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This site is currently under construction. We are, however, pleased to say that the SMU 102 Digital Copywriting Unit is now open. We've also added Marketing Principles and an Intro to Public Relations. Our Content Marketing Unit is currently in development.

SMU 105 - Session 4: Choosing the Right Channel Mix

infographic illustrating the strengths and weaknesses of social media channels

This is a critically important study session that acts as a scaffold for the rest of the course. each and every concept covered within this session will be not only referred to - but actively used - for the rest of the integrated communications course. 

This session covers quite a bit of ground in one go. We have broken the main concepts up for ease of studying. This session is arranged in a way that one main concepts leads into the next. You will build your overall knowledge step by step.

Take your time and truly build your knowledge of each concept before moving on to the next. In other words, pace yourself.

Purpose/Aim of this session

In this session you will deepen your understanding of creating a strategy for delivering targeted, engaging and audience-focused brand messaging content through a mix of online communication channels.

This study session aims to develop awareness of a wide range of social media platforms, both general use and specialist types. Learners will develop their understanding of how to use social media effectively for personal and business purposes and the benefits and risks associated with that use.

Learning Aims for this session:

  • You will explore the reasons for using different social media channels; and identify their similarities and differences.
  • You will critically evaluate the effectiveness of a range of digital marketing applications.
  • You will assess identifying potential digital marketing opportunities and associated risks.
  • You will identify and develop appropriate digital marketing strategies.
  • You will apply relevant marketing theories and concepts in diverse online contexts, and on a variety of digital marketing platforms.

Social media channel mix image from

Learning Outcomes for this session:

At the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a professional understanding of how to use major social media channels
  • Outline and discuss effective strategic approaches to developing a compelling social media media channel mix
  • Understand the relationship between content marketing and social media channels - and how content can be produced for every stage of the customer decision journey
  • Outline and discuss the context for providing the right content at each stage of the journey on the right social media channel

How this Session Works:

  1. Read through the "Session Overview" that accompanies this session. This provides an overall context for the session
  2. Work your way through the items on the "Channel Mix Process Strategy" section that accompanies this session. This will prepare you for the remaining sections of this study unit.
  3. Work your way through the items in the "Selecting the Right Channel Mix" section that accompanies this session, applying what you have learned from the Channel Mix Process Strategy section. This section focuses you critical thinking to a specific aspect of content marketing.
  4. Work your way through the items in the "Affinity Diagrams" section that accompanies this session. This section focuses you critical thinking to a specific aspect of content marketing and prepares you for the Customer Journey Mapping exercise.
  5. Work your way through the items in the "Customer Journey Mapping" section that accompanies this session. Understanding and applying the knowledge you gain from this section is critical for the remainder of this study unit and the rest of the course.
  6. Work your way through all of the items in the "Short form content" section. You will apply critical thinking to this specific aspect of content marketing.
  7. Work your way through all of the items in the "Long form content" section. You will apply critical thinking to this specific aspect of content marketing.
  8. Work your way through the template in the "Template" section.  The template will support you as you take the first steps in developing your own content
  9. You can browse through some carefully selected material in the "Reading Room" tab. While the reading room materials are not mandatory, we strongly urge you to read the resources we have provided. We have sourced some excellent article and ebooks that will deepen your understanding of content marketing strategy - and lays some important groundwork for the Social Media Marketing study unit.

SMU 105 Session 4 Study Activities

  • Session Overview
  • Channel Mix Process Strategy
  • Selecting the Right Channel Mix
  • Affinity Diagrams
  • Customer Journey Mapping
  • Short Form Content
  • Long Form Content
  • Template
  • Reading Room

social media channel report card for 2013 infographic

Click the image above to see the full infographic. While the information is based on 2012 figures, it is an excellent introduction to key differences between some of the major digital media channels.Alternatively, here is a link to the infographic:

Not all social media channels are created equal.  Depending on how and why you're using content on social media...some channels will simply be better for your delivering your brand messages than otherss. They are not inter-changeable. Finding the right mix of social media channels for your brand depends on a few variables:

  1. The type of content that you produce
  2. The industry/sector that you are in
  3. The channels that are popular with your audience - based on age, gender, location and other, similar, factors
  4. How your audience wants to engage with your brand online
  5. The aim of your content - do you want to educate, raise awareness and/or profile about your brand, initiate a conversation, or raise awareness for a cause?
  6. How your content and content marketing strategy fits within your overall marketing strategy - and, of course, your overall business strategy.
  7. If the purpose is to converse, where in the course of that conversation will you be using content? Are you initiating a conversation? Responding to your audience? Is it during specific points of contact (referred to as 'touchpoints') your audience has with your business, service or organization from discovery to answering your call to action (the 'customer journey')?

 Each section within this session touches on specific aspects for each of the considerations listed above.

Let's first explore the concept of the customer journey - and how understanding this journey really does help us in making the right social media network choices for our brand.

Read More

Laying the foundation for an effective channel mix strategy

Channel mix strategy infographic from

The main goal of this study unit are to enable students to understand the behaviour of consumers in online environments, and to help them to develop appropriate, relevant, content marketing responses. It also enables you to further explore and apply aspects of online consumer behaviour that you have gained from the published studies and articles that you've read; as well as through undertaking your own online marketing research.

From this point of the course onwards, you will be applying your earlier learning to this initial stage of exploring:

  • Digital marketing communications strategies and practices
  • Tailoring digital marketing strategies to online audiences and tribes (personalisation)
  • Marketing in diverse online environments (channels) and in diverse national contexts (localisation, legal issues)
  • Ethics, governance, accessibility, sustainability, privacy, industry standards, legal regulation
  • Measuring ROI

The channel mix process incorporates all of these facets.

Creating a viable and channel mix is a process.

There are many reasons why it's a process. However, we're going to give a very simple reason why. Creating a channel mix for an organization, brand or service involves research as well as strategic thinking and planning - both key components of a process.

Like any process, creating an effective channel mix involves a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.

So...what does this process look like? Here's our 10 steps:

1. Identify the Major Social Media Networks

This means identifying the most popular social media channels by traffic. At the moment, in terms of the US and the UK, these include Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Vimeo, Google+, and blog sites (e.g. blogger, WordPress, Tumblr).

Why? It's more than likely that your main audience members will be on any combination of these channels. Watch how they interact with brands (if at all). And look at how brands communicate with their respective audiences. See how they tailor their content across the channels they use. Which leads us quite nicely to this: your main competitors will probably already be established on these channels. Look at how they deliver their USPs, Value Proposition and emotional engagement.

It's always worth noting that channel ranking in terms of popularity can change quickly. New channels are constantly being developed (e.g. Ello and Yik Yak) and established channels go out of fashion (e.g. MySpace). Other seemingly western-focused social media channels are actually more popular in non-westernized countries (for instance, and Zing are more popular in SE Asia. Google's Okrut is most popular in Latin America. Yahoo! social media channel is more popular in India.

