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The Content Matrix: Your Key to a Successful Content Strategy
 

The Content Matrix: Your Key to a Successful Content Strategy

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My presentation at Content Marketing World Sydney on April 2, 2014. This presentation outlines the process you need to follow to create a content matrix, the tool content marketers need to align, ...

My presentation at Content Marketing World Sydney on April 2, 2014. This presentation outlines the process you need to follow to create a content matrix, the tool content marketers need to align, prioritize, and fuel a successful content strategy.

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  • Hi everyone. My name is Kevin Cain and I’m here today to talk about how to create a content matrix, which is one of the most basic, but also most important tools that you need to develop a successful content strategy. Now even though it’s a very basic tool, that doesn’t mean that creating a content matrixis simple. In fact, although the ideas and concepts are easy enough to understand, it takes a lot of time, effort, and discipline to put together a really useful content matrix. That said, once you do, you’ll find that you have a solid framework in place that allows you to align, prioritize, and fuel a successful content strategy. What I’d like to do today is walk you through the steps it takes to both create and use a content matrix. But before I do that, let me take a minute to tell you a little bit about myself.
  • I’ve worked in corporate communications and content marketing for my entire career, and have always been in either the financial services or consulting industries. Most recently, I was the director of content strategy at OpenView Venture Partners, which is a leading venture capital firm in Boston. Prior to that I was the managing editor at State Street, one of the world’s leading providers of financial services to institutional investors, where I oversaw their thought leadership publications.I’ve also been lucky enough to be a regular speaker at Content Marketing World back in the United States and am really excited to be here with all of you today. In fact, I was so excited about the opportunity to be here that I not only flew the 24 hours, but actuallymoved here to Sydney about a month ago. Today I’m a freelance content marketing and communications consultant. What that means is that I’m still doing some freelance work for OpenViewand a couple of other clientswhile actively looking for new opportunities here in Sydney. So if you like my presentation and know of any content marketing or corporate communications jobs here in town, come grab my business card afterwards and let’s talk.
  • Now even though I’m no longer at OpenView, that’s where I learned how to create a content matrix and so I think it’s worth telling you a little bit about. In a nutshell, OpenView is the leading venture capital firm that invests in B2B software companies at the expansion stage. One of the firm’s big differentiators is that it has a team of full-time consultants who help the companies OpenView invests in get bigger faster. No other VC does this like OpenView and the firm has done a great job of building its brand as the “value add VC” within its niche.While I was at OpenView we built a substantial content marketing program to communicate and reinforce this positioning. What you see on this slide are a few examples that illustrate the work that we did and the extent of our content marketing program. Now considering that OpenView is a small firm with less than 30 people, and that I had just two people under me on my team, I think these are pretty impressive results. Of course, more important than any of those achievements is that today when OpenView calls a potential investment, more and more of those companies already know about the firm and why it’s different. That speeds up our sales cycle and increases our conversion rate,which is really one of the main goals that most content marketers are after.
  • Now the other really interesting and relevant part of my role at OpenView is that in addition to leading the firm’s content marketing effort, I also got to work with its more than 20 portfolio companies, helping them to set up their content marketing programs and establish their own content strategies. Invariably, when I would work with these companies, I always wound up helping them to build a content matrix. That’s because like so many other companies out there, they all faced a common challenge.Now if you’re wondering what that challenge is [click]…
  • …It’s that they don’t have a content strategy in place and, quite frankly, often don’t really know how to go about creating one. Now if you ask most content marketersif they have a content strategy they’ll say that they yeah, of course they do.But as soon as you dig a little deeper, you’ll often find that’s not actually the case.I think there are two reasons for this. First, many content marketers lack focus and try to take on too many things at one time. Unfortunately, doing so doesn’t make them heroes, it just makes them less effective. The truth is that to be successful at content marketing, you’ve got to be sharply focused on just one or two customer segments to start. Only after you’ve mastered them can you move on to others. The second part of the problem is that they often don’t have a good framework in place for creating a cohesive strategy that brings all of the right elements of a good content plan together. Sure they know that they need to be thinking about their existing and future content needs. Hopefully they also know that they need to understand their buyers and how to best deliver content to them. And some of them even know what actions they want their audience to take after consuming their content and how those actions can ultimately result in sales. The problem, however, is that they often don’t have a good way to bring all of this information together. As a result, the content that they create doesn’t resonate with their audience, and ultimately their content marketing programs don’t generate the kind of ROI that they’re supposed to. That’s where a content matrix comes in. It’s really just a grid of valuable information about who your buyer is and the content you’re going to produce for them. That said, creating one will help give you the focus and framework necessary to build a solid content strategy and meet your business objectives.
