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The Template You Need to Personalize Your Marketing

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The Template You Need to Personalize Your Marketing

When prospects first come to your business page, they probably won’t just click and buy your offering immediately. They’ll most likely be searching through your site to learn more about it, gauge the level of trust people have in your company, and be on the lookout for resources to help them achieve their goals. You can create this experience by content mapping.

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

Let’s get started.

For example, if your business is building a brand new website, you’ll have to begin creating a content map based on why the customer is going to your page. If customers are coming to your website looking for a credible solution worth paying for, they’ll want to trust the company.

The marketing team can then align the goal to build trust, and apply it to their marketing portfolio.

content map example

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Why is content mapping important?

Content mapping helps you plan for content creation that supports the customer journey and creates a more cohesive, personalized customer experience.

When it comes to content, one size rarely fits all. They have to serve different purposes as prospects are looking for varying information as they progress in the buyer’s journey. To ensure that your company’s content is effective at generating leads, you need to deliver diversified content that covers different topics that they’re searching for each step of the way. Content mapping is the process of doing just that.

But coming up with the actual topics that make for a highly targeted content strategy isn’t that easy. However, content mapping with the audience in mind can help you put together a strategy in a more manageable way.

How to Create a Content Map

1. Download a content map template.

To help you brainstorm and map out content ideas for targeting specific segments of your audience, we’ve created a new free template resource: The Content Marketing Planning Template.

content marketing planning templates for content map

Download Your Free Template Now

The template includes an introduction to content mapping, a crash course on buyer personas and lifecycle stages, a content mapping template (plus examples), a website content map template, and bonus buyer persona templates.

With the template, you’ll:

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

2. Identify the buyer persona you want to target.

Buyer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They help you 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 are based on market research as well as on insights you gather from your actual customer base (through surveys, interviews, etc.). Depending on your business, you could 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.

3. Consider that persona’s path to purchase (lifecycle stages).

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

For our Content Mapping Template, we’re divvying up the buying cycle into three lifecycle stages: Awareness, Consideration, and 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 to their problem or opportunity and is looking for a solution.
  • Decision: In the decision stage, a person has defined their solution strategy, method, or approach and is looking for a provider.

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

4. Brainstorm questions the personas have in the awareness stage.

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, think of how your content can help people become more informed about the problem in general, and you’ll (hopefully) find that they continue moving down your funnel as they search for solutions.

Important questions to start thinking about:

  • What problem are they likely trying to solve, and what are the symptoms that are causing this problem?
  • What information will help them to identify their problem(s) and that our product or service is designed to solve them?
  • How can we build trust and provide more value than our competitors from this early stage in the journey?

5. Identify awareness stage content.

Taking your buyer personas’ questions into account, you can turn them into topics for awareness stage content.

The content you want to provide them should speak to their current needs, not jump straight into product-focused content. This can take the form of insightful blog posts, webinars, ebooks, or social media posts that give information to solve initial concerns and slowly familiarize prospects with how your product can help them.

6. Brainstorm ways to position your solution as your persona enters the consideration stage.

At this point, you’ve provided your prospect with enough information to become fully aware of their problem, and they know it can be remedied.

This is when you should begin trying to move them down the funnel and become more interested in your product offering, using consideration stage content.

7. Identify consideration stage content.

Your consideration stage content can more explicitly mention how your product or service could potentially solve a problem. At this point in the buying cycle, people are still evaluating their options. Your purpose now is to help them narrow down the solution that works the best and provides them the most value.

The types of content used for the consideration stage can look like this:

  • Videos comparing and contrasting offerings
  • Whitepapers

8. Brainstorm objections that would stop them from buying in the decision stage.

Now that you’ve identified the “why”s behind your prospect choosing your solution, it’s time to consider the “why not”s.

Some competitors may have a more affordable solution, different methods of remedying issues, or more authority (popularity) in the market. While some of these aspects cannot be changed, you can still appeal to the prospect and move them further down the funnel if your offering is a real value add, regardless of the rest.

9. Identify decision stage content.

At the decision stage of the buyer journey, you can primarily lean into marketing your products or services. If someone has reached this stage, they’ve already identified a problem and a solution, and are now getting ready to pull the proverbial trigger toward a purchase decision.

