Periodically, today’s content marketer needs to take a step back and see the forest (or whatever is your preferred “big picture” cliché). These pauses are an excellent time to evaluate whether your offered content matches your targeted audience’s persona(s) and where they are in their buying journeys.
Do you have too much Top of Funnel (TOFU) content and not enough Bottom of Funnel (BOFU) content that is oriented to decision makers?
In this episode of the Rethink Podcast, we meet with Karrie Sundbom, senior manager for content marketing at Act-On. She tells us a bit about her role and responsibilities at Act-On, as well as shares a few tips on mapping your content to the buyer’s journey.
Karrie bundles her tips under Educate, Create, and Activate.
Everyone is talking about the buyer’s journey. But what is it? Essentially, the buyer’s or customer’s journey are the steps a potential customer takes toward purchasing your product or services. This journey can have many shapes, entry points, turns (including U-turns), and exit points. Generally, we define the journey’s phases as awareness, consideration, and decision.
Content marketers want to make sure they’re offering the right content throughout the buying journey. The goal is to create content that will answer the buyer’s question at that particular stage, and then point them in the right direction, further along on their journey, and, eventually, generate leads and sales.
According to Sundbom, one of the first steps marketers should take is to study their buyer persona(s), and then educate themselves on both the content they already have and the content they may still need.
“You really need to pay attention to who the buyer is. What are their pain points? What are their day-to-day challenges?” Sundbom said. “Who in that company is the decision maker? Who in that company is the budget holder?
“You really need to do your homework. You need to know where these people live. Where are they getting their information? Where are they getting their content? Who do they trust? And you need to start planning around that.”
As for collecting this information, you can hire the project out to an agency, survey folks that have (or had) those job titles within your organization, or reach out to the people you know or who may have a connection with via LinkedIn. You can ask them a range of questions, or just one or two.
Here are questions you might want to ask:
- What keeps you up at night?
- How is your job measured?
- How do you stay up to date with trends?
- What publications do you read?
- What does a typical day look like?
- What knowledge/skills are required for your job?
- What tools do you currently use?
- Biggest challenges in your job?
- What does it mean to be successful in your role?
- What type of content engages you?
- What are some objections/worries you have when purchasing (your product or service)?
- What is at risk if you make the wrong purchase decision?
- What purchase did you make that you most regret? Why?
The second step is educating yourself on what you already have in your library and what holes you may have to fill. Look at all your blog posts, white papers, infographics, videos, eBooks, and so forth, and begin organizing it by buying stage.
You can do this on a white board, in a PowerPoint slide, or in a spreadsheet. In your content audit, tag the material by type, persona, theme, place in the journey (TOFU, MOFU, or BOFU), and so forth. You will also want to identify content that is evergreen, as well as content that you will be able to leverage into other formats, by, for example, turning that webinar into a video, podcast, infographic, comparison datasheet, or blog post.
Once you have a clear idea of who your buyer is, and what content you may have that addresses their needs, it is time to begin creating content to fill the holes you have (and, yes, you’ll more than likely have some holes).
Your previous research and content audit will help you identify content holes, as well as help you potentially see the need to tweak, add, or remove the personas to whom you are selling, Sundbom said.
You will also identify secondary personas you may need to create content for, such as CFOs, IT directors, and so forth. This content can be used by your primary personas to educate others within their organizations.
As you have built out your map and identified what you need to create, Sundbom recommended prioritizing the creation of new content on filling the biggest holes and being in sync with your company’s goals.
Likewise, you’ll want an honest appraisal of the time some pieces of content will take to produce. Say your audit finds that you need more customer testimonial case studies. Realistically, it could take several months to identify successful customers who are also willing to participate.
As Stephen Covey, author of the famous book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, once said, “Begin with the end in mind.” Identify the content you need, case studies, demo videos, billboards along a highway, and the like, and then work backward on what’s needed to get those created.
Additionally, Sundbom also advised being selective about what content should be given away for free and what should be gated so that you can “capture those leads and begin nurturing those relationships.”
Sundbom’s final quick tip? Activate, activate, activate!
Go back to your earlier persona research where you identified buyers’ preferred channels; that is where you want to share your content.
This sounds overly simplistic, but too often I’ve seen marketers get drunk on the latest channel trend and spend crazy amounts of cash to share their content on it. Yet, their buyers never see that content because they don’t use that channel.
There are deployment options for all budgets. You can use third-party syndication, share on social media, or share with your own networks.
You should measure and test your content’s success via free tools, such as Google Analytics, or do A/B testing using a marketing automation platform like Act-On.
What success looks like will depend on your business goals and your industry. In addition to determining the bottom line goals (leads, sales), you will also want to find out what days and times of the week your audience consumes your content. Determine whether they prefer a content-type format (white paper or video) or channel-type format (email or Snapchat).
Want to learn more tips for Content Marketing? Check out this great post, “Content Marketing on a Shoestring Budget.”
And, if you haven’t yet defined your buyer personas, take a look at our eBook/workbook, “4 Steps to Creating a Content Marketing Plan Right Person, Right Message, Right Time,” to help you complete this crucial step.