We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the key to successful content marketing is creating content that is actionable.
As Jolie Miller, content manager for LinkedIn, so eloquently put it:
As an influencer, you don’t want to get a reputation for just creating more internet noise. Your content marketing strategy must consist of elements that are useful, engaging, and, most importantly, inspire your audience to do something.
So how do you do that? Let’s talk about the four fundamentals of creating actionable content.
Fundamental #1: Answer the Questions Your Ideal Customer is Asking
Your content can’t inspire action if your readers don’t read it.
“But I’m totally awesome!” you might be saying. “Why wouldn’t they read it??”
Nobody will read your content if it isn’t relevant to them. Therefore, the first step in creating actionable content is to answer those questions your ideal customer is asking. They want something, and you should provide it.
You should try to mirror the language your prospect will use and write with the keywords they will search for. Don’t lose your own style – you’re an influencer because people like YOU – but using the right keywords written in the right way will help readers find your content when they search.
(Not sure about keywords? Here’s a guide from the great minds at HubSpot to get you started.)
Fundamental #2: Be Where Your Audience Is
Ok, so now you have some ideas on content that your audience will want to read. The next step is making sure they will actually see it.
You need to promote your content in the places that your ideal customer spends his or her time.
For example, if you are an influencer in the fashion industry catering to young 20-somethings interested in the latest trends, you probably aren’t going to get much traction on Linked IN. You may have better luck on Pinterest, Instagram, or Reddit.
However, if your focus is on young, professional 20-somethings interested in career growth, Linked IN would be a perfect place for your killer post about how to dress for a job interview.
This is where research is critical. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools to help with this.
Fundamental #3: The Power of Good Writing
Bottom line: nobody wants to read content that sucks.
It’s a fact. Even the most relevant piece on the perfect platform, isn’t going to inspire action if it’s not written well. Bad grammar, sentences that ramble on, and ideas that are hard to follow are going to make readers walk away.
(Not a great writer? Here are 12 tips from the pros.)
Your content should also be tailored to the platform it will be posted on. Good writing is good writing, but know what holds the interest of audiences on each network you’ll be utilizing.
Fundamental #4: Personalize the Experience
Everyone likes to feel special. In fact, the Custom Content Council says that 61% of consumers feel better about brands that deliver custom content. The more your reader sees themselves in your content, the more likely they are to take action.
Creating custom content touches on a critical point when trying to get readers to take action: don’t forget about the audience you have!
Many influencers make the mistake of focusing on new leads while neglecting to nurture the ones they have. New leads are cool, but loyalty and trust are what give you your…well… influence! That is something that must be built over time.
Creating custom content helps your readers believe you know who they are and are speaking right to them. This will make them more likely to do what you are asking them to do.
You can personalize content by creating email sequences for particular types of customers, tagging and categorizing content effectively for readers, and using tools such as tokens, bundles, and APIs to customize your website experience.
(Here’s a helpful piece of advice though: don’t get TOO personal. It’s going to creep your readers out if they think you’re spying on them…)
Let’s Get Influencing!
Ok, now that we’ve got the fundamentals down, let’s discuss what types of things we can get readers to do. Some common actions you might focus on are driving traffic to your website, getting readers to sign up for your newsletter, or getting them to download a lead magnet.
Let’s take a look.
Using Content Marketing to Drive Traffic
A basic goal of content marketing is to drive traffic to your website. Here’s how it works: you create a piece of content that answers a question your customer is asking, your customer searches for the answer to that question and finds that content and that content leads them to your website.
Yeah … kind of.
In order for this to work, you need to focus on creating quality content. One well-planned and properly executed blog post can do more to drive traffic than a hundred hastily written ones.
Here’s some advice on how to do this right:
- Do your research! Know what your target audience is interested in.
- Make proper use of primary and secondary keywords to ensure your posts rank higher for SEO.
- See what your competition is doing and do it better.
- Create content that is visually appealing for readers that might just want to skim (and don’t forget your image alt-text – it’s a big help for SEO).
- Use relevant, helpful, and authoritative links – this is part of an off-site SEO strategy.
- Look for opportunities to write guest posts for other sites.
Grow That Mailing List!
Your mailing list and newsletter content are exceptionally powerful for increasing your influence. After all, these people are agreeing to regularly consume your content. There’s obviously something they like about you. This is a relationship you should not take for granted.
Content marking is a great way to continue to nurture and grow that list. Here’s how:
Create relevant, engaging, and entertaining content your current subscribers will want to share with their friends and family.
Encourage sharing by including social media and “email to a friend” buttons in your newsletters.
Promote an online contest that requires entrants to input their email address.
Create lead magnets or offers that readers have to provide their email address to receive.
Make sure you are sharing the links to sign up on your social media pages and posts.
Run a campaign, promotion, or partnership with another influencer or brands and provide their audience with the info to sign up.
Think outside the box! Content isn’t just words – host a webinar, a Facebook chat, create a video, and more! Ask for an email address to register and point participants towards your newsletter at the end.
Magnets, Magnets Everywhere but not a Lead to … Drink?
- Ok, that doesn’t really make sense, but you get the pun…
- We mentioned creating lead magnets to boost your email list, but one of the actions you want to encourage your readers to take is to actually download the lead magnets you create.
- Here are some ways you can use content marketing to accomplish that goal:
- Create a quality lead magnet relevant to your customer’s problem (man, I can’t help but think we’ve said that before….).
- Promote your lead magnet in your content – link to it in your blog posts, discuss it in your emails, and share it on your social media pages.
- Make sure you are promoting your lead magnets on the right channels – know which segment of your audience spends their online time where.
- Ask other influencers to share your lead magnet in their content (and make sure you do the same for them!).
The Bottom Line
Influence must drive action or it isn’t really influencing.
Content marketing is an effective way to let your readers know what you want them to do and encourage them to do it. It can be used to get readers to do things like visiting your website, sign up for your email newsletter, or download a lead magnet you’ve created.
However, in order to be effective, you need a well-planned and well-executed content marketing strategy that is made up of high-quality content.
Know what your readers are interested in and deliver relevant content. Put that content in the right place, personalize their experience as much as possible, and don’t neglect the basics of good writing!
With these fundamentals in mind, you will quickly establish yourself as a key influencer in your industry.
So go create some content, put yourself out there, and grow your influence!