There are already a variety of posts covering content marketing strategy in the B2B space, but one thing that many are missing is how the content you are creating should be organized. In many cases, the way you organize your B2B content is often just as important as what the content is.
The organization of content should be thought about as soon as the exact strategy is laid out. Below are some insights on content marketing and why content architecture is so important to your strategy.
What Is Content Marketing Organization, Exactly?
Content marketing organization is a process that logically organizes the content you are creating into groups or flows that make the most sense for the user. When organizing, the content marketer has to think about both the ideal purchase funnel for the company and also what the ideal target audience is looking for.
Content architecture projects are closely entwined with information architecture and the way that the site is laid out from a technological standpoint. It’s important to work with your developer to ensure that the way you want to organize the content is feasible in terms of website organization and navigation.
Additionally, if you are wanting to add any interactive elements to your content navigation, such as expandable snippets or animations, the developer (and often, a designer) will need to be consulted to make sure it makes sense from a design, SEO, and data perspective.
Why Does Content Organization Matter?
Many marketers believe that simply publishing great B2B content is all you need to increase your website metrics and conversion rate. However, it doesn’t matter how great a piece of content is if no one can actually find it.
There’s a common, much-contested rule in UX (user experience) called the “three-click rule.” The logic is that if someone can’t find what they are looking for on your website within three clicks, then your chances of losing them as a customer will rapidly go down, the more clicks they have to “spend” in order to find what they are looking for.
While some tests have found that this isn’t the case and clicks don’t affect purchase rate or time on site, I’d argue that today’s internet users, no matter the industry or subject, are smart and have a very limited attention span.
This means that the more time someone has to spend on your site looking for something, the less likely they are to convert. On average, someone will leave a website after mere seconds if they don’t find what they are looking for.
According to eyequant,
“users typically “screen and glean” a website during the first moments of their visit in order to assess whether they have come to the right place. If a website passes this initial skimming test, the site is more likely to be explored longer and more thoroughly. Meanwhile, if a website is deemed by the user to be unhelpful, the user is likely to leave within the first moments of their visit, and not wait around to see if their minds can be changed.”
Compared to a decade ago, today’s users are savvy enough with the internet to lose patience and go back to search results or where they came from if a website’s content is hard to navigate or not useful.
Because of this, website navigation and content organization need to go hand-in-hand to act as a digital guide for any user to find what they are looking for. If the homepage is the entrance to a maze, each button or call-to-action a user can click on is a separate path that enters them into the inner pages of the website. Every link on a page is a pathway for users to help them solve the problem they have.
Think About Your Target Audience
When you are thinking of how to navigate users to your website content, think of the common problems from their point of view. No matter your industry, your customers have pain points that they are looking to solve.
For example, let’s say your company offers corporate training on B2B sales strategy, your target audience is coming to your website to solve the problem of not having enough sales and keeping long-term customers. By this logic, an ideal content pathway would be Home -> Need Sales -> Sales Training Services -> Contact
Along the same lines, if your company had the same issues, but you were still on an informational journey (instead of a purchasing one), your content pathway as part of a customer experience journey may be something like Home -> Need Sales -> Sales Training Tip video -> Sales Training webinar -> Sales Training ebook.
Create Content Personas
All areas of marketing use persona creation quite regularly, but for content, it’s important to think of personas from the view of not only what types of content that person likes to consume, but how they are consuming it.
Would your persona prefer infographics chock full of data over a long-form 2,000 word blog post? Consider that and specify it clearly when creating content. If you don’t know where to start when it comes to creating personas, try the free tool MakeMyPersona.com (no affiliation).
As users get more and more entranced in your content, they are more likely to make a purchase. If I need sales training and I’ve already watched a video, taken a webinar, and bought an ebook from someone, I am much more likely to step up my purchasing commitment from them instead of a fellow competitor whose content I’ve never read or interacted with before.
Hence why making your content flow naturally is so crucial to increasing website conversions.
How Should You Organize Content?
So you get that content architecture and organization is important. But the next big question is– how do you organize your content?
Before embarking on the best content pathways for your website and target audience, first create a master list of all the content you have. You could create a bulleted list in Google Docs or Evernote, or even mindmap software to map it out in a more visual way.
Do a running brainstorm of current content, without thinking about order or current place on your website. Once you’ve completed that, organize it into how it is currently, or what currently makes the most sense to you. Finally, create a separate list or map of all the future content that you want to create (that you’ve conceptualized with your personas in mind, of course). This could include projects that are already in the works, as well as future content goals you have for this year.
