Let’s face it: content generation is challenging.

We’ve all been there. No matter how experienced we are in content making and marketing, the moment comes when we stumble, “What should I write???”

A pre-compiled content plan solves the problem, but you still need writing ideas to compile it.

Let’s imagine you’re a brand selling donuts. (M-m-m, yummy!) What content would you generate to promote it? You write about donuts. Then, you write about how to cook them. The history of donuts comes next. Donut types, recipes, jokes about donuts… The day comes when content ideas go away, but donuts stay. And you need to write about them again!

A content matrix can help.

Nope, you won’t have to follow a rabbit and choose a pill to reveal some hidden knowledge or find answers. By the time you finish reading this article, you will have an alternative instrument for content ideas generation, fast and easy to implement for any niche.

What Is a Content Matrix?

A content matrix is a table or a chart where you capture specific categories related to your niche and then fill the cells with keyword phrases and ideas for topics.

Content matrixes can be different: complex multidimensional tables or simple charts. Some projects don’t need them at all.

Below are two cases when your content marketing campaign needs a matrix:

  1. When you’re out of writing ideas and want to fix a broken creative process, the matrix can help you craft a comprehensive content plan.
  2. When you work on a new project in a new niche, the matrix can help you understand the context better and decide on areas to focus on.

How to Create a Content Matrix

No matter how complex you want a content matrix to be, it will have rows and columns. A column is responsible for a category: it’s the content focus; rows are responsible for relevant keywords and phrases. The line intersection will give you ideas for one or more topics.

Say you need content ideas for a cabinet manufacturer. You can use a matrix’s rows to specify product categories (bookcase, wardrobe, etc.), and columns go for the directions you can cover when writing about each category (features, purpose, target audience, and so on).

Or, you can craft a column-only matrix:

Each column will be about a particular characteristic, and you’ll be able to come up with stories by combining keywords from columns with each other.

content-matrix

Above is a content matrix example for a beauty blog. Here a writer can combine one or more columns, obtaining multiple topics. Let’s take peptides (Ingredient) and anti-aging (Effect):

This phrase can turn into several writing ideas: “How anti-aging peptides work,” “What age is OK to start using anti-aging peptides,” and others. When these topics are over, you can add keywords from other columns, such as the “Product” column. The new phrase “anti-aging peptide cream” provides several topics at once: “How to choose a cream with anti-aging peptides,” “Top X creams with anti-aging peptides to try,” etc.

It’s critical to remember that the intersection of a few categories in the matrix doesn’t provide a final title for your future content asset. The given key phrase is the direction for you to think further. For example, you can expand or narrow the topic, compare and contrast two products, and so on.

Besides, it’s essential to ensure the topic isn’t wishy-washy balderdash but valuable for your target audience.

Do keyword research, “spy” on competitors’ blogs, and check forums and social networks where your target audience communicates. Also, please pay attention to the questions they ask and the content they want to see from brands like yours.

Thus, the topic a la “How to use a cream with peptides” is artificial: we just put it on a face. And “The types of anti-aging peptides and how to choose them” is a relevant and worthy topic to cover.

What to Include in Your Content Matrix

The content of your matrix’s rows and columns will depend on the niche of your project and how far you want to go with your covered topics. The most common categories to include in columns are:

Business Directions, Product/Service Categories

Make a list of everything your brand does. There’s no need to use all categories for the matrix, but you can focus on the most profitable, demanded, or those raising the most questions from clients.

Say you’re an internet marketing agency. You can write all the areas of work in rows: SMM, contextual advertising, email marketing, content marketing, etc. If you’re a bicycle store, the columns of your content matrix could be the type of bicycle you sell: sports bikes, road bikes, mountain bikes, or children’s bikes.

Product/Service Characteristics

Product characteristics may include material, colors, quality, specifications, features, or manufacturers. When writing about service characteristics, it can be price, delivery types, delivery time, and others.

Target Audience

Who is a buyer persona for your product or service? Specify their age, place of residence, social or demographic characteristics, and buying behavior.

This category is worth adding to a content matrix if you write for different segments and need original content for different audiences.

Product/Service Implementation

Mention where and how people use your product, consider the context (situation) when a user applies it, or add a column about the alternative ways of applying it.

Thus, we can use cosmetics on a beach, in a city, after some medical procedures, etc. For a coffee blog, it can be recipes for brewing or different variants of coffee consumption. Each niche will have its nuances.

Sales Funnel

Depending on a customer’s stage in the funnel (awareness, interest, desire, or action), you will use different content types and topics to engage them.

For example, you sell a competitor analysis service:

For those unfamiliar with the product, you’ll need topics about the analysis and its methods. Once interested, people look closely at the functions and compare services: Reviews, comparisons, and reviews will work here. Those who’ve purchased your product will be happy to read instructions or FAQs answers.

Customer Problems/Pain Points

Why not apply a customer-centric experience when it comes to content? Consider the most frequent questions from customers who have already bought or are choosing your product, add all customer pain points to the matrix, and remember about objections from potential customers.

You can ask your customer support agents to share real-life questions from customers. Use them as a basis, but do your best to develop the skill of anticipating possible objections to prevent them with valuable content in advance.

Content Goals

Why do you create the content? Do you want to educate the audience, get them interested, build their loyalty to your brand, or sell your product via a particular content asset?

In your matrix, you can add a category by content purpose or content type: engaging, educating, selling, etc.

Interesting Facts

It can be your brand story, the details about manufacturing your product, the behind-the-scene of your service — everything that can be interesting for users, increase their loyalty, and drive traffic to your resource.

Feel free to add the categories like news and trends here: They are relevant for projects that often change and try to keep up with the times.

Related Topics

Think outside the box and try to mention something close to your business, product, or service in your content matrix: It can help generate tons of alternative writing ideas. For example, a cabinet manufacturer can cover broader topics on their blog, such as interior design.  

When it comes to related content, it’s critical to keep a balance: Going too far from your core topics, you risk losing communication with the target audience and attracting those who’ll never make a purchase.

Content Formats

You can make different content on the same topic, which will extend its life and help increase its reach. Therefore, you can add various content formats to the matrix: articles, videos, podcasts, infographics, slideshows, etc.

If your blog has several article formats, it’s worth considering in the matrix: lists, tutorials, short reviews, long reads, guides — you name it!

And Last But Not Least:

You can’t create a content matrix once and then work with it all the time. Your project and the situation on the market change, other products or services appear, and you’ll see new directions for brand growth in the process.

So, it would help to refine the matrix regularly: expand it, add new categories, or remove unnecessary columns and rows with worked-out or obsolete areas.

Lesley Vos

Lesley Vos is a professional copywriter and guest contributor, currently blogging at Bid4Papers and a few digital marketing websites. Specializing in data research, web text writing, and content promotion, she is in love with words, non-fiction literature, and jazz.

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