  • Creating a content matrix is an exercise that forces you to think about what I consider to be the four fundamental components of a holistic content strategy, and to then get organized around them.Those components are: the context of your audience’s situation, the conversions that you are trying to drive with each piece of content, the way in which you actually contact your audience, and lastly the content itself. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
  • So the first component of your content strategy that you want to include in your content matrix is the context.Context is all about how well you understand your target audience and the journey that they are on. If you don’t truly know your audience and the context of their situation, it’s going to be impossible to create content, let alone an entire content strategy, that will really resonate with them and ultimately shepherd them through their buyer journey.That means that you’ve really got to invest some time and effort up front into understanding the context around your target audience. So how exactly do you do that?
  • The firststep is to take the the time to understand your buyers so that you can create buyer personas, which are simply short but very useful descriptions of your target buyers. Now even though lots of people talk about buyer personas, what I’ve noticed is that they use them as an end product rather than as a tool to gain the insights they need to design a successful content marketing program. That’s a real mistake. As we’ll see, you’ve really got to apply what you learn about your buyers to all aspects of your content marketing program.To create effective buyer personas you really need to get to know your buyers. Now depending on whether you’re a B2B or B2C business, the information you’re after will vary. For B2B, generally speaking, you’ll want to answer questions like: [click]Who are your buyers and what are their titles?Where do they work? What do they care about? What do they need? What’s going to motivate them to make a purchase? What are their pain points and what concerns do they have that could potentially prevent them from buying? You also want to know what their role in the buying process is. Are they the ultimate decision-maker? Are they an economic buyer or a technical buyer? And, who influences them in terms of their buying decisions?There are lots of different ways to get this information, but the best way is to just talk to your buyers. Once you’ve compiled as much information as you can, it’s a matter of taking the most relevant details and using them to create a description of who your target buyer is.
  • Here’s a fictitious example of a persona that a B2B software company specializing in e-mail recovery might put together for one of its buyers.[Read persona out loud.]This is a very simplified buyer persona, but it still offers some useful contextual information that can help us as we build our content matrix and strategy. We know what Susan’s problem is, what role she has to play in making the purchase, and what she cares about most when making the decision,all of which are important details.But understanding your buyers goes beyond just knowing about them. You also need to understand the journey that they’re on and where on that journey they are most likely to get hung up or stuck.
  • What you see here is a very simplified buyer journey that I’ve created to represent the steps that Susan might go through leading up to a purchase. In this example, we see that Susan’s buyer journey consists of five stages:She starts out unaware that thereare better solutions available for e-mail archiving. Next she becomesaware that there is in fact better software out there and goes on to become interested in learning more about it. From there she conducts the research she needs to understand what the best options are for her to solve her problem.And finally, after doing all of that, she decides whether or not to make a purchase.
  • Invariably, there are going to be points along the way where Susan gets hung up or stuck in her buyer journey. At the awareness stage, for example, which is where buyers often get hung up, it may simply be that she just not finding the right information. Or at the research stage, which is also a common sticking point, it may be that she has concerns with the new services she’s discovered that she hasn’t been able to address.The key is to know where your buyers are generally getting stuck and then to do everything you can to get them unstuck. The way to do that is by providing them with highly relevant content that’s designed to resolve their concerns and give them whatever information they need to move forward with confidence.
