How to Map Your Content across the Experience Journey

How to Map Your Content Across the Customer Experience Journey

In last week’s blog, Where is the Content Engine Heading?, we started to talk about developing a Content Experience Strategy. We continue here with how to use content mapping to match where your customer is in their journey.

As we conduct an audit of our existing assets and add new content to the mix, it is useful to map out the content that each of our personas may interact with as they progress along the customer journey. Creating a simple matrix, which lists our personas on one axis and the stages of our customer-experience journey on the other, provides a useful structure to help us uncover any content gaps and redundancies.

Applying the results of our content audit, in each quadrant we list the asset, the questions it answers, and the form it takes.

Content Audit Worksheet

Looking across the entire persona’s experience journey, we can evaluate whether each piece of content builds upon earlier messaging. Is there variety in the type of content used? Is our content leading to action? How might we enhance our customer experience?

Tips for Creating Relevant Content

Strategic thinking extends to each piece of content. As we set out to create content, it is useful to consider the following questions.

To Whom Is This Targeted?

To create relevant content, we need to know for whom we are developing the experience and where they are in the customer experience journey. With this information in hand, we can design content that will effectively address our target persona’s needs, desires, motivations, and beliefs at a given point in time. Personas can help us focus our efforts by giving us a clear picture of whom we are directing our efforts toward.

Adele Revella, the president of Buyer Persona Institute, defines personas as “an example of the real person who buys, or might buy, products like the ones you market, based on what you’ve learned from direct interviews with real buyers.” These mini snapshots of our customers often include representative names, demographics, job titles, and even pictures. They describe our constituents’ different needs, goals, motivations, income levels, influencers, and communications preferences. They give market segments personalities like “Pampering Parents” and “Performance Fuelists.”

While persona development may seem like a natural fit for B2C companies, it can be equally as helpful for organizations pursuing a B2B strategy as well. In a B2B setting, these profiles can help us better understand our prospects. We can develop personas for entire companies and for each member of the buying team. Hubspot views these marketing tools as so critical to their marketing efforts that its office is physically organized according to these personalities.

Is This Content Useful?

Remember Jay Baer’s advice, “Create marketing experiences that are so valuable people would pay for them”. This is our goal. Is this content that useful? Is it interesting? Is it surprising? Does it bring something new to the conversation? Is it up to date? Does it answer the questions our personas may have at this stage? What action are we hoping to inspire with this content? Does it have an effective trigger? Is it contextualized as best it can be? Does it reflect our most recent learning about this customer?

Is This the Right Time?

Timing of the content matters as well. Does it come at the right time of day and the right time in our customers’ journey? Is it sensitive to events taking place in the news? Who can forget the day of the tragic Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting, when the National Rifle Association’s American Rifleman tweeted, “Good morning, shooters. Happy Friday! Weekend plans?” Awareness of what is currently happening can help avoid similarly unfortunate communications.

Are We Using the Most Appropriate Type of Content?

The type of content we create reflects the underlying purpose of the communication and our target customers’ preferences. Digital content takes many forms:

  • Text based: a blog, a blog comment, or a white paper
  • Visual: a photograph, a video, or an infographic
  • Audio based: a playlist or a podcast
  • Digital event: a webinar or a Twitter Chat
  • Long form: an e-book, article, case study, or movie
  • Short form: a 140-character tweet or a short video

Whatever the form, our customers should be able to access content via the device of their choice: mobile phone, tablet, or desktop.

In general, B2C companies tend to use more mobile content, apps, and print. B2B companies create more case studies, white papers, webinars, webcasts, and retail reports.26 It is a good idea to mix up the types of content regularly to keep things interesting. Offering an infographic between white papers, or an educational video series instead of an e-book, creates a refreshing rhythm.

Is It Appropriate?

Social media has blurred the lines between what is considered personal and what is considered professional. Transparency has redrawn the line between what we share broadly and what remains confidential. Partnering has reconfigured corporate boundaries. In a time when our sense of boundaries is in flux, it is important to stand back and ask ourselves if our content is appropriate. Are we inadvertently releasing proprietary information? Will publishing this piece impact any of our partners or other stakeholders? If so, have we made them aware of the initiative and the timing?

Is It Better Expressed with Pictures?

