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Map Your B2B Content Marketing Plans to Your Personas with These 5 Easy Steps

The growth of digital content has exploded. According to the Content Marketing Institute, B2B marketers created 70% more content last year than they did the previous year – while 42% published new content multiple times per week. That’s right. Multiple times per week.

The question we need to ask ourselves is do we really need new content daily? It seems to me that many of us have fallen into this cycle of churning out as much content as possible, but is this really the right approach?

Two reasons behind organizations creating content with a “spray & pray” approach are that they:

  1. Don’t have a documented content strategy (only 35% of B2B marketers say that they have it documented)
  2. Don’t manage content as a strategic asset (up to 70% of content is wasted each day and never repurposed again)

Wouldn’t it be so much more effective to create the right content for the right audience at the right time? Wouldn’t it be great to find ways to repurpose the content we’ve spent so much time creating rather than creating content haphazardly?

Having a documented content marketing strategy is key to ensuring the content you create is timely, relevant and targeted.  

Start with a simple content map. Creating a content map will help you align your brand and product stories with your buyer’s stages, the questions your prospects ask and their content needs and preferences. This is a logical process that is easy once you get it down on paper.

Just follow these five steps to get started with your content map:

1. Define Your Buyer Stages
Think about how people buy from you and the stages they go through. Some companies start simple and only define three stages: Early, Mid, and Late Stage. Some companies look at as many as five stages: Interest > Learn > Evaluate > Justify > Purchase. At the end it depends on your buyers, the length of the buying cycle and how complex your process needs to be.

2. Develop Buyer Personas
When it comes to content, one size does not fit all. While a Marketing Manager of a small business and the CEO of a large enterprise might be on the same customer journey, their content needs are likely not the same. You need to identify your top purchase influencers and decision makers. These are your buyer personas. Once you have identified them, give them each a name. Describe who they are with as much detail as possible. Include things like what they fear, what motivates them and identify their goals and challenges. It’s always much easier to create content while having someone specific in mind.

3. Understand the Questions Your Personas Ask at Each Stage
Different personas will have different questions at each stage of their customer journey. The purpose of your content should be to answer those questions, so that your buyers can make informed decisions and naturally move through the funnel to the purchase stage. Here are some general questions buyers ask at each stage of their journey:

- Interest: What is my problem?
- Learn: How can I solve my problem?
- Evaluate: Which solution is the best?
- Justify: How do I justify my decision?
- Purchase: How do I get started?

4. Answer Your Personas’ Questions
Start to align your brand or product stories with the questions your personas ask. Keep in mind what makes your story unique and what differentiates you from your competitors. You may want to start off by taking an inventory of your existing content and identify gaps. Capture all the details that will help you to categorize your content so that you can easily find the right content for the right persona at the right stage.

5. Identify Preferred Content Types at Each Stage
Certain types of content work better at some stages than others. During the initial stages prospects are often more interested in informal types of content consumption like newsletters, infographics or videos – things they do not have to commit much time to. In the mid-stage, they are more interested in case studies or demos. Later in the cycle, when they are more committed to your products and services, they want detailed information, like product specifications and pricing and will spend much more time consuming your content.

Creating a content map is the first step to documenting your content strategy and calming the content chaos. As more content is being created each day, adding order to the process is critical. Your content will be most effective when it’s planned, produced and published for a specific persona. You’ll have content that will address your audiences’ needs during each stage of the buyer journey.

For more on how to maximize content marketing download the Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Content Marketing, where you'll learn:

  • How to develop a balanced content marketing plan to support your most significant business objectives
  • Mining sources of inspiration to help create meaningful content
  • How to maximize existing content to create additional assets
  • Content calendar best practices
  • Ways to get to know your content comrades within your organization
  • Capitalizing on the idea of “content as data” (and must have content marketing metrics)

Editor's Note: Today's post comes courtesy of Sebastian Zentgraf, who is part of Oracle’s Customer Empowerment Team. 

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