As a content marketer, one of my jobs is keeping on top of the latest trends in the field. It’s safe to assume I see countless of articles, whitepapers, and eBooks on any given day. Often, the content I find is great and the information is solid enough to hold my attention. However, there are many times when it won’t matter how helpful the content is—I don’t have the time or patience to read and comprehend it. Typically, the problem is that the content is too long, lacks engaging elements like visuals or videos, or feels impersonal. If a professional in the field can’t get through your content, chances are your consumers and prospects won’t be able to, either.
It’s these issues with static, traditional content marketing that make interactive marketing so exciting. Interactive marketing allows you to break down the barriers static content types present and unlock more creative ways to tell your brand’s story. Rather than simply tell your story to your audience, interactivity lets you have a conversation with them. And most consumers want a dialogue with brands rather than a one-way barrage of long, impersonal content.
There are many different types of interactivity you can use in your own content marketing program. Read on to learn more about the 5 main interactive content types and how you can use them to drive audience engagement.
Quizzes & Assessments
If you’ve been on the internet anytime in the past decade, chances are you’ve taken a quiz to assess which Hogwarts House you belong in, or to find out how well you know early 90s pop culture. As much as I try to resist, I can’t help but give in and take some of the Buzzfeed quizzes my friends post on Facebook. Quizzes tap into that psychological need for order in our lives. According to narrative psychologist Robert Simmermon, a personality quiz also “gives some credence of ourselves as heroes of our own story.” We want to be seen as individuals, while also associating our personality traits with popular places and pop culture icons.
The reason quizzes are such a successful form of interactive content is because they’re highly personalized. They’re an easy way to pique audience interest while allowing them to customize the experience they have with your content. And quizzes are a valuable asset for your brand because they give you greater insight into your audience. The information and data collected can help you better understand your users, which in turn helps you produce better content.
Refinery29’s “Which Old Hollywood Icon Are You?” quiz uses a simple design which allows for the choices to shine through. As you hover over your selection, the colored square gets darker, indicating that it’s the option you’re choosing. This adds an additional layer of interactivity and confirms with the quiz taker that they’re selecting the choice they intended to. Refinery 29’s clear, easy-to-use quiz helps move viewers through the content while keeping them engaged until they learn their results.
One of the earliest examples of interactive marketing, calculators are typically found on real estate and banking websites. Having calculators integrated into a website’s layout makes it easier for people to do their research in one place. Giving your consumers and prospects the option to calculate directly on your site also provides a layer of transparency and keeps them invested in your company. After all, if you’re the one letting them easily crunch the numbers, they’ll most likely stick with you.
Calculators are fairly simple: the user inputs their information into designated fields and receives personalize results based on the information given. As far as engagement goes, calculators are one of the most user-driven types of interactive marketing. Because they rely on the information provided by the user, calculators are entirely hands-on and create a fully customized end result.
Source: Federal Student Aid
Calculators aren’t just for mortgage and auto insurance estimates. As a recent grad, one of the most common calculators that pops up in my life is this loan repayment estimator. Letting users estimate loan repayments directly on the site where they pay loans makes the entire process less of a headache. This easy-to-use calculator lets users plug in my loan information, tax filing status, and income to produce a variety of repayment estimates based on the plan parameters. Instant results makes the process of calculating loans much less stressful and allows users to make decisions based on their personalized results.
Interactive Data Visualization
Let’s face it: sometimes data isn’t the prettiest or easiest to understand. I remember checking out in math class when learning about graphing because it was such a difficult concept for me to wrap my head around. This still happens today, and I know I’m not the only person whose eyes glaze over when confronted with a particularly intimidating data set. If people are already having difficulty making their way through longform content, it’s most likely even more of a challenge for them to stay engaged long enough to digest your data.
Data visualization involves finding a more eye-catching way to portray data for your audience. When made interactive, data visualization becomes a more approachable and interesting way for people to view and comprehend information. Rather than present the stats in a two-dimensional, uninspired format—data visualization lets you develop a narrative around your stats. Pairing that with an interactive design, data becomes easier to understand and more interesting to audiences.
Interactive Data Visualization Example
Source: Visage & Ceros
Just because data is more scientific doesn’t mean it needs to be dry or difficult to understand. Made in partnership with Visage, our Data Storytelling infographic uses interactive visuals and an engaging narrative to provide viewers with an easier way to comprehend data. Rather than obscure the stats with boring information or intimidating graphs, this infographic puts data front and center with a unique and compelling treatment. Interactivity also lets people engage with the graphs they find most interesting, allowing them to follow the story and understand the data at their pace.
Everyone has a favorite book, one that keeps them up late at night or has them so absorbed they miss their train stop. It’s easy getting wrapped up in a good story. Stories make us feel whole, as if the world isn’t such a big place. Brands can also use stories to connect with people. Riveting, impactful content that shows a brand’s human side inspires and provides value rather than trying to push a sale.
Interactive storytelling follows a similar process to traditional storytelling, but includes elements such as animations, multimedia, and branching narratives. These interactive elements allow the audiences to actively participate in the narrative and control which parts they engage with. Typically, we see storytelling in narrative-driven content types like eBooks, microsites, and whitepapers.
Interactive Storytelling Example
Tully Luxury Travel’s interactive microsite takes readers on a journey through different vacation spots around the globe and invites them to learn more about what makes these places so unique. Told from multiple points-of-view, readers are encouraged to explore the microsite either by place or by travel agent. These different POVs let readers choose their own narrative, allowing for them to control and interact with the story in a way that’s more hands-on and immersive than a static story.
There’s been a lot of buzz around video marketing over the past few years. From the snackable content that pops up on Facebook to live-streaming sessions on Periscope, video has become a major component of many brands’ content marketing programs. Video is effective in getting your audience’s attention and is one of the most engaging forms of content. Over half of marketers believe video is the best content type when it comes to ROI.
One of the reasons interactive video is such an effective marketing tool is because it can be used to tell many different kinds of stories. Clickable elements within the video give viewers the unique opportunity to choose what they want to learn and in what order. By making videos that are less passive and more hands-on, brands are able to deliver the personalized experiences audiences want.
Source: Rapt Media
Maybelline’s interactive makeup guide allows viewers to choose which tutorial they want to see. After giving an overview of the types of high fashion make-up trends, viewers are then prompted to choose between exploring day or night looks. The video also includes a menu bar at the bottom so viewers can watch the other three tutorials and browse the collection at their own pace in a non-linear fashion. This kind of interactivity drives even more engagement than the typical video and allows for viewers to take full control of their experience.
The Bottom Line
From calculators to videos, interactive content can help you create more engaging, personalized, and flexible digital experiences for your audience—while also driving results for your marketing program.