By Robert Rose published June 2, 2010

A Quick and Dirty Way to Segment your B2B Content Marketing

If you’re a B2B marketer you’ve inevitably heard sales say things like this:

“Yeah, we’re getting leads from all that content you guys in marketing are writing – but they’re all tire kickers.”

Or (my favorite): “We don’t need more leads. . . we need better leads.”  What now?

You want to be able to address these questions from sales with answers that are really specific. For instance, wouldn’t it be nice to be armed with this kind of info?

  • What kind of leads is Google PPC (or any tactic I’m tracking) delivering? Are they early tire kickers or last-minute shoppers?
  • At what stage in the funnel are most of my content marketing leads dropping in?
  • Which content is resonating best with what part of the funnel? For example, is my “How-To Guide” being used more at the beginning of the buying cycle – or rather to justify putting our company on the short list?

How do you get the answers to these questions? Map your content to your buyer personas by sales stages.

While you can—and at some point should—go through a more comprehensive content mapping and segmentation exercise, this two-part post promises a quick and dirty strategy. Done well, this process–which shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours–will give you an extraordinarily effective and quick method to answer these questions and look like a content marketing genius to your boss or your client.

This first post walks you through how to map your content to the the buyer persona and the sales cycle. The follow up post will give you tips on how to use this content map to plan for additional content and measure what is and isn’t working so you can answer those questions for sales.

Step 1: Develop buyer personas

Before you get started, you need to have buyer personas. If you are looking for more specifics on buyer personas , there have already been a couple of posts on the Content Marketing Institute that dug  into the specifics: Keith Wiegold had a post about thinking about more than demographics and yesterday Chris Moritz provides some good links to get more info. You can also check out some great resources at Savvy B2B Marketing and at David Meerman Scott’s web site.

You need one persona for every group you are marketing to. For instance, if you’re in charge of marketing for a technology company and your Widget-Integration-Management-Program (or WIMP) Solution is marketed to the Director of IT and the CFO at financial service companies, you would have two WIMP buyer personas: a Director of IT at a Regional Bank, and the CFO at that bank.

Step 2: Understand your sales funnel

You’ll also want to have your sales team’s funnel handy. These are the stages that a lead goes through on its way to being a customer. It will look something like this:

Raw Lead > Opportunity > Qualified Prospect > Customer

Step 3: Build your content segmentation grid

Now, let’s build your content segmentation grid. You’ll do this along two axes. The first axis is the personas, and the second is your sales funnel.

For this exercise we’re going to assume that once your persona is a customer, you stop marketing to them. This isn’t something I would recommend, and there’s a whole other set of fun exercises to go through for that. But that’s for a different post.

Once you have your grid, start filling in the cells. What goes in the cells? Well, that’s where you start identifying your inventory of content. So your grid might ultimately look something like this:

Content Segmentation Grid

One thing you may notice in this example is that most of our content marketing is focused at the top of the funnel. This is almost universally common, so don’t worry if this is true for you as well. We almost always start a B2B content marketing strategy by focusing on awareness and education, which is almost inevitably at the top of the funnel.

One benefit of this exercise is that  it very often points out that your content marketing is either very light or very heavy on one stage or one persona.

Once you are armed with your content segmentation grid, you are ready to start developing content and measuring what is and isn’t working. I’ll take you through those steps in my next post. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, what questions do you have about content mapping? Let me know in the comments.

Author: Robert Rose

Robert is the founder and chief strategy officer of The Content Advisory, the education and consulting group for The Content Marketing Institute. Robert has worked with more than 500 companies, including 15 of the Fortune 100. He’s provided content marketing and strategy advice for global brands such as Capital One, NASA, Dell, McCormick Spices, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Robert’s third book – Killing Marketing, with co-author Joe Pulizzi has been called the “book that rewrites the rules of marketing”. His second book – Experiences: The Seventh Era of Marketing is a top seller and has been called a “treatise, and a call to arms for marketers to lead business innovation in the 21st century.” Robert’s first book, Managing Content Marketing, spent two weeks as a top ten marketing book on Amazon.com and is generally considered to be the “owners manual” of the Content Marketing process. You can catch up with Robert weekly on his popular podcast - The Weekly Wrap. Follow him on Twitter @Robert_Rose.

Other posts by Robert Rose

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