How to Create a Content Map
This post is written by Sandy Gans-
Most of you know how important a content strategy is to your organisation. Blogs, whitepapers, slide sets, on-demand webinars, infographics and memes (the list goes on) all need to be planned and created. Fresh content is essential to drive traffic to your website, which in turn should help you increase conversion and leads.
But, the task of creating a whole new marketing asset library from scratch can seem daunting. Even if you have more than one person on the job or have existing pieces that can be updated or reused, it’s still a tough job. You may be struggling with questions like:
- “Who is my content aimed at?”
- “What stage of the buy-cycle are they at?”
- “What content will they find interesting?”
- “How do I get my content to go viral?”
- “How will Google rank my content?”
All of these are very relevant questions. But for the purposes of this article, I want to focus on the content map itself and share with you two different methodologies for the creation of the content map framework. After all, just getting started is sometimes the hardest part.
Method #1: Mind Map your Content Map
If you’re not already familiar with the technique, mindmapping is a method for learning and inspiring creativity developed by Tony Buzan in the 1970s and popularised through his seminal work on maximising brain power, ‘Use Your Head’. Buzan’s technique advocates that instead of making tables and lists of information, we should use mindmapping as this more closely mimics the neural pathways of the brain, i.e. how we think, learn and retain or recall information. I’ve used mind maps throughout my career especially during brainstorming sessions either solo or with a team. I find the mind map helps you focus your mental capacity on what’s important, while also stimulating more ideas and creativity. As Buzan claims, you also get a fuller picture of a topic or scenario – with all the elements on a single page instead of spread across pages of text.
So how does this relate to a content map? Well, content maps lend themselves very well to this technique, there are a lot of different variables that factor into your decision to produce a certain piece of content, e.g the persona it’s targeted to, the stage in the buy cycle they are at, what are they interested in, etc. You always want to start with the topic at the centre of the map and then offshoot each sub-topic from there. I’d advise starting this with a whiteboard or pad and paper, then once you are comfortable with the technique, possibly investing in some mind-mapping software such as that offered by MindGenius.
Method #2: Matrix-Style Content Map
For those of you who are more “structured” thinkers – mindmapping certainly isn’t for everyone – then I suggest drawing up a content map matrix. Simply list your buyer personas in the vertical column, and the stage of the buy cycle they are at (or other variable of your choosing) across the top. Here’s an example of what your content map might look like:
Acme Sales Software Content Map:
While you will still need to think about the topic, content, tone and delivery of each asset, with the above completed you are at least being clear about the fact that one type of content does not fit all. Indeed, this is why it’s so important to spend time developing your marketing personas in the first place.
Review your content map to keep it fresh
It’s also a good idea to set a monthly or quarterly review of the map – and the resultant assets themselves – so that you are proactively staying on top of refreshing content and creating new key pieces as the old ones pass their sell-by dates, rather than reacting to urgent demands for a certain piece of content from other parts of the organisation which may leave you with less time to do a good job.
Sync your content map with Sales
Does your organisation have a separate sales team? If ‘Yes’, great! You should also try to solicit as much feedback from them as possible in terms of what types of content they think your target audience would find useful and incorporate this into the map. After all, it’s very easy for marketing to try to guess what type of information buyers might find useful, but your sales team are (or should be!) the real experts when it comes to knowing what potential buyers want.
Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong way to create a content map as long as you have chosen a way that is agreed upon by other members of your team, and the map is saved in a central place so everyone working on content can easily refer to it or make changes if necessary. You should also set some kind of timeframe for getting content created. We advise 2 blogs per week, as this has been shown to create an average uplift in website traffic of 50% uplift to companies have adopted it (source: HubSpot). We’d also recommend a new piece of key content, such as a slide set or whitepaper at least once a month – more if you’re just getting started and need to fill some more holes. Let us know how you get on below – we’d love to hear your thoughts on suggestions too!
Want to take you content marketing to the next level? Download the 4-step content marketing strategy presentation
Other blog posts you like:
‘5 Ways to Take Charge of Your Top of Funnel Content’
‘How to Kickstart Your Blogging Habit’