What is a Content Map and How to Get Started (Part 1)

September 21, 2016
Posted by Frank Todaro on Sep 21, 2016 8:00:00 AM

A content map is an integral part of any B2B inbound marketing campaign. At least that is what the pros say...and it seems right. After all, if you want to create great content that attracts and engages visitors to your website, you need to plan what content you want to create and publish.

The problem comes with the 'map' part--just what is a 'map' in this context? Before I answer that question, please note that I am writing as an experienced explorer in this wilderness, not necessarily as an expert guide. So much conversation around inbound marketing is written as if the writer is an expert bestowing his or her wisdom from on high. I freely admit to not being an expert, but rather a seasoned professional who has tried different approaches, had some success and some failures, and tried to learn from them both.

So back to our question. A map is something you use to prepare for a journey and to keep track of your progress as you go. A really good map will help you get back on the trail when you get lost.

Let's look at two issues while we answer 'what is a content map?'.

Who are you writing for?

The first question(s) to answer in planning for a content map is to define who we are writing for. In the inbound marketing world they are called personas.

Next we have to understand the process each persona goes through to know our product or service, engage with us, and ultimately buy. This is often called the buyer's journey. This is more easily said than done. It is unique to each persona, and further, there are multiple versions for each persona. That's because a persona is not an individual but a type of buyer that includes a range of individuals. This will take research similar to the work necessary to create the personas themselves. In fact, you should be doing this research while you are developing the characteristics of your personas. 

Given that early in the buyer's journey, prospects are looking for information about your product or service that usually fall under the umbrella of features and benefits. Consequently, each product and service will need content relative to it. This makes the map a little more complex. If we are not careful here, we will talk ourselves into a very large number of journeys to be mapped. Now, obviously, that won't work because we will end up with a cluttered and confusing website that defeats its purpose. We have to find a middle ground between providing an engaging, well-organized website rich with content and one that satisfies the needs of our visitors.

Start where you can — keep it simple at first.

While you may ultimately end up with a robust content map, I suggest that you begin with what you know, or can easily surmise, and build from there. Start with a simple map and then let it evolve over time.

First, select three or four personas to develop that are the key participants in your most frequent sales opportunities. Next, divide your sales process into just three or four stages: such as Attract, Engage, Prospect, Propose. In the attraction stage you would have content that first time visitors would be lured by. In the engagement phase you would have content that would help them understand what features and benefits were best for them. Develop each phase this way.

As you can see, that would dictate a minimum of twelve posts to satisfy each persona at each stage of the buyer's journey. Now some of those posts might be duplicated in more than one persona or stage, but generally you will want more than twelve posts before you are done. From this base, you can build out more posts and enrich your map.

The most important step in creating a content map is getting started - identify your personas and keep the approach focused but simple. In the second part of my conversation about content maps, I will offer you a template for building your map and discuss in detail the components of the map and why they are important.

Read Part 2 here > 



In the meantime, if you want to learn more about Inbound Marketing, download our introduction to this approach in our eBook "What is Inbound Marketing?".

In this download, you'll gain valuable insight into the basics of Inbound Marketing such as:

  • 5 stages of buyers in the inbound process
  • 4 reasons why the 'old' marketing playbook is broken
  • the elements of inbound marketing

Learn More