While there’s nothing wrong with standard text-based content, it’s important that businesses develop alternative methods for “spicing things up.” When used in conjunction with quality articles, blog posts, and website copy, interactive features can really enhance the entire content marketing campaign.
The value of interactive content.
Depending on who you ask, you’ll get different terminologies. Some call it interactive media, others call it active content, but we like to call it interactive content. Don’t get caught up in the semantics, though. It’s all essentially the same thing.
This is a pretty good definition: “Interactive media normally refers to products and services on digital computer-based systems which respond to the user’s actions by presenting content such as text, graphics, animation, video, audio, games, etc.” In other words, interactive content is any type of online feature, application, or clickable item that lets the user interact, as opposed to just consume.
In today’s increasingly crowded internet space, the importance of interactive content cannot be overstated. While standard content marketing techniques such as blogging work well, it’s important that you learn how to effectively compliment those staples with interactive, evergreen content that directly adds value to users and customers. You may be able to get away with a standard content strategy right now, but the importance of two-way interaction is going to expand in the coming months and years.
4 ways to use interactive content in marketing.
So, what are your options when it comes to creating interactive content and aligning it with your brand? The possibilities are numerous, but these are some of the most common types you’ll see on the internet:
- Reveal-based marketing. One type most people are familiar with is reveal-based interactive content. These are advertisements or features that play on the user’s curiosity and require them to take action in order to see more. One relevant example of this is a commercial currently airing on TV. It tells a story, sets the viewer up for the climax, and then asks you to visit a link to see the end of the commercial. Used in the right situation, reveal-based interactive content can be effective.
- Interactive polling. One of the most basic forms of interactive content are polling features that allow users to share their opinions. Websites use this to gauge user response to a relevant issue and it makes them feel like they’re involved. You may not get as much feedback from interactive polling as you would with other types of content, but it’s also much easier and cheaper to implement. There are dozens of plugins and add-ons that can be added to your website at little or no cost.
- Clickable infographics. Infographics are visual, but aren’t necessarily interactive. There is a way to combine the two, though. Many marketers are developing clickable infographics that respond to the user’s commands. This is a simple way to spice up a form of content that’s become really popular over the past couple of years.
- Value-add features. The last type we’ll highlight are what we call “value-add” features. These are unique forms of interactive content that coordinate with a brand’s core products and add value to them. For example, car dealers often integrate simple features that let buyers calculate their monthly payment for the car they’re interested in. This feature actually adds value to the core product – the vehicle – by hopefully encouraging the buyer to make a purchase.
Examples of awesome interactive content.
Okay, now that we have a clear understanding of what interactive content is and how it can be used, let’s take a look at some of the top examples, so you can get a picture of what it looks like in the real world.
- Car rental fuel calculator. Bayswater Car Rental has a neat feature on their website that allows customers to plan their trip and calculate their fuel costs in advance. Users simply enter in the car they want to rent, the price of fuel, and the start and end points, and the tool provides an estimated fuel cost for the journey. Bayswater Car Rental then provides an easy to click “Book Now” button that lets the customer book a trip using the information they provided. It’s a simple interactive tool, but one that can make a big difference when someone is choosing between multiple competitors.
- Scoop.it’s Content Marketing Grader. Scoop.it just launched an incredible interactive content to help you know whether you’re on track to content marketing ROI or not. By responding to a few questions about your content marketing activities, you get an overall grade of how your content strategy stacks up against industry best practices, along with a set of tips to improve the aspects you did not perform great at. Influencers that shaped content marketing as it is today took the test and the feedback was unanimous.
- Your life on earth infographic. This BBC interactive infographic is incredible. Users enter their birthdate, height, weight, and gender and the infographic customizes to show how the world’s changed in their lifetime. It’ll tell them how many times their heart has beaten, how many times they’ve traveled around the sun, how the population has increased, and other interesting pieces of information. This is a great example of how custom interactive content engages users.
- ‘What City’ poll. BuzzFeed is all about interactive content, but this is one of their best. It’s an interactive poll that asks users to answer some simple questions about themselves. It then tells them “what city they should actually live in.” It’s simple, visually appealing, and conducive to sharing. This is a great example of what successful polling content looks like – as opposed to boring, text-based, multiple choice surveys.
- Power Matrix game. A lot of companies have tried to make interactive games, only to fall flat. Siemens has actually done a really good job in creating their Power Matrix game. The game’s goal is to build a city that leverages renewable energy to prosper. It compliments their core beliefs and allows users to interact with the company in a simple, yet effective manner.
Creating interactive content.
By no means is it easy to create interactive content. It takes a lot more brainstorming, preparation, and work than simply writing a blog post and sharing it across a variety of platforms. However, interactive content is substantial and adds value to your brand. It catches the eye of your customers and gives them a reason to stick around.
While this article highlights four different types of interactive content, there are dozens of additional strategies. Feel free to develop something unique and try something new. This is an underutilized form of marketing and something your brand can greatly benefit from.
Image by Hernán Piñera.