If interactive content isn’t already on your radar, it should be, explains columnist Arnie Kuenn, or you risk being left behind by your competitors.
With more than three quarters of both B2B and B2C marketers practicing content marketing, it’s safe to say it has become a fundamental element to most online marketing strategies today. Businesses across verticals and industries are creating content daily — from whitepapers and e-books to blog posts and streaming media.
However, with more and more content being produced and published regularly, competition has become fierce, forcing businesses to become more creative than ever before in their content endeavors.
The result? An increase in interactive content — content that gets the audience involved, creating a more personalized and memorable experience.
Interactive content allows users to engage with a business or brand on a deeper level. Instead of just downloading a piece of content from a website and ending the engagement there, interactive content prompts users to share personal preferences and data in order to receive some sort of tailored result.
This additional engagement is great for both users and businesses. Not only does interactive content offer an atypical user experience compared with most content marketing initiatives involving a registration and download page, the personalized results received are often more valuable than a generic content download.
This higher-quality deliverable can help build brand loyalty and trust, resulting in stronger vendor and customer relationships.
Similarly, interactive content provides businesses with useful data, as companies are able to capture more insight from it than typical gated content assets.
Instead of just receiving personal contact information that a registration page would provide, interactive content exposes demographic information, pain points and challenges. Businesses can then use the information that users enter to better understand their audience and employ the findings for future marketing initiatives.
Types Of Interactive Content
Many different types of interactive content can produce a unique, personal experience for each user, including the following:
Quizzes have a number of uses — some allow brands to teach users about a specific subject or topic area, while others are for amusement, providing the user with an assessment based on the information collected.
For example, most quizzes found on Buzzfeed are purely for entertainment value, including “What Type of Canine Are You?” Other quizzes, like the American Heart Association’s “Healthy Heart Quizzes” are for educational purposes, allowing users to test themselves on different aspects of heart health.
Quizzes can cover many different stages of the buy cycle, depending on the subject. Entertainment quizzes are likely going to appeal to users at the top of the funnel. However, a quiz based on industry pain points or a vendor’s solution could attract more down-funnel users.
For example, IBM’s quiz titled, “What is your AQ (Analytics Quotient)?” gives users a score that corresponds to where their organization ranks in terms of analytics practices and solutions. Recommendations, tools and resources are provided based on the score.
Because this quiz focuses on a topic that aligns with IBM’s solutions and the results point to additional IBM resources, it may resonate with people closer to actually making a purchase decision.
Like quizzes, calculators have a variety of uses, too. For example, most banks offer mortgage calculators that allow users to calculate how much their monthly payment would be based on home purchase price, down payment and other factors — but calculators aren’t just for banks anymore.
ROI calculators allow users to calculate the potential return on the investment with a product or service, which can effectively help move people through the buy cycle. For example, HubSpot’s ROI calculator asks users for information about current website and business performance, and spits out the increase in revenue people can expect from implementing HubSpot’s inbound marketing software.
Interactive Infographics and Whitepapers
Infographics and whitepapers are two of the most widely utilized formats in content marketing. The result? Markets inundated with the same content in the same format, published by different vendors over and over again. This saturation makes it difficult for businesses employing content marketing to break through the noise and effectively reach their audiences.
Luckily, interactive infographics and whitepapers can help businesses do just that. Rather than the typical content experience — filling out a registration form with personal information and receiving a piece of content in return — interactive infographics and whitepapers take the experience one step further.
For example, in an interactive infographic about Michael Phelps designed by Infographic World, users can click through to learn more about the swimmer and his various achievements.
In the frame above, users can click through different years to see which games Phelps competed in that year, as well as his age at the time, which events he participated in, his rank, and medals earned.
Interactive infographics and whitepapers can take on many collaborative elements with the content itself, including quizzes, assessments and self-selected content journeys — similar to “choose your own adventure” experiences. In addition to providing a unique experience, interactive infographics and whitepapers can be easily positioned to any stage of the buyer’s journey based on the subject and messaging.
Using Interactive Content Successfully
While most businesses that practice content marketing today require users to fill out a contact form before downloading an asset, interactive content works best with a slightly different approach.
Gating content behind a registration page is one way to get leads — but it also stops some users in their tracks. Unfortunately, a lot of the content that businesses require a user to register for just isn’t worth it — and users are becoming wearier of providing their information for any old download.
Instead of taking the registration-page approach with interactive content, consider using a “freemium” model. Allow users to take a quiz, use a calculator or interact with a whitepaper or infographic without asking for anything in return — yet.
By doing this, you build trust and credibility with the audience — both extremely important elements of content marketing. Once users have had a taste of what your interactive content can provide, offer an elective upgrade in exchange for personal/contact information.
For example, say you’re a sunglasses company and you have a quiz about what shape of frame people should buy based on their facial features, likes and dislikes. Once you’ve provided the preliminary assessment of what shape works best for the user based on his or her answers, offer a buyer’s guide using the results with additional calls to action.
To see success with content marketing, businesses need to cater it to the audience’s wants, needs and pain points — and interactive content takes that sentiment to the next level.
Leveraging interactive content with the freemium model gives companies the opportunity to deliver content tailored to each user specifically, based on information gleaned from the interactive content experience.
What’s Ahead For You?
So, is interactive content in your future? If it isn’t already on your radar, it should be, because it is the future of content marketing.
While your current content marketing strategy with PDF and streaming content may be producing results, it’s only a matter of time before a competitor starts using interactive content — best beat them to the punch.
What has been your experience with interactive content? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)