Research and regularly keeping abreast of the changing fortunes within the digital media channel world will keep you informed. Below is a short list of respected thought leaders who regularly publish reports on this subject:

Hubspot: 2015 Social Media Benchmarks Report

Mashable's Social Media Info Channel:

Nielson Reports:
(search on the following terms: "digital branding" or "online" or 'brand")

2. Understand the Similarities and Overlaps Between Different Social Media Channels

In this part of the process, you begin by identifying the reasons for using each of the major social media channels for your brand messages and/or content. The reasons for using social media will not all apply to every channel and
there will be some overlap between them.

Some basic social media channel use overlaps include the need to:

  • Build a community (eg Facebook, Twitter and blogging can all do this, albeit in different ways)
  • Become influential in your sector or industry (Blogging and LinkedIn can both achieve this)
  • Earn respect from your sector, industry or audience (LinkedIn and Twitter can achieve this)
  • Create opportunities (just about any social media channel can accomplish this)
  • Develop new skills (YouTube, Blogging and Pinterest can do this)
  • Develop new connections (B2B or B2C or B2M (business to media) will determine which channel is best)
  • Promote a cause / help people (Twitter, Facebook and YouTube can all do this)
  • Generate revenue (just about any social media channel can accomplish this)

Continuing with channel overlaps, here are a few more. Think about which major digital media channels could be used to accomplish these goals:

  • Change people’s minds and/or perceptions
  • Become accepted
  • Become valued
  • Become a thought leader
  • Educate
  • Entertain

3. Understand the Differences Between Social Media Channels

This part of the process isn't just about noting the obvious differences between social media channels (for instance, that Twitter is limited to 140 characters or how Facebook has a 'wall' or how Pinterest has 'pins' and 'boards'). The differences are important to note. However, its' the differences that can determine how, when and why we use a specific social media channel that are the most important.

Using YouTube and Vimeo as examples - the differences between them determine the kind of content that we produce. In this instance, YouTube is aimed at a mass market. Vimeo, on the other hand, is aimed more at filmmakers. YouTube is broad in its reach. Vimeo is very niche.

Each channel difference also determines just how limited the confined space we're working within actually is.

To get you started, below you will find a short summary list of some of the defining characteristics between a handful of the major social media channels:

Facebook: 'Wall', events, timelines, photos, newsfeed, statuses, status sharing, 'liking' messaging, comments, chat, analytics (business pages) plug-ins and games.

LinkedIn: groups, statuses, home page, extended links (e.g. who knows who), video support, recommendations, analytics, InMail, alumni tool and newsfeeds.

Twitter: suggestions for following, guides for business and advertising, search tools, list tools, newsfeed, top stories/tweets, trends tool, re-tweets,favourites and analytics.

Pinterest: social bookmarking 'pins', topic groups, following, comments and analytics (business accounts).

Google+: circles (groups), streams (timeline), hangouts (chat), messaging, sand bar (Google-wide toolbar), photos, newsfeed, games, search tools, ripples (analytics of link and post sharing), integration with numerous Google products.

Blog sites: enhanced text and style facilities, comments, images and video, tags, archives, auto-generation of summary pages, text search facility, secondary navigation (tag clouds, comments and categories), auto-generated newsfeed.

YouTube: channels, comments, sharing, in-built video editing, close captioning, suggested related videos, analytics, content monitization option and integration with other Google products and services.

4. Understand Each Social Media Channel's Place in Your Marketing Strategy and Business Strategy

ways of working in content marketing and social media marketing

The article below explores how adopting social media - and understanding its impact on customer and employee relationships and also the bottom line - are not always linked. This disconnect between content and social media strategies and business strategy is forcing many executives to rethink their overall approach.

Solis, B. 2013. The Gap Between Social Media and Business Impact: 6 stages of social business transformation, Brian Solis.

5. Understand what each Social Media Channel's Can Deliver or Accomplish

Social media channels deliver your Value Proposition and USP. Understanding this will better enable you to inform your approach to content marketing overall and your social media channel planing and selection process through:

  • Identifying the online channels that appropriate for your brand AND your audience communications: social networks, blogs, microblogs, wikis, podcasts, forums, media sharing, RSS feeds, bookmarking, social news sites, etc
  • Tailoring your content and social media channel to audience type
  • Controlling your content publishing
  • Brand messaging to wider audiences
  • Building and growing an online business
  • Creating business opportunities
  • Developing/establishing a brand online
  • Connecting to wider/global markets
  • Connecting with new groups/types of customer
  • Establishing a reputation

6. Understand How Social Media Channels Shape Online Conversations

Social media channels shape the types of online conversations that we have with an audience. Initiating a range of conversation types, respond to replies, spread the conversation to other people/social media

What do we mean by conversation types? Conversations defined by if they:

  • Promote something
  • Ask or answer questions
  • Express agreement or dissent
  • Call for action on or support of something
  • Share or distribute media
  • Respond to or comment on events, offerings or promotions
  • Offer a greeting
  • Provide an industry/sector opinion or commentary
  • Ask for help

7. Understand the Content that can be Produced for Conversations & Channels

So what do we need to be aware of when it comes to matching content to channels,an audience and an person's touchpoints?

  • The types of content that can be produced to spark a conversation at any touchpoint along the customer journey can take any form: images, video, audio, text, links, polls, quizzes, etc.
  • Identifying the right audience for that content - including understanding its pain points, the problem it faces or the answer(s) it's seeking
  • Identifying appropriate social media platforms and content for an identified audience
  • Creating appropriate content for social media platforms (e.g. YouTube is for videos, not images)
  • Creating and publishing a suitable range of content for the identified channels
  • Posting regular updates on the content over an extended time period to keep it up to date and visible
  • Using feedback and monitoring tools to track the effectiveness of your brand messages

8. Develop Your Social Listening - and Reflect

Businesses, organisations and services need to be aware when they are mentioned in social media and understand perceptions about their brand. Content can be a part of this listening and reflecting process.

We can use social media (in general) and content (specifically) to:

  • See how an audience uses social media - as well as seeing people's natural interests - an engages with brands online
  • Assess how, when and how they prefer to engage with a brand in a specific social media channel
  • Respond quickly to unhappy customers/adverse events
  • Capitalise on good comments/events
  • Improve knowledge of where the business is being publicised, where it's being discusses, who is reading about it, and who is sharing information and/or content about it

9. Understand the Benefits

A strategic approach to content marketing - and using social media channels - leads to:

  • Better market knowledge
  • Better customer satisfaction
  • Obtaining recommendations
  • Developing leads
  • Promoting honesty, transparency, values and respect in brand communications
  • Being able to build and maintain relationships with large numbers of people over a wide geographical area

10. Planning for the Risks

As with any marketing activity, there are content marketing and social media channel risks we need to plan for and address proactively:

  • Disclosure of private information
  • Trolling,cyber stalking/bullying
  • Access to inappropriate/illegal material, phishing, malware
  • Legal liability for posted content
  • Understanding that published/posted content is almost impossible to remove completely from the internet
  • Vulnerability to hackers, vulnerability to malicious posters/commenters, etc

Points 8 and 9 will be explored further in the remained of this study unit. We will be covering Point 10 in much more detail in the SMU 107: Social Media Marketing.

