In an ideal world, your inbound content should be like the Yellow Brick Road in The Wizard of Oz, a shiny, glittering, well-posted path that ultimately leads your customer to where they need to be — your business.
To ensure that the customer doesn’t get lost along the way, your content must constantly address:
- Who is the person buying your product?
- Where are they in the buying process?
The best way to do this is by mapping your content to your buyer's persona and journey, which is also known as persona mapping. Persona mapping means linking the right content, to the right people, at the right time. You think about who your ideal buyer is, and once you have established that, you look at how the content you create will help them solve their problem.
A buyer persona is a fictional representation of members of your target audience. There may be more than one buyer persona - especially in b2b land where the decision making can be very involved.
What’s involved in creating it?
In order to create a buyer persona, you need to be asking some very detailed questions about your ideal buyer. They will include information like:
- Job title
- Where they live
- What their family situation could be
- Career path
- Work goals
- Challenges they encounter within their role
- How they fit into the decision-making process
- How your business product or solution might be able to help them
- Where they look for information
- What sales objections you might hear from them
- How they might describe themselves
In order to verify the information, you will follow-up with a real-life representative of this buyer to check that the information rings true.
If it does indeed ring true, then you can think about the next part, how your content will help your buyer get through the buyer journey.
The buyer’s journey
HubSpot describe this as ‘the active research process that a potential buyer will go through leading to their purchase.’
There are three steps in this journey:
And a marketer has to keep this in mind when creating content.
To put this in perspective, let’s use Dorothy as an example (assuming that in Oz she had access to Wifi and an iPhone, rather than munchkins and some seriously lush shoes).
How would the process help her?
Dorothy has quite a few problems in the course of her journey, but there is a really obvious one — the gnarly feet she must have gotten from doing all that walking in stilettos.
Over time, they are really starting to be distracting so she might Google something like:
'Really sore feet'
'Huge spots on feet'
'Painful sores on feet'
At this point, poor old Dorothy is in quite a bit of discomfort, so she’s open to any solution that might help her hobble into the Emerald city.
She’s discovered that yep, she does have some pretty manky blisters. She realises what her problem is and is now looking for things that might heal her heels.
Like Dorothy, your prospects in the consideration stage have clearly defined the problem and the issues surrounding it. They are now looking for more actionable information that in the awareness stage.
Your content in this stage should help people realise the potential solutions to their problem and show them clear steps to move forward.
When your prospects arrive at the decision stage, they have clearly defined the solution to their problem.
They are now ready to look at your product or service specific content. Your decision stage content should show how your product or service can best solve the problem - through case studies, testimonials, webinars and product demos.
Going back to our Wizard of Oz story, Dorothy now realises that she can do a range of things: get some tape, some special socks, a powder, some antiperspirant. After weighing up the options in relation to her context ( ie ‘tape is the cheapest, but I am in an awful amount of pain, so I am going to splurge on the socks, plus I can easily get them from that weird roadside peddler’) she has made her decision:
‘Ahhh these anti-fungal socks really do sooth my feet!’
At all stages of this process, a business should then be thinking about how they can use content to help a customer establish their problem and provide them with the solution.
If you apply this to b2b land, you can see how content can shape the decision-making process:
Your content is going to be very different depending on who is reading it. An analyst will obviously need different content to her boss for example, because they have different parts to play in the decision-making process.
Persona mapping also acknowledges that these people are also fundamentally different, the analyst might be an information hound who likes to have really detailed content, whereas the CEO might be time-poor, but wants to keep informed about industry happenings.
One way to ensure that you are creating content for all your ideal personas is to create a grid. Using the HubSpot template as a guide, let’s use a fictional company, Emerald City Corporation to demonstrate:
You can then use this information to set up monthly metrics and create a report that looks at how well your content is going. The best way to do this is to set benchmarks for how many leads, marketing qualified leads and customers you would like every month, and compare your goals versus actuals. This exercise will help you to pinpoint where you need to be creating more content. For example, if you’re getting less leads than you expected, you may need to think about creating more awareness content, or reviewing your existing content for relevance. It might even mean that your buyer personas aren’t as accurate as they need to be and you need to go and reevaluate them.
Content mapping is an involved, multi-faceted process. However it is a crucial step to ensure that your customers are skipping down the road that leads them to where they need to be.
If you’ve not got the metaphor yet, the green bit is your business
Like to know more about persona mapping? Then, download the quick-start guide to inbound marketing for technology companies today!