Consumer buying behaviors have dramatically changed. Ads may still bring them into your business, but it no longer has the same effect as it once did. Now, they do their own research for solutions to the challenges and opportunities they face.
That’s why lead nurturing is a crucial part of generating sales for your business, especially in today’s highly competitive marketplace. By giving them helpful and useful content based on where they are in your marketing funnel, you build a relationship with them. This relationship aids you to drive them down your funnel and convert them into leads.
Despite businesses understanding the importance of creating and publishing high-quality content, 65% of marketers struggle in developing content that effectively converts visitors to lead and customers.
This is why it’s essential to map content on your marketing funnel.
What is content mapping?
Simply put, content mapping is a structured process where you and your team plot out your content within the different stages of your marketing funnel.
Far too often, marketers focus on the quality of the content they produce. So while that’s a good thing, it’s just as important to know when to make this available to your leads as you nurture them. Content sent at the wrong time won’t only cause them not to convert, but may even give them a reason to opt-out from your marketing funnel.
The best way I can think of to make this easier for you to understand is when you visit your local shopping mall. If you’re just strolling in a store only to check things out, and a salesperson starts hounding you about their latest offers, you’d be out of that store almost immediately.
On the other hand, if you go in the same store with the intention of wanting to buy something, it can be very frustrating—even annoying—if there’s no salesperson ready and waiting to help you with your purchase.
Either way, the store would not have done an excellent job when it comes to making the sale.
And that’s precisely why content mapping is crucial when it comes to boosting your conversions. Through this, you’re filling your marketing funnel with quality content at the right places. Doing this will help them go through your marketing funnel more quickly and eventually transform from a stranger to a loyal customer.
2 key ingredients in content mapping
There are two key areas you first need to understand to create a successful content mapping exercise for your business.
The first is your marketing funnel.
Your marketing funnel is content mapping. It’s made of 4 different stages that would convert your leads into customers:
In this stage, your customers are facing a challenge but aren’t quite sure what is it exactly. So they begin researching based on the symptoms they’re experiencing to learn more about it, and possibly even a solution.
That said, your primary goal in this stage of your marketing funnel is to educate them the root of their problem. At the same time, you have to provide them with a solution that they can quickly apply.
A common mistake I’ve seen with startup founders at this stage of the marketing funnel is that they immediately include their products as part of the solution in the content they provide here. This is not the right time to do that for two reasons.
First, your customer is just looking for more information about their problem so that they can adequately address this. They aren’t interested in buying anything at this point because, frankly, they don’t even know what is the root cause of their problem yet.
Second, providing them with details on how your product can help at this stage of your marketing funnel will make your content look nothing more like a mere sales pitch, not a helpful resource that can help them.
This is the stage where your customers have become clear about the root cause of the challenge their facing. Now, they’re looking for the best possible solution to help them resolve this.
The consideration stage is also perhaps the most critical part of your marketing funnel. That’s because this is when your customers are eliminating those solutions that didn’t work for them. You need to make sure that your startup stays on your customer’s shortlist.
As you may have guessed, this is the stage where your customers are reviewing which company offers them the best solution to address their problem.
I often refer to the decision stage as the “make-or-break” stage because this is where you got to convince your customers to choose you, not your competitors. If you don’t do an excellent job in convincing them here, all the effort that you and your team put into the first two stages will go to waste.
Smart and successful startup founders don’t end with making the sale. They go one stage further by converting their customers into repeat customers, possibly even advocates.
One reason is that the cost of acquiring and nurturing new customers is more than getting repeat buyers to come back.
Repeat buyers also spend more each time that they return. One study shows that repeat customers spend between 3x and 5x more than first-time customers.
More importantly, your repeat customers become advocates of your brand and your products. According to Bain & Company, the longer they become repeat customers, the more people they refer to your business.
Source: Bain & Company
Word of mouth is still one of the most effective advertising strategies. Those that your repeat customers referred to you are easier to convert into your new customers than those that may have found you by searching on Google or any other search engine.
Your buyer persona
The second half of the equation to effectively map your content within your marketing funnel is your buyer persona.
As a startup founder or marketer, you already know that having a buyer persona is crucial to the success of any marketing strategy. That’s because your buyer persona serves as the representation of who is your ideal target customer.
Ideally, your buyer persona should tell you what kinds of content you should be publishing, where these should be distributed, and when they should go out. Yet, according to Top Rank Blog, 65% of B2B marketers and business owners struggle getting these right.
What I’ve found in my years working with startup founders and their teams to boost their customer acquisitions and sales is that there’s a disconnect between the content published they publish and their persona’s pain points.
Far too often, startup founders and their marketing teams publish content that they think their customers want to get. They develop these presumptions by approaching their marketing funnel through the eyes of a marketer, not as a customer.
The problem with this is that these are not necessarily what the customers consider essential nor exciting. Also, by creating your content from a marketer’s perspective, it’s possible that you could be using terms and statements your customers may not understand (unless they are marketers).
So no matter how fantastic the content you publish may be for you and your team, it’s going to be a total waste if your customers don’t see it in the same way.
That said, here are some ways for you to make sure that the content in the different stages of your marketing funnel resonates with your target audience.
1. Focus on their pain points.
Best-selling author and transformational life coach, Anthony Robbins, say that two things drive a person to take action. The first is to avoid a painful situation they’re experiencing. The second is to gain pleasure.