This is where you can directly present the prospect with examples of positive experiences or success derived from your product or service offering, with decision stage content like:

  • Case studies (social proof)
  • Customer testimonials
  • Product demos

10. Determine how these content pieces work together.

Now that you’ve identified all the different types of content that buyers of each stage are looking for, it’s time to map the ideas.

Content Mapping Template

content mapping template from hubspot content marketing planning templates

This content mapping visualization keeps the marketing strategy focused on the goal specified with all the steps necessary to gradually reel in buyers. Our template can also help you to schedule when you want content published on a monthly or quarterly basis if you want to manage it in one place.

You can approach content mapping to serve more specific strategies this way, too, as we’ll discuss content mapping for your website in more detail.

Website 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. In essence, you’ll create different pages, posts, and offers to address different buyers at different points in the buyer’s journey.

To give you a better idea of website content mapping, let’s run through a simple example of one.

Content Map Example

The buyer persona (and a key problem or opportunity that persona is struggling with) is at the start of the grid. Jenny is a gym owner and her problem is that she needs gym equipment, but has a limited budget and has taken to the internet for a solution.

In the awareness life cycle stage, she’ll be looking for introductory content to gain knowledge about the types of equipment necessary to bring customers into her gym.

In the consideration life cycle stage, she’ll have a better understanding of her need for equipment and price expectations and will be looking to create a more clear budget for different items and consider how long this investment will last — seeking templates that outline that information.

Finally, in the decision stage, Jenny has identified her needs and is looking for a provider to fill them. She will feel inclined to request demos, consults, or quotes from a company that has guided her through her journey to their solution of cost-effective gym equipment.

Content mapping examples from HubSpot

So you now know what content mapping is, and you’ve seen how you can get started. What type of tools can you use to start content mapping?

Content Mapping Tools

Content mapping may seem like a difficult task that requires highly specialized software. It’s not true — it requires simple business tools you may already be using in your day-to-day.

We’ll start with the most basic tools you need to start content mapping, such as word processors and visualization tools.

1. Google Docs

Pricing: Free

content mapping tools: google docs

First up in your content mapping tech stack is your preferred word processor, Google Docs. It has the feature to draw and insert different types of diagrams into documents, which can be translated into a content map to align your marketing mix with your goals. We highly recommend this tool because it makes it easier to share work across your team, and you never have to worry about backing up your content map once you’ve created it.

2. Lucidchart

Pricing: Free Basic Plan; Individual Plan;$7.95/month, Team Plan; $9/month, Enterprise Plan available upon request

content mapping tools: lucidchart

If you’re more of a visual person, then a flowchart tool is a must. Also, if you’d prefer to create a content map with lines and diagrams, then you need a more sophisticated tool than Google Docs. 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, but Lucidchart takes it a step further and provides users with more visually appealing formatting.

3. Buyer Persona Tool

Pricing: Free

content mapping tools: buyer persona tool

Before you can even begin to create a content map, you need to identify the buyer persona(s) you’re creating content for. HubSpot has a buyer persona tool made to build and save professional buyer persona documents with its intuitive generator.

And if you want to take it a step further, HubSpot has a list containing even more buyer persona resources to build out your customer profiles for your business, too.

4. Marketing Hub

Pricing: Free Basic Plan, Starter Plan; $45/month, Professional Plan; $800/month, Enterprise Plan; $3,200/month

content mapping tools: marketing hub

In the Marketing Hub, there is an SEO Topics tool that provides content mapping capabilities to help users organize their ideas for organic-focused awareness stage content. With this capability, your team will be able to collaborate and execute your content map once it’s ready for deployment.

Tools to Help Implement Your Content Map

1. HubSpot CRM

Pricing: Free

tools to help implement your content map: hubspot crm

HubSpot’s CRM is the one tool you need to compile all of your data from current and prospective customers. The CRM will allow you to discern different lifecycle stages and pinpoint commonalities between customers who are ready to purchase based on lead scoring. Your content map can help someone build a lead scoring system to identify high-value leads who have consumed the content close to a purchasing decision.

3. CMS Hub

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

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 integrated with HubSpot’s CRM platform and Marketing Hub, allowing you to create a seamless experience for your customers as they receive the content you’ve designed for them. It will help you execute your content map flawlessly. Even more importantly, with CMS Hub, you can continue testing and retesting your content for better results.