Text is the most common form of storytelling on the web; however, it is not always the most engaging form. People generally scan written content, reading only 20 to 28 percent of the words on a page. Keeping things short, well organized, and easy on the eye can increase the effectiveness of text.

Visual communication tends to be more effective, as long as the material is relevant. Forty percent of people respond better to visual information than plain text. Visual content also drives engagement. Posts with videos attract three times more inbound links than all-text posts and those that combine videos, images, and lists attract almost six times as many.29 Photos generate more likes, comments, and shares on Facebook than text, video, and links.30 When it comes to local search, 60 percent of people are more likely to consider or contact a business when a relevant image accompanies search results.31 Getting the picture?

Remember Warby Parker, the purveyor of eyewear that we highlighted in the blog Create Valuable Customer Experiences Through Design Thinking? Its blog is primarily visual, incorporating the work of fashion photographer Danielle Levitt to show its story. Every year the company publishes a visual annual report, chock full of interesting infographics.

Interested in trying your hand at creating animated video or presentation? A free and easy-to-use tool for creating professional-looking videos is available on www.PowToon.com. You may also want to explore Prezi.com’s presentation software that creates a dynamic virtual whiteboard for collaboration and storytelling.

Infographics present complex data in a way that is often more easily absorbed and interpreted than a paragraph. To see how they are being used, check out visual.ly/product/infographic-design, DailyInfographic.com, or the Marketing Infographics gallery on Pinterest. To create infographics and other visualizations, check out Visual.ly.com. Watch the first video-based infographic creator at Infogr.am.

One of our favorite visual effects is the cinemagraph, which blends a still photo and video. A partially animated photograph, the cinemagraph captures people’s attention by their uniqueness and their subtlety. If you have not seen one before, do a quick search and be delighted.

Do not overlook the power of music. Burberry showcases the work of emerging British musicians through its online videos, Burberry Acoustics. Recognizing the importance of music to its marketing efforts, the brand has its own full-time music team.

Is the Content Placement Right?

In addition to considering the form our content will take, thoughtful consideration of where that content will be distributed is essential. To maximize the effectiveness of our content and create a unified experience for our prospects and customers, our content should be optimized for each channel and for each device and build cohesive story across touchpoints.

One of the most used distribution channels is email. With over 294 billion emails sent daily, it is not surprising that click-through rates on mass email campaigns are often as low as 0.3 to 0.5 percent. When email is personalized, however, response rates dramatically improve. Crafting email communications to reflect activity in another channel—an email that focuses on content viewed on a website—increases its relevance. Williams Sonoma realized a tenfold increase in response rates when it incorporated customers’ online and catalogue behaviors into its email messaging.36

Email remains a relatively vanilla platform compared to the rich experiences that we have become accustomed to in social media, but there are few other options for private communications. Redbox is creating a richer email experience by embedding video trailers of its featured movies in its emails. An alternative to email, Postwire has created software that makes it easy for marketers and salespeople to share videos, photos, links, and documents with their customers via private webpages. Creators of the webpages can edit their page, choose who can view and contribute to it, and create discussion spaces within the space so there is no need for follow-up emails.

Can We Socialize Our Content?

Social media is a vital component of our communication strategy. It amplifies our content as it is shared across networks. On average, companies are active on six social media platforms. LinkedIn has become an important distribution vehicle for B2B companies.

In addition to reaching out to our existing prospects and customers via social media, we can augment our efforts by developing relationships with influential individuals and organizations that can impact our target market. Influencer marketing is a proven strategy; 80 percent of the top performers interviewed in a Gleanster research study said that active engagement with an influential customer was a “top three value driver for social media marketing.”

Developing this influencer base takes some effort. It requires establishing criteria for influencers with whom we want to be associated, identification of potential influencers (social network analysis and social listening), and ongoing cultivation of these relationships. For B2C companies, these influencers are typically other customers or professional bloggers, whereas for B2B companies, they may also be business leaders, bloggers, journalists, industry analysts, regulators, and our own business partners. Don’t overlook international influencers.

Is It Shareable?

We know we have created great content when it is shared. What is more, when content is distributed through the networks of our prospects and customers, it has been vetted; it has the sharers’ stamp of approval. This is potent. As Jonah Peretti, the CEO of BuzzFeed, which keeps us up to date on the hottest social content on the web, explains, “You’d rather get something from your friend sharing it than you would get it from a headline or have it pushed to you through the industrial media apparatus of broadcast pipes and printing presses.”40 People like to share. Facebook reports that people like and comment on content a remarkable 3.2 billion times each day.

