Running a SaaS, you know that most of your leads need various touch points before they recognize your product as the solution to their problem, and trust you enough to sign up.
While you can’t control how often someone turns to the search engines to enter a query to which you have the answer, you can create and structure your content in such a way that it appeals to your target audience no matter what stage of the buyer’s journey they’re at.
By taking into account the various stages of the buyer’s journey and the needs and questions your audience has while they’re in those stages, you will always know what to write about, can create content that reaches and engages the right people, and will publish content that actually converts.
But how exactly do you do this in a structured and effective way? That’s where content mapping comes in. Read on for a step-by-step framework for creating your own content map.
Table of Contents
What Is Content Mapping?
Content mapping is the act of
- Researching and defining content ideas that help you achieve your business goals while meeting the needs of your target audience at various stages of the buyer’s journey,
- And planning where that content will live on your website so that it supports your site structure and guides users through the information you provide in a user-friendly (and converting) way.
Think of a content map as a mind map but for your website.
The Importance of Content Mapping for Your SaaS Website
Content mapping is what allows you to capture your ideal prospects regardless of where they find themselves in their customer journey. It helps you find out what kind of information different types of leads are looking for and create content that answers their specific questions.
This, in turn, builds trust so that they are more likely to come back – first for more content and later, ideally, to buy.
And as your content guides them not only on their way to finding the best solution for their problem but also on how to use that solution, there is a good chance those buyers will turn into loyal customers and even brand advocates.
By mapping your content to the needs of your target audience, you stop yourself from wasting resources on content creation for the mere sake of content creation. Your content map helps you organize your content ideas in such a way that anything that doesn’t fit your business goals and/or your audience’s needs instantly stands out, and can be discarded.
Creating An Effective Content Map
Maybe you’ve been creating content until now without first building a content map and you think: “Oh boy, I guess it’s too late now.” Let me assure you: it’s not!
While it’s ideal to create a content map before you start producing a lot of content, you don’t need to discard what you already have. Simply create a list of your existing content so you can add it to your content map once you start designing it. We’ll get back to this later.
Define your content marketing goals
There is no point in creating content for the sake of creating content, so your first step is to get clear on your content marketing goals. If you’re already doing content marketing, you’ve hopefully already defined your goals but if not – or if you’re just getting started with content marketing – don’t worry. You’ll just need to set aside a bit of time to think this through.
A few examples of content marketing goals are:
- To drive free trial signups.
- To generate qualified organic traffic.
- To boost newsletter signups.
- To get more potential customers to contact you.
Not all content is equally suited to help you reach your goals. A top-of-the-funnel piece is more likely to guide a user to another article on your website than it is to have them sign up for a demo, while a “best employee management software” post can be well-positioned to generate free trial signups.
What this means is that you’ll want to keep your goals in mind when coming up with content ideas so you can create different types of content for your different goals.
Lastly, you’ll need to decide which KPIs you’ll track to measure your goals and which tools you’ll be using for this purpose.
List the needs of your buyer personas
Once you’re clear on your content goals, it’s time to have a look at your buyer personas:
- Who are they?
- What are their needs?
- What does their customer journey typically look like?
- What kind of questions could they have about your software?
- What type of objections could they have to buying from you?
Even if you’ve already defined your buyer personas, it’s good to go over these questions again and to think of them in terms of the content you can create to provide them with exactly the type of information they’re looking for.
It’s also smart to distinguish between potential customers and potential advocates. The latter are people who may find your content helpful, but wouldn’t buy your product themselves. Instead, they would recommend it to their colleagues, bosses, or peers who could make that buying decision.
Defining your buyer personas is not a one-time thing. Through customer surveys, polls, calls, and analysis of inquiries, you can get to know your leads and customers better and finetune the content you create for them.
Brainstorm different types of content for each stage of the buyer’s journey
With the needs, questions, and objections of your buyer personas in mind, you can start brainstorming content that fulfills those needs, answers those questions, and addresses those objections.
But to make your content truly effective, it also needs to take into account where a prospect finds themselves in the customer journey.
- Are they aware of their problem, but not yet thinking of a possible solution, or unaware that a solution exists?
- Are they considering different ways to solve their problem and actively looking for a solution?
- Or have they already decided how they want to solve their problem and now all they need is to choose the company that can provide that solution?
Lastly, you want to think about retaining those people who’ve converted into customers. This reduces your churn rate and increases brand loyalty.
Where a potential customer finds themselves on this journey will not only influence the type of information they’re interested in but also the type of content they’ll engage with – or better, the calls-to-action they’ll react to.
Ideally, your content will meet someone at the stage they’re at and then gently guide them to the next stage.
- For those in the awareness stage, you create content that helps them identify their problem and positions you as an authority in handling this type of problem. You then slowly show them that a solution exists, so you can introduce your product as the solution as the lead moves into the consideration stage. Informational articles and emails do best at this stage.
- Once they’re in the consideration stage, you can offer them “best x software” listicles and comparison posts, guide users to your feature pages, and provide other types of content that prove your product is the best solution for their problem.
- When they’ve reached the decision stage and know that they want to invest in a solution, you show them content that takes away any doubts or objectives they might have, such as case studies, customer testimonials, product demos, and FAQ.
- After they’ve made the purchase and reached the retention stage, you can keep them engaged by providing tips on how to get the most out of your product, running surveys (and then improving your product based on their feedback), and providing excellent customer service.
Brainstorming is just one way to come up with content ideas. To unearth as many topics as possible, you can also:
- Perform keyword research using a tool such as Ahrefs or SEMrush.
- Do market research to learn more about your target audience.
- Talk to your current customers.
