Last year at Comicon Chicago I attended one of the most memorable sessions I have ever attended, of any conference or event.

The title was “How to Market Your Indie Game” and the description promised to cover the creation and marketing of an indie game. In a sea of Dr. Who heavy events I had found my marketing break, or so I thought.

The session started off as expected, the speaker reminisced on his company’s early days – which happened to be in his high school cafeteria during lunch break. One day the creators of his favorite card game announced a change to the playing rules and banned certain cards that were deemed “too strong”. Outraged, the speaker and his friends vowed to create a game where no cards would ever be banned.

The speaker delved further into the technical elements of existing card games, tearing them apart one by one. It was at this point in the session I realized what I got myself into; we would not be talking about marketing.

Feeling duped I scanned the audience to see if anyone else shared the sentiment. To my surprise I saw a field of captivated faces. I was completely lost, but I was clearly the only one.

Everyone else was loving it, hanging on every word. When the session ended the speaker even got a standing applause. As the speaking was ushered off the stage an audience member yelled out, “how can I buy your game?!”

“We don’t have a website or anything yet”, the speaker responded.

I was shocked by the speaker’s response, but sadly not surprised.

This is something I see this far too often, from solopreneurs and startups to multinational conglomerates – on websites and ads to social media posts.

Engaging content that draws people in and generates buzz, but serves no strategic value because the content is not paired with a clear call-to-action.

A call call-to-action is one strong message that rallies people to take a specific action that is aligned with the actual goal of the site, page, post, ad, ect.

Unfortunately, there is an epidemic of great content that is either paired with an overwhelming number of call-to-actions or failure to even provide one. Both situations create the same results – visitors traveling helplessly around the site or app, taking unpredictable actions, and most likely abandoning any funnels they enter.

At Comicon, the speaker had an opportunity to convert a crowd of attendees into engaged fans, pre-sale orders, and maybe even product evangelists.

“We don’t have a website or anything yet”

With those final words it all ended, literally. All of the excitement, energy, and emotional connection nurtured over the last 45 minutes disappeared as the speaker vanished into the bustling crowd of attendees. After telling this story many times, I still can’t remember the company’s name and guarantee it’s only a distant memory for the other attendees.

It didn’t have to be that way. Here are three things you can do to ensure your content converts:

Start with the end in mind

Determine what action you want the audience to take before you begin. Keep this goal in mind as you draft your content, ensuring that the goal of the content comes through in the copy, images, placement, etc.

The content should prime the reader so they are ready to grab on when the call-to-action is delivered. If the goal of a Facebook ad is to drive traffic to a landing page the the image and copy should not be talking about reasons to like the page or sign up for a newsletter, but should focus on the reasons to follow through to the landing page.

Validate your work

It’s really easy to follow a path you’ve already mapped out, because you know where you want to go. Find someone else who has not seen your content and will give you honest answers.

Instead of asking for an opinion or feedback on the content itself, watch the actions that user takes. If their actions do not align with the goals of the copy then tweak and test again.

If soliciting a friend or colleague to test your content is not feasible there are services like User Testing which are designed to test websites and apps, or a platform like Amazon Mechanical Turks where workers can be contracted to perform small actions such as “Go to and tell me what the first thing you want to click on is”.

Continue to monitor

What works today may not work tomorrow, especially if your audience is dynamic and changing. It is critical to establish methods to track how your content and call-to-actions are engaged with, beyond the basic out-of-the-box metrics which paint a high level picture but do not produce actionable learnings.

Using Google Analytics you can easily add unique UTM tags to each call-to-action, allowing for a better understanding of not just which call-to-action is driving conversions, but the user behavior after conversion.

Following these three steps will help make sure your content converts through including one clear call-to-action.

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