You Need to be Creating Interactive Content
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Strategy

You Need to be Creating Interactive Content – Here’s Why

by Marcus StollJuly 25, 2016

A recent study from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and ion interactive with 341 content marketers showed some dramatic results on a brands’ success and confidence with interactive content:

  • Two in three (66%) agree that audience engagement has increased since they started using interactive content tactics
  • Four in five (79%) content marketers agree that combining traditional content marketing tactics with interactive content enhances retention of our message
  • Two in three (67%) agree that interactive content provides valuable ways to repurpose passive content

So what exactly is interactive content and why do you need to start using it?

To put it simply, interactive content is content that requires participation by the audience, over and above reading or watching. Some of the more popular examples include assessments, calculators, contests, quizzes, and infographics, but can also span into ebooks, configurators, games, and wizards.

The concept of these tools is not new. In fact, the New York Times called 2014 The Year in Interactive Storytelling, Graphics and Multimedia. Web browsers are now more capable than ever of delivering custom experiences to users, and new and creative ways of reaching an audience are flourishing on a daily basis. As brand marketing has evolved, this new interactive category has stood out as one that is driving real engagement and value in areas where companies, not publishers, have previously struggled to see success.

Why should you devote resources to interactive content? There are a few major advantages over more traditional formats like articles and videos:

  • First, it puts the audience in an active role with your brand – the content simply cannot be engaged with a simple glance over or skim (66% of marketers agreed it increased engagement). The audience is a part of the story, and each person’s experience will be completely unique. This allows you to really narrow down on your target personas and customize journeys. In the age of 8 second attention spans, it’s important to have content types that set the hook early and keep reeling your audience in, driving additional engagement and sharing.
  • Second, it more strongly associates your brand with being useful and relevant (79% of marketers agreed it helped retention of their message). This is the core goal of content marketing, but it’s not always easy to come across this way in the traditional passive content types most brands have been using. If you’re trying to find a differentiator from your competitors, the fresh perspective and relevancy of interactive content is your ticket.
  • Third, it’s a phenomenal way to repurpose existing content (67% of marketers agree). Outside of articles that may have presented concepts in abstract (i.e. how to measure content marketing ROI), many brands already have some version of these tools created in-house. Think of any Excel pricing calculators or success trackers you have – is there an opportunity to jump-start some interactive content by translating that into an online tool?

There are a number of other benefits according to CMI and ion’s study, including driving repeat visits and multiple exposures (79% agree), improved lead nurturing (75% agree), and grabbing readers’ attention more effectively (81% agree). When you look at the benefits as a whole, it’s clear that interactive content presents an attractive proposition to start devoting serious time and effort toward its creation.

Now, to be clear, interactive content isn’t all sunshine and roses. There is one main downside that needs to be carefully weighed when deciding the best path forward: Interactive content is more expensive and timely to create and maintain.

There’s no simple logging into a WYSIWYG editor and adding a bullet point or changing some text. Interactive content is created with a more advanced coding and development process that will often require subject matter experts and longer turnaround times. For brands that have historically struggled to create even simple content, this can be a daunting obstacle. But the upsides of this content type are real and tangible, so teams should be creative with their solutions and not intimated by its challenges.

Where does interactive content work well? Pillar content pieces, or high-value offerings that will have a longer shelf-life than a timely article or video, perform well with an interactive twist. They can be used over and over again, often times for a year or two before they require a serious overhaul. A recent example that NewsCred has developed is our #ThinkContent University program, made up of not just video tutorials, but interactive quizzes and audience interaction with industry influencers.

A few of my favorite examples of excellent interactive content are BBC’s Your life on earth (definitely give this a shot!), Key Equipment Finance’s Lease vs. Buy infographic, and any one of the BuzzFeed Quizzes that you see all over social media.

While it’s clear that interactive content is powerful and effective to all audiences, many brands have been slow to adapt and implement it as they try to sort our their more traditional content strategy. Marketers should start brainstorming and presenting interactive ideas to their teams so they don’t fall too far behind the curve. At this point it’s still a great way to stand out from the competition, and more importantly, engage your audience in a meaningful way that provides real impact and value.
Marcus Stoll is Head of Marketing EMEA at NewsCred.