At some point in your marketing journey, you might ask yourself, "Is this really working?" It's easy to create content that informs and even entertains, but a successful business requires content that encourages readers to take action.
Business owners often fail to empathize with their audience. What may seem perfectly obvious to you might not resonate with them. Readers don't have the same knowledge or experience, so you must put yourself in the shoes of your audience and "speak in their voice."
The Blog Maven, Jeni Elliott, cites an example of a brilliant linguist who couldn't connect with his students. They had no context for the content he provided. It wasn't until he asked students what they were struggling with that he was able to find out. His style changed because he was able to put himself in the shoes of his students.
As the founder of several businesses, when I think of content that I want to reach small business or startup owners, I always ask myself, "What were my struggles? What were my needs?" Content creation stems from identifying the wants and needs of the reader, not the desired bullet points of the creator.
Producing actionable content isn't as difficult as most people think. There are multiple show-and-tell methods to obtaining an audience's attention and persuading them to take appropriate action. Here are a few ideas:
Give an Example
Some topics that business owners address in their content may require an explanation in order for readers to fully understand. After presenting the desired information, the simple phrase "for example" provides readers with an illustration they can identify with and visualize in their mind.
For example, content about the benefits of therapeutic massage for patients who have developed scar tissue provides valuable information, but the audience will want to know what they can expect. An example or case study will inform and illustrate the exact benefits for those who are experiencing difficulties of their own, without the need for a long, involved explanation they may not understand.
Use Visual Aids
Some concepts are difficult to explain in words, and a visual aid can provide clarification. Not everyone is able to make connections and create helpful visualizations in their mind from text alone. An image, combined with text. provides information that readers would otherwise miss out on, and removes any uncertainty that might exist. An image also makes the content more appealing.
Videos and animations offer an entertainment value that is essential for keeping an audience's attention. Much like the moving pictures on a TV can seemingly grab a person's attention against their will, moving pictures within a business owner's content can have a similar impact in their marketing.
Lifehack blogger Seth Simonds noted that one of the best ways to obtain comments and interact with readers is to vary your content by adding videos, drawings or cartoons. Simply asking for comments is also effective.
Go Easy on the Action
Too much information can be just as detrimental as not providing enough data. Use caution and focus on the essential concepts where readers can take action. If an individual doesn't need a particular piece of information or an expanded explanation before they can take action, reconsider and ask, "Does the information add anything valuable to the discussion?"
Tell Them When
Everyone has done it: bookmarking a site you intended to revisit later, only to get busy and forget about it entirely. Make it clear to the audience that they must take action right away, while they're consuming the content. Don't be afraid to provide a link within the content or ask for an email in exchange for more information.
Rakesh Soni, CEO and co-founder of LoginRadius, advocates for a strong, relevant call to action. But keep in mind that people accessing content via mobile devices may have difficulty clicking on a button that's too small.
Create an Engaged Audience
People need incentives to take action. Whether it's taking action in response to a blog post or responding to a time-sensitive offer, people tend to dismiss anything they don't feel strongly about. The secret is to get the audience involved in the content.
HubSpot product marketing associate, Rachel Sprung, says providing an enjoyable reader experience is critical through readability, responsiveness and personalization. It's particularly important for business owners who are marketing to different target audiences.
One solution is to use interactive content wherever possible to stimulate the reader and encourage them to act. As readers interact throughout the post, they become used to it, and responding to a call for action seems natural. Grab a reader's attention by posing a question and encouraging engagement, perhaps even some controversy through a healthy debate.
Small changes in your approach can result in a big difference in engagement with your website, blog posts and emails.
Nitin Chhoda PT, DPT is the founder of physical therapy newsletter marketing systems, medical electronic documentation software like In Touch EMR and medical billing companies like In Touch Billing. For more articles and information, click here to visit his physical therapy marketing blog.