What is interactive content marketing? In a nutshell, interactive content is content that encourages the active engagement of your target audience by prompting them to take a certain action. In the vast majority of cases, this action amounts to a click – but we’ll cover this is more detail later. We’ve put together a Beginner’s Guide to Interactive Content Marketing, covering all aspects of this year’s most popular trend. Check out the full article below, and don’t forget to check out some video explainers from the industry’s top experts along the way!
The world of marketing is based on competing messages and rival brands, each vying for the attention of the millions of consumers who browse the web every single day. In a world so saturated with graphics, texts and videos, truly engaging your target audience with unique and engaging content is becoming more and more challenging. Marketers are increasingly looking towards new ways of generating leads through memorable content, as well as some older methods that have gone largely unnoticed – until now.
Interactive content marketing is one of those marketing efforts that has gone largely unappreciated until fairly recently: it’s been around for years, yet has only become a trending engagement tool over the past two or three years. But why has the world of marketing been so slow to realise the value of interactive content? Whilst there’s so single answer to that question, many commentators suggest that in an industry driven by static content, interactive elements can seem overwhelming, and even intimidating to the end user. As we highlight later in this piece, mastering interactive content can be an easier process than you might think.
Why is interactive content marketing so popular? Put simply, marketing is all about engaging the customers and followers you do have, whilst winning new customers along the way. Essentially, interactive content marketing is similar to a conversation – but one which you don’t have to actively participate in. It involves using a piece of content that involves the participation of your audience. This comes in a huge range of formats, and a lot of them are a lot simpler than you think. Examples include live polls, quizzes, interactive chatbots and more – again, we’ll touch on these in greater detail later.
Why is Interactive Content Marketing so Important?
The importance of interactive content marketing is supported by more and more fascinating statistics that we see being published day-on-day. All research suggests that as consumers of advertising and marketing, we want and expect more from our favourite brands. Gone are the days when simple textual messaging and creative graphics were suffice – consumers now prefer a more involved approach that actually values their individual feedback and participation. Consumer’s changing reactions to the marketing content they see around them are absolutely real: recent data suggests that over 90 percent of consumers report that they want more visual and interactive content. As marketers, we must strive to give these consumers what they want.
The greatest benefit of interactive content marketing? Well, it simply serves its purpose better than any other form of marketing out there. The requirement of your target audiences’ active and individual participation highlights it as one of the most engaging forms of digital content available. Think about more traditional forms of advertising, such as radio broadcast advertising, television advertising, posters, billboards and fliers. All of these marketing methods require the most base level of interactivity – and research demonstrates that most of us tend to throw these materials in the next bin we find.
Interactive content marketing provides a strong alternative to traditional advertising methods which typically yield minimal engagement. By presenting your target audience with something that demands action from them, you can quickly use that action as a marketing tool for your brand. Fundamentally, a piece of interactive marketing content will encourage consumers to compete, compare, challenge themselves, whilst consuming information faster and yielding marketing results at a typically faster rate.
Using interactive content also provides your business with unique opportunities to bring nascent technologies into its marketing mix. Artificial intelligence continues to demonstrate its value in the world of marketing, and automated tools have transformed how we engage with our customers – as well as our own approaches to consumer engagement, advertising and customer services. An example of how artificial intelligence can maximise the impact of content marketing is in interactive video – something that we’re seeing more and more of in the world of social media. This form of media bridges the gap between traditional advertising and AI-enabled content, offering your target audience a truly unique experience.
Interactive Content is the Future of Marketing
Every so often, we see a new trend that the world of marketing immediately swarms on, holding it up as ‘revolutionary’ or the ‘future of marketing’. However, it is important to remember that best marketing practice is in a constant state of change, and many marketing methods should be seen for what they are: temporary trends that will gain and lose popularity as constantly as the weather changes. However, there have been some really big developments and advancements in technology over recent years, and some of those advancements have created new practices in marketing that certainly seem like they’re here to stay.
So, what technological advancements have established new approaches to content marketing? A few immediately come to mind. The continued advancement of voice recognition and voice assisted technology has transformed how we search for our favourite brands, and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) as an industry is now scrambling to adapt to the technology. Similarly, the advent of AI and data analytics has allowed us to succinctly target niche sections of the market with an accuracy and relevance which is unprecedented. Emerging technologies such as these have been proven to work well within interactive content marketing, and more businesses than ever are beginning to reap the benefits.
