Do You Have a Content Map for Your Website?
Imagine you’re going on your dream vacation (Cheap plug: I’m married to a travel advisor if you need one!) . You already know you want to hit the beach, indulge at the finest restaurants, and hike in the mountains. As excited as you are, you’ve never been there before. Your trip would be lousy without a map! Or at the very least, a charged cell phone with GPS.
Your website should be no different. A good website should feel like users are arriving at their destination after a long journey. Content maps are necessary to help users navigate where they need to go on your website.
In this article, we’ll discuss what a content map is, why they’re important, how to create them and share an example of one.
What’s a Content Map?
A content map is a carefully curated navigational tool for your customer’s journey on your website. For users weighing their options between companies, content maps guide them through their purchasing decisions. From curating awareness and creating consideration, content maps help lead your customers to conversion by appealing to each part of their journey.
Think of a topical content map as a roadmap for your website. The content map forms the basis of all your content, landing pages, and structure relative to the user’s buyer journey. By keeping your customer at the top of your mind while creating your website content map, you lower the chances of high bounce rates. Instead, you increase the chances of conversions down the line. (“Conversions”= a nerdy way to say “turning visitors into customers.”)
Why Do Content Maps Matter?
Think about all the noise out there. Customers are bombarded by thousands of advertising messages all day long. In order to capture their attention and keep it, you need to be strategic- even when the visitor was actively searching for what you do and found your site. Content mapping focuses on your content, so users feel your content is personalized for them.
Additionally, having a website that’s attractive to customers is a major win for your SEO efforts. Content mapping keeps the user at the forefront of your website’s strategy. Careful content mapping also sets you up to rank better for semantically related and relevant keywords than your competitors. Content maps are simply good business for you and your customer!
Steps to Take When Mapping Content
Creating a strong content map requires a few steps. These steps include:
Knowing what content to create can feel overwhelming at first. You know what you’d like to say, but how do you communicate that to customers? Before writing anything, research should be your first step.
Get in your customers’ minds during their decision journey. You don’t have to read minds to do this. Customer reviews are a gold mine of information! Learn what they liked and what they didn’t about your service or product. Check social media for any mentions of your company. You can use a social search engine to help with this. If you have a customer service team, ask them for the most common complaints or compliments they receive. If you need more direct answers about your customers’ demographics and beliefs, surveys are a great tool.
With all this feedback in mind, it’s time to check your analytics too. Look for demographic data in Google Analytics. What keywords are they using? Better yet, are they bouncing off your site on a particular page? You can gain a wealth of information by learning what people are doing once they land on your site, and what’s turning them off when conducting buyer persona research.
Identify Your Buyer Persona(s)
Let’s say you’ve done a ton of research and learned so much about your customers. Now it’s time to narrow down what you’ve learned and create a buyer persona. A buyer persona is a fictionalized ideal customer to focus your marketing efforts. You can speak directly with your idealized customer when using a buyer persona.
To create a buyer persona, you’ll want to first define the demographics of a person such as their age, gender, education, profession, marital status, location, and any other helpful quirks you can think of.
Then you’ll dig deeper into their behaviors, values, and personal beliefs. Finally, you’ll want to consider their pain points, challenges, and fears in life. Extra points for also considering where they consume their media and what obstacles they may face in their purchasing process.
Your buyer persona will also vary if you’re a B2C business compared to a B2B business. A B2C business might have a persona summary like this: Pam age 34, a stay-at-home mom in suburban Seattle. Pam wants to find other moms her age nearby but struggles to find them in her community. She regularly uses Facebook but hasn’t found Mom friends this way. Your mom friend app is trying to target customers like Pam!
B2B is a little different though. Even though you’re still targeting an individual, you’re most curious about their relationship with their employer. B2B persona building will be most focused on a person’s profession as a result. An example might be Jim, a 54-year-old manager of a small digital marketing agency. Jim needs to hire a new media buyer, but he isn’t finding anyone with the niche experience his team needs. Classic hiring platforms like Indeed have been no help. Your company’s digital marketing hiring platform is perfect for Jim’s needs.
Empathize with Your Customers
Constructing effective personas takes work. But it also requires walking a mile in your customers’ shoes. Empathy is a cornerstone of making effective content. Depending on what resources you have available, it can sometimes involve a great deal of creativity.
Before you write any content, you want to know exactly how to speak to the persona you created. You defined where your buyer persona gets their information. Go to that app, website, or channel yourself and see how what they’re consuming to see their existing resources from their perspective. This is also a great way to notice any gaps in your current niche.
Once you dig deeper into this niche and your persona’s psyche, you’ll have a better idea as to what might make them object to your services or offer. Consider barriers like price or proximity that may turn off your personas completely. Tune into their belief system and values too, as this will also frame your tone in your future content.
Create Awareness Content
Break out those freshly defined personas because it’s time to make content! You’ll want to start at the very top of the funnel to create awareness content first. During the awareness stage, your customers are just beginning to realize they have a problem they need to solve. As they gain awareness, they turn to search engines to research the issue.
This is your first meeting point with your potential customer. It’s important to make an excellent impression that will ultimately lead them down the sales funnel to purchase.
So, what does awareness content look like? Say you’re a local doggy daycare company looking to attract dog owners with rambunctious puppies. You read up on conversations between local dog owners in your area on social media. They discuss their high-energy dogs and their favorite dog parks that help their pups let out steam. Many users comment that they don’t know where the local dog parks are.
