How to Develop a Content Matrix: A Step-By-Step Guide

November 5, 2012

Last week, I shared what a content matrix is and explained its purpose in a content marketing program. This week, I will share how to develop a content matrix to support a buyer persona focused B2B content marketing strategy and use it as a tool to ensure that content creators are focused on producing content that will impact the buying process.

A Step-By-Step Guide to Developing a Content Matrix:

1. Identify a Buyer Persona Framework

Identify an appropriate buyer persona framework to make sense of the various motivations, needs and goals that each buyer experiences throughout their journey. If you have not already developed a B2B buyer persona framework for your target segment, then you should first read my 3-part series on how to effectively develop and utilize a B2B buyer persona framework.

2. Map the Buyer’s Journey

Map out each buyer persona’s journey within the target segment, identify the key events that take place in that journey, and uncover the information needed for a buyer to move to the next phase of his/her journey. To get this information, you will want to do some buyer insights research. Sometimes enough information will be disclosed while doing buyer persona research to get by without launching a separate research project.

3. Decide on Appropriate Content Mediums

Pinpoint the content mediums that best reach your buyers at each phase of their journey and determine which content types will make best use of your team’s human and capital resources.

4. Put It All Together

Import and map this information in an Excel spreadsheet, with the stages in the buyer journey on the horizontal axis and the buyer personas on the vertical axis.

This will be sufficient for the early development of a content matrix, but as your organization becomes more targeted with your content you will likely want to add a second vertical axis for “type of content” or “content focal point.” This will depend on the complexity of the sale. In more complex sales, there may be multiple pieces of information required to progress a buyer from one stage to the next. In those cases, you may think about developing one or more pieces of content to address each of these factors. However, this post will focus on walking you through developing a basic content matrix. The content matrix should follow the layout shown below.

content audit matrix example

Once a piece of content is completed, the overview should be converted to a short one-to-two line summary that can be recycled in buyer and marketing communications with the target buyer at that stage of their journey.  This statement should also state the value proposition that it focuses on, or the key piece of information it is meant to educate a buyer on to help them get through their journey.

5. Identify the approach used for each piece of content.

That approach can drastically impact the way content resonates with a buyer. In the education and awareness stages of the buyer journey, provocative and engaging content will typically make the largest impact. This can come in the form of engaging and attention grabbing content intended to stick out on the Internet and in a target buyer’s inbox, or through content that helps buyers identify and self-diagnose problems. In the later stages of the buying process the content will need to have more of a focus on justifying value of the solution and establishing the differentiation between solutions.  This will be determined by the needs of each buyer to get through each phase of their buying process.

6. Conduct a Data-Driven Content Audit

Look at the conversion rates in your team’s marketing funnel and perform a content audit to determine what content the team currently has on hand, and determine if the content can be spruced up or altered to meet the requirements of any of the quadrants in the content matrix. These article variations will generally be the highest impact pieces relative to the effort they require. Sometimes, content can be personalized to fit the needs of multiple buyers or slightly altered to satisfy needs in different buyer stages. You do not want to force content to fit into specific stages or target certain buyers, however. The personalization and targeting makes a huge impact on the effectiveness of each piece of content.

7. Identify the Most Important Content Support Needs

8. Deploy the Matrix

Create a content production version and go-to-market team version of the content matrix. The production version of the matrix will map out future content production and needs to map back to the team’s content calendar. The go-to-market version of the content matrix will map out the current content assets that the company has for each segment, which helps the marketing team identify the best pieces of content to share with buyers in different phases of their buyer journey.

Now you know how to design a content matrix and use it how to prioritize your content creation efforts.

Next week, I will describe what a content audit is and explain its role in a B2B buyer persona focused content marketing strategy.

Marketing Manager, Pricing Strategy

<strong>Brandon Hickie</strong> is Marketing Manager, Pricing Strategy at <a href="">LinkedIn</a>. 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.