  • When you do that, it’s possible to turn those sticking points into leverage points that can actually help propel your buyers through their buyer journey so that they make a purchase.
  • Now that we have a basic understanding of our buyer’s context and their situation, which is the first component of our content strategy, we can start tracking this information in a simple matrix. [click]So what you see here is the start of that matrix. Across the top I have listed the different stages of the buyer journey. I highlighted those sticking pointswe were talking about before because we need to focus on them as part of our strategy.Below that is where you can include whatever contextual information you have gathered that’s most relevant. For example, what your buyers care about most or what their biggest pain points are. This information is generally going to be applicable across the entire buyer journey.Now whenever I create a content matrix, I like to start out using a white board where there’s plenty of room to get my thoughts out and to get other people’s feedback and input. Once I’ve got something I’m happy with, I transcribe the information into an Excel spreadsheet. You can do whatever works for you. The most important thing is just to get the information out of your head and into a document where you can look at it holistically and think about how it all works together.
  • So that brings us to the second component of our content strategy that we’ll want to capture in a content matrix: our conversion goals. A conversion is simply an action that you want your audience to take as a result of consuming your content. For example, let’s sayyour target audience receives an e-mail from you, thinks the subject line is really interesting, and decides to open the message. That’s a conversion. You should have a conversion goal for every piece of content that you create so that each piece is in some way helping to move your buyers down the path to purchase.Now there are lots of different types of conversions you could be trying to achieve. Some are big and some are small.
  • For example, your conversion goals may be to get your buyer to:Subscribe to your newsletter Visit your websiteSign up for a free trialDownload a white paperFollow youRead a blog postTweet somethingOf course ultimately you want them to pull the trigger and make a purchase. The important thing to remember is that the conversion goals you set need to be appropriate for the context of where your buyer is in their buyer journey. Someone who’s at the unaware stage isn’t going to sign up for a free trial, let alone make a purchase, because they’re not ready to do so yet. But that person might be far enough along in their journey that they’d read one of your blog posts or watch a short video.As a result, you can’t just focus on the ultimate conversion that you’re trying to make happen. [click]Instead, you have to think about the potential conversion paths — or the series of smaller conversions along the way — that will ultimately lead up to it. Of course, they don’t always happen in a nice orderly fashion.
  • In fact, sometimes they take a bit of a different path, or go forward and then backward, and then forward again, but that’s ok as long as they ultimately help drive your buyer toward a purchase.
  • Once you’ve figured out what your conversion goals are, how do you actually get people to convert?First, you want to make sure that you are getting people’s attention. That means taking care with your headlines and subject lines, using really compelling images, and making sure that your content is interesting and even entertaining. It’s also important that once you’ve got people’s attention, you make it really clear what it is that you want them to do with clear calls to action.It’s also helpful to create dedicated landing pages for your most important conversion goals and to regularly A/B test them to see what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes something as seemingly insignificant as changing the color of a button or the font of a call to action can make a big difference. Another thing that works really well is offering some kind of incentive. In the case of the software companies I worked with at OpenView that were targeting a lot of folks in IT, offering people a free t-shirt was an amazingly effective way of getting them to do something. Of course, often times the only thing you need to give people is really compelling content. By gating your best stuff, you can ask your audience to share their contact details in exchange for the ability to download your content. In my experience, it works really well.
  • So now let’s go back to our content matrixand add in our conversional goals for each stage of the buyer journey.
  • Now as I mentioned earlier, every piece of content needs to have a conversion goal and this presentation is no exception. My conversion goal for all of you is to two-fold: First, I want you to visit my website, kevinrcain.com, where you can read my blog posts and find out a lot more about content marketing, communications, and strategy. My second goal is for you to connect with me on LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter.
  • The third component of your content strategy that you will want to track in you content matrix is the points of contact you are going to use to reach your target audience. In other words, what tactics are you going to use to deliver your content to your buyers?
