8-Step Guide to B2B Content Mapping: Aligning Your Content to the Buying Cycle

It’s no secret that the content marketing approach that works best is one that includes a personal touch. One recent study conducted by Marketing Sherpa saw a company increase B2B leads by 124% after incorporating buyer personas into their content marketing strategy.
As your strategy matures to include content tailored for each buyer at every stage of the purchase funnel, however, you can lose the forest for the trees. It gets tough to keep track of what to prioritize in order to create the biggest impact, and it’s easy to get bogged down with the details of individual pieces of content, which takes your attention away from your content strategy as a whole.
That’s why you need a content matrix to get you back on track, and to keep you there once and for all.

What Is a Content Matrix?

Simply put, a content matrix is a map for your content creation. It guides you and your team to help prioritize the content that nurtures leads. A content matrix also helps your team target the key factors that engage your prospects at every stage of their buyer journey.
With this map in hand, you know what to highlight in content aimed at filling the top of the funnel with new leads. You also know what issues and solutions to discuss to pull those new buyers along through subsequent stages of the funnel.

B2B Content Mapping: Create a Content Matrix in 8 Steps

Craft your own version of this invaluable tool and start creating content that you know will make a positive impact on sales.

1. Identify Your Buyer Personas

In order to create content that resonates with your prospects, you need to make sure you understand the motivations, needs, and goals that drive them. Read my 3-part series on developing buyer personas if you haven’t already identified and analyzed them.

2. Map Out Each Buyer Persona’s Journey

Make note of key events and determine which are the motivating factors that move buyers down the funnel. Each buyer persona involved in the purchase process will likely have different problems that your product or service helps resolve, so keep track of all of them.

3. Determine the Best Medium for Each Stage of the Journey

A video may work best for the first stage of your buyers’ journey, but a blog post or an eBook might work better once they’ve moved to the next stage. Look at what types of content have converted best for you in the past and add those notes to your growing content map. Get more tips on this here: The Best Content Formats for Each Stage of the Buyer Journey

4. Import the Content Map into a Spreadsheet

Put the stages of the buyer journey into the horizontal axis and the buyer personas into the vertical axis. Now, combine your notes from steps two and three to populate each cell in the spreadsheet with the type of content and the key factors that the content focuses on. That way, you can easily match up a buyer persona with whatever stage of the buyer journey he or she is currently in. You know right away what the ideal content is to move that buyer to the next stage.
To make your matrix even more productive, give every piece of content a one or two-line summary for use in marketing and sales communications. Include a hook that speaks to the value proposition of what you’re selling and why it will help buyers with the problems they face.

5. Identify What Approach Works Best for Each Piece of Content

Top-of-the-funnel content works best when paired with a provocative approach that grabs attention and boosts awareness of your products and services. For content that focuses on buyers further along the funnel, try an approach that differentiates what your company offers from your competitors.

6. Perform a Content Audit

Conduct a content audit by looking at the conversion rates for your existing content to determine what’s working well and what needs to be improved. Often, a single piece of content that converts well can be slightly altered to match up with the personalized needs of different buyers at different stages of their journey. Be careful not to force it, however, and be ready to create new content if your existing pieces aren’t a good fit.

7. Consult Your Sales and Marketing Leaders

Speak with those leading your sales and marketing departments for their input on what content has the greatest impact on generating and nurturing leads. Take their suggestions and combine them with your conversion rate data to get a clear picture of where your content marketing team needs to focus its energy.

8. Create a Go-to-Market Version of Your Content Matrix

Apply the approaches from Step 5 and the data from Steps 6 and 7 to your existing content matrix, and you’re almost ready for primetime. You now have a clear, well organized content map that points you to the ideal piece of content for any persona at any stage of the journey.
Armed with your complete content matrix, you can map out the new pieces of content you need to prioritize and the existing content you need to tweak. Apply those priorities to your editorial calendar (see Michele Linn’s post on how to create an editorial calendar at the Content Marketing Institute) to ensure your marketing team is focusing on resolving the content gaps that will have the most impact on conversion rates. Remember, the goal is to shorten the time it takes for prospects to work their way through the funnel.

Free Content Mapping Tool

Our free content audit template will help you conduct a gap analysis to determine what assets you have and what new content your buyers really need. Download it here.

Brandon Hickie
Brandon Hickie
Marketing Manager, Pricing Strategy

Brandon Hickie is Marketing Manager, Pricing Strategy at LinkedIn. He previously worked at OpenView as Marketing Insights Manager. Prior to OpenView Brandon was an Associate in the competition practice at Charles River Associates where he focused on merger strategy, merger regulatory review, and antitrust litigation.
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