By Barbra Gago published April 21, 2011

Step-by-Step Templates for Mapping your B2B Content

b2b-content-mapA lot of B2B marketers talk about the need for content mapping. In short, this is the process of identifying what information each of your personas needs throughout the buying process. It’s time-consuming, but not difficult when you follow the steps below. Here’s the process I use as well as some templates to get you started (you can view them all below or download them in one PDF).

Identify your buyer personas

Check out the template I provided last week for your buyer personas.

Get the answers to all your questions about creating informative, useful personas. Check out How to Create Easy, Yet Actionable, Content Marketing Personas.

Determine what questions your personas have at each stage of the process

Once you identify who your personas are, identify the questions they have for each stage of the buying process. While the buying process may vary for different buyers, I’ve broken it down into six basic stages:

  • Early
  • Early (mid)
  • Early (late)
  • Mid
  • Mid (late)
  • Late

To figure out what questions your personas have, ask questions or analyze user/professional groups and do plenty of research (find studies and reports that have been conducted on your target market, or conduct them yourself). Here are seven ways to research your buyer for content marketing.

It’s important to note that not all personas will be involved in all stages of the buying process.

Answer the questions

Once you have identified the questions your persona has, track the answers to the questions and a suggested format for providing this information.

I use this persona content map matrix to fill in the questions, answers, content and content format  for the entire buying process. This can then be leveraged for nurture, drip, or promotional marketing. This matrix will help define your overall content strategy and how it supports your website, social media, sales enablement, and other marketing or demand generation efforts.

Different format types can be more appropriate for various stages of the sales cycle. Take a look at this post from Tom Pisello that outlines the various types of content that users like to consume. Also, SiriusDecisions recently did a study around the weight of various content types (and how the importance changes).

Conduct a content audit

Next you want to determine if you have the content you need to answer those questions and support various concerns your buyers will have. This will help you visualize what you are trying to do with the content mapping and storing of content that’s easily accessible by anyone (sales people, for example) to support individual sales processes.

Map the content

Now you need to map the content you will use for each persona at various stages of the buying cycle. When you map your content this way, you will probably find that you have a lot of content for a certain stage or certain persona. This is good; it gives you a very clear place to start filling in gaps.

Identify content gaps and create content

The gaps are the holes you have left that need to be filled. Knowing the gaps will help you prioritize the work, but it will also help you be better informed if a partner or media opportunity arises. You’ll know if you should spend the time and resources on it or not.

Also, when you develop the content, be sure to address your buyer persona’s information consumption needs, and desired content formats at different stages. This process isn’t just about knowing what to send out next, it’s about understanding what your buyers want, and being relevant, helpful and valuable to them.

Let me know what questions you have about content mapping in the comments below.

Other posts in this series:

Need more help aligning the needs of your audience with the content you create? Download our step-by-step workbook, Launch Your Own Content Marketing Program.

Cover image by Sylwia Bartyzel via Unsplash.

Author: Barbra Gago

Barbra Gago is the Director of Demand Gen Strategy at LeftBrain DGA. She's expert at developing buyer 2.0 personas, mapping content that engages buyers throughout their buying process, developing social media strategies that drive revenue, and using marketing automation for compelling lead nurturing and effective lead scoring. You can follow her on Twitter @BarbraGago.

Other posts by Barbra Gago

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  • Patricia

    This is really, really good stuff. I had no idea the detail that goes into mapping B2B content. I’m assuming that this a standard approach to all B2B’s regardless of their particular industry?

    • Anonymous

      It can be. Everyone does it a little differently. This is one way I like to do it, and it’s a good start for anyone who have never done it before. Let me know if you have questions?

  • Luis Portiansky

    Excellent resource for us B2B marketers. A great tool to standardize the persona mapping process.

  • Anonymous

    Lovely post!
    The methodology also helps marketers gain support from internal stakeholders for investment in content marketing.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you!

  • leeodden

    Well done Barbra. You’ve taken a complicated process and made it a lot easier to piece together. Now I just need to marry content mapping with how keyword glossaries are mapped and we’re set!

    • Anonymous

      Lee that’s right! Next template maybe a collaboration? 😉

  • Gavin Head

    What a great resource Barbra! You’ve broken down something that can seem like a complicated and daunting task into a simple, manageable process. Well, at least the concept is simple and easy to grasp, the execution is another thing… At least you have given us an outline to follow to make it easier. Thanks for sharing this with us!

  • Matthew Kreiling

    @BarbraGago:disqus Thank you for a simple description of how to understand personas. The many models out there are much less useful. It’s about how much they know!

  • johnn baptise

    Increase of the external links on your website is one of the most important elements of a successful strategy optimization. Can strengthen your rankings in search results, drive traffic and increase your presence on the Web.

  • fentory ward

    Template is best of them to the increase the value of traffic in the SEO and get more and more web graphic and benefit.

    Buy Adult link

  • Josh

    This is really useful. The part on identifying content gaps is particularly helpful and should be a taken into account by anyone doing content marketing.

  • Casey Cheshire

    Thanks Barbra! The graphics were super helpful too.

  • Sarah

    Lovely stuff, Barbra, ta!

  • Doyle Buehler

    Great article! I’ve just finished using some of your ideas with a client – and it looks mighty impressive. Thanks for your insights and ideas – and of course sharing them – but I guess that is what content is about 🙂

  • Chad Story

    Creating mental models is also an awesome tool to use when completing this sort of work.  Indi Young nailed it with her book on mental models. Rosenfeld Media has a nice piece on the subject download (free):

  • Scott Frangos

    This is great stuff. What I find in working with a log of designers and even developers is that when using WordPress they are not aware of all the options for grouping content in different ways that make sense for a kind of UI “map”. WordPress programmers call grouping content in different ways “taxonomies” and most of us are familiar with tags (I prefer to call them topics), category, and author archives. But did you know these can be laid out much differently than the standard scrolling list of excerpts to posts and pages? Some know this, but they are not sure of the range of options. This goes directly to the specific solution for a map. I welcome your thoughts and perspective on same, since I am actively developing course curriculum to address this content strategy focus.

  • Steve

    This is incredibly helpful. Thank you.

  • Luke

    Thank you for this – this has really helped give me some direction