How to Map Content for Every Stage in the Lead Nurturing Cycle

If you’re looking for a way to improve your lead nurturing cycle, content mapping offers a valuable, highly effective tool. There is no doubt that lead nurturing plays an integral part of both marketing and sales success. While a large number of leads are qualified almost right away, most are not yet ready to purchase. Digital marketing strategies such as marketing automation have paved the way for effectively targeting leads at every stage of their life cycle, but, in order to target leads in the right way, at the right time, without putting them off, you need to ensure that you proceed with caution. Automating every single process of marketing communication can end up doing more harm than good if you do not have a lead nurturing strategy in place.

A huge part of successfully nurturing leads comes down to having the right message in place for each stage of the cycle. Leads at the start of the cycle require a very different message compared to those that are close to converting. Attempting to rush the process can end up causing even the warmest leads to go cold.

How do you ensure that your lead nurturing cycle has the right messages in place at each stage? For starters, you could consider content mapping. This process allows you to map out content in a way that ensures optimal impact. There are a few tricks that can help you perfect your content at each stage of the nurturing cycle, which we will soon delve into a little deeper.

Before we get started, let’s go back to the drawing board for a bit to get a better understanding of the lead nurturing cycle, in order to understand how to best plan content for each stage.

Understanding the Lead Nurturing Cycle

You very likely already have a solid understanding of the lead nurturing cycle. From a content point of view, the most important stages to focus on across your messaging include the following:

1/ Awareness. At this stage, leads have just become aware of your product. They may alternatively have realised that they have a specific need that needs to be met. For example, leads may search for compact water tanks on Google, or they might start looking at different water tank suppliers in their area.

2/ Evaluation. At this stage, leads are aware that your product is able to meet their needs. When they reach this point, they begin to decide whether you are the right person to help. Using our water tank example, leads may compare a few water tank suppliers, looking at pricing, delivery, quality and various other factors.

3/ Purchase. At this stage, leads are ready to make a purchase. They make request a quote, download a brochure, connect to you on social media or proceed to checkout.

These three stages are the most important throughout the lead cycle. Your potential customers’ needs are very different during each of these stages. Going back to our water tank analogy, imagine this example. Customer A is looking for a water tank and has a good idea of what they want. They have received a few quotes, watched an installation video or two, viewed FAQ and followed their preferred supplier on Facebook. They are ready to proceed to the purchase stage. Customer B meanwhile is walking around a large homeware store on a weekend without being sure of what they want. They may have a vague idea, but they are not seriously considering a purchase just yet and instead are simply doing a bit of browsing to see what is out there. This customer would quickly get irritated by pushy salespeople because they are still in the awareness stage. No amount of sales talk would get that customer to the next stage. Instead, a more subtle approach is required. This is where content mapping comes in to help.

As potential leads have very different needs during each stage of the lead cycle, it is essential to target leads with content that is designed to meet the needs of each stage. Mapping out content that is designed to target leads at the right point is the best way to ensure that your campaigns stay on track at all times.

How Content Mapping Enhances the Lead Nurturing Cycle

Now that we’ve got that covered, how exactly does content mapping help you perfect your lead nurturing funnels? The answer is simple. Structured, targeted content is the best way to ensure that your messaging is always on form, whatever stage your leads may have reached within the cycle. Some tips to ensure that your content mapping fine-tunes your lead cycle messaging include the following:

Determine the logical progress through each stage.

What path does each lead take to move through the cycle, from awareness to evaluation and purchase? Content mapping works backwards. Using data on converted leads, you will begin by determining the path that a typical lead took when navigating through your sales funnel. With the help of your digital marketing platform, look at your current funnel to determine the pages that were visited (and the order they were visited), the offers that converted leads, the emails that were opened and clicked through and any other actions that were taken throughout each lead’s life cycle.

A typical lead progress could begin with a visit to the company blog, followed by a download of an ebook or a click on an offer, navigation to products or services, clicks on a case study, subscription to free trial email, download of free trial and then a sale. There will likely be more than one pathway, but you will soon start to see a few pathways that seem to be the simplest, shortest and the highest converting. Within every pathway, there is content that may make the process simpler, faster or more effective. Content mapping allows you to improve any potential weaknesses or gaps in your content that you can resolve in a way that improves your pathways. That takes us to our next step…

Determine specific content improvements across each pathway.

Once you have mapped out the logical pathways that leads may take along their journey, you can take a deeper look at the content you offer at every stage. How can your content be improved in a way that reduced friction points, answers questions, builds trust, drives engagement and streamlines the process? What content assets would add the most value along each pathway? Knowing which type of content is most effective for each cycle is key. Content for the awareness stage should help to educate leads without pushing for sales. In other words, you are focusing on addressing a need rather than pitching your product. Content for the evaluation stage may focus on how your company can address the need, in a way that bridges the gap between education and product information. Content for the purchase stage can be more action-driven as leads are more likely to be ready to convert at this stage.

Some content may cross over, being useful in more than one stage. For example, webinars and video may be useful for awareness and evaluation stages, with a slightly different focus. An awareness video may be more educational, teaching leads about water tank technology, for example, while an evaluation video may be a product demonstration on how to set up your water tanks.

Determine content gaps.

Chances are very high that you may realise that you do not have content for each stage. A big part of content mapping comes down to planning, which means that you do not have to have everything in place right away. What you are doing is identifying the content that you need to improve your lead nurturing campaigns. Once you have a list of content that is required, you can do a content audit to determine what content you already have and what content will need to be created. You can then create content that is uniquely targeted to each stage.

If you have content that does not meet your objectives or address needs in a way that is appropriate for each stage, you can also rework and re-target existing content. From there, you will be ready to fine-tune your messaging so that it speaks to your audience.

Content mapping can be incredibly useful as part of your overall digital marketing strategies. This is just one way that you can drive conversion and results. To find out more about how to get the most from your digital marketing platform, contact the Grapevine team.

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