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3 Content Mapping Steps That Speeds Your Sales Cycle

Posted byFri, Dec 6, 2013 @ 4:58 am

blog-1The concept is simple, but the execution can be tricky: your blogs, social media messages, content offers and emails need to anticipate the questions potential customers ask during their decision-making journey. If they don’t, you battle disinterest. And that won’t help you sell your product or service.

“56 percent of us email users unsubscribe from a business email subscription because of content that is no longer relevant.”-Chadwick Martin Bailey

How to make your content relevant? Here’s where to start:

1. Organize the content you have.

Create an inventory in Excel, Numbers or other spreadsheet software that notes:

  • Content type and format. Are content offers, blogs and other vehicles relevant to the awareness, consideration or decision stage? Do they identify symptoms/problems, present problem-solving strategies or compare vendors/product offerings? Document what you have.
  • Keywords and relevant terms/questions. Note the phrases, concepts and questions the content answers.
  • User behavior and research needs. Understand how your audience searches for information: The awareness stage generally revolves around pain without knowledge of why it exists. Consideration stage is about ideas to try, strategies that might relieve pain. Decision stage is when products and vendors are evaluated/compared, pricing factors in, etc.

2. Map content offers to a buyer’s journey stage. 

We want to align content to the way your buyer thinks. Laying elements out in a spreadsheet helps you spot opportunities to adapt content to make it more relevant to buyers.
Look at your content through your buyer’s eyes and record:

  • The information are you offering. What symptoms/problems are users experiencing if this content is a helpful resource? Your goal is to get more insight into users’ questions, issues.
  • The type of vehicle. E-book, checklist, guide, request for a demo, webinar, video, etc.
  • Phrases and questions buyers will likely search. Optimize content accordingly.

Now Evaluate. Where are the gaps between content you have and buyer cycle stages? What do you need to create?

3. Position your message: create content for each buyer’s journey stage.

Ideally, you want to help increase awareness and influence ideal buyers. You need different types of content that require different degrees of engagement and commitment.

Awareness stage: Self-paced learning and educational information in the form of e-books, reports, checklists, guides is perfect for this stage. Your content should put context around the symptoms ideal buyers are feeling.

Consideration stage: Secure more of a commitment from your audience. Streaming media and webinars are good vehicles at this stage—your audience is willing to be engaged. They are seeking strategies to solve their problem.

Decision stage: Your audience is building a list of vendors and products, and they are ready to qualify them. Present product spec sheets, case studies, trials, demos, pricing. This information is only relevant in the final stage.

Leads nurtured with targeted content produce an increase in sales opportunities of more than 20 percent.” – DemandGen Lead Nurturing E-Brief

This process takes time, but it will feed your sales process: increasing the number and quality of leads. As inbound and content marketing becomes more practiced, your buyer’s journey alignment will keep your content relevant and productive.

Get backstory on the buyer’s journey:

Improve Online Marketing Results: Think Like Your Customer


Terra Hoskins helps small and midsize businesses use their Web presence to grow; she coaches and consults on inbound strategies so that clients reach business goals, increase sales and share information effectively. She tweets at @terrahoskins. 

photo credit: jean-louis zimmermann via photopin cc