Creating content that is worthy of being passed along gets the ball rolling. Adding relevant hashtags (#) pulls our content into broader conversation streams related to the topic. Embedding share widgets for social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest into every piece of content facilitates sharing. We can also directly ask our viewers to share the content if they like it. Some companies ask their employees to share relevant company content through their networks and provide pre-scripted tweets for their use.

Is It Searchable?

In addition to distributing our content via email, blogs, and social media, our content must be able to be found on the web. Ninety-three percent of online experiences begin with a search engine. Knowing that 75 percent of searchers do not move past the first page of the search-engine results, getting our content to show up near the top of the search engine results page (SERP) is important.

There are two forms of search: organic and paid. Organic-search results appear on the SERP because of their relevance to the search terms used; paid-search results are advertising that appears because of a media buy. Below is a snapshot of the search results for SkinCeuticals Vitamin C. Organic search results show up at the bottom left side of the page. Ads appear on the top of the page and shopping results appear along the side. Prime real estate for SERPS is considered to be above the fold because the content is visible without having to scroll down the page.

Skinceuticals SERPs

The economics of organic and paid search differ greatly. Paid-search results are a function of the dollar amount spent and a quality score. The price is often cost prohibitive for many brands. Organic results are free and can be improved by search engine optimization (SEO); however, it does require content creation and specialized SEO knowledge.

How do organic and paid search results compare? According to Wordstream, which creates software to optimize search results, paid search performs better for high-commercial intent search terms such as “front-loading clothes dryer.” On the other hand, organic performs better in generic searches for information such as, “Who is Benjamin Franklin?” It is unclear which performs better in cases of branded keywords such as “Whirlpool dryers” or local searches.42

Next week, we’ll address the age-old question: Is There a Quick Way to SEO?

This content is an example of what ContentOro does for its customers…providing high-quality, relevant content from experts and their published books.

About the Authors

Larry Weber and Lisa Leslie Henderson are the cowriters of this Digital Marketing guide. Larry is the CEO of Racepoint Global, an advanced marketing services firm. A globally known expert in public relations and marketing services, Larry has successfully built companies and brands and is passionate about the future of marketing. Lisa is an observer, synthesizer, and writer who draws extensively from her background in marketing and consulting. Lisa and Larry have collaborated on two guides to date, The Digital Marketer, and Everywhere: Comprehensive Strategy for the Social Media Era. To stay current on their thinking, frequent www.racepoint.com/thedigitalmarketer and follow them at @TheLarryWeber and @ljlhendo.

Buy on Amazon: The Digital Marketer: Ten New Skills You Must Learn to Stay Relevant and Customer-Centric

26. Joe Pulizzi, “B2C Content Marketing Research: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends,” Content Marketing Institute
29. Casey Henry, “What Makes a Link Worthy Post—Part 1,” The Moz Blog, http://moz.com/blog/what-makes-a-link-worthy-post-part-1
30. Dan Zarrella, “[Infographic] How to Get More Likes, Comments and Shares on Facebook,” Dan Zarella: The Social Media Scientist , http://danzarrella.com/infographic-how-to-get-more-likes-comments-and-shares-on-facebook
31. Oli Gardner, “An Infographic is Worth a Thousand Stats,” (infographic), unbounce.com, https://unbounce.com/content-marketing/an-infographic-is-worth-a-thousand-stats-infographic/
36. Nora Aufreuter, Julien Boudet, and Vivian Weng, “Why Marketers Should Keep Sending You Emails,” McKinsey Insights & Publications, http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/marketing_sales/why_marketers_should_keep_sending_you_emails
40. David Taintor, “Top Digital Publishers Praise Yahoo’s Tumblr Deal.”
42. Larry Kim, “Think Nobody Clicks on Google Ads?” Wordstream Blog, www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2012/07/17/google-advertising

ContentOro
ContentOro revolutionizes the way digital marketers and brands acquire content for marketing. We partner with the world’s best publishers to bring the contents of their books to life on the web with our innovative technology. Creating compelling experiences that tie our content to our clients’ product is our mission.

Leave a Reply Text

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *