Anthony Mcloughlin

In order to establish brand identity, increase online visibility, build strong consumer relationships and boost bottom-line sales, more and more businesses are prioritising content marketing. But if you want to achieve favourable search engine rankings and go viral on social media while grabbing the attention and interest of your audience at the same time, this content needs to be useful, valuable, and above all else, engaging.

In the past, you could get away with a weekly blog post on your website. However, as content marketing has evolved, the written word doesn’t hold as much influence as it once did and an increasing number of mediums are being utilised instead. This means that alongside the humble blog post, brands are producing informative infographics, entertaining videos, and even enlightening podcasts.

However, the content marketing landscape is starting to get saturated with these types of content too. With consumers spoilt for choice, content needs to stand out above the crowd and appeal to the unique requirements of the individual. As a result, we are seeing interactive content emerge as the next driving force of digital marketing. But what is interactive content and why should your business embrace it?

What is interactive content?

As opposed to the passive nature of reading blog posts and watching videos, interactive content requires the consumer to actively get involved with what is in front of them. Along with boosting engagement levels, interactive content also enhances the individual’s own experience as Arnie Kuenn explains on Marketing Land:

“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.”

Although some forms of “passive” content also call for the user to submit their personal details, the resulting artefact is the same for every user. But with interactive content, the personalised result is more valuable to both the consumer and the company. The individual receives something that has been created according to their own input, while the business benefits from greater insight into its audience.

With additional information about demographics, interests, preferences, and challenges, the creation process becomes a lot easier, future content can be even more personalised, and results even more meaningful.

The need for interactive content

What several businesses forget is that the same forms of content cannot always be used for different purposes. For example, you can attract the attention of your audience through a captivating blog post, but getting them to simultaneously convert is incredibly difficult, if not impossible.

It is encouraging consumers down this sales funnel that brands are finding the most problematic. According to the study “Enhancing the Buyer’s Journey: Benchmarks for Content & The Buyer’s Journey,” the most frequently encountered problem with content marketing efforts is creating enough opportunities for interaction and engagement, noted by 58 per cent of study participants. What’s more, only 25 per cent rated their current content as slightly or very interactive.

However, add interactive content into the mix and things become a lot different. The same research piece found that interactive content was able to generate conversions moderately or very well 70 per cent of the time, compared to just 35 per cent for passive or static content.

On top of that, 93 per cent feel interactive content is effective at educating the buyer, while 88 per cent believe it differentiates from competitors. Therefore, in addition to ticking the right boxes of traditional content marketing, interactive elements go above and beyond the standard call of duty and encourage consumer action where it matters most.

Types of interactive content

So, you know what interactive content is and why it requires your attention. But what types of interactive content can you capitalise on and use to your advantage?

Quizzes

Previously found in glossy magazines and then adopted by trend websites such as BuzzFeed, quizzes are typically utilised at the very top of the sales funnel. This is because they can catch the eye of your audience, initiate a dialogue between the two of you, and generally don’t take very long to complete, yet require the user’s undivided attention.

As well as providing a platform to share information about your brand with the customer, quizzes can also collect valuable demographic data too, which can be used for outreach and nurturing. What’s more, they are highly shareable on social media –  and have an average completion rate of 43 per cent.

Color Quiz

Finally, by demonstrating that you understand the customer’s preferences or problems through a well thought out quiz, a relationship built on trust can blossom.

Assessments

Similar to a quiz but possibly even more personal, assessments look at the individual’s skills and knowledge. Again, this gives you actionable insights into your audience while providing prospects with a thoroughly enjoyable content experience.

Assessments have an average click rate of 54 per cent and an average completion rate of 76 per cent. Furthermore, they can enhance your reputation as an industry influencer or authority figure by providing a platform to showcase knowledge.

As you would expect, BuzzFeed leads the way when it comes to assessments. Its “Which City Should You Live In?” survey was the site’s most popular piece of content in 2013 and invited visitors to learn about themselves a little bit more.

Contests

The possibilities are endless when it comes to contests. However, user-generated content competitions, which could be a selfie or video of consumers using your product or service, are bound to noticeably increase engagement.

But while your audience is actually creating the content, you will still need to come up with an idea or concept that attracts the right kind of prospects. Therefore, think carefully about the subject, entry requirements and prize before diving into contests headfirst.

Contests might be better suited to certain brands than others, but semiconductor manufacturer Atmel proved that anybody could utilise this form interactive content if done correctly. Its video contest targeted engineers, marketers, and hobbyists, attracting 500 entries, 218,000 votes, and 165,337 visitors referred through social media sites.

Polls and surveys

This might not seem like the most interesting or absorbing form of interactive content, but with a little bit of creativity and imagination, polls and surveys can be mutually beneficial for all parties.

Customers get to share their likes, dislikes, ideas and preferences, while you receive invaluable feedback to fine tune your product portfolio or marketing campaigns. You should aim to keep things clear and concise with surveys, as a list of 50 questions won’t get any consumer enthused.

Take a leaf out of Marketing Prof’s book. Its “A Day In The Life Of A Marketer” achieved a 42 per cent click through rate, a 73 per cent lead submission rate, and a 4 per cent share rate.

Calculators

Before investing in a form of content marketing, brands usually need to demonstrate the expected ROI. But what if customers are able to do the same thing? Would they be more likely to make a purchase? Through the use of calculators, prospects can work out the ROI they would get from purchasing your product or service.

From calculating the cost of computer downtime to the price of poor ad performance, there are numerous insights that interactive calculators could provide your audience with. Rather than conjecture, this is cold hard evidence that most consumers would find difficult to disagree with.

Sales software providers HubSpot produced an ROI calculator that asked users for information about current website and business performance, then provided the increase in revenue they could expect from installing its inbound marketing program.

Interactive infographics

With interactive infographics, consumers can access written-word information and attractive images by completing quizzes, calculators and surveys. Think of them as an amalgamation of old, new, traditional and interactive content.

You can tailor the whole experience according to the prospect’s responses and deliver one of the most personalised pieces of content possible.

This is something that postage and shipping company Endicia knows all too well. Take a look at its “Packing Returns” infographic to find out how you can bring together insight, information, and interactivity into one engaging content experience.

Making a case for interactive content

In a world where 60 per cent of B2B and B2C marketers are struggling to produce engaging content and 35 per cent find it difficult to produce a wide enough variety of content to keep their audience interested, brands must seek out opportunities to improve and diversify their content offering.

For many, interactive content is the answer. Not only does it address the challenges associated with current marketing efforts, such as increasing engagement and being unique enough to attract audience attention, interactive content also affords additional advantages too.

Through quizzes, contests, polls, surveys, calculators, assessments and interactive infographics, customers can receive more personal, tailor-made content experiences that push them down the sales funnel. In unison, you will benefit from crucial consumer information that can strengthen product portfolios, service offerings and marketing campaigns.

Related post: 10 Interactive Content Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

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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+