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What Is Content Mapping?

    Reposition Services UK
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    By Hitesh
    November 8, 2023
    ~ 5 minutes to read
    Hitesh is a digital marketing strategist and entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience in digital marketing, start-ups, branding, and customer acquisition strategies. Hitesh is the CEO and Founder of Reposition Group, which specialises in digital growth strategies.

    What Is Content Mapping?

    Content mapping is a strategic process used to plan, organise, and structure content across channels and formats. It provides a blueprint for content creation and delivery to help meet business goals. Content mapping is important for several reasons:

    Helps Understand Audience Needs

    Content mapping starts with gaining a deep understanding of your target audience and their needs. This involves conducting user research through surveys, interviews, focus groups, and analysing customer data.

    It allows you to create buyer personas that represent your key audience segments. With this insight, you can tailor content to resonate with each persona’s motivations, challenges, interests, and preferred content types. Content mapped to audience needs is more likely to drive engagement.

    Supports Brand Messaging

    Content mapping ensures your content aligns with overall brand messaging and positioning. It prevents inconsistent, conflicting, or off-brand content. A content map provides a high-level view of planned content so you can spot potential messaging gaps or redundancies. This helps strengthen brand identity across channels.

    Identifies Content Gaps

    Analysing a content map makes it easy to see where there are content gaps – topics you haven’t covered yet for each stage of the buyer’s journey. This prevents important content opportunities from being missed and helps drive content creation priorities. Filling content gaps improves the user experience.

    Optimises SEO Efforts

    Content mapping incorporates keyword research so content can be optimised for search from the start. Keyword opportunities can be mapped to relevant page topics. This on-page SEO helps attract organic traffic from search engines. A content map also identifies pillar pages and clusters content around these for interlinking – an important SEO tactic.

    Provides Content Creation Framework

    A documented content map acts as a guide for your content team or freelancers to follow. It provides direction on the specific content pieces that need to be produced such as blog posts, ebooks, videos, and more. This organised structure improves workflow and efficiency.

    Facilitates Content Governance

    Content mapping facilitates content lifecycle management. Old, outdated content can be flagged for updating or sunsetting. New content opportunities can be added to the map. This helps keep content current, fresh, and relevant. A content map also aids handoff to other teams like social media for content promotion.

    Steps for Content Mapping

    Content mapping involves several key steps:

    Set Content Goals

    Begin by defining your content goals and KPIs – what you want your content to achieve. Common goals include increasing website traffic, generating leads, and supporting sales. Keep these goals in mind through the mapping process.

    Research Buyer Personas

    Conduct user research through surveys, customer interviews, keyword research, and analysing analytics such as your audience demographics. Create detailed buyer personas that represent your target audience segments. Note their motivations, challenges, and interests.

    Map Buyer’s Journey

    Map the typical buyer’s journey for your personas from initial awareness to becoming a customer. This may include stages such as problem awareness, information search, solution exploration, vendor comparison, and decision.

    Conduct Content Audit

    Audit your existing content. Analyse performance metrics. Determine what content is underperforming. Identify content gaps where new content is needed. Look for content to consolidate or retire.

    Identify Topics

    Brainstorm topics that align with each stage of the buyer’s journey. Topics should address audience needs and search intent. Topics can be broken into content clusters or pillars centred around main ideas.

    Choose Content Types

    Determine the best content types or formats for each topic such as articles, ebooks, whitepapers, videos, etc. Consider which types resonate most with your personas.

    Keyword Research

    Conduct keyword research using tools like Google Keyword Planner for terms related to your topics. This supports on-page optimisation. Identify keywords you want pages and content to target.

    Map Topics to Stages

    Map topics and supporting content to relevant stages of the buyer’s journey. Ensure coverage across the entire customer journey – awareness, consideration, and decision.

    Set Content Pillars

    Identify main content pillars or hubs. These are important foundational content pieces such as guides or resource centres. Cluster supporting content around each pillar for interlinking.

    Set Publishing Priorities

    With everything mapped, set priorities for content production and publishing based on goals, gaps, and resources. This provides a roadmap for your team.

