Inbound Selling: How to Map Content to the Buyer’s Journey

— November 22, 2016

Content mapping is the essential process of matching your content to the appropriate stage of the buyer’s journey. But you’re probably wondering, “How the heck does content mapping help my sales team close more deals?”

Good question.

The whole idea behind inbound – marketing or selling – is that you’re trying to get the right content in the hands of the right people at the right time. That means you need to know what content someone needs and when, which is only possible if you map your content across the buyer’s journey.

Without that map, your sales reps will be flying blind. And instead of disseminating content strategically and with purpose, they’ll be left crossing their fingers, hoping whatever content they are able to toss over the fence will be what their website visitors or prospects need.

This is especially true, when considering how content is leveraged by sales. Because if your reps aren’t using your content as you intended it, leads can be lost and your message can easily get derailed.

So how do you map your content correctly?

Marrying the Persona to the Journey

For every piece of content your company produces, you should have a corresponding target audience persona – which is a fictionalized generalization of your ideal customer.

In addition, you should have a clear idea of where that person would be in the buying process, whether it’s being aware of a particular problem, researching solutions to that problem or making a decision.

(Here’s a quick refresher on the different stages of the buyer’s journey.)

For instance, let’s say you have a case study that outlines the results you produced for a client in a particular vertical or service line of your business. If your personas are broken up by those services or verticals, your job will be easy. If they aren’t, however, you will need to determine which of your personas will find that particular case study to be the most relevant.

Finally, since it’s a case study, you also know that it should map to the consideration stage, when a prospect knows what their problem is and is weighing their options, in terms of how to solve it.

How to Get Started

The easiest way to begin content mapping is to step through the buyer’s journey and identify what content you have available for each stage. This is ideally a collaborative effort between sales and marketing – that way both teams can discuss what works and what doesn’t.

(This is also a great way to identify gaps in your content library.)

But don’t stop there.

For each piece of content, you also need to detail what it’s to be used for, as well as how it will be used. If you sort your content into stages without adding any reasoning behind it, sales representatives can easily get confused about why a particular piece of content is necessary or helpful.

To make life easier for your sales team, you should have detailed descriptions for all of your content about how and when to use that content.

Why Map Your Content?

The obvious advantage of content mapping is the knowledge that you can use your content in the right spot, helping to move sales opportunities forward. At the right time, a well-placed piece of content can make all the difference between clinching the deal or having it fall through.

When done right, content maps are also self-strengthening.

When you get good feedback from your sales team about how their pitches went, you can make adjustments to your content or add content in places that need it.

By clearly defining how your company’s content should be used, you’ll cut back on any miscommunication that keeps you from finding any problems with your content. You’ll also see a drastic reduction in the misuse of content that’s in the wrong place or at the wrong time.

Final Thought

It’s easy sometimes to get overwhelmed with the amount of content that you have and trying to piece it all together. But remember, it’s not a race. Start slow and take your time. Begin with the first stage of the buyer’s journey and identify all the content available to you that belongs there.

Also, keep in mind that the content you’re looking at may not be what your sales representatives are actually using. Some of your sales team’s content may be outdated, created by themselves, taken from external sources or used at a different stage than you expected.

That’s why mapping your content is a valuable opportunity to ensure that everyone on your team is on the same page, by asking them exactly what they’re using, as well as when they’re using it.

Not only will this allow you to find new content opportunities, at the end of the day you’ll be empowering your sales teams to close more deals and be more effective in their roles – which ultimately drives revenue growth for your business.

Talk about a win-win.


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