Note: If you have a lot of content, it might be best to break it down by quarter, instead of by year. Conversely, if you don’t have much content, even planning multiple years in advance is OK for long pieces of content, like complete multi-hour courses or published books.
When you write everything down, gaps become increasingly transparent. In the above example, we can see that the social media branch likely needs a lot more content, whereas the majority of the content seems to be created about content marketing.
Whenever there are unequal distributions of content amongst topics, they should coincide with how popular business services are. For instance, it would make sense for this sample company to have more content marketing content if that is what they were well-known for. If social media isn’t one of their most popular services, then they shouldn’t spend the majority of their efforts on it.
Tie Current and Planned Content to Personas
Once it’s all laid out, pull out your content personas that you created and create separate content pathways for each persona. How could they best navigate to a conversion with you?
Remember to follow the three-click rule– it should only take three clicks to get them to a piece of content. This content should at least give them enough useful information to help ease their pain point or compel them to interact with more of your content and what you have to offer.
Create Content Groups
Besides creating content pathways that funnel your target audience towards a conversion, you also need to make your content easily searchable and discoverable for people that are just wanting to learn more about a specific topi or your company in general.
Groups of content can be organized in a variety of different ways, but should always make sense by what users are looking for. This is where looking at your actual website data in Google Analytics or other analytics platform makes sense. Google Analytics allows you to see user journeys and tells you the timeline of where each user clicked on your website, from point A to point B, C, D, and so on.
After looking at this data, consider how your content would be most easily consumed, and group it that way. For instance, if you see that users are staying longer on pages that have a list of all the webinars you’ve presented instead of a list of all the content you offer by topic, then organizing by medium (webinars, in this instance), might make more sense.
The good thing about digital marketing, though, is that you can test it! Try grouping by what makes the most sense according to the data, and then revise if you see time on page drop or bounce rate increase.
Relating back to our previous example, if a webinar listing page doesn’t work, think about creating small topic groups instead of the master topic page that was previously wasn’t working. Huge pages of content that list everything you have to offer all at once is many times overwhelming to the user and they get analysis paralysis, which makes it hard to make a decision.
Below are some of the ways that you can group your content:
Some websites list reading times on the top of their articles; this approach could also be used for organizing content libraries. Group content by how long it takes to consume so the user knows ahead of time what they are clicking into.
This is usually the most common approach to organizing content, but it depends on your audience knowing what they are looking for. If you are in a technical or cutting-edge industry, some customers have no idea what they need to be educated on, so organizing by topic might not make the most sense.
However, if your industry uses common slang and your service offerings are pretty standard, organizing all the pieces of content by topic usually works well. Many websites have a “content library” page in their website navigation that then breaks down into topic subpages.
By Pain Point
As mentioned above, sometimes users think they are at the right place, they know they need help, but aren’t even sure what service would ease their problem or improve their situation. This is where organizing by pain point comes in handy.
Think of this content library style as a mixture of content pathways and libraries: a central location for discovering all your content, organized by the pathway that would help the user solve their problem.
To illustrate the frustration users likely feel when trying to find out more information about a topic they aren’t even fully aware of, below is an example of a confusing and hard-to-navigate content library, ironically from the Association of National Advertisers.
As you can see, the only option available is to search by keyword, with the topic, date, and industry filters on the sidebar. However, if I’m not even sure what I’m looking for, how can I be sure to navigate to the right pieces of content?
This is another popular way many content libraries are set up. This example from HR provider paylocity shows its content broken down into type: ebooks, infographics, video, and whitepapers.
If a target user knows what they are looking for, or at least knows how they like to consume content (e.g. “I prefer watching a video to reading an ebook), then organizing by medium is an easy way to make sure users find what they are looking for.
You can test these different types of libraries by tracking click-through rate to pieces of content, as well as time on site, bounce rate, and conversion rate.
Bringing It All Together
By creating content pathways and content libraries, you are making the user’s path to conversion and a long-term relationship to you as easy as possible. The three-click rule is essentially removing many of the pliable roadblocks that stand in the way of a user finding what they are looking for.
By developing content personas and proper website navigation that gives useful, insightful content at the time a customer needs it, you can better eliminate hesitancy and make working with your B2B company an easy choice.
Screenshots taken March 2017