What is a Content Marketing Matrix?
Great marketing always begins with great content, and great content requires a sense of purpose, direction, and objectives. Often our marketing messages can get lost in the endless stream of social calendars, ad managers and email engines as we race to keep up with our audience.
While it’s tempting to launch a campaign or brand and start posting right away, having a plan that includes a high-level view of your audience, how they consume content and how they engage with your brand or business helps keep your messaging front and center in their minds.
The Content Marketing Matrix isn’t a new concept, but it’s a tried-and-true strategy for helping guide your content marketing efforts so you’re making the best use of your time, money and brand capital.
To help you get a head start on building a new brand or programming a social campaign, don’t think of a content marketing matrix like a calendar, but as the compass that keeps us on course, focused on delivering content that’s effective for our audience, and choosing the right results to measure.
The best marketing is rarely reactive, instead it is a continued investment in engaging your audience at every stage in their journey and staying present in their lives.
Read on as we break down the steps you’ll need to build an effective content marketing matrix and implement it for your audience.
Identify a Buyer Persona Framework
Determine a buyer persona structure that will help you make sense of the different motives, desires, and expectations that each buyer will encounter during their journey. The most effective content marketing matrix will have between 3-5 personas, as well as as many awareness stages as your plan requires.
Obviously, different businesses have different customers, and those customers will each have a different journey and different needs that your brand can help hopefully satisfy.
This audience may enter your brand conversation online after discovering you in any number of ways, so you can’t guarantee a linear progression as you would through the more traditional marketing funnel.
Ensure that the “motivated” or “self starting” customer is part of your personas, and your marketing will become less robotic and more authentic, naturally.
If you haven’t already done so, you can read our article on creating buyer personas for your target market to start building your Content marketing matrix the right way.
Wait… where’s my funnel?
Unfortunately the classic “marketing funnel” doesn’t fit many modern marketing strategies, especially using a Content Marketing Matrix.
In an interview at the B2B Marketing Lab’s Grow with Inbound 2019 event, HubSpot’s CEO and co-founder, Brian Halligan spoke about replacing the old Marketing Funnel with the flywheel model. Halligan discussed how startups he refers to as “experience disruptors” (like Amazon) have conquered the marketplace by creating a “new experience” for their customers.
The content marketing matrix is a tool to help businesses do just that by applying the concept of the marketing flywheel to your content: both paid and organic. Unlike a classic funnel, which seeks to narrow the flow of attention to produce a result, flywheels create continuous power in engines…In this case, a growth engine for your brand.
Power, momentum, force, friction, stored energy; these are the words associated with a flywheel, and, much like an engine needs a flywheel to store energy, brands need a marketing flywheel to garner the power of loyal customers.
The flywheel is similar to the funnel in that it represents the customer journey in several stages, but differs that customers may enter continuously rather than only “top-funnel”. Customers may do their own search online for products, get a recommendation from a friend, read a review, see a video, follow an influencer….. the entry points to modern marketing are endless.
It’s the job of your content marketing matrix to provide the customer with what they need at any point and move them into a continuo
Map the Buyer’s Journey
A successful content marketing matrix requires you to map out your customer persona’s journey within the target segment, identify the main events that occur during that journey, and should reveal the details required for a buyer to progress to the next step of their journey.
The most common stages in a content marketing matrix are:
- Entertain (Awareness)
- Inspire (Interest)
- Educate (Consideration)
- Convince (Purchase)
- Delight (Advocate)
Let’s break these down:
Making content fun, engaging and even viral is the best way of creating a buzz and generating awareness. Content like giveaways, competitions, podcasts and videos gets people talking, actively engaging with your brand and gives you data for follow up content.
Inspirational content is great in connecting with emotional decision makers especially in the later stages of the buying process. Make it about people and relate to them. Show them reviews and ratings about how other people felt or let them tell it for themselves in a public forum. Tell a beneficial brand story in a blog post. Influencer partnerships and media endorsements also associate your brand with an inspiring person, bringing their following to your business too, so don’t pigeon hole your content marketing matrix with only self-produced content.
If you have a lot of fact-based content or technical information to share, you need to make this clear and easy to understand for your customers so they can continue to the conversion stage without hesitating. Guides and info-graphics are often easy to follow and add a visual impact. Reports, articles and press releases work well for giving more information and detail.
Prove that your product or service works. Show off your product features, let people try things via interactive demos and make calculations and guides easily accessible and understandable for everyone. If your product has health benefits, back them up with studies, interviews or live conversations with experts. Convincing content has a huge influence on purchase decisions and is often one of the last considerations before a customer converts.
After the sale, make your customers evangelists by giving them tools to share their purchase and satisfaction online.
Share recipe ideas that use your kitchen equipment, or re-share their workout videos using your yoga mats.
Send surveys and reward engagement.
Continue to delight and engage them (without resorting to heavy handed sales tactics) and include their stories in your communications. Offering exclusive upgrades, giving referral codes or other post-sale rewards…the possibilities are endless. By continuing to do more than “sell sell sell” with your customers you can help power the marketing flywheel and think more critically of what to do after the sale to keep powering growth.
