X Marks the Target: Mapping Marketing Content to Prospect Needs
What does every successful email marketing campaign have in common? It's not focused on driving sales.
Now that I have your attention, perhaps that's an overstatement. But the primary purpose of a B-to-B marketing program is to usher prospects into the next stage of the buying cycle, rather than to immediately close the deal. While the next step may very well be making a purchase, more often than not it’s about deepening the engagement and trust that a prospect has with your brand.
The trick then is being able to identify your prospects and where they are in the buying cycle, and then present them with appropriate messages at the most opportune times. This process, called content mapping, is a crucial component and pillar of every successful B-to-B marketing program.
Below I’ve outlined the two stages of content mapping, and explain how marketers can use this strategy to drive more value from their content.
Pillar No. 1: Establish buyer personas. It’s been said that content is king. With content marketing, context is truly king. Regardless of the overall objective, taking the time to think about who your customers are, what they want, how they think, their challenges and goals, and more is an invaluable exercise for every member of your team. When you’re done, you should have four to six buyer personas that represent key sales and marketing targets.
Framing your customers in that light enables you to see past traditional metrics and demographics in order to build three-dimensional models of the people you’re trying to reach. A key part of this exercise, and something that should drive the entire process, is mapping each persona to their position in the buying process. This will give you a deeper understanding of who they are and help you anticipate the kinds of questions they might ask during each stage of the buying process.
Pillar No. 2: Map content to personas. The next step is to create, leverage and/or repurpose content that maps to each persona and step they may take in the buying cycle. Here’s a set of roles and stages that you might consider:
Customer buying stages:
- Need recognition
- Information search
- Evaluation of alternatives
- Purchase decision
- Post-purchase behavior
With these lists, you can build out a content matrix for each persona at each buying stage. In the end, you’ve created a living document that outlines the appropriate content for delivering the right information to the right person at the right time. You can maximize your results by thinking about how you can encourage prospects to take the next step, from one stage to the next, rather than moving them directly from initial response to closed deal.