  • There are lots of different ways to get your messages out to your audience, but generally speaking they fall into three main categories:There’s outbound contact, where you are actively contacting your buyers. This includes conventional forms of contact like e-mails, phone calls, text messages, and tweets, and non-conventional ones like skywriting. Next you’ve got inbound contact, where your buyers contact you. For example, maybe they find you through a Google search, in an online forum, or through retargeting.And finally there’s contact through others, where other people (such as your friends, colleagues, or maybe industry analysts) contact you or you contact them.There are lots of options for making contact, and certainlyfar more than are listed here. The important point is that you’ve got to be very selective about which forms of contact you use and once again think about your contextual understanding of your audience. There’s no sense trying to use Facebook to get your messages out if your audience isn’t really on it. Likewise, why senddirect mail to people who prefer to consume their content digitally and are just going to throw it away?No matter what your buyer’s contextual situation may be, there are some general rules you should follow.
  • Your method of contact must be effective enough to drive the desired conversion, so always keep that in mind.
  • Less expensive forms of contact are generally preferable to more expensive ones
  • Plan on using multiple contact methods with your buyers to really amplify your message and ensure that people are getting them. Since not everyone goes to the same places to get their content, you have to try to reach them in lots of different places.
  • Lastly, the less work you have to do to make contact the better. In other words, why spend all your money doing fancy campaigns if calling your customers will work? Likewise, why spend all your time calling your customer if you can optimize your content so that they find you on Google?
  • So now that we’ve thought about our forms of contact, we can enter those into the matrix as well, again noting what types of contact we’re best off using at each point of the buyer journey given the context of the situation and the conversion goal we’re trying to achieve.
  • The last component of your content strategy and content matrix is the actual content you’re creating.
  • Now there are obviously lots of different types of content out there that you could be making. A few years back Joe Pulizzi put out an eBook that listed out over 40 different types, and I’m sure that even more exist today.When you think about your content, you have to consider what you already know. Specifically, based on the contextual information you have about your buyer and the stages of their journey, as well as the conversion goals you want to achieve and how you plan on making contact, what content should you be creating? If you think about all of these points, it should help you narrow down the options and get you to a short list of different content types that make sense for your strategy.
  • Now to help you out, I’ve done some of that work for you. Here are some tips to guide you in terms of what types of content you should generally use at each stage of the buyer journey based on what the goal is at that stage.These aren’t hard and fast rules, just general guidelines based on my own experiences.
  • Once you know what type of content you are going to create, it’s time to figure out how you are going to tailor it to your specific audience and their needs so that it resonates with them.I recommend coming up with a list of topics and key messages that you want to communicate. I often recommend that companies start off by compiling a list of the questions that they get asked most often about their products and services. Answering those questions usually results in some great content that their audience is really interested in.
  • Once you’ve thought about the type of content that you are going to create and what messages you want to convey with it, you also need to make sure that your content is set up to work really hard for you. To do that, it needs to have the following 6 qualities: [click]Useful [click]Optimized for search [click]Customized for your buyers [click]Demonstrates your brand aspirations [click]Drives conversions [click]Promote engagement and virality
  • So now that we’ve thought about our content format and messaging, we can enter that information into the matrix as well. In the process, we want to make sure that it aligns with what we already know about our buyer and their context at any given stage in their buyer journey, what our conversion goals are, and what the method of contact we will be using to deliver our content.And that’s it. You’ve got the full framework for your content matrix.
  • Now let’s take a quick look at how to use it.
  • So let’s assume you’ve got a dummy matrix like this set up and now it’s time to start populating it. The first thing that I recommend you do is audit all of your existing content and figure out where it fits.You’ll probably discover that some of your content fits in really nicely into this framework, while other content doesn’t fit at all. As you get into it, it should become obvious what content is going to support your strategy and what content is fluff that maybe you shouldn’t be spending your time on no matter interesting you may think it is.
  • So for our purposes, let’s say that we have a great series of blog posts that fit in nicely at the unaware stage. They’re short, kind of fun to read, and designed just to get people thinking about the many advances being made in e-mail archiving technology.