Further Reading on Selecting the Right Channel Mix

The reading below doesn't cover all of the major social media platforms. However, the short reading list below will give you the grounding you need to critically assess any social media network you might be considering to deliver your brand messages.

  1. Manafy, M. 2015. How to Choose the Best Social Media Site for Your Business: Avoid the social media time-suck: Choose the channels that align with your audience to become a social media success story, Inc.
  2. Ahmad, I. 2014. How to Choose the Right Marketing Channel for Your Content (infographic), Digital Information World.
  3. Choosing the right social channel for your business!, Kioskea, 2015.
  4. DeMers, J. 2014. How To Choose The Right Social Media Networks For Your B2B Business, Search Engine Land.

Wrapping things up...

We've been building up to mapping the Customer Journey since the start of this study session. And we've spent a considerable amount of time in developing your understanding of this concept for a few reasons, which we've covered already. And when we stress that it is a critical component of content marketing, you should understand what that means at this point.

Understanding an audience's customer journey will also save you considerable time when it comes to selecting the channels that you will use to deliver your brand messages - and the forms of content that you produce to deliver those messages. You will know where your audience wants to hear from you, how they want to hear you, the kinds of content they prefer engaging with - and when they want to hear from you.

This is one aspect of selecting the right channel mix. And an important aspect for you to decide which channels you will use...and why. But we're going to take this one step further during the remainder of this study session.

Channel Conversations

We're going to get you thinking about the kinds of conversations you can have on different channels; and the kinds of content you will use to start, sustain, deepen those conversations throughout the customer journey...and the kinds of content and channels you will use for your calls to action.

By types of conversation, we mean short-form (under 60 seconds to engage with) and long form. And matching long and short form conversations to appropriate media.

We're also going to cover how content and channels map to the natural flow of conversation - even branded conversations. What do we mean by 'conversation flow'? Every conversation has 3 natural parts: a beginning, a middle and an end. Think of these 3 conversation components like this:

  • The beginning is the headline (which could be text, a captioned image or a short form video clip)
  • The middle is the slippery slide (which could be more text, a long form video, a slide show, a newsletter, a podcast, an App, etc). This is content that delivers a USP, a Value Proposition, answers a question, solves a problem, educates, entertains, etc. that connects with your call to action.
  • The end is your call to action.

So, now it's time to explore the concept of a Channel Mix.

Read More

Selecting the right mix of marketing channels for your brand messaging

image showing various online marketing channels

Note: The image above can be downloaded as a PDF file here:

Understanding where, when and how to connect with an audience - on its terms - at every point of contact with a brand is paramount to understanding the art of content marketing. Understanding this informs our decisions in the kinds of content that we create to serve up at each and every contact point with our brand - or how we can use pre-existing content.

And because we're discussing this in a brand context, we also need to think about a brand's persona (as covered in SMU 101 Branding). The content that we produce either introduces, builds upon or develops each persona we create for each tribe within an overall audience. Our content mirrors, delivers and portrays a brand's personas, value proposition and USP.

Selecting the right mix of channels, and social media channels in particular, is critical in the process of delivering our brand messages and persona - specifically brand messages we convey in the form of content. We must match the right content to the right channel at the right time for each and every contact point for our brand. In addition to this, each piece of content that we produce must harmonize with each audience persona (remember those tribe member personas in SMU 101 Branding?) every time we publish content. This isn't just a process. It's a very strategic process that requires a considerable amount of insight about a brand's audience.

Always remember that social media channels are how you direct your content to the people who you want to see and engage with it. It’s also how you share other people’s content - and that too is crucial to building a loyal audience. Social media channels and content go together like a hand and glove.

You will explore this process in this study session.

The Customer Journey: An overview

The customer journey is a key concept that will support your research-based understanding of this process.

This section of the study unit will introduce you to the customer journey concept. Understanding the customer journey underpins the rest of this study unit and the rest of the integrated marketing course. Customer journeys influence and inform just as much of our content marketing and social media marketing activity as a well developed business strategy. Put another way, the customer experience journey and a business strategy are two sides of the same coin. Never forget that.

Think of this like an Oreo cookie. The customer journey and your business strategy are the two biscuits. In-between, the filling, well, that's your brand. Your brand identity, image and perception is sandwiched in-between those two biscuits. Those two biscuits shape, define and constrain your brand in every possible way - or at least they should do.

It's why we began this course with branding. It's why we've stressed having a well developed and clearly understood business strategy. And it's way we've just spent so much time on the concept of the customer journey. You should have a firm grasp on the relationship between all three.

Your marketing efforts - both online and offline - will ultimately succeed or fail based on whether the relationship between these three parts of the Oreo are present and effectively understood. An Oreo wouldn't be an Oreo if even one of those ingredients were missing. Content marketing supports and delivers all three components: brand, the customer journey and your business strategy.

So how many marketing channels are enough?

Now, as the image at the top of this page illustrates, there are a lot of online channels you can use to communicate your brand messages. So how many do you need to use? Without wishing to sound like an ancient Confucian philosopher - you need as many channels as you need to convey your brand's message or experience to a specific audience.

At SMU, we only use three social media channels. That's the right number for us to build relationships with, disseminate information to, and educate a predominantly English speaking audience.

At Aardvark, SMU co-founder and tutor Alex directed the activity on 250+ channels. Aardvark needed 250+ channels to deliver an experience and build audience relationships across a multitude of age ranges, genders, socioeconomic backgrounds and music genres on an international scale.

SMU co-founder & tutor Brian uses 6 online channels to build relationships with fans, educate and provide information about his Genealogy Adventures series.

We only use the number of marketing channels we need in order to connect with, form mutually respectful relationships with, learn from, entertain and/or educate our audience.

How do we know if the brand messaging channels we want to use are the right ones?

  • We are led by our audience. It is not the other way around. Understanding how our audience wants to connect with us online is a big piece of the puzzle. And they will not hesitate to let you know - usually in the form of comments and Tweets.
  • It might depend on the content you either already have - or the content that you plan to produce. If you have no intention of creating videos, for example, you wouldn't use YouTube or Vimeo.
  • Never use the latest social media craze just because it's popular. Do your research. Is your audience there? Do they seem to enjoy interacting with your kind of business or service there? Is your audience active on this new service? If not, give it a miss.
  • Only use the channels you will be 100% committed to using on a regular basis. Nothing looks worse than a marketing channel that looks 'dead' - or lifeless, at the very least.

Strategy...and planning

Just like the other aspects of marketing we've covered so far - branding, copywriting, traditional marketing, etc - research and planning play an important role in selecting the right channel mix for your brand messages. Or strategy, in a word. The articles below will prompt you to think about areas you need to research to make the right channel selections for a business, service or organization's brand messages. The articles will also help your planning process.

  1. The article below, and the resources contained within it, explains the relationship between content marketing and social media marketing. Or put another way, why the two are different - and the reason why the two go so well together.

