With the sheer volume of content being published online every minute, the competition for capturing attention has never been more fierce. But capturing attention is a mere first step. When someone has given you the precious gift of their time — what next? Without providing a clear and meaningful call to action in that moment, you could be throwing away the opportunity and rendering your content marketing pointless.
Any company employing a content marketing strategy has equity in the content. However, in order to reap any value from that equity, the content must spark a conversion (for more on this concept, check out Episode 66 of The Marketing Companion podcast). Marketers often fall into two traps:
- They fail to offer any call to action, and lead the audience to a dead end, OR:
- They offer too many options, leaving the audience overwhelmed, and best (or worst) frustrated and considering a competitor.
Content – even the best most entertaining, useful content – for just the sake of content will not improve your bottom line. A content marketing strategy must have clear answers to questions: Who are we trying to reach and what do we want them to do in that moment that we’ve captured their attention?
If you have those answers, you’re on the right track. If not, it’s time to reassemble your team and do some homework.
With answers to those questions, you’ll have an understanding of your intended audience, their position in the buying cycle and what options for actions you’d like them to take. From there, you can start to work backward to first, create content that meets these objectives and then develop specific calls to action for each piece that will guide this behavior.
Specific and measurable calls to action can include:
While a share doesn’t equal a sale, there’s value in getting the right people to ignite your content (a concept widely discussed by Mark Schaefer) and move it into the feeds of more of the people you’d like to reach. If a share is your desired outcome, consider ways to make that clear with your tertiary audience, (prominent social sharing buttons, or an overt ask) and then, don’t neglect to provide a purposeful call to action for their audience.
As you’re developing your content strategy, consider the interconnectedness of all of your content on the web — both owned and earned — and chart the paths you’d like people to take to stay connected with you, or discover more about your products or services. What is the next step on the action train? Maybe it’s a click to a product demo followed by an offer for a download and lastly, a contact form. Create the paths for each of your desired audiences at every stage of awareness and allow your content to be the breadcrumbs that lead them along.
Accept a Challenge
Consider an action you can ask of your audience that is something they can do for themselves that will keep your brand, product, or service top of mind. This approach can work well for a post-purchase audience — are there product challenges you can offer? Ways to enhance their experience? An opportunity for them to share?
When you know what you want your audience to do, asking them to do it becomes a clear and measurable task. What would you add to this list?