How to design a content strategy using Content Matrix?

Content Matrix is a tool that will help you design and implement a content strategy. It allows to determine to whom the content should be directed, at which stage of the decision-making process it should reach the client and how it can help the client at each of these stages. This tool is very useful for companies which plan to implement Marketing Automation.

From this article you will learn:
• Why a content matrix is an effective tool for creating content strategy
• What are the most important elements of the content strategy
• How to design a coherent and effective sales strategy of content
• How to get from the planning stage to the implementation thanks to the content matrix

Why do you need content strategy?

By helping B2B clients to create or rebuild their marketing strategy, I often notice that they are starting to take action from the end. They prepare a lot of materials about the product – its features, prices, comparisons with competitors, etc. Meanwhile, this type of content is useful at the end of the B2B shopping process. If we don’t deal with a consistent message at every stage of the client’s decision process, we will never reach the last one.

The content strategy, or rather its lack, is also a serious problem for companies that implement Marketing Automation systems. When I was implementing the system as a client few years ago, I also didn’t pay enough attention to it and the initial campaigns weren’t as efficient as we had expected.

Buyer persona – base on the facts, not images

Another problem is the content strategy based on incorrect assumptions. It applies, especially to the knowledge about the client and his decision-making process. Cooperating with companies, I often notice that their knowledge about the client’s decision process and its needs at every stage of the process is rather the image and supported by smaller or greater experience gained by traders. This situation is particularly dangerous because it seems that we have a lot of knowledge about clients and we can start planning and producing content on that basis. Unfortunately, very often afterwards, it turns out that these contents are not interesting enough, because more than the actual customer’s problems refer to our own ideas. Therefore, developing a content strategy, I use a simple but quite effective tool, thanks to which marketers are quickly aware of whether their knowledge of the client, owned resources or planned activities has a chance to transfer into sales success.

How to use the content matrix?

We will discuss the individual elements of the content matrix that I use and how it can be used in planning the content strategy. It is worth to distinguishing the content matrix, which is a strategy planning tool from the content calendar, which is an element of management of the implementation of the strategy. In short, the content matrix allows you fill the content calendar in reasonable way with specific actions.
Of course, there is no single pattern or patent for the best content matrix, I share my version because I know that clients see value in its use. There are example data in the chart which should be replaced by your batch.

Content matrix

1. Buyer Persona

We start by determining who is to be the recipient of our content. If you want content to really encourage customers to act, it’s worth determining who you want to reach. And here is the first note – don’t think your Buyer Persona up. Buyer Persona especially in B2B have to be developed on the basis of research – interviews with existing clients. On this basis, you determine specification of the decision-making process, problems and clients’ challenges. Remember that some decision-makers are involved in B2B purchasing process.

2. Determining the stages of the decision-making process

A well-developed buyer persona will also give you an answer to the question how purchase decisions are made in your clients’ companies. Thanks to this, you can determine the stages of the Customer Journey. For simplicity’s sake, I proposed 6 stages, 2 of which concern the phase after the purchase. Remember to not omit these “post-purchase” stages, especially when you serve the customers in a renewable model – for example , you offer SaaS software.
Knowing the stages of the decision-making process gives us the opportunity to create content that will be valuable in a specific context. For example, in the initial stages of the decision-making process, it is much more important to show the spectrum of possible solutions to the client’s problem than to attack him with the specification of our product.

3. Specification of the touchpoints

This part of the matrix is important if we want to be sure that we are present with the right content at the appropriate points of potential client’s contact with the brand. For example, if we know that customers in the early stages are looking for information in industry articles and during conferences, we already know where to pay attention and what kind of content should be designed for the clients who starting their decision-making process with the discern phase.

4. Jobs to be done

I have recently introduced this element to the content matrix inspired by the Value Co-Creation method by prof. Regis Lemmens. The point is that at every stage of the decision-making process there are some indirect tasks in which we can help our potential client. For example, at the initial stage, the goal of our persona may be preparation the presentation for the board about the expansion of the partner company’s program by introducing additional benefits. Such a person won’t usually look for specific products at this stage, but rather benefits’ ideas for partners. If you provide such material, presenting the most effective methods of activation and motivation in partner programs, firstly you will reach a very specific group of people, and secondly you will save them a lot of time and help them to fulfill their task perfectly. Clients – not only business people are looking for such useful content – it is one of the most effective ways to build trust in the brand. Remember that the tasks will be different at every stage of the decision-making process.

