Anthony Mcloughlin

We all know that the content you produce online should be useful, valuable, interesting or entertaining. However, content marketing is becoming less about the words you put on a page, and more about the experiences you create for the consumer.

For this reason, more and more marketers are exploring interactive content, which can take many forms such as, quizzes, surveys, infographics, calculators, maps and assessment tools. But in addition to giving your customers a better online experience, interactive content has a number of other advantages too.

70PRERCENT-STATFor example, a study by Demand Metric revealed that  70 per cent of marketers agree that interactive content is effective at engaging buyers, which is becoming increasingly difficult with traditional mediums such as the humble blog post.

This in turn can create interest in your brand, encourage consumers to take action, and share their experience among friends and family. But it isn’t as easy as simply coming up with a survey for your audience to complete.

It’s a key area of growth for us at Tone, we’ve even built an entire sub-site (See our work at: ‘Tone Playground’) to showcase our work in this field.

With this in mind, we wanted to lay out the pitfalls you should avoid; here are 10 interactive content mistakes to avoid at all costs.

1. Boring topic

In order to grab your audience’s attention, the topic of your interactive content must be interesting to them. Just because you find it enlightening or entertaining does not mean to say your target market will too.

barack obama who cares meme

What you should do:

  • Create some buyer personas, which will make it easier to find out what your target market likes. This will help you choose the right type of interactive content to go for.
  • Look at trending/popular topics within your niche by using tools like BuzzSumo for inspiration. Read this in-depth post by Paddy Moogan on how to do this successfully.
  • If your industry or organisation is fairly ‘boring’ anyway, think of a quirky or unique angle. Here’s a great post by Pratik Dholakiya to help you formulate ideas.
  • Don’t be afraid of being funny, snarky, or even controversial – within reason!

2. Lame title

Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many marketers fall at the first hurdle by giving their interactive content a lame title. By failing to catch the audience’s eye with a captivating heading, chances are your interactive content won’t succeed.

Which title would you be most likely to click.

Quiz: How good are your Maths skills?

Quiz: Think you’d pass SATs Maths in 2016?

Second one right?

The first title is too general (“Maths skills”) and doesn’t arouse enough curiosity. The second title on the other hand is very specific (“SATs Maths in 2016”), sounds more of a challenge (“Think You’d pass”) and plays on your fear of being less intelligent than a 10 year old.

What you should do:

3. Not bringing anything new to the conversation

Along with choosing the right topic, your interactive content needs to have a purpose too. What is the point of going to all that effort just to create something for the sake of it, which your audience can’t benefit from?

Another mistake is creating a carbon copy of another brand’s interactive content without bringing something new to the table. You might succeed in generating a few initial hits, but you’ll severely limit the potential reach of your content.

seen this before meme

What you should do:

4. Lacklustre design

With interactive content, you have twice as much to think about. Not only must your content say and mean something, it needs to look the part too. Unfortunately, some marketers overlook the importance of design and believe that interactive content will hold up regardless of its aesthetics.

But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Interactive content with too many colours or a poor palette, lack of whitespace, squashed design and unclear call to actions won’t have the desired engaging effect.

The interactive infographic below (designed in Microsoft Paint) could have performed so much better if they put a bit more thought and effort into the design. Unsurprisingly, it only managed 14 shares and zero backlinks.

poor design interactive infographic

What you should do:

5. Unresponsive design

Between 2011 and 2015, mobile internet usage has increased five fold and now, 33% of internet users view their smartphone as the most important device for getting online. You simply can’t afford to create interactive content that doesn’t work on mobile.

If your interesting, worthwhile, attractive content doesn’t work properly on smartphones or tablets, users will quickly get frustrated and leave with a bad taste of your brand in their mouths. Just like the example below.

On desktop.

interactive content on desltop example

On Mobile.

interactive content on iphone

The content extends beyond the screen and horizontal scroll is disabled so it’s actually not possible for users to interact with this piece of content.