    58 Social Media Ideas to Inspire Your Content Marketing [eBook], Content Marketing Institute.

  2. Now that we've taken a look at some approaches to get you thinking about content marketing in general, let's apply this to the online marketing channels.

    Watch the video hosted on: Content Marketing Framework: Channels, Content marketing Institute.

  3. You will find a White Paper from the digital marketing company red Ant below. It's an excellent follow-on resource, building upon our initial discussion about online marketing channels. It also provides practical guidance in planning channel strategy. The article stresses how important it is to remember that a content strategy defines your channel strategy — not the other way around.

    Red Ant. Planning a Digital Strategy.

Serving up the right content on the right channel at the right time

One part of a content marketing strategy is offering the right content on the right channels at the right time. Jill Rowley from social Selling expands on this last point in the video below:

In the video below, Marty Collins, Director of Emerging Media at Microsoft, talks about the importance of building content and syndicating it on the correct channel.

In the video below, marketer Myles covers the basics of ROI when it comes to choosing online marketing channels.

He puts much of what we've covered in this course and in this study session into content marketing context:

  • When he discusses developing effective messages - you should be be remembering everything we covered in the Copywriting Unit.
  • When he discusses defining target markets - you should remember all of the concepts we developed in the Branding Unit, the Copywriting Unit, the marketing Unit and the first part of this Content Marketing Unit..

Lecture 1

The webinar below is the perfect encapsulation of all the key points we've covered in this sub-section. In effect, it brings them all together. Toby Murdock, CEO of Kapost, and Jason Miller, Social Media Manager at Marketo, covers the step-by-step best practices for content marketing.

Lecture 2

The webinar below provides an excellent overview of best practice. It also gives great examples of good and bad approaches to using different marketing channels to publish brand content and messages. We apologia in advance for the sound quality. However, we promise it's worth watching and listening to.

Creating Your Content Marketing Channel Plan

The reading below covers the subject of channel planning in more depth, to better develop your understanding of the concept.

Pulizzi, J. 2012. 7 Steps to Creating Your Content Marketing Channel Plan, Content Marketing Institute.

Linn, M. 2012. A Simple and Indispensable Template for Content Marketing Distribution, Content Marketing Institute.

Additional marketing Channel Research & Reading

The Content Marketing Institute has a number of excellent, current, FREE research reports on the status of content marketing for 2015. We strong urge you to read them by visiting:

Before you move on the next section of this study unit...

You are already familiar with one key component of the Customer Journey: The Empathy Map.To recap, Empathy maps are a depiction of the various facets of a persona and his or her experiences in any given scenario.

It's an important exercise to help us organize our observations, build a deeper understanding of our customers’ experiences, and draw out surprising insights into what customers need.

Empathy maps also provide a foundation of material to fuel journey mapping.

Image of an empathy map

The goal is to get a well-rounded sense of how it feels to be that persona in the experience of interacting with our business, organisation or service - specifically focusing on what they’re thinking, feeling, seeing, hearing, saying and doing.

Before we tackle the subject of the customer journey in greater detail, we need to take a quick look at one of it's components; the Affinity Map. 

Image of an Affinity Map

An affinity diagram is the product of a brainstorming session. The purpose of an affinity diagram is to generate, organize, and consolidate information concerning a product, process, complex issue, or problem. Constructing an affinity diagram is a creative process that expresses ideas without quantifying them.

The affinity diagram helps a group to develop its own system of thought about a complex issue or problem. A group can use an affinity diagram at any stage where it needs to generate and organize a large amount of information. For example, members of a leadership team may use the diagram during strategic planning to organize their thoughts and ideas. Alternatively, an improvement team can use the diagram to analyze the common causes of variation in its project.

Affinity diagramming helps us shift from casting a wide net in exploring many possibilities, to specific approaches towards the right solutions for an audience. As a group, begin to consider where you might combine, refine, and remove ideas to form a cohesive vision of the future customer experience.

So let's take a look at affinity maps in the next sub-section of this study unit.

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An Affinity Diagram is a simple and very effective visual management tool to organize ideas and data. Think of it like a brainstorming session. And like a brainstorming session, the process starts off with participants jotting down all their notes onto cards or sticky notes (one note on one card) and placing them together on a flat surface (a wall, a whiteboard, the floor, a table, etc).

image representing unsorted affinity mapping idea cards.

Then, after reviewing all the cards, participants start sorting and grouping related cards together. Once the cards are sorted, participants can start sorting large groupings into smaller subgroups for further analysis. The ultimate goal of this is to group related information so that it is easily understood and larger stories or overarching themes would start to emerge.

image showing affinity mapping cards arranged by theme
When is it used?

Use an affinity diagram when you are contemplating or investigating a process change or a problem (or issue) that is complex and hard to understand. It is especially effective is the process change or problem has a high level of uncertainty or feels disorganized, or overwhelming. Complex issues often feel overwhelming due to their size. Affinity diagrams breaks an overwhelming task or problem down into its constituent parts - which are much easier to tackle than the issue or problem as a whole.

Let's take installing new software to automate sending emails to your business customers as an example. You would use the affinity mapping processes to look at the pros and cons of this change - and arrange the comments by headings or groupings - and how this would impact your audience (the business you provide services to).

Boiled down, an Affinity Diagram can be used to find out what needs to happen to accomplish goals.

Anytime you plan on implementing something new, e.g., introducing a new product line, the Affinity Diagram offers you a way to ensure that you have considered everything.

Which leads us quite nicely to the next two points:

  1. You need to do an Affinity Diagram for your Content Marketing program; and
  2. You will need to do an Affinity Diagram for your Social Media Marketing program

An example of an Affinity Diagram is shown below.  This affinity diagram addresses what a quality leadership steering committee in a manufacturing plant wants to accomplish in the coming year.  Click on the figure for a larger version (from SPC for Excel:

SPC for Excel Affinity Diagram example
Click for larger image

Affinity Diagram Reading

We've provided the short reading list below to further develop your knowledge and understanding of Affinity Diagrams:

  1. Affinity Diagrams, SPC for Excel, January 2014.
  2. Basic Tools for Process Improvement: Module 4 - Affinity Diagram.

Online tools to use to create Affinity Diagrams

Realtime Board

screen grab of realtime Board home page


screen grab of popplet's front page

Now that we've taken a look at Affinity Diagrams, it's time to delve into the Customer Journey.

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Social Media Snakes and Ladders game image

An Introduction to the Customer Journey Mapping Concept

Mapping the customer journey in a highly visual and engaging format brings the experience to life from the perspective of the customer and ensures the customer journey is at the heart of your content marketing strategy.

Every interaction a customer has with an organization a business or a service has an effect on satisfaction, loyalty, and the bottom line. Plotting out a customer's emotional landscape - using a Customer Journey Map, or Experience Map - along the pathways they travel with a brand sheds ­­­­light on key opportunities for deepening relationships with them. And understanding this helps us to shape meaningful content with our audience in mind.

Before we delve into the customer journey concept, you need to be familiar with a word that's used extensively in association with this concept: a touchpoint.

So what, exactly, is a 'touchpoint'?