So are you ready to begin creating your own content map? Before you start, let’s hear some tips from marketers who attribute part of their success to this strategy.

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 clients, build an active and engaged audience, and get daily sales. Spend time building your audience by educating them and engaging with them. No one has built a business by posting the same image or type of image every day on socials and not having convoys with their audience. It is not just about showing up, but doing so with intention so you can attract your ideal clients 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 can give your prospects the information they are asking for 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’s important 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 would rather speak to someone on their terms rather than fill out a form for a consultation. Understanding how they are 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 site pages (landing and thank you pages, as well), TOFU & MOFU offers, and workflows with direct contact information (phone #, email, etc.) is a great way 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 they’ll be looking for different topics. By creating content that appeals to each audience, you can be more effective 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 case study.

One tip I’d suggest for anyone 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 section of the website, its own blog content, and its own premium content (downloadable offers). It’s really helped us attract and convert visitors at a higher 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 buying stage into account when creating content, you can be sure that you’re designing content to help move them through the buying process.

In addition to mapping content to the buyer profile and buying 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 the same.”

Diona Kidd (Managing Partner, Knowmad)

Content Mapping is Key to Your Company’s Growth

Delivering the right 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 into a brand evangelist.

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

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The Future of Content Success Is Social

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The Future of Content Success Is Social

Here’s a challenge: search “SEO RFP” on Google. Click on the results, and tell me how similar they are.

We did the same thing every other SEO does: We asked, “What words are thematically relevant?” Which themes have my competitors missed?” How can I put them in?” AND “How can I do everything just slightly better than they can?”

Then they do the same, and it becomes a cycle of beating mediocre content with slightly less mediocre content.

When I looked at our high-ranking content, I felt uncomfortable. Yes, it ranked, but it wasn’t overly helpful compared to everything else that ranked.

Ranking isn’t the job to be done; it is just a proxy.

Why would a high-ranking keyword make me feel uncomfortable? Isn’t that the whole freaking job to be done? Not for me. The job to be done is to help educate people, and ranking is a byproduct of doing that well.

I looked at our own content, and I put myself in the seat of a searcher, not an SEO; I looked at the top four rankings and decided that our content felt easy, almost ChatGPT-ish. It was predictable, it was repeatable, and it lacked hot takes and spicy punches.

So, I removed 80% of the content and replaced it with the 38 questions I would ask if I was hiring an SEO. I’m a 25-year SME, and I know what I would be looking for in these turbulent times. I wanted to write the questions that didn’t exist on anything ranking in the top ten. This was a risk, why? Because, semantically, I was going against what Google was likely expecting to see on this topic. This is when Mike King told me about information gain. Google will give you a boost in ranking signals if you bring it new info. Maybe breaking out of the sea of sameness + some social signals could be a key factor in improving rankings on top of doing the traditional SEO work.

What’s worth more?

Ten visits to my SEO RFP post from people to my content via a private procurement WhatsApp group or LinkedIn group?

One hundred people to the same content from search?

I had to make a call, and I was willing to lose rankings (that were getting low traffic but highly valued traffic) to write something that when people read it, they thought enough about it to share it in emails, groups, etc.

SME as the unlock to standout content?

I literally just asked myself, “Wil, what would you ask yourself if you were hiring an SEO company? Then I riffed for 6—8 hours and had tons of chats with ChatGPT. I was asking ChatGPT to get me thinking differently. Things like, “what would create the most value?” I never constrained myself to “what is the search volume,” I started with the riffs.

If I was going to lose my rankings, I had to socially promote it so people knew it existed. That was an unlock, too, if you go this route. It’s work, you are now going to rely on spikes from social, so having a reason to update it and put it back in social is very important.

Most of my “followers” aren’t looking for SEO services as they are digital marketers themselves. So I didn’t expect this post to take off HUGLEY, but given the content, I was shocked at how well it did and how much engagement it got from real actual people.

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

Writing a book is a gargantuan task, and reaching the finish line is a feat equal to summiting a mountain.

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Being position-less secures a marketer’s position for a lifetime

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Optimove Positionless Marketer Optimove

On March 20, 2024, the Position-less Marketer was introduced on MarTech.org and my keynote address at Optimove’s user conference.