A content marketing matrix can really help identify the gaps in this phase and introduce highly effective content into your arsenal.
Decide on Appropriate Content Mediums
Focus your content marketing matrix on the channels that best reach your buyers at each phase of their journey and determine which content types will make best use of your team’s human and capital resources while ensuring the content takes advantage of each platform’s unique features.
Don’t spend time chasing trends: if your potential audience is older and your marketing is focused on local communities, YouTube or Facebook would be most effective, rather than younger skewing channels such as TikTok or Snapchat. If you’re focused on lead generation for B2B services, a clever LinkedIn campaign might be your best bet.
When it comes to a content strategy that fully engages customers at every stage in their journey, you may quickly discover gaps in your communications from visualising each channel in a content marketing matrix, rather than applying a “write once, publish everywhere” approach.
This is where you can also determine a mix of paid, organic and earned media and how it can be best used to amplify your message.
Put It All Together On The Content Marketing Matrix
Fire up your content marketing matrix template and begin to add and map this information in a spreadsheet, with the stages in the buyer journey on the horizontal axis and the audience personas on the vertical axis.
This will be sufficient for the early development of a content marketing matrix, but as your organization becomes more targeted with your content you will likely want to add a second vertical axis for “type of content” or “content focal point.”
This will depend on the complexity of the sale. In more complex campaigns, there may be multiple pieces of information required to progress a buyer from one stage to the next.
In those cases, you may think about developing one or more pieces of content to address each of these factors.
Once a piece of content is completed, the overview should be converted to a short one-to-two line summary that can be recycled in buyer and marketing communications with your audience at that stage of their journey.
This statement should also state the value proposition that it focuses on, or the key piece of information it is meant to educate a buyer on to help them get through their journey.
Some types of content may bridge multiple stages in your content marketing matrix, you can find e-news, ebooks, demo videos and events. These types of content often have potential to go any way you like because of their flexible nature. With your brand voice in mind, add your own spin here and make it relevant to what your customers want.
The key takeaway here is to identify the gaps in your strategy so that you’re not leaving customer’s behind in their journey.
Identify the tone for each stage of your Content Marketing Matrix
Your approach can dramatically impact the way content resonates with a buyer. In the education and awareness stages of the buyer journey, provocative and engaging content will typically make the largest impact.
This can come in the form of engaging and attention grabbing content intended to stick out on the Internet and in a target buyer’s inbox, or through content that helps buyers identify and self-diagnose problems. The tone of this may be more casual, and the content more entertaining than informative. Don’t try to “sell” at this stage.
In the later stages of the buying process the content will need to have more of a focus on justifying the value of the solution and establishing your brand’s value proposition.
This will be determined by the needs of each buyer to get through each phase of their buying process and convert.
Conduct a Data-Driven Content Audit
Perform a content audit to determine what content your brand currently has on hand, and determine if the content can be spruced up or altered to meet the requirements of any of the quadrants in the content marketing matrix.
These article variations will generally be the highest impact pieces relative to the effort they require. Sometimes, content can be personalized to fit the needs of multiple buyers or slightly altered to satisfy needs in different buyer stages, other times you may need to produce highly specific content for each persona.
You never want to force content to fit into specific stages or target certain buyers, however.
This personification and targeting makes a huge impact on the effectiveness of each piece of content. There is never a ‘one size fits all’ approach to content marketing that will be as effective as producing content for specific audiences at each stage in the marketing journey.
Identify the Most Important Content Support Needs
Depending on the channel, frequency, audience and style of your content, you will need to ensure there is sufficient support to keep your audience engaged.
If producing content for a particular channel requires assistance from an experienced social media agency, freelancers, in-house staff or other vendors, as well as production costs, licensing for stock materials, hosting and so on, take that into consideration when budgeting your campaigns.
Consistency is key to producing effective content, both organic and paid. Ensure you have a sufficient inventory of creative assets before launching your content marketing matrix.
Evergreen content is content that doesn’t have an expiration date. In other words, it adds just as much value in a year as it does today. It’s focused on a topic that will always be relevant and enticing, regardless of trends, seasonality, or the current 24-hour news cycle. Therefore, Evergreen content might be a better use of budget even if it costs more than producing seasonal content for a social platform.
Deploy the Content Marketing Matrix
Create a content production version and go-to-market team version of the content matrix. The production version of the matrix will map out future content production and needs to connect with your brand’s content calendar, while the production version may be more informal and be fluid as you work to find the right cadence and strategy for an effective campaign.
The go-to-market version of the content matrix will map out the current content assets that the company has for each segment, which helps the marketing team identify the best pieces of content to share with buyers in different phases of their buyer journey, as well as help assign any assets or labour that may be needed for production.
Here you can also determine what content will be promoted via paid channels, partnerships or remain organic, as well as any metrics for success you may want to measure.
Looking for an agency to help your brand grow online? Abacus can help. Give us a shout, we’d love to help you out.