Actionable Content

A few years ago, Forrester (the Internet research firm) coined the phrase “transactional content” (TC) to try to define Web-specific content that would best move customers and prospects to action. This phrase got it all wrong, however, because it focused on the traditional act of the “transaction” between buyer and seller (literally, like at a cash register), while ignoring how the Web has changed buying and research behaviors prior to the sale.

Columns From: 8/1/2006 Modern Machine Shop, ,

A few years ago, Forrester (the Internet research firm) coined the phrase “transactional content” (TC) to try to define Web-specific content that would best move customers and prospects to action. This phrase got it all wrong, however, because it focused on the traditional act of the “transaction” between buyer and seller (literally, like at a cash register), while ignoring how the Web has changed buying and research behaviors prior to the sale.

I recently heard a new term to define effective Web-based content. Manufacturers in particular should realize that it hits right in their wheel house: actionable content (AC).

The simple definition of AC is content that influences, educates or drives a prospect to, er, action. However, if your machining or manufacturing business has a Web site, then you’d do well to dig a bit deeper into the subject. The term AC was coined by and is referred to mostly by publishers—the folks who deal with information as a primary commodity. The fact is that, while the phrase is new or seemingly unrelated to you, AC means concentrating on what your coveted prospects do leading up to a transaction with a business like yours.

The overwhelming majority of Web sites within manufacturing—sites for OEMs, shops, contract manufacturers, captive shops and most likely your shop—continue to present TC and think that it’s serving customers’ needs. Pictures of machines, specs and lists of equipment/resources on a Web site all “speak” to prospects as though they’re already in the door and about to plunk down some cabbage.

AC that serves manufacturing prospects in a research or “pre-sale” mode can influence their decisions to dig deeper into your business as a preferred supplier or partner by answering specific questions. What are your strengths, beyond the machinery you sell? What have you done to make a partner stronger? How have you creatively overcome specific challenges? What processes have you adopted to improve customers’ products in the past?

By presenting AC on your site in contexts to which your desired prospects can relate—by industry, application, end product and/or materials—you’re influencing those prospects to accept your business as a preferred partner that can provide more than just manufacturing services and products. By continuing to rely primarily on TC, you’re inadvertently marginalizing your business as a less distinguishable, simple provider of goods. “Please buy my stuff. Thanks a lot. Now move along. Next?”

If you’re happy with your business as a basic provider of goods, then that’s great; more power to you. However, if you’re looking to increase or improve your quality customers, or if you’re trying to build a better reputation and grow your business into other processes and capabilities, then AC is worth your commitment.

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