Since that initial announcement, we have introduced the term “Position-less Marketer” to hundreds of leading marketing executives and learned that readers and the audience interpreted it in several ways. This article will document a few of those interpretations and clarify what “position-less” means regarding marketing prowess.

As a reminder, data analytics and AI, integrated marketing platforms, automation and more make the Position-less Marketer possible. Plus, new generative AI tools like ChatGPT, Canna-GPT, Github, Copilot and DALL-E offer human access to powerful new capabilities that generate computer code, images, songs and videos, respectively, with human guidance.

Position-less Marketer does not mean a marketer without a role; quite the opposite

Speaking with a senior-level marketer at a global retailer, their first interpretation may be a marketer without a role/position. This was a first-glance definition from more than 60% of the marketers who first heard the term. But on hearing the story and relating it to “be position-less” in other professions, including music and sports, most understood it as a multidimensional marketer — or, as we noted, realizing your multipotentiality. 

One executive said, phrasing position-less in a way that clarified it for me was “unlocking your multidimensionality.” She said, “I like this phrase immensely.” In reality, the word we used was “multipotentiality,” and the fact that she landed on multidimensionality is correct. As we noted, you can do more than one thing.

The other 40% of marketing executives did think of the “Position-less Marketer” as a marketing professional who is not confined or defined by traditional marketing roles or boundaries. In that sense, they are not focused only on branding or digital marketing; instead, they are versatile and agile enough to adjust to the new conditions created by the tools that new technology has to offer. As a result, the Position-less Marketer should be comfortable working across channels, platforms and strategies, integrating different approaches to achieve marketing goals effectively.

Navigating the spectrum: Balancing specialization and Position-less Marketing

Some of the most in-depth feedback came from data analytic experts from consulting firms and Chief Marketing Officers who took a more holistic view.

Most discussions of the “Position-less Marketer” concept began with a nuanced perspective on the dichotomy between entrepreneurial companies and large enterprises.

They noted that entrepreneurial companies are agile and innovative, but lack scalability and efficiency. Conversely, large enterprises excel at execution but struggle with innovation due to rigid processes.

Drawing parallels, many related this to marketing functionality, with specialists excelling in their domain, but needing a more holistic perspective and Position-less Marketers having a broader understanding but needing deep expertise.

Some argued that neither extreme is ideal and emphasized the importance of balancing specialization and generalization based on the company’s growth stage and competitive landscape.

They highlight the need for leaders to protect processes while fostering innovation, citing Steve Jobs’ approach of creating separate teams to drive innovation within Apple. They stress the significance of breaking down silos and encouraging collaboration across functions, even if it means challenging existing paradigms.

Ultimately, these experts recommended adopting a Position-less Marketing approach as a competitive advantage in today’s landscape, where tight specialization is common. They suggest that by connecting dots across different functions, companies can offer unique value to customers. However, they caution against viewing generalization as an absolute solution, emphasizing the importance of context and competitive positioning.

These marketing leaders advocate for a balanced marketing approach that leverages specialization and generalization to drive innovation and competitive advantage while acknowledging the need to adapt strategies based on industry dynamics and competitive positioning.

Be position-less, but not too position-less — realize your multipotentiality

This supports what was noted in the March 20th article: to be position-less, but not too position-less. When we realize our multipotentiality and multidimensionality, we excel as humans. AI becomes an augmentation.

But just because you can individually execute on all cylinders in marketing and perform data analytics, writing, graphics and more from your desktop does not mean you should.

Learn when being position-less is best for the organization and when it isn’t. Just because you can write copy with ChatGPT does not mean you will write with the same skill and finesse as a professional copywriter. So be position-less, but not too position-less.

Position-less vs. being pigeonholed

At the same time, if you are a manager, do not pigeonhole people. Let them spread their wings using today’s latest AI tools for human augmentation.

For managers, finding the right balance between guiding marketing pros to be position-less and, at other times, holding their position as specialists and bringing in specialists from different marketing disciplines will take a lot of work. We are at the beginning of this new era. However, working toward the right balance is a step forward in a new world where humans and AI work hand-in-hand to optimize marketing teams.

We are at a pivot point for the marketing profession. Those who can be position-less and managers who can optimize teams with flawless position-less execution will secure their position for a lifetime.

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