The article below provides an excellent overview of what a touchpoint is. It will also prompt you to think about - and identify - what some of your brand's touchpoints are:

SurveyMonkey, How to Identify Your Customer Touchpoints: Improve customer satisfaction by looking at all your touchpoints.

Content and the Customer Journey

Your content can influence an audience at the beginning, the middle or towards the end of their experience journey with regards to your brand.  So a Customer Journey map is a handy process tool with this in mind. As a visual or graphic interpretation of the overall story told from a the audience’s perspective - understanding their journey enable us to understand our audience's relationship with an organization, service, product or brand, over time and across channels. 

Informed and inspired by user research, no two journey maps are alike. Regardless of the format they take, journey maps allow organizations to consider interactions from their customers’ points of view, instead of taking an inside-out approach. It's a tool that can help organizations evolve from emphasizing a transactional approach to using a messaging approach that focuses on long term relationships with customers built on respect, consistency and trust.

You are not in control of when that experience actually happens, with regards to your content. You might want your audience to experience a piece of content at the beginning of their journey experience with your service. However, the chances are, many will engage with that content for the first time at the middle or towards the end of their journey.

So our content has to be flexible enough to re-enforce an experience in a positive way regardless of where in their journey a person discovers it - and engages with it. need to have a solid understanding not only of your audience's experience journey for your brand, you need to know each and every step of that entire journey; all of the touchpoints that prompts your audience's buying decision for your brand. And the role all of your media channels play in supporting this journey.

And ensuring your audience gets the experience and/or information they need form that content regardless of the point of contact in the course  of their journey (e.g. the beginning, the middle or towards the end).

Now, let's work towards answering many of the questions that you're no doubt asking about the customer journey concept.

A closer look at customer journeys.

The video below highlights the key benefits of this approach:

  • Substantially enhanced visibility for insights and Customer Experience thinking
  • An evolving framework which is added to as your understanding of your audience members (and their experience of your business, organization or service) develops
  • A succinct, customer-level summary of your customer contact strengths - and areas you need to improve within your customer experience process.

It's An Approach That  Forces You To Be Customer-Focused

Engaging an audience through content isn't simply a series of interactions, or getting people to visit a website, or "Like" something on FaceBook, or downloading a mobile app, a PDF or subscribing to a newlsetter. 

Genuine content engagement centers on relevance and compatibility. Engagement also incorporates identifying how and where individuals and organizations can exist harmoniously together on various channels. Giving thought to how your organization/product/service/brand fits into your audience members' lives is crucial.

Illustrating or describing how the customer experience could be brought to life across channels allows all stakeholders from all areas of the business to better understand the essence of the whole experience from an audience's perspective. How do your potential and existing customers want to be spoken to? What are they thinking, feeling, seeing, hearing, and doing? Journey maps help us explore answers to the "what ifs" that arise during your research phase.

A customer journey map is a framework, a process, that enables you to improve your audience's experience with your business, service or organization. It documents the customer experience through their perspective, helping you best understand how members of your audience are interacting with you right now - and helps you identify areas for improvement moving forward.

Great customer journey maps are rooted in data-driven research, and visually represent the different phases your customers experience based on a variety of dimensions such as sentiment, goals, touch points, and more.

At this point, you should be making a mental link with Empathy Maps. Empathy Maps are inextricably linked. Remember, Empathy Mapping helps us consider how other people are thinking and feeling. It's a process that makes us consider how people see and perceive our business, service or organization (e.g. brand). However, in this context, we're taking things to a deeper level. Empathy Mapping also helps us consider how people perceive each and every contact point - or touchpoint - with our business, service or organization: receiving an email, landing on a page on our website, seeing a tweet, watching a video, signing up for a newsletter, subscribing to a blog, taking out a membership, buying a product, accessing a service, etc.

Moving Beyond the Marketing/Sales Funnel

image of the marketing slaes funnel

We've covered the marketing/sales funnel concept previously.It is an important concept to remember and use.

Marketing funnels are linear by nature. By this, we mean a sales funnel depicts a customer entering the funnel at the top and then progressing his or her way down the funnel in a prescribed " Point A leads to Point B leads to Point C" fashion until they answer a call to action.

Take going to university as an example. You think about the kind of degree you want to obtain. You do some research about the best and/or most respected courses. You visit the websites of the most respected universities offering said degree. You request a Prospectus, which you wait for and read in due course. You look at your finances (or your parents look at their finances) and you decide if you can afford it - and then how you're going to pay for it.  You make your short list and you apply. You're (hopefully) made an offer of acceptance. You chose the university that you really, really want to go to. And then you pay. It's a very linear process. And because it's linear, it's an experience that's easily replicated throughout the Higher Education sector.

Opening a bank account, getting home or life insurance - marketing funnels are typically applied to these industries because they too offer a linear sales process.

The Internet has changed the funnel. Or rather, more specifically, social media has changed the funnel.

What's changed? Social media and content disrupts the traditional marketing funnel. Social media and content can, for instance, take a customer straight to the middle of the funnel instead of the the top of the funnel. They can also take a customer straight to a call to action - by-passing all other parts of the funnel.

This is where journey mapping comes in.

The image below shows how understanding the customer journey in an online age has changed the traditional marketing funnel.

image depicing the traditional marketing funnel in an internet age

Customer journey mapping is non-linear. It offers a 360-degree view of customer interaction through all of the ways they can experience a business, service or organization before answering a call to action.

How Do We Use Customer Journey Maps?

Instead of a traditional marketing funnel, many customer journey maps are not, in fact, linear. A customer can jump from one phase to another based on a number of factors. They will interact with some touch-points and miss others entirely. A marketer’s job is to understand the different moments of impact a customer could have when engaging with your brand and products, and then set those customers up to succeed through education, communication, and discovery.

Customer Journey Maps have a few 'must have' components:

  • Personas: the main characters that illustrate the needs, goals, thoughts, feelings, opinions, expectations, and pain points of the user;
  • Timeline: a finite amount of time (e.g. 1 week or 1 year) or variable phases (e.g. awareness, decision-making, purchase, renewal);
  • Emotion: peaks and valleys illustrating frustration, anxiety, happiness etc.;
  • Touchpoints: customer actions and interactions with the organization. This is the WHAT the customer is doing; and
  • Channels: where interaction takes place and the context of use (e.g. website, app, call center, social networking site, event, in-store). This is the WHERE they are interacting.

And a few Nice-to-have components:

  • Moments of truth: A positive interaction that leaves a lasting impression, often planned for a touchpoint known to generate anxiety or frustration; and
  • Supporting characters: peripheral individuals (colleagues, third party service providers, etc) who may contribute to the customer experience.

This new approach to customer research helps marketing practitioners better see the world through an audience's eyes, which helps us serve them better. The ethos, the central mantra for this entire course, is that the customer-centric approach to business is at the heart of reciprocal loyalty with an audience.

So what's the link with content marketing? Why are spending this time developing your understanding and knowledge of the customer journey? Well, content isn't just 'stuff' that we throw out on the internet. Branded content doesn't (or rather shouldn't) exist in splendid isolation. Each and every piece of content that we publish is a touchpoint with our audience.