    Document in Spreadsheet

    Document the content map in a spreadsheet or using mapping software. Include columns for title, persona, buyer’s journey stage, content type, topics, keywords, publishing priority, and status.

    Best Practices for Content Mapping

    Here are some best practices for developing an effective content map:

    • Involve teams across marketing, sales, product, and UX for input.
    • Start with higher-level topics then break into more granular content.
    • Focus on quality over quantity – avoid “content for content’s sake.”
    • Set measurable KPIs for each stage of the buyer’s journey.
    • Maintain flexibility – your map will evolve.
    • Audit your map quarterly and update it as needed.
    • Use mapping software or a spreadsheet for easy visualisation.
    • Keep the map centralised for easy access by all content stakeholders.

    Content Mapping Software

    Dedicated content mapping software provides added structure and features for content planning. Popular options include:

    • Trello – Flexible kanban-style boards to visualise and organise content topics.
    • Airtable – Customisable database to manage and collaborate on a content grid.
    • Asana – Project management tool with timeline features for content scheduling.
    • MindMeister – Visually create a content map with customisable mind maps.
    • CoSchedule – All-in-one solution with specialised tools for mapping.

    The right software helps streamline creating, collaborating on, and managing your content map.

    Content Mapping vs. Editorial Calendar

    Content mapping and editorial calendars are related but serve different functions:

    • Content mapping provides a high-level blueprint for the topics and types of content to produce. It focuses on stages of the buyer’s journey.
    • An editorial calendar is more tactical and scheduled. It outlines specific pieces of content and when they will be published week-to-week.
    • Think of the content map as the master plan and the editorial calendar as the short-term execution. Editorial calendars carry out the mapped content strategy.
    • You create a content map first. The map then informs what goes onto the editorial calendar for each period.
    • Content mapping focuses on topics and buyer personas. Editorial calendars focus on timing and workflows.

    So in summary, every effective content strategy utilises both a master content map and supporting editorial calendars to schedule and publish the planned content.

    Benefits of Content Mapping

    There are many benefits to taking a structured approach to content through mapping:

    What Is Content Mapping

    Improves Customer Experience

    Content mapped to the buyer’s journey provides a logical, seamless information flow. This improves the customer experience and path to conversion.

    Consistent Messaging

    Content mapping results in consistent messaging and brand positioning across channels and formats. This strengthens brand identity.

    Increases Organic Reach

    Optimised on-page SEO through keyword mapping helps content be discovered by search engines. This allows you to organically reach more of your target audience.

    Supports Sales Enablement

    Detailed content mapped to each buying stage also better equips your sales teams. They can provide customers with relevant assets for different parts of the journey.

    Enhances Content Production

    Strategic content mapping results in more efficient workflows for your content team. It’s a blueprint for what content needs to be created and when.

    Provides Direction

    Documented content maps give direction and focus to anyone creating content – your team, freelancers, and partners. This improves output.

    Identifies Gaps

    Analysing the mapped content makes it easy to spot gaps in topics, stages, formats, and more. You can then prioritise and fill those gaps.

    In summary, content mapping provides both strategic and tactical benefits to streamline and enhance your content marketing. Taking a structured approach to planning content provides greater focus, consistency, and performance. Content mapping should be an essential component of your overall content strategy.

    Conclusion

    Content mapping is a critical but often overlooked component of an effective content strategy. Without taking the time to map out planned content, it is easy to end up with disparate pieces that don’t tell a cohesive story.

    Content mapping provides the all-important blueprint both for what content to create as well as how to structure it to guide customers on their buyer’s journey.

    While content mapping takes effort upfront, the benefits make it well worth it. Content informed by audience needs, optimised for search, and sequenced along the customer journey performs better.

    This leads to higher engagement, lower bounce rates, increased conversions, and greater customer satisfaction. Content mapping also streamlines collaboration across teams and facilitates content governance over the long term.

    For organisations looking to improve their content marketing, content mapping provides a strategic foundation. The time invested in researching buyers, auditing existing content, planning future content, and documenting the map pays dividends across metrics.

    Maintaining and evolving the map sustains its value. With a thoughtful content map guiding the way, companies can create content with purpose and maximise its impact.