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Interactive Content Is Where the Action Is Now

Internet. Interactive. The two were destined to collide.

The term “internet” came to be because it connected networks. The prefix “Inter” means “between.” It follows that “interactive” means “action between.” Or something like that.

The point is we were destined to interact online. We live for interaction and the Internet lives to give it to us.

Content marketers are getting “inter” it

The real measure of any form of marketing is action. In older and traditional channels, the actions we measured tended to include phone calls, faxes, coupon redemptions, sales meetings, and maybe sales. Remember “tip in” cards in trade magazines?

Today, with content marketing ruling the online space, marketers often measure more actions, and certainly, less meaningful ones: shares, clicks, even views. This is not to say content marketers don’t measure the more substantial actions. The good ones do.

The good ones also realize engagement is all-important. Building brand affinity leads to building the relationship that leads to building trust that leads to building sales that leads to building business. Got all that?

Enter interactive content. On the battlefield that is content marketing, reading, watching, listening to, or downloading something may be the equivalent to firing a shot, but getting a prospect emotionally involved via interaction is a hit.

“Engaging a target audience” is an important excerpt from Content Marketing Institute’s definition of content marketing. According to nearly every marketing research study, it’s also consistently proven to be amongst our toughest challenges.

Marketers succeed when their audience not only consumes content, but also enjoys and acts upon it. Understanding this principle, more and more content marketers are stepping-up their static content to create content customers can interact with.

“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.

The forces behind interactive content

Your classic content marketer is adept at publishing a blog and other forms of one-way media. Creating interactive content is more work. It tends to demand more resources.

Is it worth it?

Most content marketers that have hopped aboard the interactive train would answer yes. They may say they’ve realized greater results. They may also say it’s imperative. Here’s why:

  • 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’s gone 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.

interactive-content-more-effective-than-passive-content

A conversion study by Demand Metric indicates when examining “very effective” content, interactive blows away passive content for educating the buyer.

Fun and Games is Serious Business

Playbuzz is an Israeli-based company focused on enabling publishers to create and distribute a variety of playful interactive content types. Forbes described the company’s offering “The social content sensation of the year.”

Much like the ubiquitous BuzzFeed, the company’s magnetic force is fun, interactive activities, which clearly appeals to the connected generation. In a very short time, Playbuzz has garnered enormous attention and become a top 500 destination site in the U.S.

The company is making a business “play” by enabling marketers, for free, to create branded “storytelling formats for the digital age” and embed it anywhere.

playbuzz-interactive-content

Playbuzz is among the companies who are amending the “content is king” mantra to “interactive content is king,” touting its many engagement advantages.

Interactive content = persona optimization

Pardon my jargon. The point is interactive content provides marketers rich data they can use to learn more about their prospects and use the data to market more effectively. Scott Brinker offered the following examples:

  • People rank themselves via assessments
  • Quizzes indicate what participants do and don’t know
  • Prospects identify specific parameters when using a calculator product configurator

In “Interactive Content & The Buyer’s Journey,” Oracle Marketing Cloud and SnapApp map interactive content’s place in three stages of the buyer’s journey.

  • 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.

To illustrate these ideas, the eBook authors offered the example of a person planning a vacation.

  • Awareness stage—What type of vacation do I want?
  • Evaluation stage—Where should I go?
  • Decision stage—Who should I book with?

What types of content are interactive?

Let’s look at some of the interactive content types, some of which are well known and blazing hot and a few others with a potentially strong upside.

Quizzes

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.

quizzes-interactive-content

Unitrends, makers of a data backup appliances, drove traffic from Facebook to its website with a personality quiz to determine each participant’s backup and disaster recovery superhero persona. (See complete details on SnapApp)

Quiz: Can You Name These Southern City Skylines?

Ecommerce startup Country Outfitter has multiplied traffic to its site and engagement thanks to publishing fun quizzes with Playbuzz on their lifestyle website. Their quizzes have appeared on more than 100 different domains.

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.

most-interesting-project-bracket-challenge

Heavy Construction Systems Specialists (HCSS) conducted a tournament in which customers submitted their most interesting projects. 117 projects were submitted and 292,000 votes increased website traffic by 800%.

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.

content-marketing-interactive-infographics-ion
ion interactive showcases its own software for creating interactive infographics. A menu bar invites readers to navigate the content marketing stats as they wish.

What type of content marketer are you?

After researching interactive content and learning more about the magnetic power of quizzes and such, I couldn’t resist writing the subhead above. It begs to be a quiz. And as a content marketing vying for attention and engagement amongst the deafening noise, you’ll want to consider the question.

Interactive content offers an opportunity to differentiate your brand and engage your audience.

Special nod to SnapApp for “What is Interactive Content & Why It Works” and for providing examples of their customers’ interactive content.

About the Author: Barry Feldman operates Feldman Creative and provides clients content marketing strategies that rock and creative that rolls. Barry has recently been named a Top 40 Digital Strategist by Online Marketing Institute and one of 25 Social Media Marketing Experts You Need to Know by LinkedIn. Visit Feldman Creative and his blog, The Point.

  1. Think this is a great post on a topic with lots of potential in the content marketing space.

    Do you (or any readers) have any data around how profiling readers through ‘interactive content’ compared to simply capturing that same data via standard landing page forms impacts conversion?

    i.e. are readers more likely to provide info if it is requested as part of an in session quiz or question vs. a content gate?

    Assuming that is the case, but curious to see if there is data out there to back up the hypothesis???

  2. Is there any affordable solution to do interactive content?

    • Hey there, Paulo. Ben from the Playbuzz marketing team here. Our platform is actually 100% free to use, and our formats are embeddable anywhere!

    • Definitely Playbuzz, so Ben covered you there. However, the market’s expanding fast and there are quite a few platforms you can use or try for free.

  3. Excellent article, Barry. Neatly explained. It is definitely a great way to develop a unique brand identity, as it delivers an immersive experience. Thanks, Niraj

  4. Interactive marketing can also be done through social media. Social media is a great way to have conversation and get your audience involved in what your company is doing.

  5. tony corletto Aug 28, 2015 at 7:37 am

    Thank you for sharing this informative article. Because of technological innovations the world is constantly changing. Now everything is connected in the internet and the internet has upgraded everything, even businesses. In order for entrepreneurs to be successful they must know how to swim along the changes. Interactive content probably is one of the novel and important marketing strategy we have today so it is essential for Online entrepreneurs to know about it.
    Again thank you for this Information.

    Tony

  6. Barry, GREAT article – love to see it through your eyes & perspective. Thanks for including a couple of quotes and samples from our company, we really appreciate being included in your thoughts on interactive content!

  7. Hey Barry,
    Great article on interactive content’s benefits for a content marketing program. At Ceros, we believe the main case for adding interactivity to your content program lies beneath the clear fact that most content on the web is homogenous – it all looks, feels, and acts the same. Even if you are doing content really well, you have compelling ideas and visuals, but they’re delivered in the same plain format as all the not-so-great content out there. By making your content interactive, you can begin to tell really intriguing brand stories that stand out from the sea of dull, cookie-cutter content.

    Here’s to creating excellent content through interactivity! Cheers.

  8. Hey Berry,
    Thanks for this article. Serves as the best starting point of research for an article that I am planning on ‘The importance of Interactive Content’ for blog of my SaaS company that helps people create drag and drop calculators. And I was wondering if I could get a quote or something from you on ‘the importance of interactive content’

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