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How to Make Your Content Actionable

Content is not a magical formula that will make your target audience find your product and then breathlessly buy from you.

The power of actionable content comes from your ability to attract the right audience, enabling them to interact with you and then to elevate that relationship to the next level i.e. for them to become a customer.

So, how do you make your content actionable? Most importantly, you must give the reader, viewer or listener a sense of how they can – and should – apply that information to their own problems and experiences.

actionablecontentTo begin your journey towards making your content more actionable you need to start by understanding what actionable content isn’t. It’s not condescending, it’s not obvious and it’s not something your reader can easily Google and find somewhere else. Actionable content gives your reader assurance that they best know how to use the information you’re giving them.

Content, of course comes in many styles, shapes and sizes but the most important thing to remember is that it has to be useful. Check out this great example for marketers, helping them build a comprehensive strategy, step by step.

At its core, actionable content has a few key steps that give you the best possible chance of succeeding every time.

Get your story straight — create and keep a good narrative.
Good writing is essential to all content, of course. The trick to making your content actionable is taking your good writing a step further and framing a narrative for your readers.

The proof is in the science. Researchers at Washington University in St Louis found that instead of just being able to produce facts presented to them, listeners of a story were living the narrative right alongside their protagonist.

This is a powerful tool for brands who want customers to understand how their product fits into their audience’s own narrative, not just communicate what they do.

You can differentiate yourself through your voice, relatability and the delivery of useful content.

The Humane Society of Silicon Valley had this dog adopted by telling a, yes humane and entertaining story about him—shaping a narrative instead of the traditional sad angle taken by most pet adoption societies:

Walking Ed

Here’s what some of their readers had to say:

“[I]f you’re looking for a floor-sleeping, speed bump of a dog that minds his own business, strike Eddie clean off your list.”

“Actually he’s kind of a jerk. But he’s a jerk we believe in. We’re not expecting you to want to meet him but if you must, we really can’t deter you.”

This organisation urged their readers to take action through their narrative, and accomplished their goal because of the way they framed their content.

Speak directly to your customers and prospects.
If you’re wondering how to make your audience act, look no further than those who already have. Tapping into the minds of your customers and prospects is the perfect place to start, as many of them have already taken the action you’re looking to obtain from others.

Lean on your customer service and sales teams and find out what experiences they’ve had with your current customers. What questions do they ask? What problems are they facing every day?

Directly addressing these concerns is a powerful step towards making your content actionable.

Barry Feldman of Feldman creative told Forbes how this has worked for him:

“A client asked me to give her and her staff an SEO 101 in 15 minutes. I responded with a post that did exactly that and it caught fire and became one of the biggest drivers of traffic to my site ever.” — Barry Feldman, Founder, Feldman Creative

Getting to the right pain points and questions is just the first step. To make your content actionable, you must know how to ask them what you should do next. And then do it.

Get your audience to connect with you in person, not just through an email newsletter.
The most common call to action that marketers use in their content is a mechanism to get the reader to fork over their email address. They ask prospects to sign up for an email newsletter, subscribe to a blog or possibly another content series.

If you’re looking to connect with your audience on another level, try getting them to meet you online at a specific time and place.

There, you’ll be able to interact with them directly, and create a platform that will better allow you to drive the conversation towards moving them down the funnel.

“Trish Witkowski the Chief Folding Officer at Foldrite invites website visitors to sign up for her 60 Second Super Cool Fold of the Week every Thursday afternoon. She’s set an expectation for her audience and delivered on it every single week for years. And it works.” — Andrew Davis, author of Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships told Forbes.

Think about promotion first.
The last step should be your first. Before you even begin writing, designing or recording, you need to think about how you’re going to get this piece of content in front of your audience.

The #1 downfall of brands when trying content marketing is producing excessively promotional content. Boring. No one (and I mean no one) wants to promote your product unless you make it relevant to them.

Start by researching different publications that your customers frequent—find out who the industry experts are and build relationships with them. Shape content that they might want to share.

Another tactic is leveraging social media listening for topic distribution. Spend a day or two on different social media groups, hashtags and topics to find where your content might fit best, or find the most traction.

The goal is to create a long-term relationship between the content creator and content consumers.
To transform your content from bland to actionable include strong narratives, direct customer/prospect feedback, in-person call to actions and a rigid distribution strategy.
Images:

  1. bannersnack blog
  2. Humane Society Silicon Valley

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