How to Build a Content Roadmap That Nurtures Prospects
Content roadmap. Content plan. Marketing map. Whatever you want to call it, you might be painfully aware that your team needed one no later than yesterday.
But when it comes to actually creating a content roadmap for your team you might be feeling a little lost—where do you even start?
We’ve created this step-by-step blog to help you create a content roadmap that is easy to implement, effective and (best of all) helps turn prospects into buyers.
Perform background research
So, where should you start when developing a content roadmap? With your audience, of course! Time spent creating content for the wrong audience (aka people who aren’t buying) is time and money severely wasted.
Before you begin to flesh out the content you will create, you need to make sure you complete your buyer personas. What is a buyer persona? HubSpot frames it this way: “A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”
Without solid buyer personas in place, it will be impossible for your content to meet the needs of your audience—which means your content won’t be helping you make the sales it could be.
Another key to creating a content roadmap that gets results? Having a clear outline of your company’s sales cycle. When you align your sales process with your buyer’s journey you’re better able to identify any challenges or sales barriers potential customers might face and address them in your content head on.
The primary buyer stages you may want to focus on when you’re creating a content roadmap are:
- Awareness: Do your buyers have a problem, but know how to solve it? Or whether a solution like yours even exists? Use your buyer’s average stage of awareness to build out educational pieces of content to teach them about their options.
- Consideration: What other solutions is your buyer considering to fix their problem? Use this as a chance to highlight your product’s best features versus your competitor’s. (And if you’re feeling brave, you could use your content to go head to head, like Asana did here.)
- Decision: What common objection keeps prospects from buying? How can you use your content to reassure them that buying your product has more reward than risk? Content like and sell sheets and buyer’s guides will help your prospect make that final decision and buy your product or service.
Bottom line: The more time you spend really getting to know your audience, their needs, questions and their journey, the better able you will be to create content that converts.
Audit your current content
It’s hard to know where your audience needs your content to go if you aren’t sure where it’s already taken them. Performing a content audit can help make sure you aren’t creating pieces that are redundant while showing you where crucial information gaps might be.
Auditing your entire content archive can feel a little daunting, so we’ve broken it down into 4 easy (and manageable) steps:
- Create a label for each buyer persona and buyer stage you identified above.
- Review the current content you have (sell sheets, blogs, case studies, videos, etc), placing each piece of content under the appropriate persona and stage.
- Identify any areas where you may have content gaps.
- Comb through and earmark what pieces need to be updated (including older pieces that can be repurposed as “fresh” content in your roadmap!) and which pieces are good to go.
Taking time to do semi-regular content audits (once every 6 months should do!) will help ensure that you are always offering the most helpful and relevant information possible to your audience.
Brainstorm fresh content topics
This step is a brainstorm session only. Let go of any pressure to write outlines, full blog posts, or scripts right now and give yourself permission to write down every idea that comes to mind. Nothing is set in stone yet, so write it all out. You can filter through your ideas in the next step.
1. Get the good ideas out of your head and on to paper.
If new content ideas came flooding in during your content audit, write those down first. Nothing is more frustrating than knowing you have a million dollar idea—if only you could remember the details. If you know what direction you want to go with each topic, go ahead and write that here too.
2. Take note of current content gaps.
Based on the notes you took during your content audit, identify information gaps your audience may be experiencing.
Jot down topics and ideas that can fill those spaces and make special note of where in the buyer’s journey this piece of information might be the most helpful.
3. Zero in on the specific challenges of each buyer persona + stage of the sales cycle.
Your buyer personas play an integral role at every step of the content creation process (that’s why we work on those first!).
Take a close look at each buyer persona you’ve created, making special note of their stage in your sales cycle as well.
- What challenges is this buyer facing?
- What questions do they have at this stage?
- What is the biggest thing holding them back from making a purchase right now? (Do they need more information? Are they stumped on how to get team buy in? Are they worried your product won’t serve their particular needs?)
Use these questions to help you brainstorm topics specific to each stage. Make sure to acknowledge what stage you are in when thinking of a topic; not all topics are appropriate at each level (e.g. how to choose software isn’t helpful for someone who doesn’t know if they even need software).
Notice that for every topic you brainstormed, your audience and their unique needs served as the inspiration. This is the key to creating a content roadmap that will yield a high ROI (even if that investment is just your time).
Build your roadmap
Here is where all the prep-work we’ve done above is really going to pay off. You have already built out all the elements to your roadmap; now, it’s time to organize it into an easy-to-follow plan.
1. Re-examine your content and prioritize
Start by realistically thinking about how much your team can handle each month in order to create consistently great content. Now re-examine the topics you brainstormed and your pieces of existing content that need updating and prioritize them by the stages of your buyer’s journey.
- Start with awareness. Do you have foundational pieces of content in place that bring attention to who you are? Is their content geared toward drawing in new leads?
- Work your way through every stage and buyer persona, making sure you’re addressing real concerns your prospects have.
- Order your content so that every piece builds upon the last, while priming your audience for what is coming next.
Also check in with your sales team to see if they are in need of any material (like an updated sell sheet or case study) to help close deals. Incorporate the sales team’s needs into your content planning.
2. Map out content for the next 6 months
Label each month (or quarter or week, whatever makes the most sense for you) with a buyer persona and stage. Plug in the topics you want to cover (double checking that each piece is building on the others in a way that makes sense).
Make sure that you are considering the format of each piece. Some topics may lend themselves well to blogs, while others would make for a great video or a more comprehensive ebook. Other content formats to consider include:
- Sell sheets
- Case Studies
- Email funnels
Also consider how you will share and distribute your content. Can you repurpose a blog post into a week-long LinkedIn series that helps you make connections while driving traffic to your content?
In order to create the most effective content roadmap, make plans for every detail of a piece of content. Note who each piece is geared toward, the topic, format, due date and ways you plan to distribute or repurpose this content.
How to get the most out of your roadmap
Now that your roadmap is in place, it’s time to start creating your content! Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your roadmap and the best ROI on your content:
- Remember that your roadmap is more of a flexible guide versus a strict plan. Even with all the planning in the world, you can’t ever truly predict what will happen in the next 6 months. Your roadmap will grant you more space to pivot so you can tailor your content to the unexpected (like a new regulation impacting your industry or a global pandemic).
- Keep tabs on how your content is performing and adjust as needed. If your audience loves video but isn’t responding to ebooks, it may be time to reconsider your plan.
- Make sure to periodically review your roadmap and seek the input of customer facing members of your team to ensure it reflects your customers’ journey, challenges and needs.
Don’t lose momentum! Create a new content roadmap every 6 months so that you are able to consistently deliver high-quality, in-demand content to your audience.