The goal of all inbound marketing is ultimately to get your prospects to take an action. Yet a lot of the content formats marketers use the most in inbound strategies are passive, like blogs and videos. Adding a call-to-action makes these items more actionable, but is there a way to encourage more active engagement from leads? This need has made interactive content an increasingly valuable component for a strong inbound marketing strategy.
Businesses using interactive content say it’s good for generating conversions 70 percent of the time, compared with 36 percent for passive content. And 93 percent of those surveyed said it’s effective at educating the buyer.
With those results, it should be no surprise the tactic is growing in use. Fifty-three percent of content marketers already are using interactive content and those who have tried it intend to invest more in it moving forward.
In addition to high conversion rates, interactive marketing gives you a chance to learn more about your customer. The answers they give on a quiz or the information they plug into a calculator helps you refine your personas and deliver more personalized marketing.
A tactic that delivers both better results and better data is hard to argue with.
Interactive content can take a number of different forms. The right formats for your business will depend first and foremost on your audience and what they’re most likely to respond to, as well as what makes sense with your brand positioning and overall inbound strategy.
To help you get started, these are a few of the most popular and effective types of interactive content businesses are using now.
There are so many areas in life where math can get complicated. If your audience is likely to have a question that involves difficult calculations, creating a calculator that helps them do that math on your website accomplishes a few different things:
The Wall Street Journal provides a Startup Calculator that helps entrepreneurs think through everything they should include in their startup budget. Anyone starting a business (or considering it) is clearly in the paper’s target audience and the calculator makes it easier to move forward with their business idea.
Once they’ve gotten their results, a recommended “Next Step” is reading (you guessed it) the Wall Street Journal business page. It’s not a hard sale, just a subtle suggestion that the paper is an integral part of successfully running a startup.
Including a live Q&A component in your videos allows you to interact directly with your audience and respond to any questions or comments in real time.
Blue Apron did a live video Q&A about wine pairings for Valentine’s Day. The topic was on-theme for the brand, which offers a wine service that’s paired with their delivered meal boxes, while also being relevant to their main audience. They took questions in the comments section on Facebook during the video and provided answers as they went. The questions were a mix of viewers wanting to know about wine etiquette and recommendations, and those of people ready to add wine to their Blue Apron subscription. The latter suggests the live video worked to get people more interested in buying.
Another way you can turn videos into an interactive form of content marketing is with 360-degree videos, which allow the user to move the frame of the video to see whichever part of the space depicted they prefer. This provides a more expansive view of whatever’s being filmed and gives the viewer more control over their experience.
The retail chain George at Asda used 360 video to show off its spring/summer collection in 2016. It enlisted a popular blogger to provide a tour of the items in the space, while letting viewers move through the room to see each part that interested them. To generate more interest, the brand hid content easter eggs in the videos and offered a prize to whoever found them all first.
This type of video already is interactive by nature, but the brand showed that with a little creativity, the engagement levels go up even more.
Interactive web pages create a changing and interactive experience on a page of a company’s website. Some brands go a step further to create interactive microsites that contain a collection of interactive pages for users. These give brands the opportunity to package content that’s valuable to their audience — and may already exist elsewhere on their website — in a new and exciting way.
LegalTemplates.net used interactive web pages to make a subject they’d already covered extensively, non-disclosure agreements, more engaging to visitors. Moving through the web page triggers animation that produces more information, and users even get the option of playing an animated game at the end of the process.
NDAs aren’t the most exciting subjects, but they’re important for the website's users. By packaging them in a more interesting and interactive format, the business gave new life to a familiar topic.
If you ever doubted the appeal of quizzes, the massive popularity of those released by Buzzfeed should have squelched all doubts. People like quizzes because they’re fun and they help you learn a little bit about yourself. Many brands have taken a cue from Buzzfeed and created interactive quizzes that provide valuable (or fun) information to their audience, while also collecting information about who they are.
FreshBooks’ primary audience is small-business owners and independent contractors who often struggle with questions about pricing and how to keep business profitable, so the brand provided a quiz on how to Discover Your Billing Blind Spots.
By answering a few questions about how they do business, prospects gain insight into potential ways to start making more money, and FreshBooks gains some information on their primary audience.
If people like quizzes, you can bet they love games. Gamification in marketing is a powerful way to turn content into something valuable and exciting for prospects.
You probably never think of creating email campaigns as something fun, but AlchemyWorx has turned the process into a game where you get rewards for crafting a successful campaign using their tools and options.
The game also includes some marketing humor, with lines like, “Nothing says ‘we're your friends’ more than an automated email triggered by SQL query database.birthdayistoday.”
It’s a piece of interactive content that clearly knows its audience and makes something that’s important to them (but often tedious) into something fun.
Infographics already are popular because of how they mix written content and visuals in a way that makes them helpful and shareable. You can engage your audience even more by making them interactive.
Like interactive web pages, interactive infographics change as you scroll and click on different parts of the image, providing more information as you move through the experience.
Warby Parker brought an innovative idea to its interactive infographic by letting visitors create a personalized annual report. After answering a few questions, visitors see an infographic that includes sections like your top emojis, your 2014 stats (based on top secret data) and your phone usage.
It’s a fun way to personalize content for your audience and provide them with a lighthearted version of the kind of serious reports we see at the end of each year.
Contests are by no means a new marketing tactic, but social media makes it easier to spread them further and get more people involved than most brands could manage in the past. And conversely, in oversaturated social media channels where it’s often hard for brands to make their mark, contests provide a good incentive for people to connect with your brand.
Juniper Networks got a taste of the power of a social media contest with its Lego contest. The network security business has a target audience of engineers, a group that loves building things and, as such, tends to have a fondness for Legos. Juniper enlisted a few influencers in the space to build data center designs that incorporated their own passions and interests and share them on social media.
The contest generated new interest in the brand and it gained new followers on social media. And importantly, it was an original and entertaining way to engage with an audience that usually doesn’t encounter fun approaches from brands.
Brands increasingly have access to a huge amount of data, but turning that data into something useful or entertaining can be a challenge. Interactive data visualizations successfully do the trick. They put the data into a visual form where it’s more meaningful and easier to understand for the viewer, and allow people to see a story from the data has by applying certain parameters or selecting different variations on how it’s calculated.
Even people who dislike math can find themselves transfixed by a good data visualization, especially when they have the power to alter how it appears to see different sides of the same information.
Information is Beautiful put together a powerful data visualization of the World’s Biggest Data Breaches. Viewers can use filters to see a visualization of different types of data breaches, or learn more about specific breaches by scrolling over and clicking on the bubble in the visualization.
It’s information that some people would find interesting in an article or whitepaper, but putting it into this visual, interactive format adds an engagement factor to the experience.
A lot of these options are good for providing small bits of information, but sometimes you want to offer prospects content that goes deeper. The whitepaper format that’s long been a go-to option for more comprehensive information can be made interactive as well.
NetProspex reworked some data it had generated in a research report into an interactive whitepaper that asked users to provide answers to questions throughout. The format means NetProspex can provide value, while also collecting more information from prospects as they go. And prospects, for their part, can see how their own methods and results compare to what’s normal.
The whitepaper resulted in a 48 percent lead conversion rate, for what was simply an interactive reworking of data it had already released. Not bad.
Adding interactive content into your marketing mix can produce great results, but it’s important to be strategic in what you create and how you use it. Make sure your interactive content is a good fit for your audience and that you do the work to promote and get it in front of your prospects. With the right approach, you can enjoy the higher conversion rates and increased engagement interactive content can offer.