Every marketer has a few tools up their sleeve, and every good toolkit should include maps. No, I am not actually a secret cartographer moonlighting at a marketing firm, but I do love a good map. Hubspot says it best, "A content map is a plan to deliver the right content, to the right people, at the right time."
Water Street is a bit of an overachiever in this department. We have morphed the classic content map into a holistic organizational framework that we use over and over again when it comes to creating our own content or content for our inbound marketing clients. You don't have to use maps the same way that we do, but learning how to map your inbound marketing content to any degree makes your team more efficient and increases your bottom line.
Content mapping helps you:
- Personalize content
- Optimize content for search engines
- Create accompanying social media posts
- Communicate effectively with your clients
All maps are not created equal. A good map shows you where you are headed and also shows the decision points you need to make along the way. For content mapping, there's nothing set in stone, but they generally contain information about your target audience and how you are reaching them. Everything else is up to you! Consider the communication style of your team when creating a mapping framework for your own practice. I have included a few examples of how we map out our own inbound marketing efforts below in addition to some insight into how we work:
Personalization is Key
Words on the internet should never be aimless. A good content map considers your target audience and their point of view in regard to the product you are offering. Always keep your target audience at top of mind while creating your content to guarantee that your content is as appealing to them as possible. Are you trying to attract corporate leadership? Or maybe category managers? Distributors? Each of these audience segments is looking for something different.
You should also always consider where your audience is in their buying journey. Appealing to someone that has just started researching solutions for their current marketing problem is going to look much different from creating content around someone who has started evaluating their options and is almost ready to make a buying decision. As you can see from our example, we reference our target audience at the top of every map we create to make sure we are always speaking directly to them.
SEO has changed a lot in the past few years. Targeting specific keywords is no longer the end-all-be-all that it once was. Search engines have gotten smarter, and the new algorithms can figure out what a piece of content is about without having to repeat a specific keyword x amount of times. With that said, keywords are still something that you need to carefully consider when mapping out your content.
Our example map shows the keywords that we are trying to build authority for. By including a list of keywords, a good map helps keep your campaign language focused on increasing your ranking for those keywords. Search engines also determine authority by the cross-links that are present. We have found it helpful to include the list of links that a piece of content includes as a reference to make sure that we are steering the search engines that crawl the page in the right direction.
Social media is a huge component to inbound marketing, and is a great way to boost referral traffic and increase leads. A great social post is sharable and easily digested. By including social posts on our content maps, we can make sure that the language in our blog posts is consistent with the accompanying social posts. This makes it easy to analyze the language holistically to ensure that it's true to the brand voice.
Maps have proven very helpful for us as a communication tool that we use to propose campaigns both internally and to our clients. Digital campaigns do not exist in a vacuum; each piece is a part of a larger ecosystem and it's hard to visualize all the paths to and from your content, especially from a client perspective. What connects the dots? What will drive traffic where? How will you gather leads? Forms? CTAs? These questions can be overwhelming and it's really easy to leave loose ends. By mapping all paths, you can ensure that you have all your bases covered ahead of time.
Tools are important in any industry, but especially in marketing. Any time you can create efficiency is a huge plus. We have found that the key to building a successful inbound campaign and recreating that success in the future is mapping your content. Mapping helps keep our campaigns focused on our target audience's wants and needs by considering who they are, what they need and where they are in the buying process. Additionally, we have found that mapping inbound content makes it easier to optimize for search engines and build referral traffic via social media, but the most important part of mapping is communication. Maps simplify communication and ensure that your strategy carefully considers all paths to and from your content.