In a world of mediocre content, engaging writing is a breath of fresh air. But how do you differentiate your content from all the flat, jargon-filled writing out there?
If you’re a content creator looking to strengthen your brand, grabbing your audience’s attention is just the first step. Your content should also prompt your audiences to take action — and actionable content owes much of its value to a solid structure. Structure means how you order the information, how the content appears on the page, and how you connect with the reader — all of which drive connection and response.
Let’s explore how we can use narrative traits to structure strategic content that encourages engagement.
Whether you’re debuting a new service or expanding your audience, draw in your readers with a narrative that answers their questions and serves their needs. To walk them through the content, you should structure the message with a beginning, a middle, and an end:
1. Beginning: Identify a need.
Your clients or customers probably buy your service or product, because you fill a need they have or give them an answer to a problem. You can prompt action from your audiences by presenting a concern that directly affects them. As you build this structure, actionable content relies on your ability to invite your audience into a trusting relationship. To achieve that trust, you first need to prove your worth.
You can support this structure by remembering to:
- Empathize with your audience: Share their concern over a challenging problem or need with a short anecdote or illustrative example.
- Acknowledge your expertise: Discuss credentials and applicable industry experience. But only do so if it’s directly relevant to your content — and frames how they will help your audience.
- Introduce the solution: Give your audience a taste of the solution or answer to their question, and invite them to join you as you explore the issue deeper.
2. Middle: Move together to a solution.
Once you present the situation, you need to substantiate the reality. Walk the audience through a more detailed understanding of the issue at hand. After you’ve built a connection, proceed with them to a logical solution or answer. Your content should also have a visible flow, allowing your audience to move easily through the information to find what they’re looking for. This visual treatment is important, because our brains process visual data 60,000 times faster than text. On top of that, according to one psychologist, 93% of communication is visual.
Incorporate visual structure by using:
- Lists or step-by-step instructions: Content with visible structure helps your audience break the content into digestible pieces and find what they’re looking for easily.
- Colorful graphs and charts: Create content that’s easy to look at — also pull figures to the forefront, giving your content credibility and anchoring it in facts.
- Facts and context that anchor your content: Use statistics and quotes from industry experts or well-known people. Facts and quotes will give your content a larger framework, which helps the reader build trust and engage more fully in the solution you’re building.
3. End: Invite the reader to act.
An effective call to action hinges on successfully executing the narrative structure’s beginning and middle stages. Once you’ve identified the need and walked your audience through the solution, invite them to take action or participate in the discussion. Create a clear call to action by addressing the audience directly, using a bold or eye-catching font, and making the text stand out.
Action may details like:
- Engage with the content online: Generate leads by asking readers to leave a comment or share the content on their own networks.
- Sign up: Encourage engaged audiences to sign up for your mailing list to receive updates.
- Make changes: Let readers know how they can make necessary changes, like updating their information or buying services. Be sure to highlight any deadlines.
- Book an appointment: Give your audience specific information on how to set up a meeting or appointment, like a direct link to a reservation tool.
Businesses and organizations communicate in constantly evolving ways. And successful, actionable content often depends on old-fashioned trust. Trustworthy content has a logical structure, plenty of context, and a helpful voice. By building purposeful structure — and focusing on these traits — you can engage your audiences to read, motivate, and act!