  • Click quickly to next slide.
  • They all have the same conversion goal, which is simply to drive readers to a landing page where they can learn a lot more about e-mail archiving and, if they’re interested, maybe even sign up for a newsletter to get regular updates.
  • Lastly, let’s assume that we’ll be relying on SEO and e-mail as our primary points of contact.
  • Maybe you’ve also got an eBook and a case study so you add those into the matrix as well.
  • And let’s assume that you add in all of the other supporting details for them too.Eventually you may start to notice that there are gaps in your matrix where you don’t yet have any content.
  • In this example, we don’t have any content yet for the aware stage, which is one of our buyers’ sticking points, so we’re going to have to address that right away. And of course we’ll need content to help close the sale at the purchase stage.In going through this process you may also discover that you need more content in a particular area or that you’re not getting conversions and so need to adjust your goals. Again, this matrix is really nothing more than a framework for getting yourself organized and focused and casting a light on where there are gaps in your content program.When it’s fully populated it’s going to look a lot more complicated than this with multiple pieces of content for each stage of the journey. And remember, over time you are going to create a separate matrix for each of your buyers in each of your segments. But again, for now, we’re just focused on one buyer and one segment at a time.If you do so, and really pay attention to their context, your conversion goals, your points of contact, and your content, you’ll be well on your way to creating the framework you need to develop a successful content strategy.
  • So there you go. Now you’ve got a framework and now you’ve got a strategy.
  • So that’s my presentation, which I hope you found helpful. If anyone has any questions, I’d be happy to answer them.

The Content Matrix: Your Key to a Successful Content Strategy The Content Matrix: Your Key to a Successful Content Strategy Presentation Transcript

  • @kevinrcain #cmworld The Content Matrix: Your Key to a Successful Content Strategy Kevin Cain @kevinrcain | kevinrcain.com
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld director of content strategy managing editorlowly minion copyeditor writer/editor senior writer/editor content marketing & communications consultant
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld posts eBooks, reports & case studies fans + followers page views per month views on YouTube subscribers
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld They don’t have a strategy! #cmworld
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld@kevinrcain #cmworld context conversion contact content A content matrix looks at your strategy from four perspectives:
  • context
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld pain points motivators influencers needs concerns role in the buying process Take the time to understand your buyers demographics
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld Susan is a VP of operations and needs a better e-mail archiving solution. She finds her existing service frustrating because it is too slow and unreliable, but doesn’t know there are better solutions available. She is the final decision-maker and, while price is an important motivating factor when making a purchase, she’s most concerned with functionality and ease of use. Develop a buyer persona
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld Map out the buyer journey
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld Identify the sticking points where the buyer will likely get hung up sticking point sticking point
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld leverage point Turn those sticking points into leverage points leverage point
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld Add that information to your content matrix unaware aware interested research purchase context
  • conversion
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld download now! subscribe! read blog post! tweet this! purchase! visit website! follow! free trial! Drive a series of conversions that ultimately lead to a sale
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld download now! subscribe! read blog post! tweet this! purchase! visit website! follow! free trial! Drive a series of conversions that ultimately lead to a sale
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld Get your audience to convert grab their attention create dedicated landing pages incentivise them
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld Add that information to your content matrix unaware aware interested research purchase context conversion goal conversion goal conversion goal conversion goal conversion goal
  • My conversion goals for this presentation: Let’s connect! www.kevinrcain.com @kevinrcain
  • contact
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld Think about how you will make contact e-mails phone calls text messages tweets skywriting linkedin messages door hangers search engines online forums retargeting events advertisements other buyers friends colleagues networks industry analysts outbound contact inbound contact contact through others
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld No matter what method you pick, remember these points:
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld No matter what method you pick, remember these points:
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld No matter what method you pick, remember these points:
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld No matter what method you pick, remember these points:
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld Add this information to your content matrix unaware aware interested research purchase context conversion goal conversion goal conversion goal conversion goal conversion goal contact method contact method contact method contact method contact method
  • content
