content mappingThis is a guest post written by Pam Sahota. Pam is a marketing communications/social media manager and freelance blogger who loves Boston, photography, charity events, sushi, wine, and the Red Sox.

Marketing and sales teams must work hand-in-hand in order to provide a company with the leads and profits it needs to grow and succeed. But let's back-track a bit. Exactly how does a marketing team help a sales team with those leads once they're generated? It should all start with a content map for lead nurturing, which can help a marketing team nurture existing leads into more qualified leads for their sales team. As a result, these more qualified leads will be more likely convert into customers at the end of the sales cycle.

Plan your content for every persona and stage of the buying cycle. [Free  Content Mapping Template]

What Is Content Mapping?

Content mapping is the process for lead nurturing by which a marketing team prepares and organizes relevant and valuable content. Once organized, this content can be distributed to prospects depending on the type of lead and their point in the sales cycle.

Here are three ways to strategize a very helpful content map:

1. Identify Marketing Personas

First, you need to identify the different personas of the target audience you are selling to. Each of these personas will likely have a different variety of needs and wants when they're considering your particular product/service. Once this identification had been made, you’ll be able to identify, create, and provide the valuable content different segments of your target audience wants and needs.

Depending on your company, you may have 3 personas or you may have 50. It all depends on your products/services and all the different types of people who become customers of what you offer. Are you a marketing agency selling a service to help people with their social media marketing needs? What types of people would want this assistance? You can determine these personas by examining roles, titles, demographics, goals, pain points, and more. Just make sure you define these personas in a way that allows you to easily group and segment them using similar motives and that you can clearly define their stage in the buying process.

2. Identify Stages of Lead Nurturing Process

So you have your leads' personas. But in what stages of the lead nurturing process do you place these leads, and when? You need to know where they are in the buying cycle so you provide them with the correct, relevant content they want and/or need.

Place the lead personas you developed in #1 into the buying process stages as they appear to fit. Use the following stages to identify how far along in the sales cycle your leads are.

  1. Awareness: The stage during which leads are determining if they have a need for your product/service.
  2. Information Search: The stage during which leads want more information on why your product is so valuable.
  3. Evaluation: The stage during which leads are researching possible alternatives and deciding which one is the best fit for them.
  4. Purchase: The stage during which leads have a desire for reassurance on quality.
  5. Post-Purchase: The lead may already be a customer, but it’s not over yet. For many businesses, the chance to upsell is always there.

3. Distribute Relevant Content

The first two steps can help you determine which types of content are relevant and valuable to distribute during the lead nurturing process. By identifying marketing personas and their respective stages in the buying cycle, you can better organize the types of content that appeal to these particular leads and the questions they will have during the various stages of the cycle. In addition, you will be able to “map” out where and when to distribute this content, and for what purposes.

So what types of content are we talking about? You can determine which type of content is appropriate based on the lead's stage in the buying cycle. Content can vary and jump from “box” to “box" on the content map, depending on persona, stage, and what a person clicks on. For example, if a lead appears to be in the awareness stage but clicks on free trial offer, then perhaps they are closer to a purchase than you thought, and you might consider sending them content that appeals to someone in the evaluation stage.

Examples of content types that are applicable to various stages in the sales cycle include (please note that this varies depending upon your business, personas, etc.):

  1. Awareness: educational information on the company or industry-related information such as best practices
  2. Information Search: promotional information about special offers (such as a free trial)
  3. Evaluation: specifics on why the company is so great, such as awards and recognitions received
  4. Purchase: partner and customer testimonials that show how great your product/service has been for years
  5. Post-Purchase: how a company can benefit from even more, such as upgrades or complementary product offerings

If you haven’t already realized, content mapping is an important part of the lead nurturing process. According to Forrester Research, “companies that excel at lead nurturing are able to generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost per lead.” Content mapping is great way to carve out your path to nurturing those sales-ready leads. Map away!

Blog - Content Mapping Template
 content mapping template

Originally published Oct 11, 2011 8:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017


Lead Nurturing