From The Editor | May 14, 2021

A Guide For Mapping Content To The B2B Buyer's Journey

Abby Sorensen July 2017 Headshot

By Abby Sorensen, Chief Editor

A guide for mapping content (photo)

Here's the secret sauce in the Follow Your Buyer methodology: You will win more business if you create and properly distribute relevant content that truly helps buyers throughout the entire buyer's journey.

Every B2B marketer wants in on the "win more business" part. But the rest of that sentence is admittedly a bit dry. It's easy to overlook this very important phrase: "throughout the entire buyer's journey."

Your content needs to align with the early, middle, and late stages of the buyer's journey. But what does that actually mean?

Refresher: The Buyer's Journey Matters In B2B Marketing

If you're asking yourself what the buyer's journey has to do with getting more leads from your content, then stop and read one or more of these three articles. Don't worry; you can come right back to this one in less than 10 minutes.

The B2B Buyer's Journey: Explained

Understanding The Early, Middle, And Late Stages Of The B2B Buyer's Journey

The Sales Funnel Is Not The Buyer's Journey

Now that you're caught up to speed on the basics of the buyer's journey, here's one more refresher.

According to research in Selling To The C-Suite, "At any given time, only 4 percent of your market is actively buying, 40 percent are ready to start looking at options, and 56 percent aren't ready or don't have a current need."

Many B2B marketers focus only on that 4 percent, and that's a huge mistake.

Yes, you need promotional content that articulates the value of your products/services. But you should devote as many resources as possible toward creating content that caters to the other 96 percent of your potential buyers.

Buyer's Journey Content Mapping

Water Online has a team dedicated to organizing and optimizing content across our platform. One of their goals is to ensure partners have a good balance of content so that they don't focus too much on the 4 percent and not enough on the 96 percent who are not actively buying.

That team documented their process for what makes a piece of content align with a certain stage of the buyer's journey. It looks like this.

This chart is a guide, not a step-by-step instruction manual. There are no hard and fast rules about what makes a certain piece of content align with a certain stage in the buyer's journey.

Content Examples For Each Stage Of The Buyer's Journey

These content examples are from a solutions provider that partners with Water Online. Using the above chart as a guide, each of these articles was classified according to buyer's journey stage.

Keep in mind that the B2B buyer’s journey isn’t as linear as sales and marketing teams would like it to be (more on that here).

Buyer’s Journey Content In Action

Even though buyers don’t always consume content in a linear way, marketers can still get value from classifying their content according to the buyer’s journey stages. That classification process is step one. The next step is to use those buyer’s journey classifications to understand buyer behavior.

Using the chart above as a guide, “tag” your own content. The designation does not need to be visible to your buyer, but it can deliver critical information on the back end to the supplier.

Those insights can mislead your sales team if your content isn’t labeled according to the buyer’s journey stage. That’s because not every content engagement carries the same weight. For example, a buyer who engages with dozens of early-stage articles might not be as valuable to a salesperson as the buyer who downloads just a single piece of late-stage content.

Creating, classifying, and analyzing content according to the buyer’s journey stage enables marketers to look for engagement patterns, identify potential buying activity, and share insights with members of your sales team. Start mapping your content today — your sales team and your buyers will thank you for it.