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld case studies articlese-mails fact sheets blog posts podcasts videos white papers webinars reports infographics newsletters eBooks surveys games testimonials apps press releases brochures call scripts magazines ads gifs presentations quizzes ROI calculators Consider the different types of content you could create
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld Pick content that makes sense at each stage of the buyer journey unaware aware interested research purchase Goal: raise awareness blog posts infographics viral videos articles industry data podcasts Goal: demonstrate value of solving problem blog posts infographics viral videos articles industry data podcasts Goal: promote interest in finding solution webinars landing pages ebooks white papers reports Goal: foster comparisons case studies testimonials product guides fact sheets product demos ROI calculators Goal: encourage a sale how-to videos tutorials
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld Tailor your topic and messaging to your target audience’s needs
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld useful optimised for search customised for your buyers demonstrates your brand aspirations drives conversions promotes engagement and virality Ensure your content is set up to succeed
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld Add this information to your content matrix unaware aware interested research purchase context conversion goal conversion goal conversion goal conversion goal conversion goal contact method contact method contact method contact method contact method content format content format content format content format content format content topic / messaging content topic / messaging content topic / messaging content topic / messaging content topic / messaging
  • Using Your Content Matrix
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld unaware aware interested research purchase Map the details of your existing content to your new matrix context conversion goal conversion goal conversion goal conversion goal conversion goal contact method contact method contact method contact method contact method content format content format content format content format content format content topic / messaging content topic / messaging content topic / messaging content topic / messaging content topic / messaging
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld Map the details of your existing content to your new matrix context contact method blog posts content topic / messaging conversion goal contact method content format content topic / messaging conversion goal contact method content format content topic / messaging conversion goal contact method content format content topic / messaging conversion goal contact method content format content topic / messaging conversion goal unaware aware interested research purchase
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld Map the details of your existing content to your new matrix advances in e-mail archiving contact method blog posts context conversion goal contact method contact method contact method contact method content format content format content format content format content topic / messaging content topic / messaging content topic / messaging content topic / messaging conversion goal conversion goal conversion goal conversion goal unaware aware interested research purchase
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld Map the details of your existing content to your new matrix drive people to landing page advances in e-mail archiving contact method contact method contact method contact method contact method blog posts content format content format content format content format content topic / messaging content topic / messaging content topic / messaging content topic / messaging context conversion goal conversion goal conversion goal conversion goal unaware aware interested research purchase
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld Map the details of your existing content to your new matrix drive people to landing page advances in e-mail archiving SEO and newsletter contact method contact method contact method contact method blog posts content format content format content format content format content topic / messaging content topic / messaging content topic / messaging content topic / messaging context conversion goal conversion goal conversion goal conversion goal unaware aware interested research purchase
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld Map the details of your existing content to your new matrix conversion goal conversion goal conversion goal conversion goal contact method contact method contact method contact method content format eBook case study content format content topic / messaging content topic / messaging content topic / messaging content topic / messaging Map the details of your existing content to your new matrix drive people to landing page advances in e-mail archiving SEO and newsletter blog posts context unaware aware interested research purchase
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld Map the details of your existing content to your new matrix subscribe for newsletter download trial e-mail campaign influencer promotion eBook case study How new solutions can help you our product rules conversion goal conversion goal contact method contact method content format content format content topic / messaging content topic / messaging drive people to landing page advances in e-mail archiving SEO and newsletter blog posts context unaware aware interested research purchase
  • @kevinrcain #cmworld Identify where the gaps are subscribe for newsletter download trial e-mail campaign influencer promotion eBook case study How new solutions can help you our product rules conversion goal conversion goal contact method contact method content format content format content topic / messaging content topic / messaging drive people to landing page advances in e-mail archiving SEO and newsletter blog posts context unaware aware interested research purchase
  • #cmworld Now you’ve got a framework. Now you’ve got a strategy.
  • Questions? www.kevinrcain.com @kevinrcain