As a startup founder or marketer, it’s your job to discover what are the different painful situations that will prompt your customers to research online.
Don’t just focus on the “big ones.” Many of the challenges faced by your potential customers are those that appear small and negligible, especially when crafting content for the awareness stage of your funnel.
Remember, at this stage, your customers are researching for solutions based on what they’re experiencing at a particular moment. They’re not yet aware of the root cause of their problem. They’re still in the process of finding that out.
Understanding your buyer persona also gives you a better insight into how much content should you allocate for each stage of your marketing funnel. For example, if your startup is targeting businesses as your customers, you may need to devote more content in your funnel’s consideration and decision stages than you would if you were targeting individual customers.
2. Think like your customers.
When promoting Airbnb to their potential customers, founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia focused on answering just one question: “If Airbnb didn’t exist, where would our customers go?”
Asking this simple question helps them solve two things. The first is that they were able to find the right distribution channels to promote their business.
Second, it gave them a better idea of what type of message should they send out to attract their target market to book on their site.
One way to find out if you’re targeting the right pain points is by doing interviews with your existing customers. Sending out surveys to those in your email list and on social media is another.
Also, pay close attention to the content published by your competitors, especially if you’re just starting your business and you don’t have yet any customers. These are the ones that your target audience find most helpful that they consider it worth sharing to those in their personal networks.
3. Use simple, everyday language.
Even if you’re running a B2B startup, it’s still best practice to use words in the content you include within your marketing funnel that’s simple and commonly used by your target customers. Decision-makers within the companies that you’re targeting won’t waste their time trying to understand what you’re trying to say in your content. So it’s crucial that you make sure that your message is direct-to-the-point and easy to understand.
Also, not all decision-makers have a background in marketing. So if you use industry terms, jargons, and an alphabet soup of acronyms in your content, they will also not understand it.
If you need to include these industry terms in your content, make sure to define it and perhaps give examples so that your target audience will understand your content better.
How to map content for each stage of your marketing funnel
Like I explained earlier, your target customers at this stage of the funnel are in the process of trying to understand more about the problems or opportunities they want to address.
The content to include in this stage of your marketing funnel are those that provide an actionable solution for your audience to take away with them after they consume your content.
Some of the most commonly used content types in this stage of your marketing funnel include:
- Educational blog posts and articles
- Social media posts
Focus your content to solving and addressing your customer’s pain points and opportunities. Don’t focus your content on your product or service yet here. Instead, keep the topics and the solutions you provide broad and general.
Examples are the blog posts and guides published here on my website. Each of the in-depth articles I’ve written here and those I included in my Free Resource page are meant to answer and provide solutions to the most pressing problems faced by tech startups founders when it comes to marketing their businesses.
Adding interactive content at this stage can also help capture your audience’s attention and boost conversion rates up to 5x compared to static content.
The reason is that interactive content invites your target customers to engage with your business. In turn, this opens the door to begin building a trusting relationship with them. This relationship is what will help them further progress down your marketing funnel.
The content you need to include in this stage of your marketing funnel should be more specific compared to those in your awareness stage.
Aside from targeting a more specific concern faced by the different segments within your email list, this is also where you can now begin to promote your products and service to your customers through the form of case studies, trials, and scheduled demos.
HubSpot did a great job at this through their Pick Your Own Adventure email campaign.
After asking those in their email list of what their biggest challenge is, HubSpot then sends an email containing a checklist of their resources to help address the most significant problem faced by their audience.
All the resources they include point to HubSpot’s products and services as the possible solution faced by their customers. After their customers go through each of the resources in the checklist, they are then invited to learn more by scheduling a consultation session.
This strategy boosted HubSpot’s conversions and engagement by over 1,000%!
At this stage, your customers are ready to make a purchase. The only question they have left to answer is: where should they make the purchase?
That’s what the content you include at this stage of the funnel should help you achieve.
While it’s evident that the content should highlight your product’s features so that they can see you’re the best choice, make sure that your content here should also appeal to your customers’ emotions.
According to Harvard professor, Gerald Zaltman, your customer’s emotions play a crucial role when they decide whether or not to make a purchase.
That’s the reason why content that includes stories of your existing customers, testimonials, and reviews work very well here. And that’s also why you need to make sure never to forget this in the content you include in this part of your marketing funnel.
Zoom does an excellent job at this by offering their customers the option to use their services for free. Although their free version is limited compared to their paid plans, it’s still robust enough for their customers to use to hold their virtual meetings conveniently.
At the same time, they provide their customers with additional support through emails to further enhance their experience using their product while building a relationship with them. As a result, many of those that started with them using their free service upgrade to one of their paid subscriptions.
There are two types of content to include at this stage of your marketing funnel. The first type of material should help them during the onboarding process. Some of the types of content to include here are knowledge base pages and email drip campaigns giving tips to help ease through the onboarding process.
Since the majority of startups use the subscription model to generate revenue, you also need to ensure your customers remain loyal and keep renewing their subscription to your products.
Conducting a content mapping session with your marketing team will ensure that you fill your marketing funnel with content based on your buyer persona’s pain points and what stage they are in your marketing funnel. That way, you can make sure they get the right content at the right time, boosting your conversion rates.