What you should do: 

      • Sounds obvious, but ensure your interactive content works on smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers.
      • Test your content on as many different screen sizes as possible. Use online tools such as BrowserStackVirtualBox and VM Ware for this.
      • Be certain that graphics and text aren’t too small on smartphones and tablets.
      • Introduce interactive elements that take advantage of touchscreen capabilities.
      • Make sure it passes the Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. If it doesn’t, Google will provide you with information on what needs to be fixed.

6. Poor User Experience

A poor user experience will often be the result of overly complex interactive content. For example, making users jump through too many hoops on their journey or having no apparent information hierarchy.

Don’t think ‘the bigger, the better’ either. By giving users, particular millennials with short attention spans, too much content to read, their minds will soon wander elsewhere. Too many moving or interactive elements could overwhelm and confuse users too.

Below is a screenshot of an interactive piece called “What kind of drinker are you?”. It’s actually a pretty good idea but let down by a few usability issues in my opinion.

screenshot of poor ux homescreen

I feel it’s let down by:

      1. The sound is automatically turned on which could irritate users, bloggers, journalists and influencers.
      2. There are sound effects with each question which could add irritate people even more.
      3. Weight is asked for in Ibs only. What about the people who are more familiar with metric?
      4. It’s easy to get lost within the questions – no clear journey from start to finish.
      5. Throughout, you never know what stage you are at so you don’t know how long the experience is going to last.
      6. Some buttons aren’t placed in logical, prominent positions making it difficult to navigate to the next step.
      7. No clear call to action of where to go next on the final results page.
      8. No social sharing buttons on the homepage or results page.
      9. Buttons and text too small on mobile making it incredibly difficult to use.

Here’s a (nofollow) link to the piece if you want to try the tool out for yourself.

What you should do:

      • Keep clicks to a minimum and establish an obvious route that users need to take.
      • Make CTA’s clear and obvious.
      • If there’s several steps towards completing the interactive content such as a ten question quiz, clearly let the users where they are by using a progress bar.
      • Enable users to have control and let them follow their intuition.
      • Ensure content can be universally understood or provide options.
      • Make sounds and music an option. Don’t have automatic audio on your interactive content, as some will find this annoying – especially me!
      • Have your team and/or friends to use your interactive piece and get feedback from them. Better still, watch them! You can also use Peek and get a free 5 minute user review of your content.
      • For more best practice advice check out 5 Key Principles of Good Website Usability by Sabina Idler.

7. Too long

A recent Microsoft study highlighted the deteriorating attention spans of humans, which has fallen from 12 seconds to eight seconds within the space of 15 years. Now comparable to the attention span of a goldfish, our lack of awareness is being blamed on the mobile revolution.

Therefore, it is safe to say that lengthy pieces of interactive content are far more likely to disengage your audience. Not only do quizzes or assessments with 20 questions seem daunting to consumers before they have even begun, boredom will undoubtedly set in sooner rather than later. Generally speaking, the more questions or the longer the piece, the higher the drop off rate.

Here’s an example of nice looking interactive infographic by Blackberry. One problem though.

It’s too long.

There are 40 stats (including first and last page) that you have to scroll through. If I could be bothered to read and digest every single stat I reckon it would take me at least 5 minutes to do so.

Blackberry-long-info

There are no social sharing buttons either, but if a content piece is engaging enough then people will do the work required to share with their friends and peers. However, it only received 2 shares!

What you should do:

      • Keep pieces of interactive content short as possible, simple, and sweet.
      • See this example by SuperDrug, which ended up with 817 referring domains.
      • Strip back the clutter and get rid of anything unnecessary.
      • For quizzes/assessments, clearly display the number of questions as users progress.
      • Rather than writing big blocks of text, get straight to the point and use images/visual clues.
      • Remember to keep your results short as well.
      • As mentioned above, test your interactive content with a small sample to see whether they found it too long/tedious.

8. Hard to find social sharing buttons

Interactive content featuring lots of visuals can go viral on social media. After all, status updates featuring photos are liked twice as much as those featuring text, while videos are shared a whopping 12 times more than text and link-based updates.

Consequently, it should be considered a crime if users have to endlessly scroll to find social sharing buttons. A case can be made for an online offence if sharing buttons are too small or go missing because of poor design too.