Don’t just listen to what we say. Various academic institutions and marketing bodies have published huge volumes of research on interactive content as a marketing trend, and some of the results are really surprising. We’ve picked out some examples of interactive content marketing statistics below:
- 93% of marketers agreed that interactive content is effective in educating its buyers versus just 70% for static content (Go-Gulf)
- 88% of marketers said that interactive content is effective in differentiating their brand from their competitors (Go-Gulf)
- 88% of B2B marketers said at least 10-30% of their content would be interactive by 2018 (Go-Gulf)
- Fifty-one percent of respondents have been using interactive content for three years or longer, with 14% using it for seven years or more. (CIM)
- Interactive content generates twice as many conversions as passive content (Kapost)
- Interactive content generates up to five times more page views than ordinary content (LinkedIn)
- 79% of marketers say that their interactive content can be used again and again (Business2Community)
- According to 93% of marketers, it’s an effective way to help educate buyers (Inc)
All of these statistics suggest that interactive content marketing will be far more than a trend, instead becoming a heavily practiced and overwhelming popular industry practice. At ProfileTree, we expect marketing to place a stronger focus on interactive content over the coming years. Indeed, contactless forms of conversation engagement will see a marked increase in uptake due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, acting as a strong catalyst. We won’t get weighed down with that subject in this post, but we do recommend checking out our Total Guide to Covid-19 Marketing for more advice and guidance on crisis-driven trends.
The value of interactive content marketing is obvious, and embedding content like this into your overall strategy will typically yield immediate results. Before we discuss how you can engage your audience with interactive content marketing, let’s take a step back and look at some of the benefits of this approach compared to more traditional outlooks.
The Benefits of Interactive Content Marketing
The benefits of interactive content marketing are immensely valuable, and we’ve already highlighted its increased popularity and uptake with some of the fascinating statistics detailed above. Let’s take a look at some of the direct benefits of this marketing approach in regards to general impact and consumer engagement.
Educate and Inform Your Audience
As marketers, each and every member of this industry strives to publish content that engages, informs and inspires. Indeed, delivering content that really achieves this objective requires creative talent, market research and data-driven insights that typically require huge amounts of investment. However, all commentators agree that this is an investment worth making, and providing your target audience with content that they actually value will encourage them to spend more time on your site. The benefits of this are obvious – the longer someone spends on your site, the more likely it is that they will become a paying customer.
Interactive content marketing provides your target audience with something truly unique whilst encouraging them to enter your sales funnel. Prompting your visitors to take a certain action through interactive content provides a strong opportunity to attract and educate those who may become future buyers. When it comes to educational content and marketing, it’s absolutely crucial to bear one principle in mind: just because content is educational doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Examples of such content include 360 video tours of travel destinations for potential tourists or visitors, or quizzes that test your knowledge on a particular subject, brand or product.
A great example of interactive content can be seen in ConnollyCove – an internal brand by ProfileTree which highlights the best tourism locations and hospitality sites that Ireland has to offer. We’ve shared a number of 360 videos which give our followers panoramic views of breathtaking sites across Ireland. We’ve also delivered a promotional 360 tour video for Crumlin Road Gaol which saw a marked increase in bookings and ticket purchases. From our experience, digital content such as this has yielded immediate conversions – and the sudden spikes in engagement really demonstrate why it has become so valuable.
Boost Your Sales Conversions with Interactive Social Content
The most successful marketing content is content that people actually want to share with their social circle. When done properly, interactive content marketing encourages your target audience to engage and share content with their friends. The impact of social sharing is extremely significant: the ways in which we decide to choose products and engage with our favourite brands are changing, and we are increasingly basing our buying decisions on digital content that we’ve been targeted with on social media.
One quick scroll through any social media feed will confirm that as rule, interactive content experiences will typically be more likely to go viral. Instead of presenting your target audience with static images and bland, textual posts and word-count-heavy blogs, targeting your audience with interactive content marketing will give them the opportunity to try something new, original and reactive to their individual response.
