She is also host of HubSpot Hacks, “the #1 Unofficial YouTube show for HubSpot Tutorials” and has been a guest speaker at the MarTech conference.


Mike Rizzo

Mike’s career in marketing operations showed him that there is a real and significant MOps community. That’s why he founded MO Pros/MarketingOps.com, the fast-growing online community for people in marketing operations. He is also co-host of Ops Cast, a weekly podcast. 


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About the author

Constantine von Hoffman

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for CBSNews.com, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.

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