A version of this post originally appeared on the PR Mention blog; reprinted with permission.
Using public relations campaigns to boost your online visibility is one of the hottest trends, particularly for local businesses. However, exploiting the full potential of PR for small- and- medium-size businesses is still somewhat of a rarity. One of the most common reasons behind this shortfall is the failure to produce actionable content for successful campaigns.
As most businesses continue to rely on age-old content creation techniques, their customers are getting bombarded with tons of information that just doesn’t click. To make matters worse, the attention span of the average Internet user is on the decline. In the face of these trends, how do you plan to promote yourself? The answer is “actionable content.” Without further ado, let’s see what actionable content is, how to create it, and how it can take your PR tactics to the next level.
What is actionable content?
Actionable content is that which can easily be implemented by the readers. In other words, it’s the types of content that readers find informative, relevant, entertaining and unique. One of the best examples of actionable content is ‘how-to’ posts.
However, you (just like most content marketers) are more likely to start out with ‘normal content’, gradually working your way up to creating ‘interacting content’ before learning to produce ‘actionable content’. Let’s see the difference between these three types of content.
Normal content is the one that is just meant to spread information without the goal of connecting with a specific audience. In other words, there is nothing out of the ordinary about such content.
The virtual space is overflowing with normal content. This is the type of content usually makes your audience say, “Duh, that’s obvious” or “Heck, I already knew that”. As a result, it fails to create a lasting impression on readers.
Interactive content is the one which prompts action from the reader, thanks to the use of call to action. User interaction can take various forms including registering, sharing and liking your content.
The purpose of creating interactive content is to open a two-way communication channel with your potential customers. Google usually rewards interactive content.
Actionable content not only explains what to achieve, but also tells the reader how to achieve it. As the target audience can execute the steps smoothly after reading it, actionable content can attract loads of traffic and generate more leads. Actionable content produces a measurable growth of conversions and revenue.
However, creating actionable content is easier said than done. You will need to come up with a well-planned content marketing strategy to create, edit, and promote actionable content across the Web.
How to create actionable content?
As actionable content is meant to engage your target audience, it will vary from niche to niche. However, a few common characteristics of actionable content that everyone needs to memorize are:
- Don’t Just Tell What To Do, Explain How To Do
- Quote Famous Niche Personalities and Industry Experts
- Use Visuals (Images and Videos)
- Answer the Most Common Questions or Issues
- Write with Personal Touch
- Include Real-Life Examples to Build Trust
1. Don’t just tell what to do, explain how to do
When it comes to creating actionable content, you must explain not only what to do, but also how to do it. People often turn away from normal content after a while as it does nothing, but inform the reader of a particular product, service or issue.
If you want to stand out from your competitors, you need to focus on the ‘how to do’ element of the content. One more advantage of explaining ‘how to do’ is that it establishes you as a resource, creating a strong bond of trust with your readers.
The following couple of examples will illustrate this better:
The first article explains different types of health insurance plans.
Though informative, the article doesn’t explain how to choose the right health insurance plan. Instead, it simply focuses on outlining various health insurance options available in the market.
However, the second blog post not only compares the available insurance plans, but also explains how to choose the right one.
The author painstakingly talks about the various factors one considers when purchasing a health insurance policy. She breaks down the entire process into simple steps in a layman’s language.
In other words, both articles are informative, but only the second one is actionable.
2. Quote famous niche personalities and industry experts
Most content marketers fail to quote famous niche personalities in their blog posts, oblivious to the fact that they are missing the opportunity to increase the credibility of their content. Here are few more advantages of quoting famous niche personalities.
- Apart from adding credibility, this will also make your content stand out from your competitors, driving more Web traffic.
- It also helps you develop a professional relationship with the industry experts in various niches.
- The biggest advantage of including quotes by industry experts is that you will be able to include different viewpoints in your post.
However, here are a few things you need to keep in mind.
- When it comes to including a quote in your blog post, avoid quoting the entire piece of the content. Instead, use excerpts.
- Always put quotes in quotation marks and provide a source and a hyperlink for the quote.
- Keep the quote exactly as it was spoken or written. If you have made any changes, make that clear in your article.
For example, in her post, ‘11 Ways to Stay Motivated & Focused to Achieve Your Goals’, author Toria Sheffield has quoted a motivational trainer, a business advisor and even a popular YouTube personality, thereby lending significant credibility to her content.
On the other hand, every subtopic in this article begins with a relevant quote from a well-known person lending uniqueness to the narrative.
