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Content Marketing 101: How to Set Up Buyer Personas & Create a Content Map

Emil Mequita November 21, 2016 Category Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The First Rule of Content Marketing: Know Where the Heck You’re Going

The ‘Worldwide Web’ is living up to its global moniker. Every day, in every corner of the globe, just about everyone is constantly navigating the Internet, from their phones, tablets, laptops, or desktops – in the office, at home, or in their cars (We do not recommend the latter).

As digital marketers, we are constantly trying to find the best way to draw the attention of these users to some type of content, whether it’s a product, a website, or some adorable video we can’t get enough of, like this cat jumping off a counter.

Content marketing has become a hot priority among digital marketing professionals as the way people browse the web has evolved. And the most successful content marketers use content mapping, which allows us to naturally produce content that is consistently relevant and helpful at every step of the consumer’s journey.

Let’s look at the three main components of content mapping, show you how to properly set up a content map that you can start implementing right away, and highlight some of the comprehensive tools that facilitate the process.

Content Mapping & the Fried Chicken Buyer’s Journey

All of us have been to a restaurant at one point or another (or at least I would hope), but imagine you are someone who has never had the pleasure. When you decide to dine out, you begin a journey. Sound dramatic? Hear me out.

You start out in the problem phase, which in this case would be the fact that you’ve never been to a restaurant. You set out to solve this problem by entering a research phase, during which you go to yelp, Google, Foursquare, or another online resource to find the type of restaurant you want to try. Finally, you realize that you’re in the mood for some good ‘ol fried chicken. And once you’ve successfully settled on a place, you enter the decision phase.

content-mapping-1
The decision phase is when you actually head to the restaurant and order those extremely overpriced appetizers and that sparkling water the charming waiter just upsold you. This buyer’s journey is something that we undertake subconsciously all the time – you may not be aware of it, but you’re constantly being guided toward a decision.

As a digital marketer, aligning with your customer’s buyer’s journey at every step of the way is how you can ensure that they continue to find value in your content and products, and thus pull the trigger on a purchase.

So how do you map content to align with your buyer’s journey?

Figure Out Who You’re Trying to Reach with a “Buyer’s Persona”

To map content for your buyers, you first have to understand who they are. A buyer’s persona is an old concept in the traditional marketing world. Companies have long built personas around who they thought their target customer was, and they would put them together using information such as job title, education levels, work-related issues, age, spending habits, budget, and more. All of these characteristics helped marketers form the ideal target persona for their campaigns.

In the digital world, it’s not too different (unless you’re doing advanced database modeling, which is a topic for another post). You have to – and I apologize for the cliché – become one with your buyers. Find out their problems, their desires, their fears, and what keeps them up at night, and then determine how your product can address one of those sticking points.

Developing strong buyer personas are the foundation of a good content mapping strategy. So, do it.

How to Align Your Personas With Each Stage of the Buyer’s Journey

OK, you’ve developed some awesome buyer personas and you think you know them well enough to invite them to your next company party.

What’s next?

Now that you know who “your people” are, you have to meet them at every step of the way with content that is created to address their specific issues. Remember that trip to your very first restaurant a couple of paragraphs ago?

Well, I mentioned the three stages we go through before we make a purchase: Problem, Research, and Decision. These individuals stages can go by different names but all the variations essentially mean the same thing.

So what content should you use for each stage?

1. The Problem Phase: Capture your buyer’s interest

Here, you are casting a wide net for your given buyer persona, enabling you to use content tools that interest most of people who fit your persona. You have a wide range of options to deliver stimulating content that address their needs, including:

  • A blog post
  • Shared articles
  • Social media posts
  • Custom videos

2. The Research Phase: Give them the information they’re looking for

At this point, people start to take more of a specific interest in the source providing the content. If we go back to our restaurant example, perhaps you are not just interested in any old fried chicken anymore – instead, you want to know more about ‘Cappola’s Fried Chicken and Waffles’ on 56th and 9th. The ideal content for this stage is a bit more specific, and includes:

  • Product reviews (i.e., “Their fried chicken is to die for!”)
  • Emails about the restaurant and their offerings
  • E-Books (who wouldn’t read 20,000 words about amazing fried chicken?)
  • Case studies or white papers. Alright, this one may be a stretch for chicken. “The Heuristic and Philosophical Benefits of Dark vs. White Meat,” maybe? But seriously, the more complex or involved the product, service, or cause, the more options you have to provide detail to those who have taken an interest in it.

3. The Decision Phase: Reinforce the sale

At this phase, your buyer has followed this perfectly-laid-out map of content that you set up and now it’s time for them to make a purchase. People will narrow their focus and take into consideration all of the content they’ve come across up till this point. You want to reinforce their decision with:

  • Special offers
  • A free consultation
  • Coupons
  • Product endorsements

Bam. After following this roadmap, you’ve made sale, obtained a new member, or onboarded a new client. And once you have these elements mapped out – you’ve created a persona and each phase of your content aligns with the phases of the buyer’s journey – you are ready to set your strategy in motion.

But Wait, There’s More: Map Content Like a Pro with These Tools

To design your plan, check out some of these handy resources:

Conductor Content Mapping: Conductor Searchlight (what we use at Path Interactive) has a very easy to use and interactive template for content mapping, as well as building out robust buyer personas. You must have a Conductor account to be able to take advantage of their mapping tool.

Content Mapping Tool: This site offers a team of content strategists that helps you plan out your entire content map, from building out personas to generating content ideas. For $32 per month, you can sign up to their basic plan, which includes one user, eight personas, 20 content types, and more…

Hubspot Content Mapping Template: This template from Hubspot is a great way to get started with content mapping – and it’s completely free.

I hope this guide has been helpful in teaching you how to get started creating a winning content marketing strategy; content mapping is one of the basic yet essential steps. There are plenty of resources you can find online regarding content mapping and how it can help your business. Creating content for every phase of your buyer’s journey enhances their experience and creates engagements on all fronts, ultimately leading to a winning online presence, satisfied consumers, and a healthy bottom line.

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start content mapping!

If you’re looking for help getting started with your brand’s content strategy, learn more about our SEO & content services or contact us for a consultation.

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