5. Information needs

The tasks presented our buyer persona determine their information needs. The easiest way to understand this element of the content matrix is to think about the questions that appear at every stage of the decision-making process. Of course, you can’t invent these questions instead of the customers. Ideally, if you return to the description of the buyer persona – the real one, based on conversations with clients. In these interviews you will find information about what they are looking for and what clients are asking about. It is worth acquiring this knowledge by analysing inquiries from the helpline, talking to sellers and using Social Tracking tools – eg Brand 24.
Knowing the information needs and tasks at each stage of the process, you can design content, which are really important and useful to customers, therefore, it will be an effective tool to support sales.

6. The purpose of the content

In this point we are changing the perspective. The previous elements represented the perspective of the customer. Now is the time to make sure you are working efficiently to meet his needs. Determining the purpose of the content helps to maintain a certain discipline in the planning of materials. The point is that each content should has one appropriate goal for particular stage of client’s decision-making process. It seems obvious, but if you look at today’s company blogs, you’ll realize that we often try to achieve all the goals with one article – from building awareness to arousing desire to buy. Therefore, to maintain consistency and discipline in creating content, it is worth determining these goals before we start creating.

7. KPI of the Goal

This is the rational rate of the result, whether the goal is realised. If our goal at an early stage is to build the reaching – the range indicators may be enough. On the other hand, if we want to attract subscribers at this stage – we define here, for example, the number of people we have acquired on the mailing list. Of course, the more advanced KPI, the more effort we put into the quality of content that will ensure its realisation.

8. Subjects of the communication

At this stage, we describe the main message that should be presented at every stage of the decision-making process. Again, it will be necessary to know about the needs, problems and information preferences of our buyer persona. I usually define these issues in the form of key phrases or working titles for articles. On this basis, we will later create real titles for the content formats we chose.

9. Formats

At this point, we decide in which format the content should be delivered to our buyer persona. Very often the only criterion we use when choosing formats is our ability to create it, for example, competences, resources, budget. Of course, this is very important but not the only criterion. Let’s assume that we are familiar with video format but most of our receivers are people who don’t leave their company car. Unfortunately, during driving they won’t be able to get familiar with our content. In this case, audio format – for example podcast – will prove itself better. This is the second criterion – take under consideration the preferences and possibilities of consumption of content formats by your receivers. The third criterion is the specificity of the platforms on which we place our content. Let’s hold onto our example – we know that our recipients will make better use of the audio format, and then there will be challenges in the case of social media platforms that naturally don’t prefer such a format. In this case, a video teaser can be placed on social media platforms (eg a board with a fragment of an audio program) directing to a podcast platform, eg PocketCast, Itunes or recently also Spotify.

10. Channels

Basically, we have moved smoothly to choose a communication channel. This is illustrated by the graphics from the previous point. You can see that it is worth deciding which formats should be used in conjunction with the choice of communication channel, because not every media (channel) supports the formats chosen by us. However, thanks to this matrix and triangle formats, you can make a more deliberate decision.

Summary

As you can see filling the matrix of content it isn’t a task for a lunch break. And rightly. It’s a tool which is to help in define a long-term content strategy and it is worth engaging not only marketers but also product managers or even salespeople in the process.

It is also visible that the necessary element of the proper development of the content strategy is knowledge about the needs, preferences and specificity of the decision-making process the real (based on interviews with clients) buyer persona.

This prepared content matrix won’t only be a tool for planning communication strategies but also a kind of compass indicating directions when you go to the stage of production and publication of specific content.

 

Digital and B2B Marketing practitioner. Helps B2B Companies to fully utilize the potential of digital sales and marketing tools. Previously Head of B2B Marketing team at Samsung Electronics Poland before holding several marketing and channel development roles in Microsoft Poland.

CEO and Head of Consulting at Grow Consulting.

Over 15 years of experience in building marketing and leads generation strategies in B2B market. Pioneer of Marketing Automation deployment in B2B space.Effie Award winner in B2B category. Blogger, contributor to professional media : Marketerplus, Brief, Marketing w Praktyce. Author of the book “ABC of B2B Marketing” first handbook for B2B Marketers in Poland.

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