5 ways you’re holding your content captive

If your content doesn’t have a call-to-action or social share buttons, it might be sabotaging your business.

While most marketers want to build an audience for their content marketing, they often hinder its ability to reach people without realizing it. (Note: You have to build your audience before you can get your content discovered and distribute your content marketing.)

Does this sound familiar? If so, you may be holding your content marketing captive.

Here are five ways people hold content marketing captive, as well as recommendations to set it free:

1. Your content lacks a call-to-action.

Brand marketers often fail to include a call-to-action because they don’t always think about how to get prospects to act. Since only a small portion of your readers will act, it’s critical to remind and guide them to take that next step, whether it’s social sharing, commenting or purchasing.

Actionable marketing tip: Always include a relevant call-to-action. The action you want your reader to take depends on where he is in the purchase process when he consumes your content. He may be sharing content with his social graph, registering for an email, or purchasing.

2. You hide content deep within your website or blog.

This can occur when content creation and marketing are separate processes. As a result, appropriate content isn’t associated with products and other marketing communications.

Additionally, employees are often familiar with their websites, blogs and other content platforms, and don’t realize the content is obfuscated from public view. Remember, visitors aren’t going to do the around-the-back handshake while standing on one foot.

Actionable marketing tip: To help prospective readers find your content, make it easy to find. Include a button or link to your content on your home page, or integrate it into your navigation. Further, link to your content on each product page where the information is pertinent.

3. Your content has no social-sharing buttons.

This often happens in organizations that aren’t active on social media. Since they don’t participate on social media, they neglect to enable others to share their content.

While consumers spend at least one out of every five minutes online on a social media site, don’t assume they’ll share your content if there aren’t any buttons to remind them.

Actionable marketing tip: At a minimum, place social sharing icons at the top and bottom of articles to remind readers to take action. Go one step further and add an appropriate call-to-action to get them to share your content.

4. You locked up your content behind a long form.

Marketers who want to build their databases and/or email lists often use this approach. They ask visitors for every bit of information they could potentially need because more information increases their ability to target prospects and support advertising.

They overlook that each piece of information on their form reduces the number of people who complete it.

Actionable marketing tip: Where possible, minimize the amount of information you request. Make sure the respondent understands you want the information because it helps your sales process.

With each request, consider whether you can collect the information later in the process since more people at the top of the funnel should translate to more customers—assuming the same conversion rate. Also, ensure you have a way to collect this data, add it to your system, and translate it into actionable information.

5. Your content requires payment.

Media and content companies tend to expect people to pay for their premium content. To attract prospects and customers, offer other content for free. People sometimes refer to this as bait. It can be different information or a trial membership.

Actionable marketing tip: To build your base without lowering the value of your paid content, offer other information for free. Also, create copy that sells the content so customers want to read more of your work.

The more open and available your content marketing is to prospects, customers and the public, the greater chance it has of spreading. If prospects can’t access any of your valuable content, they will likely abandon your site. At a minimum, offer a content sample to give readers a taste.

Are there any other ways you’ve seen content marketers keep their content captive?

Heidi Cohen is president of Riverside Marketing Strategies. Follow her on Twitter @heidicohen.

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