Interactive Content 101

Incorporating Interactive Marketing into Your Content Strategy

Meg Cannistra By Meg Cannistra May 10, 2016

We’re only two weeks away from June, and it feels like only yesterday I was bundled up in my winter coat and facing cold, snowy New York City mornings on my way into the office. I always feel reflective halfway through the year. It’s a good time to think about the goals I wanted to achieve to get a sense of what I’ve done so far and what still needs to be worked on.

Not only is reflecting at the midway mark a good idea for your personal projects, it’s also an important exercise for the your content marketing program. A great way to begin looking over the content created in the first half of the year is to review the content strategies you set forth in January. Sometimes, this can be a daunting task, especially if you haven’t taken a look at it since.

For example, I’m sure when planning for 2016, you made a promise to incorporate innovation into your strategy. But it can be easy to forget about developing innovative content, especially when what you’ve been doing has worked.

Innovation doesn’t have to mean a dramatic shift or full-on re-branding. You don’t need to ditch your tried and true content—just give yourself room to experiment with new things as well. Interactive marketing is a great way to incorporate innovation into your strategy since it fits seamlessly into most content programs. Not only does interactive stand out amidst a sea of static content, it also engages your audience in ways a simple blog post or whitepaper can’t.

Now that you know what interactive marketing actually is and have explored some examples of popular interactive content types, it’s time to start thinking about how to implement it in your own program. Below are 4 tips to help you start thinking about how interactive can work within your content strategy.

Find Stories that Lend Themselves to Interactivity

Not all stories lend themselves to an interactive treatment. Some are too complex; others are difficult to conceptualize visually; and others are too linear and rigid. Often times, starting with an existing piece of content can restrict your creativity when it comes to interactive, so starting fresh is usually a better approach.  That way, you’re able to formulate your concept with interactive in mind. When considering which stories you want to make interactive, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Can your story be shortened or broken up and still make sense?
  2. Can part of it be told with visual elements like videos, GIFs, or images?
  3. Does it have to be told linearly, or can a user choose their own path?
  4. Does your story incorporate data that can be visualized?
  5. Are there multiple narratives that can be interwoven and layered?

If your story doesn’t align with any of the above questions, chances are it will be difficult to make interactive.

NewsCred Inspiration Lookbook: Incorporating Interactive into Content Strategy

A great example of a story that lends itself well to interactivity is NewsCred’s Inspiration Lookbook. The piece is highly visual and focuses on multiple narratives that fall under a few central themes. Viewers are able to easily jump to the examples that interest them most instead of being tied down to a linear path. It’s also not bogged down with tons of copy but still retains a clear story that’s easy for viewers to follow. Multimedia elements push the story forward while the story’s overarching theme allows for a variety of narratives for readers to dig into.

Give Yourself Budget and Time to Experiment

It can feel risky to put aside the time and budget for a type of marketing that feels foreign to you, especially when what you’ve been doing works. Sticking to the same content strategy instead of coming up with new ideas is often easier. But that’s not how brands become memorable. The companies that stick in people’s minds are ones that experiment with new and interesting content.

Interactive is a great way to give your strategy a boost of innovation. According to DemandGen Report’s Content Preferences study, 91% of buyers prefer interactive and visual content. Incorporating it into your strategy isn’t as much of a gamble as it may seem.

In order to ensure you’re giving interactive a fair shot, you need to put aside the budget and time to play around with it. You can still maintain the tried and true content that has proven to be effective, but devoting a good amount of your program’s time and budget to interactive can help you see whether or not it aligns well with the goals you wish to achieve.

Keep in mind: innovation doesn’t happen overnight. Scheduling interactive content as part of your editorial calendar alongside your other content can help you make sure you’re following through.

Include Interactive Marketing at Different Funnel Stages

Though a lot of interactive content created by brands is top-of-funnel, interactivity can be integrated at any stage. Even if people are showing interest in your company and moving further along the sales cycle, they still need content that holds their attention. PowerPoints and PDFs have grown tedious. Adding interactive content to other stages can help keep potential buyers engaged. From mid-funnel content like presentations and buyer guides to bottom-funnel case studies and calculators, interactive can help your company achieve business goals at all stages.

For example, CrowdStrike’s product demo demonstrates how interactive content can be effective for mid-funnel product marketing This tour gives viewers an in-depth, interactive look at Falcon Host, a security platform that protects against breaches and malware.

CrowdStrike: Incorporating Interactive into Your Content Strategy
Source: CrowdStrike

This demo wouldn’t be as engaging or informative without incorporating interactivity to tell the story. By incorporating visuals, GIFs, and concise copy, CrowdStrike provides viewers with a thorough exploration of their Falcon platform. The demo also encourages hands-on learning, which helps make the content more memorable over time. If CrowdStrike used a guided video or whitepaper in place of this demo, some of the information that’s more easily conveyed through an interactive approach would be lost. With this demo, viewers can learn at their own pace instead of having to stop and start a video or getting lost in a long-winded PDF.

Another aspect of this demo that makes it an appealing piece of mid-funnel content is that the CTA in the bottom right-hand corner remains consistent throughout the piece. Viewers can click it at any time to request a one-on-one demo. The final page of the piece also includes a link to a longer whitepaper, giving viewers the option to explore the Falcon platform further before talking to sales.

Use Your Learnings from Interactive to Optimize Future Content

Interactive marketing allows you to create engaging pieces of content that make a lasting impression on your audience. But there’s an additional benefit for marketers as well. The data collected on the backend about how people interact with your content can help you get a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t. You can then use these learnings to optimize future assets.

There’s only so much data you can gather from traditional web content (pageviews, time on page, bounce rate) and PDFs (downloads),  but you can’t get a good grasp on how your audience interacts with this content. Which parts of the story did they really engage with? Which CTA caught their attention? How many pages did they read before losing interest? The data gathered from interactive content can help you answer these questions and, in turn, develop content that’s more aligned with your audience’s interests and preferences.

Brand Engagement eBook: Incorporating Interactivity into Your Content Strategy

We’ve been able to do this for our content program here at Ceros. For example, when we first developed our 5 Ways to Increase Your Brand Engagement eBook, we created it as a single page Experience. After analyzing data on the backend, we discovered people weren’t clicking through all of the sections of the piece. To make the path through the story clearer and drive higher dwell times, we reformatted the eBook into a linear, multipage Experience. As a result, we were able to increase dwell times from 3 ½ minutes to over 5 minutes per session.

The Bottom Line

Like with any new type of content, incorporating interactive into your marketing strategy will take some experimenting. You need to make sure you set aside the time and budget to work on interactive projects. Once you have these alloted, you can start figuring out which stories will work best in this format and where you can incorporate interactive content into your sales funnel. Then it’s just a matter of more experimenting and using the data you’ve gathered from your interactive content to improve your approach. Stick to it, and you’ll discover new and exciting ways to use interactive to drive great results for your  brand’s content program.