Creating a local guide to the best dog parks in your area would provide a wealth of information for users. Providing useful information builds trust and legitimizes your business with customers. The guide would also serve as a great way to generate relevant attention to your website from your buyer persona.
At this point in their journey, people who have never come across your business before have started to consider it. The consideration phase begins once your users are actively mulling over purchasing from your company. During the consideration phase, your customers may be looking into your competitors too. It is essential to differentiate yourself from competitors at this stage and position your company as the best solution.
Your content needs to provide value to people weighing their options. For example, take the fictional Joy’s Windows, a window company in Chicago. In a crowded market, Joy’s Windows creates a comparison chart between itself and its competitors. The chart illustrates that Joy’s Windows offer affordable vinyl windows with over 500 glowing customer reviews. Even better: the company offers a discount in March as Chicago comes out of their cold weather snap and enters spring. By listing its positive qualities compared to local competitors, Joy’s Windows positions itself as a top contender for customers considering their options.
Move the User Toward Conversion
You’ve created helpful awareness and consideration content to engage your customers. Customers have identified their issues and weighed their options among different companies. Now it’s time for them to choose you! When customers are this far down the sales funnel, it’s your job to ensure they make it all the way through to the conversion stage.
Conversion content should solidify your company as the top player. One powerful method of conversion is social proof like testimonials or case studies.
For example, take the fictional skincare company Gorgeous Skin. In a sea of skin care options, Gorgeous Skincare must stand out. They have excellent products that moisturize their customer’s skin better than their competitors. So they publish case studies of customers describing how their products solved their skin care problems. Jill, a woman in her 20s weighing her options to moisten her dry skin ultimately chooses Gorgeous Skincare due to their compelling customer testimonials.
Organize Content for Your Website
You’ve learned about each part of the purchase journey! Maybe you even have content ideas for each category. While creating useful content is integral to the buyer journey, it won’t do much good if users can’t navigate your site well. So how do you create helpful content without creating clutter?
When it’s time to organize content for your website, users need to be at the forefront of your mind. The buyer persona will inform the client’s ultimate goals while navigating your website.
Client goal mapping is the process of matching the buyer persona and their place in the purchase journey with content on your website. As we discussed earlier, different points in the purchase journey will call for unique types of content. Categorize each part of your website to the sales funnel.
For example, you may decide those in the awareness section are most concerned with the about us page and your main landing page. Consideration pages include your company’s white paper, the FAQ section, and a page about your services compared to competitors. Finally, your conversion page is the contact page with your phone number and a lead generation form.
Eliminate Any Barriers That Take Away from Your Content
Once you’ve categorized your content to the buyer’s journey, you can feel confident that your website is optimized for your customer. Content mapping is no simple feat, so you should feel proud. That’s why it’s essential to consider any potential barriers that could prevent users from seeing the beauty of your new optimized website.
Consider this. A customer needs a contractor to fix their leaky roof. They’ve weighed their options, but they decide to go with Will’s Contracting Services due to glowing testimonials on their website. The customer navigates to their contact page. They type out a paragraph in the lead generation form describing their problem. But when they go to submit it, nothing happens. They get frustrated due to the urgency of the issue and close their browser.
Technical issues will push away customers. Putting in all this work to guide users down the sales funnel can prove to be useless if issues aren’t fixed. Make sure your website is technically sound after creating a new content map. It’s essential that the conversion process is seamless on both desktop and mobile.
Example of A Content Map
See the following example of a content map for the fictional company Sew Away. Sew Away is a clothing company that creates affordable and practical styles for women, particularly moms. They’ve created a buyer persona and subsequent customer journey for their content map below.
Buyer Persona: Jill
Jill is a stay-at-home mom of children ages 2 and 4 in Milwaukee. She struggles to find both affordable and practical clothes. She finds most clothes marketed towards moms are too expensive and restrictive given her busy schedule with small children.
Jill is female and 36 years old. She is married and the family lives on one income. Her husband makes $75,000 a year. Jill has a bachelor’s degree.
When she gets a break from the kids, Jill spends her time scrolling Instagram and Facebook.
Awareness: Jill initially discovers Sew Away by typing in these relevant keywords into Google: “functional mom clothes.” She’s intrigued by a listicle Sew Away posted on their website’s blog titled “7 Functional Dresses Moms Love”
Awareness Web Content: Listicles, About Us Page, Homepage
Consideration: After scrolling through products, Jill weighs the options between a few local boutiques in town. She visits Sew Away’s website again after viewing a chart that compares prices between Sew Away and its competitors.
Consideration Web Content: Charts, Product Pages, FAQ
Conversion: Jill finally pulls out her wallet and makes a purchase when she stumbles upon a convincing customer review. “WOW! These are my favorite pants. I can keep up with my two-year-old all day wearing these.”
Conversion Web Content: Customer Reviews, Testimonials, Shopping Cart Page
Let Make It Loud Help
Content mapping doesn’t have to be a mystery. At Make It Loud, we’re SEO experts. We’ll work with you to optimize your website for the buyer’s experience. Call us at 678.325.4007 for a free consultation.
Cliff Tillery, MBA is the Chief Operating Officer at Make It Loud which is a digital marketing firm located outside of Atlanta Georgia. He is also the Director of SEO. More than 14 years ago, he started search engine optimization at this agency and has taught digital marketing skills to business owners at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, the Gwinnett Entrepreneur Center and other groups.