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Tips for making actionable content

If you’ve been told content marketing is the answer to all your online promotion needs but you’re just not seeing the results you want, you might have a problem with actionability.

Actionable content, at its core, is about not just creating more content, or even content that is more interesting or more viral, but content that is more effective. It’s content that elicits the right response from your customers – it gives them something they need and gets you something you need.

Which all sounds great until it comes down to creating that actionable content. Businesses don’t set out to create useless content because they have nothing better to do. To a certain extent, you can’t know how well a piece of content will connect with your audience until it has been launched and you can collect analytics on its performance. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t improve your odds of creating actionable content. Here are some of the common factors you can focus on to improve your outcomes.

Know your customers. It’s the starting point for all good marketing and it’s too often overlooked. Make a detailed profile of your customers. Who are they? What do they care about? Where do they spend their time?

If you’ve been operating for some time, you can and should use actual data for this. Who actually spends money on your goods and services? Get better at pleasing them.

If you’re new or in a prelaunch phase, you’ll have to use more creative licence until you have a customer base to examine, but it’s still important to have a very clear idea of who you’re targeting with content and marketing efforts (and product/service development). Successful, actionable content starts with knowing who you’re crafting that content for, and what they’re going to get out of it.

Actionable content meets your customers’ (or prospective customers’) needs and your business needs. Another way of saying this is that it provides value to your customers. There are a number of ways of doing this. Content can inform, entertain, evoke an emotional response, solve a functional problem or create intimacy.

Meeting the customer’s needs can offer benefits to you. It not only increases your visibility and makes you more memorable, it also improves their perception of you. You have offered them something positive and of value: therefore, in transactional terms, they have an emotional debt to you and may feel they should owe you further attention. In more positive terms, they feel good about you and are more interested in giving you their attention again in the future. You’re subtly training them to seek you out.

Your business needs may be to raise your profile and make more prospective customers aware of your existence, to learn about customer response to a new or planned product, to sign customers up to a direct marketing mailing list or to solicit new leads for your product or service offering. Content can meet customer needs while meeting yours at the same time, if it moves the customer toward taking an action that benefits you. That action might be clicking a link, joining a list, subscribing to a channel or even making a purchase.

Within the parameters of providing value to your customer while achieving your own goals, there are still many variables. The location, format and presentation matter. In general,video content performs better than other types of content, especially on social media. Get better results by being clear (not coy or misleading) about why people should watch the video (what it does for them), and getting into valuable content right away. Keep it short and fast-paced so people don’t get bored. Don’t waste time with clever openers or detailed credits, as with a film.

Another great way of getting content that is more actionable is to check your records for top performing content and repurpose it into different formats. Take a white paper or long blog, pull out the key points and use them to create a shorter blog, social media post or video. Shorter pieces of content can become teasers and lead viewers into taking action to get more benefit, as well as reach a wider audience. Use explainer video software to adapt product or services descriptions into engaging multimedia formats or to create useful and shareable how-to guides.

Making your site content and all marketing content more actionable is the best way to get a better return on marketing efforts. Take the time to describe your customers in detail and be intentional about every piece of content meeting a customer’s or prospective customer’s needs, as well as your own requirements. Repurpose older, effective content into new formats to extend its value and don’t forget the power of video in reaching a wider audience and providing more value.

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