In many cases, it seems like interactive content marketing has been made for social media. Social media engagement relies heavily on visual appeal and aesthetics, and interactive content’s appeal is similarly based on this principle. The vast majority of social media platforms are highly visual – making it easier to attract the attention of your target audience when you publish digital content that depicts some element of interactivity. Copywriting does have an important role to play here, and you should use it to explain how your target audience will benefit from and enjoy the experience.
More Brand Exposure, More Brand Loyalty
The general objectives of marketing campaigns have altered and shifted over the past decade. Whilst marketing campaigns traditionally sought to promote a specific product or service, they are now more broadly scoped and focussed on creating a lasting relationship with loyal customers. When we engage and maintain the attention of our target audience and they return time and time again, we achieve brand loyalty. For the vast majority of businesses and organisations, this is the dream.
Whilst the growth of technologies including voice assistants, data analytics and social media have transformed how we understand advertising and marketing, many traditional principles ring true through to the present day. Indeed, the power of word of mouth continues to be one of the most valuable assets available to any market. Regardless of what we see or hear on social media, we are immediately drawn to brands that have been explained and vocalised to us by friends, family and colleagues.
Consumers love interactive content, and as we’ve previously mentioned, it gives your brand a stronger likelihood of going viral on social media. In today’s busy times, web users really appreciate content that is satisfying, enjoyable or educational. Getting some of these things right is made that little bit easier with some basic interactive content marketing. Brand loyalty is worth every penny of investment it requires – so give your audience something they will actually benefit from.
Improve Your Website’s Overall User Experience (UX)
The importance of User Experience (UX) in your marketing strategy shouldn’t be underestimated. Time and time again we have seen websites with slow loading times, pointless content and plugins and poor page structures, with business results often suffering as a result. UX has been consistently identified as one of the pivotal factors affecting the sale conversion rate of your business. Time is today’s most valuable commodity, and many web users will simply leave a page if it takes too long to load or if it is difficult or not easily accessible. Web users who leave your site will drive up your site’s bounce rate, which can severely impact your search engine rankings as well as the impact of your overall marketing strategy.
It’s true- enhancing your website’s overall UX will typically yield increased web traffic and page views. People tend to revisit sites that they enjoy using, and embedding engaging and interactive content can help make this goal a reality. The impacts on SEO are really significant here. Google ranks content according to the value it offers web users, and according to how accurately a piece of content may respond to a given query. Interactive content marketing helps you deliver that value to your audience, and you can reap the search engine results as a benefit.
The benefits of increasing your search engine ranking are huge, and we’ve covered all aspects of this getting this right in our Total Guide to Search Engine Optimisation – check it out. However, we’d like to reiterate that nothing can boost your positioning like interactive content that is easy-to-use and well optimised for the crawling bots of search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing. Getting your page in that optimum position will significantly increase your business’ chances of having its content shared widely on social media channels.
Standing Out From the Competition
Whilst interactive content has been around for quite a long time, few companies have actually embraced this marketing practice to its ultimate potential. This presents some opportunities to the savvy marketer, however. The online world is absolutely saturated with content, and failing to target your audience with something a little bit different will often yield poor results and the most base levels of engagement. Interactive content marketing always promises to offer something unique. In a nutshell, creating some great content will cut through the ocean of content that’s already out there, and your brand will really stand out.
It’s true – the vast majority of consumers are generally turned off by standard or generic content, including blogs and textual posts. Indeed, data increasingly suggests that consumers will now only engage with this type of content if they are specifically searching for it. When users are casually browsing, it will typically be interactive content that prompts them to give it their attention. As a general rule of thumb, you can assume that unless they are looking for something in particular, consumers will tend to ignore your content.
Put simply, interactive content marketing really provides something different. In the vast majority of cases, it’s safe to assume that your rivals aren’t doing it, giving you an immediate competitive advantage. Go the extra mile with your content creation strategy, and watch your engagement rate climb as a result.
Harness the Power of Data
Sharing content that requires the response or input of your target audience typically provides your audience with a rewarding experience, making their opinion feel valid and valued. However, the benefits of interactive content like quizzes and polls don’t end there. When done properly, you can assess the results of our piece of content, using data insights to further scope and refine your overall marketing strategy. When viewing your content at home, your target audience will typically be more comfortable with giving honest answers.