- Analyze sales conversations.
Keyword research and map your content ideas
By now, you should have a long list of content ideas for the different stages of the buyer’s journey your target audience may find themselves at. Some of these ideas you’ve generated through keyword research, but others you’ve come up with in another way.
So now, you want to make sure each of the content pieces you’ll be creating has a target keyword assigned to them and that no keyword is assigned to more than one piece.
This is called keyword mapping: the act of determining which keywords you’ll use for the different pages and blog posts on your website. Keyword mapping is important for various reasons:
- By mapping keywords to specific content pieces, you may find that a few of your ideas could actually be compiled into one big article as they respond to the same search query. This ensures you avoid keyword cannibalization.
- Targeting a specific keyword with just one piece of content makes it easier to define where your content will live on your website.
We’ll get back to the latter in the next step but first, note that not all the content on your website needs to be highly search engine-optimized content. You may want to publish company news, for example, that doesn’t necessarily need to rank. That being said, you do need a sufficient amount of optimized content to increase your overall chances of ranking.
It’s thus best to implement SEO best practices (keyword mapping, optimizing your URL and H1, etc.) across all of your pieces.
Organize content ideas into topic clusters
You now have a huge list of content ideas and a target keyword for each of them. Next, you can organize these ideas in a content roadmap (for example, a structured Excel sheet) including, for each future piece of content:
- The content type: blog post, white paper, pdf, free tool, …
- Which buyer persona it’s targeting.
- The main keyword it’s targeting.
- Where in the buyer journey that persona finds themselves.
- A quick description of what the piece will be about.
- The CTA.
As well as where it will appear on your website:
- Which content belongs to the same topic cluster or group, and what will be the pillar page of each cluster?
- If it’s a blog post on a WordPress site, which category will you publish it in?
- How will content pieces link to one another (how will you guide users through your content)?
This is the point where you can add any content you already have to your content map. It might happen that some of your content doesn’t fit into the topic clusters you’ve just designed. In that case, have a critical look at it:
- Is it performing well? That means: is it drawing in the right type of leads and converting?
- Does it fit your brand positioning?
- Is it valuable to your audience?
Based on these questions, you can decide whether it’s worth holding on to this content and potentially creating a new topic cluster around it later, or if you should discard it.
Once everything is in place, you should easily be able to tell if there are any gaps in your content map. Perhaps there is one topic cluster with only two content ideas while all other clusters have a least five. In that case, you might want to research more content ideas specifically for that cluster.
Or perhaps you notice that you don’t have a lot of content ideas to address the questions of a specific buyer persona in one stage of the buyer’s journey. Then you can, again, have another brainstorming/keyword research round.
Create, publish, measure, and refine
When your content ideas are mapped out, all that’s left for you to do is add them to your content calendar before you can start creating and publishing your content.
Here’s a glimpse at part of Flow’s content calendar. You’ll see it includes a lot of the information we’ve gathered in previous steps:
Our calendar also includes other information, such as through which channels each article will be distributed. It’s important to remember that SEO doesn’t exist in a vacuum and neither does SEO-focused content. Flow’s clients usually have one big overarching editorial calendar that includes SEO website content but also social media posts, company news, product updates, and more.
From then on, it’s a matter of sticking to your publishing schedule, measuring the KPIs you set out to schedule, and refining your content based on the results you’re getting and the information you keep collecting about your (potential) customers.
Content Mapping Template
To make things easier for you, here are the column headings you can use to create your own content mapping template in your tool of choice. Don’t make the mistake of trying to get fancy with this. A simple spreadsheet is often the best solution.
- Content topic/title
- Content description
- Content cluster
- Content campaign
- Target keyword
- Target persona
- Buyer journey stage
If you’re on the hunt for a content mapping template, you might find this one handy.:
Content Mapping Tools
Below are just a few options of tools you can use during the content mapping process. Keep in mind that simple is often better.
For doing keyword research: Ahrefs, SEMrush.
For analyzing your existing content: Ahrefs, SEMrush, Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools.
For gathering and organizing your content ideas: Google Sheets, Notion, ClickUp.
For creating a content calendar: our editorial calendar template, Trello, Asana, Notion, Google Sheets.
For visually mapping out your content: Lucidchart, MindMeister, Google Docs (diagram feature).
For doing market research: social media channels and relevant forums, SurveyMonkey, Hotjar.
Content Mapping Example
It can be hard to find good content mapping examples without dissecting the entire content strategy of a brand. To make it easy, we’ve put together a fictional example that illustrates how your content can cover the different stages of the buyer’s journey for a specific persona.
The company: Admicheck, a SaaS that helps solopreneurs take care of administrative tasks such as scheduling meetings, sending invoices, and following up on late payments.
The buyer persona: Jeff, a freelance business consultant
Jeff’s problem: Jeff is a great consultant, but he dislikes doing admin and always procrastinates on it. That means:
- He forgets to send his busy clients meeting reminders.
- He only invoices them when he thinks about it, making his cash flow unpredictable.
- He doesn’t send invoice reminders, meaning he has to wait even longer to get paid.
Part of the content map that targets Jeff could look like:
Content Mapping: The Key to Effective Content Marketing
Creating a content map from scratch may seem like a lot of work – and it is! – but it’s crucial for software companies that want to get solid ROI from their content efforts.
Once you have a content map in place, you’ll have a clear structure to pour future content ideas into. Your content map will force you to consider all aspects of the content creation process (Who is the content for? What is its goal? Where will it be published?) and make it easy to spot any gaps in your strategy.
If you’re not sure where to start or would like an SEO expert to your current content approach, reach out to us. We’ll gladly help you make the most of your content.