What you should do:

      • Place social sharing buttons in a prominent positions, preferably above the fold so users don’t have to scroll. It’s okay to have them at the bottom as well as the top.
      • Support social sharing buttons with a CTA that encourages users to share.
      • Limit the number of social media sharing buttons to as few as possible. In most cases you should include, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ as these have been proven to be the most popular. However, keep your target audience in mind and include the ones they tend to use most. Pinterest and Reddit are other popular sharing sites.
      • Don’t place them too close to navigation, so users don’t interact with them by accident.
      • They don’t have to be anything fancy. Below is an example of how to do it right.
screenshot of goat or goatee results page

9. Lazy promotion

Interactive content consumers can help propel your brand to viral status on social media, but you shouldn’t sit back and assume this will happen based on the strength of your creation.

Below is an example of an interactive parallax infographic that I think had the potential to do really well. It’s relevant to their target market, funny, interesting and well designed. Take a closer look for yourself here.

screenshot of simon cowell interactive content

However, it only received 66 shares and 2 backlinks. Well, 3 now that I’ve linked to it 😉

Why did it perform so poorly? It’s pretty obvious that they didn’t spend sufficient time (if any time) on promotion/outreach.

There are plenty of other ways to promote and publicise your interactive content away from channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Don’t assume that this is where your entire audience resides, as you could be ignoring countless would-be customers.

What you should do:

      • Have a promotion plan ready prior to launch.
      • Research influencers relevant to your interactive content campaign. Here’s an epic guide by Steve Rayson.
      • Research potential blog targets relevant to your interactive campaign.
      • Outreach to the above after you’ve read this post and this one.
      • Pitch the value, not the tool.
      • Email existing subscriber lists.
      • Capitalise on the highly targeted nature of paid social promotion.
      • Spend an equal or greater amount of time promoting your interactive piece as you did creating it.
      • Here’s 33 more content promotion techniques from content marketing experts.

10. Not hiring a pro

With other forms of content, such as a weekly blog post on your website, you don’t necessarily need to enlist the services of a professional. As long as you know what you are going to say and how you are going to say it, traditional content doesn’t necessarily require a specialist skill-set.

However, not hiring a pro for your interactive content has the potential to be a big mistake. The expertise required to create something that looks good but also delivers an immersive and impressive experience is something most marketers do not possess.

What you should do:

      • If you’re a small business with a tight budget then do consider using a template creation platforms and online quiz generators. Although there are limitations, you’ll still be able to produce something more engaging than a traditional blog post.
      • If you’ve got a budget to play with then in order to give your users the best experience possible, think about working with a dedicated agency to custom build a piece of interactive content specifically for you. Agencies can also help with ideation and improvement suggestions too.

Below is an example of the kind of interactive content you can produce when partnering with an agency (shameless self plug). Nostalgia FM Ticks all the “What you should do” boxes in this post and as a result, exploded on social media and generated 96 backlinks (according to ahrefs), including links from NME and Econsultancy. Try the tool for yourself here.

nostalgia fm start and results page screenshots

In summary…

Owing to the advantages that interactive content can afford in terms of attention, interest, and engagement, it would be foolish not to explore this marketing technique. Even so, there are a number of common mistakes that are easy to make if you dive into the creation and promotion process headfirst.

Therefore, it makes sense to take a step back, think carefully about what you want to create, and be certain all the right boxes have been ticked. Do this and you should be able to reap the rich rewards that interactive content can provide.

At Tone, we are able to creative interactive, engaging, and shareworthy digital content for agencies and brands. We already work with some of the country’s most high profile brands (across both B2B and B2C) and have mapped out the qualities they vouch for; ideation, agility and responsiveness as well as design excellence.

To find out what Tone could do for you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us about our interactive content services.

Featured image: Shutterstock

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Anthony Mcloughlin

Posted By Anthony Mcloughlin

Anthony is a key member of the digital team at Tone, helping dig deep into stats to further understand user behaviours. Follow him on Twitter @anthony_mac85 and on Google+

  • Hii Anthony, This is absolutely great guide. It really help new website designers. Thanks.

    • Thanks Sujay. Glad you liked it 🙂