At ProfileTree, experiences with a number of our clients suggest that interactive content can be extremely effective across every stage of your business’ sales funnel. Indeed, there are some really creative ways of doing this. As your customers move closer towards booking appointments or ordering your product, you can push them along with interactive content that encourages them to click that final button at the checkout.
The importance of data in marketing is highly significant, and small pieces of interactive content will allow you to define what your customers like and how they like to be addressed. After all, the better you understand your audience, the better you can cater to their needs. We’ve found that survey, polls and quiz responses are the most effective way of collecting data around your typical buyer persona. We love using ongoing polls on Instagram – and they can even be embedded within your Instagram Live feed.
Types of Interactive Content Marketing
We know that the uptake of interactive content marketing is on the rise, and we know that this engagement method carries significant benefits. However, we also know that few businesses are aware of the practice, and few brands understand how exactly they can present this type of content to their target audience.
At ProfileTree, we advise that the type of interactive content marketing you produce should depend totally on the nature of your business and the nature of your audience. We’ve seen that various demographics react differently to different types of interactive content, and doing your market research thoroughly should allow you to refine what would best appeal to your ideal customers. To help guide our followers through this process, we’ve highlighted various forms of interactive content marketing. Check them out!
As we’ve previously mentioned, interactive quizzes are one of the most valuable forms of interactive content marketing out there. Few pieces of digital content get engagement quite like interactive quizzes, and the data collection benefits are huge. You can use the quizzes to find out which of your products or services are preferred by your customers, as well as information about their demographics, opinions and needs.
You can also use interactive quizzes to build brand awareness. Test your target audience with a series of light-hearted questions about your brand, and reward your participants with prizes. Interactive content marketing through the medium of quizzes has transformed the concept of the raffle competition and prize draw – so get on it and watch your engagement go through the roof.
Making Recommendations to the Customer with Bots
Let’s look at the example of a clothes store. If you owned a clothes store, you would regularly make recommendations to your customers based upon their style, their preferences and what they have purchased previously. With continued advancement in technology, why shouldn’t your online store offer that same degree or personalisation and bespoke service? The key to bringing this level of service quality to any eCommerce lies in the business applications of artificial intelligence: bots.
So what are bots, and how do they work? The truth is, bots form much of the cogs, nuts and bolts which keep huge swathes of the internet running smoothly and efficiently 24/7, every single day of the year. Bots are automated programmes which harness data and user interaction to provide relevant information, largely in accordance with a query or communication made by a web user. In a nutshell, this is what chatbots have been specifically designed for: answering questions and responding to queries. They’re on the rise, and many commentators suggest that they are the future of interactive content marketing.
Chatbots and automated marketing bots are one of the most popularly used tools in digital technology. Indeed, the reasons for their popularity are vast. For one, chatbots allow two-way communication, facilitating back-and-forth instant messaging. What’s more, more advanced bots can deliver customised content to the user by personalising its messaging according to data about that user. Bots also allow businesses to figure out exactly what questions their audience is asking, giving them informed insights into key phrases and how they should plot their content marketing strategy.
Another really important thing to note is that many chatbots can be fully integrated within your website, including your CRMs, emails and social media channels. Whilst this will again allow you to get better insights into your target audience, it will also allow you to provide better, more personalised content to your visitors.
Immersive Experiences with 360° Video Tours
The benefits of content marketing with 360° video are obvious. Indeed, as the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic continue, content marketing efforts that promote social distancing measures will undoubtedly see a huge rise in uptake. We’ve covered this before in our Covid-19 Marketing Guide, so be sure to check it out.
Full 360º video tours offer your target audience unparalleled access to your location or business without having to actually leave their homes. With a reasonably small investment, your business can offer a virtual shop window to shoppers. This is ideal across a range of sectors, and it’s especially relevant to more experiential sectors like tourism, hospitality and real estate.
One of the most significant benefits of 360º tours is how it can have an immediate and positive impact on your website’s overall bounce rate. Think about it – presenting your target audience with relevant, useful and interactive content will encourage them to individually engage with that piece of content. That typically means more time is spent on your site, which will have an obvious impact on your sales conversion rate. At ProfileTree, we call content like 360º video tours ‘sticky content’ – content that makes potential customers spend longer durations on your site.
