Content marketers have only a few seconds to capture a reader’s attention. If they grab the audience with an enticing headline and tell a story that builds enthusiasm and provides delight, they will then get a chance to make a promise. It’s that promise that makes content actionable.

The promise is the answer to the target audience’s problems.

The organization needs to deliver on that promise. The content marketing message should create an image in the prospect’s mind of already being helped by the organization. It should give the reader or viewer the means to engage further by making comments, registering with the site, downloading other pieces of content, clicking links that lead to more information, or otherwise moving them farther down the path of solving a problem or overcoming a challenge.

This interaction is what distinguishes content marketing from marketing collateral, which is designed solely to sell. Content marketing, on the other hand, is designed to inform. Helping readers take action by providing relevant information is part of the Yesler REAL content philosophy, and an important standard to consider when creating content.

It poses the question: What is the next step?

Create Dynamic Calls to Action

Readers scan information looking for clues as to what to do. They want specific information or answers to questions. In building a brand, companies need to promote their goods with high-quality, content that features calls to action (CTAs). A CTA is a short explicit instruction that includes imperative verbs and offers specific options. A dynamic CTA triggers people to engage with an organization. Here are some examples of actionable CTAs:

  • Start a free trial.
  • Send me a free report.
  • Take a feature tour.
  • See how the solution reduces costs.
  • Get a marketing assessment.

The Content Marketing Institute defines three tiers of CTAs:

  • Tier 1: Solicit the sale. Showcase solutions that match the needs of targeted prospects.
  • Tier 2: Capture the lead. Capture information—such as an email address— about the prospect.
  • Tier 3: Nurture the relationship. Suggest other content for visitors and encourage comments.

The solicitation effort demonstrates an offering’s promise. Lead generation, which compels prospects to provide profile information, lends gravitas to the content marketing transaction. A successful CTA exchange must be followed by lead nurturing, which involves sending leads the right content at the right time to address business needs at each stage in the decision-making cycle. Content marketers use marketing analytics and marketing automation tools to measure what’s working and guide lead generation and lead nurturing.

Deliver the Right Content

Actionable content is engaging, concise, and well designed. It includes specific information that references benefits to the prospect. When prospects are led to another landing page, it’s obvious what to do next. For example, the audience could follow CTAs to gain a new perspective, read more about a company’s solution, or click through to see a SlideShare presentation. The content engenders trust, educates prospects, and builds brand awareness. Through the actionable content journey, readers move from understanding to ultimately reaching out for help.

To further generate actionable content, marketers can produce information regularly, add social sharing icons, include links to internal or external sites, feature pinnable graphics, associate podcasts and videos with searchable text, and promote content on social media sites.

The point is to educate prospects, address their business needs, and lead them to the next step.

Take Action: A Yesler Case Study

When we launched in 2012, we began posting industry advisories, solution briefs, eBooks, webinars, and blogs to help prospects get perspective on their goals and spur them to ask the next question. Their digital footprints revealed a series of related actions.

In one example, a vice president of marketing at a global company downloaded two Yesler content pieces: The B2B Marketing Advisory and Bridging the Gap Between Marketing and Sales. A few weeks later, a marketing director at the same company provided her contact information to access additional content including A REAL Content Assessment. In the meantime, a business writer in that same company read the content assessment and three blogs. Over the course of a few months, these three stakeholders from one company had consumed 15 Yesler content marketing pieces. At that point, the vice president contacted Yesler.

Perhaps it’s obvious, but actionable content drives some kind of response—a download, a click, a comment, or contact with the company—along the buyer’s journey. B2B marketing content can’t just sit there. It has to lead to something, either by design or in context. Once content marketers have courted prospects to the table, the B2B company begins the job of delivering on its promises.

So here’s our example of a CTA: Are you creating relevant, enlightening, actionable, and lively content? Download the REAL Content Assessment to find out.

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