Jul 13, 2017

5 Ways to Use Interactive Content in Your Marketing Strategy

by Digital Marketing Institute

You can’t escape advertising; most of us are subject to hundreds of ads on social media and websites each day.

Interactive content is a highly effective way to break through the noise and offer real value, advice and education while allowing the user to directly engage with that content.

That’s where content marketing comes in. It allows you to break through the noise and offer real value, advice and education. But even content marketing sometimes falls flat. The latest trend to combat this boredom? Interactive content.

SnapApp, an interactive content platform, defines interactive content as “...content that requires the participants’ active engagement -- more than simply reading or watching. In return for that engagement, participants receive real-time, hyper-relevant results they care about.” In other words, it’s the kind of content that rebels against being created and never accessed or utilized. Its purpose is to be played with. And it’s popular for good reason. According to Demand Gen Report’s 2015 Content Preferences survey, 91% of buyers prefer content that is visual and has an element of interactivity.

You’ve probably seen interactive content in some form. Buzzfeed quizzes are one of the most popular examples of this type of content. Many marketers, however, continue to struggle with using interactive content to increase leads and meet their marketing goals.

Here are five ways interactive content can help you to achieve your objectives across the marketing funnel:

1. Drive Awareness

Awareness-level or (top-of-the-funnel) content has many benefits. Awareness content can create buzz around your company, get your company’s name out there and even make it memorable when it’s time for the user to make a purchase. Interactive content does this very well because it differentiates you from your competition.

During the awareness stage, making users aware that they have a problem is key. Infographics, quizzes, etc. can visually show users how they rank among their peers. For interactive content, awareness content is also found in trivia,polls/surveys, and sports-style brackets. These types of content are not typically considered high-performing lead-gen tools, but they will allow users to recognize your brand should they come across it again. See History.com’s “Ultimate History Quiz” as an example.

For interactive content, awareness content is also found in trivia,polls/surveys, and sports-style brackets. These types of content are not typically considered high-performing lead-gen tools.

2. Use Interactive Content to Educate Buyers

One of the best uses of interactive content is educational content, which falls in the consideration phase of the buyer’s journey. Analyst firm Demand Metric produced a research report titled Enhancing the Buyer’s Journey which investigated the impact of using interactive versus passive content.

25% of participants reported that they used interactive content in some way, and the top reason for doing so was to educate their audiences. 93% of the interactive group reported their content was somewhat effective or very effective in educating buyers, versus 70% for the passive group. To give this statement more power, 45% of the marketers in the interactive group reported that their content was “very effective” at educating buyers — against a mere 6% in the passive group. They also reported increases in shares, with 38% of the interactive group stating their content was shared frequently or very frequently, versus 17% for the passive group. See EmailMarketingROI.com for an example of a successful educational calculator.

3. Achieve Lead-Gen Goals

Whether it’s an assessment, a calculator, a survey or some other format, you must determine which types of interactive content are the best fit for your business to achieve your lead generation goals and keep your C-suite happy. This may involve some trial and error, but here are some of the benefits and drawbacks you’ll find with each type.

Achieve Lead-Gen Goals.

  • Assessments: Assessments (or quizzes) are the most popular type of interactive content. They can be used by both B2B and B2C businesses. Assessments work well for the first stage of the buyer’s cycle (awareness), though they can travel further down the funnel. Like all interactive content, quizzes require either an interactive tool platform or some custom web development, so they’re generally a bit of an investment--though not as much so as some of the other forms of interactive content. When used as a lead-gen tool, assessments require the user to input his/her personal details to receive results
  • Calculators: Calculators allow users to input options to create a unique numeric answer. Calculators typically require more time to design and create than assessments do, due to the fact that business stakeholders must agree on the results presented and back-end calculations must be perfected before launch. However, calculators can also be the best form of interactive content to attract leads because they typically offer valuable numeric information that helps the user make purchase decisions
  • Interactive eBooks/ Whitepapers: Despite the fact they’ve been around for a while now, whitepapers and eBooks are still successful lead-gen tools for many companies. Adding interactivity breaks up the monotony of this long-form content and allows users to engage with it in various ways. Lead-gen acts in the same way that it would for a traditional eBook or whitepaper (a landing page with a gated form), or marketers may choose to embed aform directly in the PDF, with the option to fill it out to “continue reading.” Ion Interactive does a great job with its interactive white papers.

Type of interactive content that perform well for content marketers.

4. Fill Gaps in Your Content Marketing Campaigns

We talked about some of the ways you can obtain leads and educate buyers with interactive content, but each piece doesn’t have to be a stand-alone experience. Interactive content can fit into every part of your marketing landscape. Here are some examples:

  • Paid Media: Interactive CTAs often drive higher click through rates and conversions than static CTAs because they inspire the user to engage
  • Events: There are many ways you can integrate interactive content into events. You can launch interactive quizzes to gather contact info for leads during the event or send along pre-event surveys to give visitors a taste of what you’ll be offering once they arrive. With the information you gather from their interactive inputs, you can even personalize content specifically for them
  • Blog: Embed quizzes with lead forms directly into your blog to gather leads from what otherwise would have been ungated, awareness content
  • Social Media: Social media is one of the best mediums for interactive content because users are primed to engage by sharing, liking and interacting with others’ content. Promoting your interactive content on social is a must-do
  • Email: Visual and interactive email content is still rather new, so companies that use it can easily stand out from the competition and achieve better click rates

5. Deepen Connections with Existing Customers

Every company needs to attract customers, and they need a great lead generation strategy to do it. However, many companies make the mistake of only going after new customers when their biggest growth potential is actually with their current consumers. A solid base of repeat and referral business from these individuals is the key to great marketing success.

So how do you keep your existing customers happy? There are a variety of content types that work for energizing your current users, including customer newsletters, events and forums. But there are also ways that you can integrate what might usually be thought of as ‘prospect’ content into the customer cycle.

For example, you could create an interactive poll to ask your current customers how they’re doing and show how their answers stack up with other respondents. Or you could send them a virtual surprise on their birthday or provide interactive offers or upgrades that are sure to catch their eye. In every case, interactive content is the perfect way to connect, build trust and loyalty and get them engaged with your brand.

Interactive content can be a great tool for marketers. Successful interactive content allows the user to dive in, interact, have fun and gain insight without feeling like he/she is being sold to.

However, interactive content does require investment in resources and development. The Content Marketing Institute polled companies that didn’t use interactive content and asked them why. The top reasons were lack of staff/bandwidth (50%) and lack of budget (39%). Both factors are something to keep in mind when planning this type of content, see here and here for a list of a list of recommended tools.

If you're looking for more ways to engage buyers, have a look at our Beginner’s Guide to Defining Buyer Personas to learn how they can help you increase the personalization of your content. And if you're a busy content marketer looking to increase production on limited time, we recommend these four hacks for speedy content creation.

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