We’ve created a Total Guide to 360º Video Tours which highlight a huge range of benefits, as well as how you can do it yourself for your own business or organisation. However, we wanted to point out some of the top benefits below:
- Provide value: A video speaks a thousand words, and 360º video tours can provide visual information to your audience that is unrivalled in terms of how much detail it offers, far surpassing the value offered by text and image-based messaging.
- A universal location: Nowadays, the question of location is extremely important. This is particularly relevant in more experiential industries such as tourism, hospitality and real estate. Video tours allow potential property buyers to view homes at any location without costly travel expenditure or the need to use public transport. With interactive content marketing through 360º videos, you can open up your business or organisations’s location to the world wide web, with potential customers able to access that location in a fast-loading virtual reality enabled environment. If you get your 360º video right, you can showcase key features of your experiential product or service.
- Persuade Your Target Audience: In a digital marketplace saturated with static content, interactive media will truly separate your brand from the rest. Virtual tours suggest that your company is of a high quality and serious about its business offering, and it can be a real persuasive decider between you and your industrial rivals. In many cases, if your customers enjoy their virtual experience, they will have the confidence to take things further, increasing their chances of paying for the real thing.
- Educate Your Target Audience: As we’ve previously mentioned, targeting your audience with interactive content marketing is one of the best ways of educating and informing your audience. With 360º video tours, viewers of that particular piece of content can select which images they would like to view and navigate, and detailed and educational visual information can give your customers unique insights into your business.
Build Connections Through Polls and Surveys
Polls and surveys are some of the most popular forms of interactive content marketing out there, and we see them being used all the time on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Surveys offer a really fun and unique way of finding out the needs and wants of your customers, and you can even find out what they think about your individual products and services by following the same approach.
For products in development, there are few stronger market research tools than an interactive poll. Let’s say that you are in the final stages of development, but you are undecided around what decision to make around your package design. By putting a poll to your target audience you can make a decision based upon what appeals to your customer. Furthermore, when your audience is invited to take part in a poll, they will be made to feel like they have been included in your business, and that their opinion actually matters in the broader picture.
Champion Your Brand with Interactive Content
Interactive content doesn’t have to be AI-enabled, it doesn’t have to be sleek and it doesn’t have to come loaded with shiny buttons and options for you to click. In many cases, you can simply invite your target audience to take part in a contest by submitting user generated content. This could take the form of a video or photo competition, and the results of competition-based campaigns often go viral. It’s a form of social media marketing, and one we really love.
This is an extremely well known marketing strategy called ‘gamification’, and involves engaging your target audience with various contests and challenges. Data suggests that gamification typically yields a 150% increase in online engagement, with nearly 87% of retailers pledging to introduce this into their own content marketing strategy over the next five years. In terms of a content marketing strategy that is comprehensive and long-term, challenges using user-generated photo and video content can be later repurposed for brand development purposes.
Let’s look at a few examples. Some of the most popular examples of interactive content marketing through contests are “like and share to win” examples, as well as “tag a friend”, “retweet to win” and “best comment” competitions, which typically yield huge levels of engagement. There are, of course, more exciting examples than that. Look at the Ice Bucket challenge, which saw thousands of uploads to social media and over $115 million raised in donations for an ALS charity.
Engage and Inspire with Interactive Websites
Gone are the days when businesses and organisations only had websites for the sake of it – for the mere purpose of having a presence online. The online world has totally transformed since then, and now consumers expect websites to serve as fully functioning extensions of your shop’s front window and customer service offering. By including interactive content across your site, you can give your customers what they reasonably expect in today’s digital marketplace. Indeed, your overall strategy should always begin with strong website design.
Interactive websites engage and inspire your potential customers to explore content in a way regular blog posts don’t. This can mean including polls and surveys in blogs, or some form of opinion indicator embedded at critical locations on your website.
Interactive Content Marketing with ProfileTree
Interactive content marketing with ProfileTree can help your branded messages reach new and exciting places. We’ve been building brands online since 2011, recently winning the Best Content Marketing Award for a Video Series at the Inaugural Irish Content Marketing Awards for our Business Leader Series on Youtube. However, the industry recognition hasn’t ended there. We’ve picked up rafts of awards for our development and design projects, including 2019’s User Experience Award for our work creating an interactive website for a leading Brexit advisory service in the Republic of Ireland.
We’ve built our business on content that informs, engages and inspires. Now let us do the same for your brand.