If you’ve been working in B2B marketing for any length of time, then chances are you’ve heard the phrase “content is king” approximately 3,178 times. (Okay, I just made that number up, but seriously—I’ve seen that phrase everywhere, and I’m sure you have, too.)
All this buzz about content is happening for good reason. Marketers are being tasked with creating more content than ever before—and not just that, we’re being held accountable for proving the effectiveness of our content. It’s no longer good enough to have a library of whitepapers and case studies, or to publish articles regularly on a company blog: C-levels want to know how all of this content is affecting their bottom line by generating leads and sales.
These questions are totally valid. Today’s business professionals are bombarded with content from every dusty corner of the web, on every topic imaginable—whether or not they’re interested. The challenge we’re faced with is to navigate the digital hurricane to reach the people who care about what we have to say with content that will grab their attention. Once we’ve got their attention, it’s our job to provide something valuable that will generate interest in our content and, eventually, our products or services.
So how exactly do we accomplish this feat? It starts with knowing your audience inside and out and creating stuff that will help them do their job better—after all, nothing will make up for irrelevant or straight up bad content. Once you’ve got the basics in place, though, there is some secret sauce you can use to give your content some extra mojo. That secret sauce is interactivity.
While developing interactive marketing collateral is more intensive from a time and resource perspective, the potential return on your investment can be huge. In this article, I want to walk you through 5 key benefits of interactive content for B2B marketing.
1. Know Your Customers Better
Most traditional marketing content—whitepapers, eBooks, brochures, testimonials—is a one-way street where we talk to an anonymous audience and hope they raise their hand to identify themselves after they’re done consuming it. Even with channels that allow for discussion such as blogs and social media, it’s often difficult to get your audience engaged enough to comment on your posts (even when you directly ask them to). This lack of engagement prevents us from knowing our prospects better.
One of the great things about interactive content is that it allows for a more dynamic back and forth with readers. By seeing how your audience engages with the content you’ve produced, and even asking questions to pick your readers’ brains in real time, you can learn a whole lot more about who you’re talking to and what they care about.
2. Increase Your Engagement
Even the most well-written, targeted content can lose readers’ interest in our current climate of internet ADD. Interactive pieces can help you keep readers engaged for longer by requiring them to participate in the experience.
For example, NewsCred’s Inspiration Lookbook invites users to explore the piece as they choose. They also have the ability to watch videos and visit external sites to learn more about each inspiring business or person.
3. Tell Your Story in New Ways
Let’s be honest: When you’ve worked at a company for more than a few months, you get bored telling the same ideas using the same words in the same way. And you’re not the only one who gets tired of this story—your prospects will start to get bored with it too if you can’t find fresh ways to talk about how you can solve their problems.
Creating interactive content forces you to rethink how to tell your brand’s story and how you can provide value to prospects without being confined to text and static images alone. This creative freedom can help you discover new ways to connect with your audience and effectively communicate with them about your business.
Take, for example, this infographic from Mastercard.
They could have chosen to share this content on a static landing page or in a traditional PDF guide; instead, they lead you on a journey with an interactive visual that helps you explore how their company is innovating and the specific types of innovation they’re investing in.
4. Gain Insight into What’s Working
Marketing analytics have revolutionized the way digital marketers create, track, and assess their efforts. But unfortunately, because content marketing is one of the younger children in the marketing family, it’s not always easy to get the same concrete insights into content performance that you can for, say, digital ads or email programs. We can track high-level metrics such as page views, downloads, lead submits, and time on site, but digging any deeper becomes cumbersome, if not impossible.
This is where interactive content can help. A highly interactive experience that’s built to capture viewer’s engagement can help you gain insight into what’s working within your content and what’s not.
It also gives you the ability to optimize your content on the fly as you track who’s doing what. For instance, if you see that the fifth page of your interactive magazine is getting way more clicks than pages 1-4, you might decide to swap it out with page 2 to drive more engagement up front.
5. Bring Your Product to Life
One challenge B2B marketers face in particular is trying to prove how awesome their dynamic product or service is—without being able to show it in action. Sure, a 2-minute overview video is nice, but it’s not really meaty enough to satisfy the curiosity of someone who’s seriously considering a purchase.
Live demos are great, but we all know that the vast majority of a consumer’s purchasing decision happens before they ever schedule a call with a sales rep. This is where interactive content can make a huge difference. Being able to provide animated feature walkthroughs, artfully executed video testimonials, or even just more effective annotated screenshots from your software, can really help bring your business to life for prospects and get them to express interest in speaking with your sales team much sooner.
Mundo Real, Cambridge’s language learning software, did a great job illustrating their product in this interactive walkthrough. Using videos, interactive annotations, and product shots, they’re able to bring their product to life in a way that isn’t possible with a static web page.
The Bottom Line
As B2B marketers, content is becoming an even more important part of our jobs, and it’s up to us to figure out more engaging, effective ways of both communicating with our audience and getting that audience to engage with us in return. Interactive content can help bridge the gap in both directions, informing us of what our readers care about and giving those readers a more exciting, dynamic experience that they can truly play a part in.