The term interactive content has been around for some time, and the most popular explanation of its meaning is where the content requires the user to take actions in order to gain the desired result.
Prior to the advent of modern internet marketing practices the actions measured tended to include phone calls, faxes, coupon redemption, sales meetings, demo’s, proposals, quotes. Today content marketing success is gauged by measuring actions such as: shares, clicks, even views. This is not to say content marketers don’t measure the more substantial actions, it’s just that up till the point where a buyer is engaged the tools available for measuring are as open to interpretation as they have always been.
What is important for modern marketing practices is engagement. Building brand affinity leads to building the relationship that leads to building trust that leads to building sales that leads to building business.
In the world of content marketing, reading, watching, listening to, or downloading something may be an indication of intent, but getting a prospect emotionally involved via interaction provides a more reliable path to sales conversion.
According to nearly every marketing research study, engaging a target audience has consistently proven to be amongst the toughest of accomplishments.
Markets can churn out mountains of good content, but without engagement much of it goes unnoticed. The consumer must be allowed to both enjoy and act upon the content.
By its very nature, interactive content engages participants in an activity: answering questions, making choices, exploring scenarios. It’s a great way to capture attention right from the start. Individuals have to think and respond; they can’t just snooze through it.
Scott Brinker, ion interactive, author of ChiefMartec.com, in a guest post on Copyblogger.
Why interactive content
Whilst interactive content is more difficult and time consuming t produce it is well worth the effort for the following reasons:
- Noise—There’s simply too much content. And the only people that really care about content is content marketers. The customers don’t want content. They want answers. Or they want to have fun. Or both.
- The world is mobile—Mobile users have come to expect interactivity. Apps are more engaging than web pages.
- Human nature—We simply want to interact. We learn best by doing. I once asked my kids, “What are your favorite lessons in school?” They said the ones where we do stuff and make things. Interactive content is the filed trip of content marketing.
Provides Persona Optimisation
One of the first impressive outcomes of interactive content is the rich data it provides about the person or circumstance. This in turns help the user of that data make better choices.
- People rank themselves via assessments
- Quizzes indicate what participants do and don’t know
- Prospects identify specific parameters when using a calculator product configurator
- Awareness stage—A prospect in research mode is likely to engage in polls, self-assessments, and knowledge tests.
- Evaluation stage—When evaluating solutions a buyer will take to benchmark assessments, interactive white papers, and persona assessments.
- Decision stage—At the critical buying stage, ROI calculators, galleries, product pickers and surveys will help guide decision-making.
In the awareness stage the person is shopping. The Evaluation the person is comparing value and price, and the last decision stage a buy decision is made.
But it’s not just about sales, interactive content helps engage people for other reasons. To educate, entertain, influence and even to promote civic or worthwhile causes.
Examples of Interactive Content
- Quizzes are amazingly popular and ultra-magnetic. While many focus on delivering a fun distraction, businesses often take them seriously aiming to use the format for educational purposes. Quiz results can be useful for recommending the most relevant subsequent content.
- Assessments – Like quizzes, assessments also are often little pieces of brain candy such as personality tests. However, in a business context assessments can be meaningful marketing tools often used to help people identify a need, compare their company to benchmarks, or some other type of self-diagnosis.
- Polls and surveys – Polls and surveys can take all different forms and fulfill a wide variety of needs for both the creator and user. The subject of the poll or survey gives users a glimpse into your areas of expertise.
- Calculators – Calculators are about money, which for some reason appears to interest most people. Given the right strategy and creative execution, a calculator can say (or infer) something meaningful about your company’s mission.
- Contests – Contests may be older than time, but continue to evolve online and across the social sphere. The potential to get creative with contests is infinite. Cool contests have proven to lure customers and inspire engagement. Generally, they require some form of application, so marketers can collect valuable customer data. And though it may be obvious, contests can generate authentic and engaging user-generated content.
- Galleries – Visual marketing couldn’t be hotter, so some companies are using galleries to deliver stopping power and interaction. In addition to showcasing products, they can present portfolios, ideas, customer examples, event highlights, or anything you can “picture.”
- Brackets – SnapApp claims “They [brackets] are a great way to settle ‘Best Of’ or ‘Worst Of’ debates, no matter what industry or field you are in.” They’re also a way to earn longer periods of engagement, drive repeat visitors and generate new content.
- Interactive white papers or eBooks – Interactive software company ion interactive suggests turning your white paper or eBook into an interactive user experience allowing readers to navigate as they wish.
- Infographics – Infographics can be made interactive with embedded questions, flip tiles, flexible user paths, and more.
The New Frontiers of Interactive Content
One thing for certain is that interactive content still has a long way to go. Most of the latest trends for interactive content have come from the use of Web 2.0 technologies combined with innovative companies looking to provide new services. These innovations are for the most reproducing what we already have in a smarter package. However, the advent of iOT, new voice and data services will usher in a new wave of innovation that will eclipse what we know of today.
For examples look no further that Google Home, Amazon echo which are mostly seen as personal or home devices at present, but transport yourself forward a few years and it’s not hard to imagine voice activated devices assisting with daily lives and communicating with us and providing services. Mobile phones can already detect our geo location and technologies similiar to those appearing in smart homes can use our location, mode of transport, time of day and out points of departure and destination to zero in on specific content that is relevant to our immediate circumstance.
Yes, privacy and control will need to be dealt with along the way, but this is an exciting time for interactive content, and we will get to see it unfold.
So what type of communicator and content marketer are you?
Changing your practices to use this powerful communications option is an essential part of an Integrated Marketing and Communications Strategy. On it’s own its not a substitute for the communications channels already use, it is like every other modern communications channel an important part of the mix. We already know some folk learn by writing, listening and others doing. Interactive content is not only catering for the do-ers, but in doing you will communication information that will never of been passed by reading, speaking or videos.
Its up to the marketer and communicator to find the right channel for each message and deliver that message at the right moment to ensure retention, which in this case it is by engagement.
Where will you be using interactive content in 2017
Interactive content is a power way to engage visitors to your website, and to deliver something of value. Like the cold calling salesperson of the past, the interactive content can walk the visitor through a series of logical conclusions they might otherwise of overlooked, in a few short seconds.