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Five Forms of Interactive Content to Boost Engagement

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Blog posts, whitepapers, e-books, and infographics... they've all got a place in our content marketing strategy. They've weathered the test of time and they're still great for generating traffic and leads.

But could we be pushing ourselves and creating something even better?

The latest trend in the marketing world is interactive content, and it's gaining popularity for very good reasons.

Interactive content works the way you would expect: You create a piece of content that people can interact with—either aesthetically or with a practical aim in mind—and as a result it cuts through the noise of run-of-the-mill content that gets published in droves every day.

No. 1: Interactive Infographics


It's no news that infographics are already one of the most shareable types of content you can create.

So how can you take them one step further?

Interactive infographics are usually visually stunning, and they increase engagement beyond simply scrolling to view them.

Engagement is heightened because it encourages kinetic learning; that is, people will learn and retain information more easily through physical activity (even if that activity is only a click). It's a powerful way of getting people involved with your content.

In a nutshell, interactive infographics allow you to...

  • Paginate your infographics for easier navigation
  • Allow users to click and reveal more information
  • Get users to highlight certain areas of the infographic
  • Add scrolling affects

This might sound daunting from a design and development point of view. Luckily, tools such as Ceros allow you to quickly build interactive infographics and test on a small scale.

Consider this example from Propoint, which created an interactive infographic on podcasting and its origins.

What's done well here is that pieces of information and animations are revealed as the user scrolls down, keeping users' attention and increasing engagement as a result.

Or consider this infographic on wearables from Salesforce. Again, it makes good use of scrolling effects and animations, but it also has clickable elements that reveal new insights as users roll over them.

Both of those examples were made with Ceros, proving that creating great interactive content doesn't need a huge budget and doesn't need to suck up resources.

No. 2: Quizzes

When I mention quizzes as interactive content, the first thing many people think of are BuzzFeed quizzes like "What's your secret personality?" and "Which famous teenager are you?"

Although quizzes are used primarily in B2C marketing, there's a lot of potential for them in B2B marketing.

One of the benefits of quizzes is that they can help you gather new persona information over time. Asking questions related to your audiences' challenges, needs, and desires can help fill in gaps and give you new insight.

Much like infographics, they increase engagement and so generate leads because of their interactive nature.

Check out "Are you a Content Marketing Zombie?" by SnapApp. The benefits of such a quiz include...

  • Driving traffic as a result of curiosity (you can't help but think, "What's a content marketing zombie, and am I one of them?")
  • Qualifying and gathering potential lead data
  • Providing insight into the habits and challenges of your audience
  • SnapApp is a tool you can use to quickly create and embed a quiz.

No. 3: Interactive E-Books

Whitepapers and e-books have long been a staple of effective content marketing. Yet, not much has changed over the years with how they work: Go to landing page, fill in details, download a PDF, and read it.

How can we make the tried-and-tested e-book more interactive and engaging?

Instead of giving your audience just a PDF to work their way through, why not guide them through a process that prompts them to take action as they learn?

Such gamification of e-books challenges your audience to make progress as they read. You can also add multimedia elements, such as checkboxes and videos.

Guides.co is an affordable tool for trying interactive e-books. They provide you with a landing page, lead capture mechanism, and the platform for creating an interactive experience with your content.

Check out "How to Build a Startup" by Steve Blank. When you arrive at the landing page, you're given an overview and a prominent call to action. Moreover, the content is structured similar to an online course: It includes a description, outline, reviews, and a bio of the author—all beautifully laid out.

An interactive e-book boosts the perceived value of the content, positions you as more of an authority, and increases conversions as a result.

Want to begin testing this format quickly? Take an existing piece of content and turn it into a guide. Distribute it, then measure your results to see how it fares against the original.

No. 4: Calculators

Explanatory text about the benefits of your product or service is certainly useful to your customers; even better are case studies that show the ROI that others have achieved using your product or service.

But how can you enable your audience to find out how it will affect specifically their situation and them individually?

Calculators used to be accessible only to those who could afford the high development costs. Nowadays, though, they are quick and affordable.

With calculators, you can show your audience what they'll gain by using your product or service, or what they stand to lose if they don't. You can illustrate how much they lose from the downtime of their systems, the ROI of an investment ,or the cost of bad advertising and marketing.

Giving your audience data that's specific to them puts you in a tremendous position to provide them with the right solution.

SilkRoad, for example, created a calculator to show prospects how much they could save with its employee-onboarding automation service. The tool helped the company engage potential leads and increased its lead generation success.

No. 5: Interactive Video

In the content marketing world, video is still probably the most engaging format you can create. Still, videos are a relatively static medium.

Interactive video gives your audience the choice of engaging and taking part in the video as opposed to simply viewing it. Viewers can interact with certain elements by clicking on them, or even touching the screen if the video is optimized for touch-screen devices.

Interactive video takes an already engaging format and makes it even more engaging.

Making one could be as simple as adding interactive hotspots, which are basically motion tracking tags that follow an object or person in the video. A viewer can click on these hotspots and learn more about what's being tagged—giving you an opportunity to provide more information on your product or to deliver more content.

One of the best examples of interactive video I've seen is the Guardian's "Seven Digital Deadly Sins." In it, viewers can explore the stories of seven users of digital media and how it affects their lives. A "burger menu" to the side adds to the user interface, and there are several "easter eggs" in the form of one-question surveys that show real-time stats.

With that video, The Guardian has added a new dynamic to an otherwise static form of content. It could have done a long-form piece of journalism on its website; instead, it opted for a truly interactive experience.

Distributing Interactive Content

Content distribution is a topic in and of itself, but it deserves a mention here. After all, what good is content if people don't actually see it?

In fairness, as with any content, the distribution of interactive content is a matter of getting it in the right places to the right people.

As always, start with your owned media. Your email list, customers, and other connections are the first source of traffic you should tap into. You should also distribute through your social media profiles.

Communities are also a great source of traffic. Generating awareness and connections with the members of niche communities can provide you with a loyal audience. The more people love your content, the more it'll get shared on social networks.

If you haven't thought about influencer marketing as a source of distribution, then certainly consider it. As long as you're providing value to both them and their audiences, they'll usually be more than happy to share your content.

As for paid amplification, it's a good idea to test platforms, including these:

  • Outbrain
  • Twitter ads
  • Facebook ads
  • LinkedIn ads

If you're not already using any of those, first determine whether your target audience is there. Then test on a small scale and increase budget as you see results come in.

Finally, try to find ways to repurpose the information that's in your interactive content for platforms such as LinkedIn Pulse and Medium. Those text-based content platforms are great for adding value to an already existing audience and for driving traffic to the interactive version.

Conclusion

The common thread that ties these various forms of interactive content together is the word "yes": When people interact with your content, they're not just reading, watching, or scrolling; they're committing to the content and giving you a "micro-yes" every time they click or progress through it.

And when they arrive at the end of a particular piece of interactive content, the likelihood of their clicking a call to action or filling a form will have become higher. They've already invested in the content itself; conversions will therefore increase.

And with the tools I've noted above, there's no reason you can't test an interactive content format starting today.


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Tom Whatley is digital marketing manager at marketing solution provider Seraph Science.

Twitter: @thetomwhatley

LinkedIn: Tom Whatley

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