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January 6, 2020

Getting Personal: Your Ultimate Guide to Content Mapping

Why Do You Need Content Mapping?

If you’re like most marketers, you’ve already been producing content for a while now.

The challenge lies in getting the right piece of content in front of the right person at the right time (content distribution) as well as getting targeted with your content production strategy.

Here’s where content mapping comes in.

What is Content Mapping? Content mapping is the process of outlining how each piece of content fits with each buyer persona and stage of the customer lifecycle. It helps you review your existing content, plan for new content, and determine how to distribute each asset to the right person, at the right time.

It’s obvious that a Software Engineer has different questions and needs compared to a CEO.

Both of these personas may be interested in your product, but they’ll be evaluating it in a different way.

Likewise, each persona may be in a different stage of the customer journey. It’s important to present content that offers high-level information (like e-books or introductory videos) as well as later-stage information (like case studies and pricing guides) to appeal to all stages of the customer journey.

The goal of content mapping is to target content according to buyer persona (who) and lifecycle stage (where are they in the buying cycle).

Mapping the content you already have helps you target intelligently, but it also highlights where there are gaps. If you know which personas and lifecycle stages are weak on content, you can adjust your content production plan to improve those areas.

How to Create a Strategic Content Map

We’ve explored why content mapping is important, now let’s talk about how to do it.

Follow these 5 steps and best practices to incorporate content mapping into your content strategy.

Step #1: Define Your Buyer Personas

Step #2: Review How Your Content Fits in the Customer Lifecycle

Step #3: Take Inventory of Your Existing Content

Step #4: Create Your Map

Step #5: Apply it to the Real World

Step #1: Define Your Buyer Personas

How well do you know your ideal customers’ backgrounds, their goals, and their challenges? How well do you understand their interests and needs? Do you know what a day-in-the-life looks like for them?

Without knowing the answers to questions like these, it’s difficult to create an effective strategy to attract, sell to, and delight more of those types of people.

In order to grow, you need to understand your ideal customers inside and out and integrate that research across your entire business.

What is a Buyer Persona? A buyer persona is a research-based profile of your ideal customer. A buyer persona includes information about who they are (demographics), the challenges they face, how they make decisions, and how they use your product/service. Most businesses have multiple buyer personas that they sell to (1-5 is normal).

Factors to consider when developing buyer personas:

  1. Demographics: Who are they? (Age, gender, income, location, income, education, etc.)
  2. Firmographics: Where do they work? (Industry, company size)
  3. Professional Role: What do they do? (Job title, level of seniority)
  4. Values and Goals: What do they value? (Beliefs, values, professional and personal goals, lifestyle details)
  5. Challenges: What do you help them solve? (Pain points, fears)
  6. Sources and Influences: Where do they go for information? (Favorite blogs, books, thought leaders, conferences)
  7. Buying Habits: How do they make purchasing decisions? Objections to buying, where they buy, how long it takes them to buy, who makes the buying decisions

The most effective buyer personas are well researched. Take the time to find accurate, relevant information instead of relying on assumptions.

Some ways to gather information are:

  • Conduct Interviews (Existing customers, prospects and leads, former customers)
  • Ask Your Sales Team (Ask for the questions they typically hear from prospects and learn more about the qualities of your customers)
  • Use Business Data (CRM tools, POS systems, and website analytics)
  • Listen on Social Networks (Target terms and phrases related to your industry and products and see how people talk about them)

Step #2: Review the Customer Lifecycle

Defining your buyer personas is one half of the equation. Personalized marketing also takes into account the customer lifecycle (how close a person is to making a purchase).

Now that you know who you’re targeting, you have to determine where they are in their buying journey.

Consider the customer experience at each stage of the buying journey. That way, we can understand how each piece of content fits in the customer lifecycle.

Let’s review the stages:

5 Stages of the Customer Lifecycle
    Attract new audiences to your brand. Content should be high-level information. The aim is to answer questions that prospects have when they first realize they have a need.
    Check out our Infographic to familiarize yourself with the different types of content and how they fit into each stage of the customer lifecycle.
    Keep audiences interested in your brand so that when they are ready to buy, they choose your product/service.

    Help inform prospects as they decide if your product/service is a fit for what they need. Content should be in-depth and solution-oriented.
    The content prospects interact with when they are ready to buy. Target buyer keywords and help prospects feel confident in making their purchase.
    Support customers after their purchase and re-engage them to bring them back into the purchase funnel. Ensure a superior customer experience, earn loyalty and encourage advocacy.
    Check out our Infographic to familiarize yourself with the different types of content and how they fit into each stage of the customer lifecycle.
Check out our Infographic to familiarize yourself with the different types of content and how they fit into each stage of the customer lifecycle.

Step #3: Take Inventory of Your Existing Content

Picture this: a marketing team has been creating content for years. They have numerous contributors – current marketing employees, past employees, freelancers, subject matter experts from other departments. Eventually, they lose track. Content that was written a year ago once lived on a bustling landing page but has since fallen through the cracks.

Sound familiar?

Many marketers eventually realize that they don’t know where all of their content is or how much, exactly, they have. Great effort and expertise went into creating this content – it deserves to be found!

To create a clear picture for your content mapping exercise, take an inventory of the content you already have. Look through your old landing pages, shared drives, local folders on your computer, and your file manager on HubSpot, WordPress or wherever you manage your website.

List all of your existing content with details like title, url, type of content (blog, video, ebook) and publishing date.

Use our Content Inventory Template to organize your list. You can use this spreadsheet as your go-to catalogue going forward.

Step #4: Create your map

It’s time to bring it all together and create your content map. If you’ve been following this guide, you’ve already done 90% of the work (hooray!).

There are many ways to create your content map but we find the easiest is a simple grid: Buyer Personas on the y-axis and Customer Lifecycle on the x-axis.

It should look a little something like this:

Content Map Template
Use our Content Map Template to create your own content map.

Step #5: Apply it to the real world

Hooray! You now have a shiny new content map. Now what?

Put your content map to work by using it in your content placement and promotion strategy. Use it to plan everything from daily tweets to long-standing email nurture campaigns.

Today’s customer likes to do their own research before engaging you. Plan to deliver relevant content to your prospects before they ask for it.

How do you personalize it? By using your content map, of course!

Take a look at one of your landing pages, for example. Which persona is it aimed at? At which stage of the customer lifecycle will a prospect land on this page? Are you showcasing the right content for that intersection of buyer persona and lifecycle stage?

Content maps are also very useful for improving your content creation strategy. In the chart format, it’s easy to see where there are gaps. Missing an “Awareness” content piece for “Marketing Mary” prospects? Add it to your production queue.


Before you can truly personalize your marketing, you have to get organized.

Content mapping is about taking inventory of your existing content and sorting it into buyer personas and lifecycle stages. Doing this gives you a clear picture of which content is relevant to which person and when, and where there are gaps in your content strategy.

Reduced acquisition costs, drastically improved conversion rates and deeper customer relationships are all symptoms of a well-executed personal marketing strategy. Translation: personalized marketing means more revenue for your company and happier customers (who in-turn refer you more customers). It’s a win-win.

So, what are you waiting for? Get personal and create your content map today!

Get Your Free Content Map Template

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