Process Recap

We're going to borrow some words and some guidance from the very talented Mad*Pow Director, Megan Grocki - and some process insights she shared with UX Mastery:

1. Review Your Business Strategy and your Business Strategy-linked Goals

Consider your organizational business strategy for the product or service at large, and specific strategy-linked goals for your customer journey mapping initiative.

2. Gather Research

Review all relevant user research, which includes both qualitative and quantitative findings to provide insights into the customer experience. If more research is needed, get those research activities in the books. Never maker assumptions or educated guesses when it comes to your audience. You must know. Some popular research methods include customer interviews, customer surveys, customer support/complaint logs, customer/client testimonials,  web analytics, social media listening, and competitive intelligence.

3. Touchpoint and Channel brainstorms

Generate a list of your customer touchpoints - and the channels on which those touchpoints occur. Then brainstorm additional touchpoints and/or channels that can be incorporated in the future journeys you will be mapping. And then think about the content you have - or could produce - for each of those touchpoints...and understand how this content will deliver your value proposition AND your USPs.

4. Empathy map

Empathy maps are a depiction of the various facets of a persona and that persona's experiences in any given given scenario. This exercise helps organize observations, build a deeper understanding of customers’ experiences, and draw out surprising insights into what customers need. Empathy maps also provide a foundation of material to fuel journey mapping. The goal is to get a well-rounded sense of how it feels to be that persona in this experience, specifically focusing on what they’re thinking, feeling, seeing, hearing, saying and doing.

5. Brainstorm with lenses

The goal of focused brainstorming is to generate as many ideas as possible in a short period of time. To gain a well-rounded focus, use different "lenses" to look at all of the angles of your business, service or  organization. These lenses are words that represent key concepts, brand attributes or mindsets that help you look at a problem, a proposed change or scenario in a different way.

For this exercise, best practice suggests you (or a team) use  3-5 lens words (for example: accessible, social, comforting), then set the clock for 2 minutes per lens word. Writes down as many ideas as you can think of in that time. After 2 minutes switch to the next lens word until all lens words have been used as idea inspiration. If you're working in a team, this will also  ensure that every voice on the team is heard and generates a sizable and diverse inventory of ideas.

6. Affinity diagram

This is a method to visually organize ideas and find cohesion in the brainstorming session's concepts. Affinity diagramming helps us shift from casting a wide net in exploring many possibilities, to gaining focus on the right solutions for this audience. Put the ideas that have been generated in the lensed brainstorming activity on the wall. Then sort the ideas into categories and label them. You can then begin to consider where you might combine, refine, and remove ideas to form a cohesive vision of the future customer experience.

7. Sketch the journey

This is the part you’ve been waiting for! It’s now time to put together all the pieces: timeline, touchpoints, channels, emotional highs and lows, the proposed content and all the wonderful new ideas that has been generated for how to improve the future customer journey. Get creative with how you lay it out—it doesn’t have to be a standard left to right timeline. It could be circular or helical. It could be one large map or it could be an interactive, clickable piece with embedded video. There are no templates, and there are infinite possibilities.

8. Refine and digitize

Journeys don’t always become a sophisticated deliverable—sometimes they begin and end as sticky notes on a wall or sketches on a whiteboard. But most of the time, when you go through the activities to arrive at a solid customer journey map, you want to polish it, make the most of it in your work (and share it with colleagues across the organization if this is part of a team or client exercise).

Making The Link Between The Customer Journey and Content Marketing

The following article makes the case that a content marketing strategy is essential to success if you want to approach content marketing the correct way. Such a strategy is typically built around the buyer journey or customer journey during which buyers consult several content sources to make decisions. It covers how there are different ways to express and map that famous journey in content marketing and beyond - an integrated buyer’s journey that has clearly changed and keeps changing:

Content marketing strategy content formats the funnel and the buying journey image

Please read: Content marketing strategy: content formats in the changing buyer journey, i-scoop.

Building on this, the article below covers how your brand can continuously optimize content and social media participation to attract, engage, and inspire your customers.

social content and engagement  image

  1. Odden, L. 2012. Optimizing Social Media Across the Customer Lifecycle, ClickZ.
  2. Thomas, John. 2012. How to Guide Your Customer’s Journey Through 6 Points of Content, Content Marketing Institute.

Creating A Customer Journey Map

Using Customer Journey Mapping for Creating the Perfect Commerce Experience

So let's take a look at how insights gained from creating a customer journey map can be applied to a cross-channel marketing context.

In the video below, Jamie Anderson, Vice President of Marketing with hybris software discusses the growing relationship between customer experience, loyalty and how they can translate into repeat sales.

The White Paper that accompanies this video can be accessed via:
(note: sign up is required)

The article below further develops the points made in Jamie Anderson's video:

Farnworth, D. How to Use Customer Experience Maps to Develop a Winning Content Marketing Strategy, copyblogger.


The reading below further develops the initial customer journey concepts we've explored above. The reading will also prepare you for the deeper concepts that follow below.

  1. Grocki, M. 2014. How to create a Customer Journey Map, UX Mastery.

  2. ISITE Design. 2014. Customer Journey Mapping.

What Does A Great Customer Journey Experience Look Like?

The video below highlights best practices and principles about engaging with customers using multiple channels -- online, mobile, social media and in-store. It also covers how maximizing customer experience is an effective marketing and sales aid.

What Does  A Broken Customer Journey Look Like?

The video below demonstrates a customer's experience that was fraught with difficulties across a number of touchpoints and channels. These difficulties resulted in a poor customer experience. This journey provided bad usability, a real lack of consistency and no coordinated communication.

Capturing Customer Journey Data

Right. Research has been stressed quite a bit in this section of the study unit. In the video below, Google Analytics Advocate Daniel Waisberg discusses the challenges of measuring the full customer journey. He discusses the kind of information that we can capture through using the free online analytics platform, Google Analytics. It is this critical data that informs a Customer Journey Map.Not only does it provide insights into touchpoints you haven't considered.

Watch the video with this in mind:

  1. Know that the data you need to understand your audience's customer journey is available; and
  2. Think about the different information sets you might need (for instance, how many of your customers use mobiles? or use tablets? Do they start on their mobile and then go to their laptop? How many accessed information or content social media sites before moving (and closing) on a website?, etc)

Please don't panic. All of what is discussed in technical detail, will be covered in SMU's Analytics unit.For now, we want you to reflect on the kind of information that would be useful to you in developing your own customer journey map.

Customer Journey Map Lecture

Please watch the video below, which brings together all of the concepts we've developed within this section of the study unit. The lecture is in the form of a seminar (lab) webinar - or Labinar, in other words. The central theme of the Labinar was how to create the perfect user journey when re-designing or improving a specific part of your product, service or sales practice from the customer's point of view.

