I’m launching a productized service for graph content audit + ongoing recommendations at $500/month per site. I’m looking for 5 sites to help guide the direction of features, priorities, and better understand what insights and results you’re looking for.
If you’re an expert with at least a few hundred page website, info products, an audience, and interested, hit reply and let’s chat.
I can’t overstate the value of mapping your content and products to user journeys. Lack of organization almost always means you haven’t taken the time to do this.
It’s also surprisingly common to not have done this. Experts with audiences are workhorses – always learning and creating. With your head down, focused on the task at hand, stepping back, zooming out, and reflecting on what you’ve done probably feels a bit like looking at all the grocery lists you made last year.
But this is some of the most meaningful work you can do.
Show me an expert’s website with thousands of unorganized pages, and I’ll show you someone with little traffic, being outranked and out-earned by lesser experts, making about 5% to 20% of what they should be on. Onward.
Your users’ journeys are the expression of their needs and wants based on how they see their situation.
Your content and products are the expression of your thinking as it relates to meeting audience needs.
As a subject matter expert, you’ve had one to one conversations with dozens to hundreds of prospects and one to many conversations with hundreds to thousands on your email list.
You already know your key user journeys
Between your existing content/products and your brain, you already know your key user journeys. If that’s not the case offhand, I’m including some questions I often ask to prompt pulling them out of your brain.
People are great pattern recognizers (and experts even more so), but only when prompted to focus on where the patterns are. I will resist the temptation to start talking about how graphs are the best way to recognize meaningful patterns here.
How effectively you can change your users’ “state” is a function of recognizing how your existing content and related products map (or don’t!) to your users’ current situation.
“I have too little traffic to split it into user journeys”
The old adage, “if you build it they will come,” is, of course, not true when it comes to content online. But it is prerequisite; if you don’t build it, they certainly won’t come.
Doing the buckets exercise also helps to focus you on what’s important, who you want to serve, and how you plan to communicate with them based on who they are.
At the very least, its a productive thought exercise. Who are you seeking to attract? What do they want to know? What do you want them to know?
What is a “user’s state”
A useful way to think about your user’s “state” is as some kind of preoccupation they have within a context. Where their attention is focused is a good indicator.
Let’s say your user wants a beautiful home. That’s not a state.
But if we follow them throughout their day, we might learn that they fixate on their kitchen’s ugly backsplash tile every time they cook. That’s a state.
The context of their situation (kitchen colors, layout, planned remodeling budget) and available options (remove, refinish, replace) matter.
When a user consumes the right piece of content at the right time, it alters that state they are in. This happens one of a few ways, typically better, or more deeply understanding:
- the bigger context of their situation
- the nature of their problem
- options available to them
- an action they can take to move forward
- a way to think differently about what’s preoccupying them
If we can bundle related preoccupations together, we can uncover the common journeys users have and the when and where our content/products can change their state.
Thinking about your content in that context, you should start to be able to see your user journeys fall into natural categories.
Inspect your funnels
One by one
Linear thinkers will use funnels: pain/problem > dream/hope > solution/offer. These can be incredibly effective at achieving conversions because we humans think in linear terms. If you have well performing funnels, think about who they’re ultimately intended for or survey purchasers for more info on what that bucket might look like.
From the bottom up
Another way to think about your user journeys is to start backwards. This is a bit risky, because it assumes you’ve made informed, valid product direction decisions.
With a product-driven approach to organizing content, we’re subject to confirmation bias. So ideally, you would limit this thought experiment to considering successful products.
Let’s say your top ways of monetizing are:
- course launches
- podcast ad revenue
- consulting engagements
If you trace your way back, you can pretty easily remember why you opted for those offerings:
- Your consulting engagements are for top performers – dream clients with complex problems requiring white glove service
- Your audience started getting broader than your target clients, so you created courses targeted at helping people have really good fundamentals and a way to offer value-adds for clients’ employee’s training programs
- You got too many audience questions to field in email replies and you wanted to pick the brains of other smart people who could help better answer those questions. So you started a podcast for the overflow as a way to provide those tips, tricks, little wisdom nuggets, and entertainment for everyone else
In my mind the user journeys here are quite straightforward to solve for –
- Situations top performers find themselves in are very specifically related to being a top performer – bulleting out these situations and thinking about them in the context of your content, as well as what content these people reference when they start talking to you are easy gets for associating this group with relevant content
- If your courses are designed to move users in a state along in their journey – content related to topics covered in a course should have that course CTA or an associated email subscription for course launch sequence.
- Content with relevant podcast episodes should include those episodes as related content. It’s also spill over, catch all type content – depending on where your focus is catchall CTA should either be subscribe to the pod or newsletter.
You clearly have three audiences, you smartly have a different approach for serving each of them, and you have the three types of activities you want them to do.
When I have a prospecting call, I have a couple questions that work pretty well for pulling this out of your brain:
“Top and middle of funnel” – What are the best pieces of content you put out?
If you took your top 30 most trafficked pieces of (relevant) content, and organized them into three categories, you will see patterns that hint at the early stages of user journeys.
Let’s say you do this and you find that it naturally breaks down into (by far the biggest) DIY type content, how to solve x problem, and a handful of consistently middle tier technical pieces of content around building a skill.
Even though those aren’t categories (one is a format, one is a problem, one is skill-based) those are still good ways for you to separate out your content. Problems = products, skill-based content = expertise cluster, and the firehose of those who want DIY content are going to be varied, hard to pin down, and potentially lower value.
As a very rough rule of thumb, if you took your top 10 highest email subscription rate pages, (not most subscriptions, highest rate), you could potentially see good patterns mapping to middle of funnel user journey situations to paint an even clearer picture.
“Bottom of funnel” – What are your best pieces of content?
Bottom of funnel just means immediately before purchase consideration. People can solve one problem many ways, what are the options and alternatives?
I could be an outlier, but as a customer/client I can pretty distinctly recall what content I consumed that made me want to work with someone.
In a recent conversation with four people who purchased a ~$10k product, two of them referenced the same piece of content as the reason they decided to purchase. It wasn’t a thought piece. It was simply sharing another client’s article who had purchased the same thing.
We share a client with a content + social agency. They were able to trace a $5mm purchase to a single product-centric piece of content.
When people reference that linchpin bottom of funnel content, listen.
If every question you got asked (email replies, tweets, in-person) was put in front of you, how would you categorize those questions?
By herding all those questions together into one place, you’ll immediately see patterns.
Seem too hard? If you have thousands of questions in email replies, you could use an email exporter tool or Gmail API, extract all questions with NLP, and do some clustering. With lots and lots of questions, it may be worth spending a $500 to have an ML resource on Upwork do it.
If you could only solve for one big problem, what concerns do those at beginner, intermediate, and advanced stages have?
Self-explanatory maybe. Zoom out to the bigger user journey case, what do people care about at different phases? Recognizing some may not transition to a next phase.
There is no wrong way to organize your content. But you generate momentum by drawing connections between related content in a way that that allows for ease of navigation from users.
Once you’ve organized once, you’ve also started a process of having more data to inform further improving how your content is organized later. You can start to actually make some sense of how users interact with your site and what those interactions mean.
Free offer until 4/20/20
If you’d like me to crawl and scrape your article content, with tags and categories into a spreadsheet for ease of organizing, just reply with your domain name.