Always Be Converting Content


“Only one thing counts in this life: Get them to sign on the line which is dotted. You hear me? … A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-[Converting].”
— Content marketer extraordinaire Alec Baldwin, Glengarry Glen Ross.

This week, we’ve talked about creating content, selecting topics, choosing a medium, and marketing your content.

But it all starts with the purpose of your content.  I’m going to steal the Content Marketing Institute’s definition of content marketing:

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

It’s obviously written more for a for-profit audience, but you can tell the why from this with those great verbs: attract, retain, and drive.

You want to attract people to your organization.  You want to drive them to take actions that help your cause, including but not limited to donating.  And you want to retain them so that they will do likewise in the future.

So the content you’ve created has to be about them, solving their problems and answering their questions.  Items about you, your mission, your board members, your big check photo, etc., will not fly.

Once you have that content that is valuable and relevant, you need to:

Have one clear call to action.  One.  This eliminates two types of content that don’t convert:

  • Content with zero calls to action.  These are informational pieces that are up on your site because people thought constituents would like the information.  Or discussions of your programs.  Or whatever.  The bottom line is that everything you create should have a point of driving a conversation forward, even if it is only a little bit.
  • Content with various calls to action.  Let’s assume you have helped solve someone’s problem who came to your site.  They are ready for their social mandated moment of reciprocity.  And you give them “You can donate.  Or you can volunteer.  And we have action alerts.  And you can join us on FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterestMySpaceTinderGooglePlusYouTube.”

The advantage of one clear call to action is that you can spend time in the piece setting it up.  If you are educating the reader about how to check their insurance to see what autism treatments it covers, it is a natural segue to ask the person to email their legislator about insurance parity regulation for autism therapies.  A donation ask may be a little clunky there, but you’ve solved the problem and given them a solution that adds to the solution that they wanted when they came to the site: advocating for social change that would also help them.

You can not effectively set up five different asks in your content.

Report back content.  If you are asking people what they want and you give it to them, you need to let them know that it was by their popular demand.  “You asked us for X.  Here’s X” is a great opening to a conversation and your one call to action as a part of X should be very popular.

Make it shareable.  Sharing is often the ask after the conversion that’s forgotten.  Person has read about autism insurance: check.  Person has emailed legislators: check.  What is next for that constituent?  Potentially donating — not the worst idea in the world.  But this person is likely looking for this content for a reason.  And it’s likely that his/her network of close friends would like to be able to to help him with this issue.

So if s/he can say “I emailed my legislator about this and I’d like you to also, because my son is two and isn’t speaking and isn’t making eye contact and insurance doesn’t want to pay for any help,” people who care about this person are going to want to help.

That’s the genesis of a walk team or peer-to-peer fundraising activity right there; it’s just that none of them know it because they are busy solving their problem together.

Other shares, especially for lighter fare like quizzes, are more about the joy of sharing fun content.  Few people will be retweeting the American Constitution Society’s “32 Ways to Live a More Constitutional Life.”

But announcing the results of your “Which Founding Father are You?” (I’m totally a John Adams: single-minded, effective, orator, necessary, incompetent fighter, a bit arrogant, and not nearly cool enough to be in an incredible hip-hop musical.) quiz on Facebook — that could be a way of building interest, then lists.

BTW, American Constitution Society: email me at I have this great idea…

Finally, set up the conversion after this one.  There will be another ask, or at least there should be.  Think of every content interaction as a way to get to another content interaction.  Using the change one thing maximum idea, if someone is interested in advocacy, they can get a drip campaign of things around their particular issue, leading them ever closer to the day that they will voluntarily walk up to you and give you the contents of their wallet.

Actually, you will probably have to ask them, but when you have a great converting content strategy, joyful giving can be in your future.

Always Be Converting Content

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