It covers:

  • What user journeys are and how they benefit you when re-designing / optimising your product, business or organization
  • A practical step-by-step guide on how to design a complete user journey diagram
  • How to implement user journeys into your project management process (design, development and marketing processes).
  • How to avoid common project delays with a user journey
  • How to measure the success of improved user journeys

Customer Journey Template

You can create your own Customer Journey Map using a canvas. The online canvas creator we're suggesting works much in the same way as the Brand Model Canvas and Value Proposition Canvas creators used in SMU101 Branding.

Free online Customer Journey Canvas creator:

Here's an example canvas (click on the image to see the larger image):

customer journey canvas example

Customer Journey Mapping Resources

The website Quora has some excellent tools, resources and case studies for your review:

Understanding the customer journey is a critical aspect of content marketing. It goes to the heart of understanding why content isn't just 'stuff' - much less stuff that you just stick on the internet. We can create content for each and every one of our individual touchpoints. We can also create content for each and every stage of a prospect's discovery of our product, service, organization or brand - across any number of channels.

For example, we can use content to initiate a conversation on Twitter, encourage a prospective audience member to follow us to YouTube, where he or she can find out more and/or receive deeper understanding and then send them off to Facebookwhere they can see the great things others have had to say about our brand...and then off to a website where the same person can make a purchase - or make a purchase in-store or over the phone.

With that in mind, let's take a look at the process of brand messaging over multiple channels...

Read More

Digital content periodic table image

To download this full PDF infographic from Search Engine Land (above):

What is short form content (also known as micro content)? Its very name describes it. It’s 'snackable' content. In other words, it’s bits of text that can be quickly read (under a minute), very short video (anything from 6 seconds to 30 seconds), very short audio (30 seconds and under) or an image (including infographics).

We’ve covered the confined space in great depth. This space doesn’t get any more confined that it is within the realm of short form content.

Before we get into the how and why of using short form, let’s remember a few things.

We’ve covered how to consider strategically place content at each and every audience touchpoint.  You should also be thinking, in overall terms, about some of the social media channels you might use to deliver this content at those touchpoints.

Every brand message we publish, and every piece of content that we produce and publish, has a purpose. They:

  • Deliver a business, organization or service’s Value Proposition
  • Deliver a business, organization or service’s USP
  • Answer questions
  • Solve problems
  • Educate / raise awareness
  • Carry a brand persona
  • Act in harmony with your audience member’s personas
  • Convey emotion

The above is equally true for short form content and long form content.

In our exploration of short form content in particular, we will gain an understanding of how short form naturally and organically lends itself to specific brand messaging opportunities.

Short form can entertain and pique interest.

More importantly, it can start a conversation.

A snapshot of short form content

image illustrating short form content from

There is much talk in the marketing world about how short form content is the new king. Some cite the waning attention spans of audiences. Other marketing professionals say content needs to be shorter and quickly consumed because audiences have become accustomed to flash marketing and shorter messages. Which came first – the chicken or the egg?

We’d encourage you to believe that there is no right or wrong with the above scenario. It’s the content marketing arena we current find ourselves within. It is what it is. The real question is how best to use the current content-consumption landscape; how to use it creatively, innovatively, strategically and with measurable results.

Short form doesn't have solely be about starting conversations. Standalone short content matched against a business strategy can be very effective in and of itself.  Think about the 30 second television and radio adverts that deliver a strong value proposition and USP. Think about a brand image that got your attention or made you think. These are examples of effective short form brand content.

Our short form content discussion is going to focus on two specific ways to use this content format. The first approach is using short form to start online conversations with an audience (or think of it as an introduction to a conversation.). The second approach is using the format as a self contained short conversation in its own right (e.g. stand alone content).

There is quite a bit to cover on the topic of short form content. With this in mind, we've broken this rather large subject into four specific areas, which you will see below. Study each in turn before moving on to the Long Form section of this study unit.

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As you've no doubt though by this part of the study unit, content is a very small word for a very big thing. There are numerous forms of content - each with its own purpose. Hence the need to have a strategy in place. There are many forms of content – visual assets, tools, quizzes, webinars, videos, guides and the list goes on.

So What Is Long Form Content?

Long form content is, well, it's exactly what it sounds like - it's long. It demands a time and/or thought commitment from an audience. It's not fast food or appetizer content like short form. Long form is more like a three or four course meal.

Types of long form content include:

  • E-books
  • Whitepapers
  • Guides & Resources
  • Blog posts & articles more than 2,500 words long
  • Videos/Webinars/Podcasts longer than 10 minutes
  • Games
  • + more

Our hard and fast rule about what constitutes long form content is this: any content that requires more than 10 minutes of engagement / interaction from an audience.

Creating resources that are genuinely useful is key. Understand who your audience is and who you want it to be in order to target your content to them. Create useful, insightful guides bit by bit. There is no need to instantly write 10 white papers in one go. Or produce a series of 10+ minute videos. Start slowly, monitor the results through analytics and reading comments, and build up your collection organically.

Distribute this information through the relevant and appropriate channels. You want to build a collection of specialist information that people will come to time and time again. 

What Is The ROI For Long Form Content?

What you get out of your content depends on what you have planned to do with it. This is why we're developing your understanding of the concepts and issues involved in content.You need a strategy as well as an understanding of your audience.

Let's use an example. Below is a short list of audience tribes that a new university Business degree course could create content for:

  • Prospective secondary education graduates looking to enroll in full or part time education who are interested in a career in Business or Management
  • Professionals seeking to improve their skills or industry knowledge to advance in their career
  • Professionals looking to change career
  • Industry thought leaders and luminaries to endorse the course
  • Local businesses looking to improve their competitive advantage

Here is a starting point – five different personas, each for a distinctly different audience tribe.  Content created for these different types of people will be very different. While there will be some over lap, you cannot kill all birds with one stone. So know what content is meant to appeal to which persona - and why.

If you create informative, useful content that targets the right audience then you will not only be building up the content on your site (where your call to action will be) but also attracting your ideal customerss.

Content as Storytelling

Remember that people generally learn more and remember more when more of their senses are engaged by a story. Stories that include images get about twice the engagement as text-only stories. Stories told with visual elements are instantly captivating. The more senses that are engaged, the more emotions will be engaged and the more memorable the experience will be.

The slideshow below covers this concept and builds upon what we've covered about long form so far:

Good reasons to include long form content

Good reasons for including long form content into your content marketing mix include:

  •     catering for readers who want more depth
  •     establishing leadership and expertise
  •     improving the discovery of your business, service or organisation in online search engine results
  •     giving topics the amount of detail they actually need to be useful to your audience

Chances are that if you have a strong idea and an interesting, engaging story to tell, people will be more than willing to sit, watch and listen to what you have to say for longer periods of time. But use this approach sparingly. In many instances, a two to three minute video will be exactly what you need. Audiences don’t want to spend ages watching a homepage video or reading a lengthy case study unless it is truly exceptional.

However, if you’re looking to educate, perhaps to provide a context for your idea, or explore a complex issue, then don’t treat your audience like they have the attention span of a goldfish. Long form video, text, infographic, podcast or other form of time demanding content could be your best bet.