3. Use visuals (images and videos) to explain what you are trying to say
Visuals such as images and videos are the easiest ways to explain your thoughts and ideas. Humans have the innate ability to digest visual content readily compared to the textual information.
According to Dr. John J. Medina, a developmental molecular biologist, people are likely to remember only 10% of the information days later. However, if the same information is paired with a relevant image, people can retain almost 65% of the information three days later. “Professionals everywhere need to know about the incredible inefficiency of text-based information and the incredible effects of images,” says Medina.
- You can use high-quality images, videos, screenshots, memes, and graphs to clarify the accompanying text.
- It is better to use in-house visuals. However, you can also find relevant images or videos from media-sharing sites such as Pixabay and YouTube.
- Make sure to specify the source of the visual.
An article I found on Kiss Metrics is an excellent example of how to use different types of media to make your content more appealing. The author has used screenshots like the one which I have attached below and images to explain various types of behavioral email marketing points.
We live in a world where content marketing is no longer a new phenomenon. As there are too many marketers offering similar type of content, only innovative content is getting noticed. Though you must have explored a wide range of online platforms and mediums by now, you have to step beyond the conventional PR campaign tactics.
The world’s biggest brands have used innovative ways to connect with the target audience on a personal level. The energy drink brand, Red Bull has created a webpage called Red Bulletin that features real-life stories of individuals who have a taste for adventure.
Nike, on the other hand, has created a new wave of PR tactics with an innovative approach. The brand has consistently stepped forward on women empowerment, breaking away from the sports-related stereotype of testosterone.
5. Answer the most common questions or issues
One of the easiest ways to create actionable content is to put yourself in the reader’s shoes. With the release of Hummingbird, Google has also started focusing on user’s search intent. In short, you should focus on what the target audience wants to hear from you rather than what you have to say. If your content does not provide all the relevant information on the topic in question, it will never get the response you thought it would get.
- Think about what problems or issues your target audience may have and try to address those issues in your content.
- Start with the title of your post, make sure it relates to your reader’s issues or questions.
- Make sure the introduction, the body, and the conclusion of your content are consistent with your subject.
- Resist the urge to write your opinions, instead stick to the information that gives people tangible results.
The Poor Traveler blog is one of the best examples of how addressing the issues of your readers directly can attract more Web traffic.
From destination-based travel guides to the most common traveling obstacles, they cover almost all aspects of a budget traveler’s life. The blog focuses on providing tips to budget travelers.
6. Write with a personal touch
Different bloggers have different styles and voices of blogging. However, if your writing feels unnatural or self-promotional, your readers will turn away from it.
Keep in mind that content marketing is about developing an attachment to your potential consumers by striking natural conversations with them. That’s why you need to write with a personal touch, as if you are having a one-on-one conversation with your readers.
- Use first-person pronouns to add a personal touch to your blog. You can also use “I” and “we” in your posts occasionally.
- However, avoid making grammatical errors even if you are writing with a personal touch as they are looked down upon in the digital marketing world.
- Make it a habit of responding to your readers’ comments. Answer the questions they have asked in a personal tone.
Kathy Patalsky’s blog is one of the best examples of how a personal touch can increase engagement with your target audience. Kathy shares vegan recipes, healthy habits, and lifestyle advice with her readers as if she is having a personal conversation with them.
The regular use of first-person pronouns and the personal tone of writing add a certain level of intimacy to her blog.
7. Include real-life examples to build trust
The most compelling way to engage your readers is to share real-life success stories relevant to your topic. In fact, actionable tips should be backed by real-life examples as they will allow your audience to identify the path to the success.
If they can see that others have already benefited from your advice, they are more likely to consider following it themselves. You also need to include real numbers to support your statements and opinions.
The My Fitness Pal blog consistently provides information related to health and fitness. Readers can easily get access to success stories, workout videos, and real-life examples of people who have gotten into shape themselves
For example, this blog post from My Fitness Pal talks about the real-life success story of Kevin Nashan and others while explaining how to lose weight. As their readers can get tried-and-tested diet and exercise regimens, they keep coming back for more.
To sum up
PR is one of the most effective marketing strategies in the digital word. Still, most PR campaigns fail to generate the desired results. Actionable content is one of the most important factors of highly-effective PR tactics that PR managers often tend to overlook. However, creating actionable and relatable content is easier said than done. These quick tips will help you create actionable content that will make a lasting impression on your target audience, providing your PR campaign with more online exposure than you can ever imagine.