B2B Digital Communication:
Should you use ‘interactive content’?
It is simply not sufficient anymore to solely focus on awareness creation for your brand. The goal, for PR pros and marketers alike, is to also generate engagement and drive relevant conversations for their brands. That’s where interactive content comes into the picture. Wondering how big of a topic interactive content is? Statistics from the Content Marketing Institute’s research show that 46% of marketers are already using interactive content. On top of that, 79% of marketers who are currently using interactive content also say that they plan to increase their use in 2019.
What is ‘interactive content’?
For the uninitiated, interactive content simply refers to content that requires a participant’s active engagement. If you’re a marketer or PR pro who wants to explore the world of interactive content, you’ve got plenty of options to choose from, including:
- Calculators and configurators
- Quizzes, polls, games and surveys
- Interactive image galleries and lookbooks
- Live chats, audit tools and troubleshooting tools
- Tests and assessments
- Interactive infographics
- Recommendation engines
- Interactive timelines, heat maps and map overlays
All in all, interactive infographics form the most popular format of interactive content, with 52% of marketers having experimented with this format. Other formats favoured by marketers include contests, calculators, quizzes and assessments.
But, why use interactive content? Compared to static content, interactive content is more attention-grabbing. It generates more page views and converts website visitors more effectively. Diving into more detail: first, 87% of marketers state that interactive content grabs the attention of the reader more effectively than static content. Interactive content has been shown to generate 4-5x more pageviews than static content. Last but not least, interactive content has been proven to convert 2x better than traditional (ie: static!) content types.
When it comes to content marketing, interactive content can be a huge asset – just be sure to take into consideration what stage of the B2B buyer journey the customer is at. Statistics show that customers in the Awareness stage respond to interactive games the best, while interactive eBooks are more suited to customers in the Consideration stage. Finally, those in the Decision stage are likely to get value out of configurators and wizards.
Examples of brands successfully using interactive content
There are plenty of brands which have launched interactive content campaigns that have gone on to perform well: take Qantas, for example, which created a virtual reality app that allows users to experience 360-degree video tours of exclusive tourism experiences. After enjoying the video tours, users have the option of booking a flight via the app.
Financial services company Morgan Stanley (in partnership with The Wall Street Journal) created an interactive microsite to make users take a tour of some of the places that are most affected by climate change.
Benefits and challenges of interactive content
For those looking to produce interactive content, the largest roadblocks are time and cost.
Interactive content is often more time-consuming and expensive to produce than static content; that said, there are now plenty of online tools that PR pros and marketers can use to get their interactive content up and running in a matter of minutes. Popular tools include Outgrow and Qzzr.
When it comes to benefits, we’ve already discussed how interactive content entices consumers more effectively (and how it generates more views and conversions for brands). That aside, brands can also utilise interactive content to gather critical audience data. According to Penny Wilson, CMO at Hootsuite, “Being able to see how the user answer to each question gives you incredible insights into the customer. Other types of interactive content can reveal their interests, ‘likes’, pain points and patterns.”
In fact, demographics data is not enough to help you know your target audience or prospects. Interactive content, on the other hand, can provide you with psychographic profiles which allow to have a more well-rounded picture of target audiences and to tweak brand messaging content and campaigns to be more relevant to their ideal customer. Noam Korin, Global VP of Brand Partnerships at PlayBuzz, says, “By giving readers an active role and encouraging them to share their thoughts and personal preferences, brands can answer customers’ need to be listened to while gaining insights regarding their target audience. Content formats that manage to engage users make it easier to ask questions and encourage readers to share information they might otherwise be reluctant to expose.”
Case study: Interactive content in media relations
10 years ago, nobody would’ve guessed that press releases could be interactive — but Business Wire has recently launched a game-changing service that allows brands to build their very own interactive press releases (they term these multidisciplinary campaigns). How do these campaigns work? Business Wire starts off with a standard written press release and incorporates visual elements such as customer videos and infographics into the release. They then add hyperlinks to relevant social channels and/or websites in order to increase the chances of conversion. Here’s what’s interesting: Business Wire has the ability to isolate key metrics for each of the interactive elements it uses in its campaigns; this way, it can A/B test the campaigns that it runs and figure out which elements are the best or worst-converting. To date, some of Business Wire’s most successful interactive press releases include a map that highlights female entrepreneurs across the UK and US (created in conjunction with International Women’s Day) as well as an animated graphic that promotes a line of luxury travel pillows and blankets.
What type of content is the right one for you?
How do you figure out what type of interactive content best suits your company? It’s simple – identify which segment of customers you want to reach out to and look at what stage of the Buyer’s Journey these customers are in. As mentioned previously, customers in the Awareness stage respond to interactive games the best. Here, you can utilise quizzes, polls, surveys and interactive infographics to draw attention. If you’re targeting customers in the Consideration stage, you have several options. Because these customers will be preoccupied with reading up on the various solutions and gathering as much information as possible, interactive eBooks are a good bet. If you have an existing content portal or resource base, you might want to use content wizards and recommendation engines to serve your customers content that’s relevant to them. Finally, you can also rely on audit and troubleshooting tools to help customers dive deeper into their current problem.
For those who are looking to reach out to consumers in the Decision stage, try using calculators, configurators and product comparison tools. For instance, say your client runs a SaaS tool that automates the media monitoring process. This client might find it useful to incorporate an ROI calculator on their website; this way, their potential customers can calculate how using the media monitoring tool will positively impact their bottom line.
Best practices: how to create, use and measure interactive content
New to the world of interactive content? Use these tips and best practices to help you maximise the impact of your content:
Before creating your content
When coming up with your interactive content strategy, make sure you only incorporate interactivity when you have a compelling reason to do so. If your game plan is to simply take all the content you’ve created in the past 3 months and introduce some sort of interactive element to each content piece, you might not experience much success. As content strategy consultant Jodi Harris puts it, interactivity should “enhance the natural appeal and longevity of your message”; it shouldn’t serve as a substitute for substance.
When creating your content
For those who are just getting started with interactive content, you’ll probably start off with a campaign that’s limited in scope. That’s fine for now, but make sure you keep the big picture in mind. More specifically: think of what interactive content you want to create further down the road, work out how you’ll connect your various touchpoints and interactive content pieces and turn it into a cohesive experience.
At the end of the day, you’re working towards complete integration. The goal is to create a multi-faceted interactive platform; this will drive way more results than simply producing standalone pieces of interactive content.
After creating your content
Once you’ve created your content, make sure you follow through and measure your results. You’ll want to come up with key metrics that will help you evaluate the success of your campaigns; key metrics that you might want to utilise include:
- Total reach
- Total downloads
- Comments and shares on social media
- Time spent on page
- Bounce rate
- Conversion rates
- Leads, transactions and revenue generated
Regardless of whether your first campaign is a success or a flop, keep up your interactive content and A/B testing efforts as you go along. You’ll quickly learn what types of format and content your audience responds to!
Where does interactive content go from here?
For years now, marketers and PR pros who have wanted to generate more engagement for their brands have relied on interactive content. It’s clear, to us, that brands who want to take their content strategies to the next level should add interactive content to their playbook. The good news? In the past, interactive content was only accessible to multinationals with huge marketing budgets but this is no longer the case. Today, there are plenty of cost-effective interactive content creation tools that make it easy for any marketer or PR pro to jump on the interactive content bandwagon. If you haven’t already started experimenting with interactive content, what are you waiting for?