Why Some Long Form Content Fails

(from De Pelsmaeker, Why Long-Form Will be a Major Content Marketing Tactic in 2014 and Onward, Content Design)

1. It has a 'Print' Based Mentality 

More often than not long form content is print based. That’s a big mistake and a poor content marketing tactic. We already know how the market is changing, so why remain wedded to technology that won’t work for most of your readers? Even when content is available in digital form, some marketers replicate their print products exactly, using PDFs or flipbooks. Those don’t work for everyone, and especially don’t work for the huge number of mobile device users. Replicating the print product is the worst of both worlds, because you can end up with long form content that users can’t navigate or view easily.

2. It’s Not Mobile

Let’s talk more about mobile device users. You might think that because they’re using mobile devices they don’t want to read long form content. That’s simply not true. Phone screens might be a bit small, but users with phablets and tablets love the reading experience and are happy to read more in-depth content on those devices. Take your cue from Google, who keep enhancing their Knowledge Graph with in-depth content aimed at mobile device users.

Mobile device users take it for granted that content will be accessible wherever they are, and if you’re not providing it, they will look elsewhere. Accessibility is not just about being available, but about being usable. That’s where some long form content falls short. Marketers need to make sure readers can use taps, swipes and gestures to access content. They need to make it easy for readers to resize and rotate content. In other words, content marketers need to ensure that their content works well no matter where people are reading it.

3. It's Not Engaging

Engagement – it's a buzzword, but it's still important. Ideally, you want readers to connect with your brand via your long form content. To do that, use the capabilities of your device and:

  • include tappable links that take readers straight to the resources you want to highlight
  • add platform-specific calls to action (for example, for downloading your app) embed social sharing tools into the publishing platform

You can also engage readers by creating a schedule (or making an appointment) so they expect regular publications from you. That’s part of the process of leading readers through the conversion process so they take the desired action.

We will cover these points - as well as overall content storytelling - throughout the remainder of this study unit,

Interim Reading

Below are two short articles which delve into the different applications of short and long form content.

While reading the article below, remember the central point that this study session has conveyed throughout: the question about whether short or long form content isn't which one is inherently 'better'. There is no 'better' when it comes to these two content forms. Understand the relationship between them. Think about how short and long form content can work together organically and harmoniously when delivering a brand message online. Each form has a role to play.

Some Critical and Conceptual Thinking

There are so many forms of content here that you need to decide what will work best for you and your business, organisation or service. If there is no need or demand for entertaining content from the audience you wish to target - then don’t make any. Educate or Convince instead.

Here is a great visualisation of the types of some of the types of content out there and where they sit in terms of conversion, appeal and purpose:

The content matrix from Smart Insights

Click the image above for a larger version of the inforgraphic. Or click

The image above was created to illustrate the alignment of different content types. The image aims to match an audience's emotional and rational responses (remember the CBBE Model Cold & Warm Paths!) with its awareness and purchase.

What we want you to take away from this image is how different pieces of content can be used for different purposes - like to entertain, educate, inspire and convince.

Spend some time looking at the four quadrants and the types of content that sits within each. Think about why that might be. When you've spent some time exploring these ideas, think about what it would mean to move a price of content to another quadrant. For example:

  • video content can convince an audience member to respond positively to a call to action. How would this video differ from a video that is in the Entertain quadrant? Or the Inspire Quadrant?
  • could a short form video that entertains link to a long form video that convinces or inspires?
  • how could an image that inspires or entertains link to an long form infographic, blog post or web page that convinces or educates?

Exploring the Link Between Short & Long Form Content & Social Media Channels

To delve a little further into the topic... [Many organizations are embracing storytelling techniques to better connect with their audiences and drive them to action. They’re implementing long-form content as a platform for storytelling making use of its rich imagery, interactive elements, and better sharing capabilities.

social media infographic from


Content Marketing & The CBBE Model Paths

We're not going to re-cover old ground with regards to the CBBE Model and it's cold and warm pathways. If you need to refresh your memory about CBBE, you can re-visit this cincept in The SMU 101 Branding Unit, Session 4: An Intro to Brand Strategy:

We explored a similar aspect in the SMU102 Digital Copywriting study unit when we covered how to write emotional and rational headlines.

Applying what we explored around the CBBE Model is important when it comes to understanding the emotional and rational audience responses to content. We're going to explore these two kinds of responses in relation to content in the image that follows below.

When you start to realize that people use both emotion and logic in making buying decisions, you can start creating much more powerful content marketing materials that really serve your buyers.

Using Emotion and Logic in the Buying Cycle image from MarketingProfs

The following article provides a deep analysis for each dimension in the image above:

Now that we have explored short and long form content, how these forms can delivering brand messages and engage audiences, and you have critically thought about the appropriate channels for content - it's time to apply this knowledge.

The template that has been provided for this study session has been created for you to identify where and how you can use short and long form copy at every touch point an audience member has in your buyers journey map.

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Preparatory Template Exercise

Reade the summary excerpt below. This is an excellent and thorough insight and content checklist for you to use. The insight and self-knowledge you gain from actively engaging with this exercise is the perfect preparation for the template exercise for this session.

Pulizzi, J. 2014. Excerpts from the book Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less.

Template Activity

If you'd like to use the template discussed in the video above, please visit

Create a customer journey map with existing or proposed content mapped to each touchpoint.Complete one map for at least two different personas you have developed. Ideally, you would complete one map for each persona that you have developed. For now, to get you started, a minimum of two maps- one each for two different personas - will suffice.

What kind of information should you include?

  • Where is your customer in the course of his/her journey with your business, service or organization (discovery, investigation, preparation, etc (think of this as the beginning, middle and end of their journey)?
  • What are the painpoints your customer has at each and every touchpoint?
  • What questions will they have at each touchpoint - and what answers will they need? Remembering your Sugarman, you should also note how your content can provide answers and overcome perception barriers in order to have a prospective customer answer your call to action.
  • What are the perception barriers at each touchpoint - and how can you overcome these with your content?
  • How does the content at each touchpoint map back to your business strategy?
  • How does the content deliver your USP?
  • How does the content deliver a clearly understood value proposition?
  • If you're using short form content, does it link to long form or is it standalone - and why?
  • What keywords and meta tags will you use for each piece of content at every stage of the customer journey?
  • Initial thoughts about which social media solutions you might use at each touchpoint

Use whatever approach is easiest for you to accomplish this assignment. You could use a sheet of  paper to map out your touch points and then apply types of content with notes about how and why this content is appropriate and relevant for a specific touchpoint. You can also add the personas you have created.



An excellent and easy-to-use online Customer Journey Map:

This is an excellent tool to use for in-depth analysis of specific dimensions (e.g. looking at Beginning, Middle and End individually).


Or you use the Schmula template as shown in the video above:

Customer Journey Map examples

Starbucks Customer Journey Map

A service organisation customer journey map:

Customer service customer journey map

Customer journey map with emotion

customer journey map with emotion


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The Reading Room for this session provides carefully selected resources for you to further explore content marketing concepts, elements, issues and practice.

Bly, B. 2013. The Business-to-Business Marketing Handbook, Center for Technical
Communication. Chapter 16, pp. 78 - 82.

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