The state of play in digital marketing is such that engagement is now the most valuable commodity. There are so many brands vying for the attention of their audiences online that a successful marketing project is now one that increases time on page figures and click through rates, rather than one that embeds itself into popular culture or becomes a viral sensation. The need for marketers to be agile in following their audiences’ across different platforms means that long-term campaigns are difficult to plan, and brands need to be able to find engagement on the go.
And, with the potentially seismic impact of sweeping GDPR legislation just a few months down the line, marketers are being forced to experiment with new ways of engaging their audiences. These are tough crowds, too, audiences that are reluctant to give a brand any of their time unless they are getting something of value in return – this is why content marketing has been such a revelation. As content marketing has developed, it too has become oversaturated to the point where audiences are switching off. Some 27 million pieces of content are now shared online every day, of which the average user encounters a whopping 285 - according to Express Writers - so brands are turning to more interactive forms of content to drive engagement.
In many ways, interactive content is the natural development of content marketing, and it certainly shouldn’t be viewed as a revolutionary new venture or something that the average brand is unable to produce. It is content that blends rich media, visual storytelling, and participatory narrative to create something users are actively engaged with, rather than passively watching or reading. The more common forms of interactive content are things like assessments (quizzes) – popularized by the likes of BuzzFeed, calculators – used by credit score companies or those promising to save you money on your home insurance, and polls or surveys that users can have active participation in. These can be layered into existing content and ensure that users are given an ‘experience’, rather than simply a block of text.
Importantly, the effectiveness of a particular form of interactive content is dependent on the stage in the buyer’s journey. Some are highly effective for early stage awareness and discovery but are almost useless at late stage decision making – games, contests, quizzes, essentially the ‘lighter’ content. Others, meanwhile, are generally effective across the board, from discovery through consideration to decision making – wizards, calculators, configurators, the more technical content. So, brands looking to use interactive content to engage audiences should first consider the point at which they have the most difficulties. If they are struggling to have audiences discover their brand, they should look to lighter more fun pieces of content, where more technical utility content can be used to address a leaky sales funnel.
Interactive content allows brands to not only inform their audiences, but have a conversation with them. As these audiences become bombarded with endless content from myriad brands vying for attention, it makes sense to diversify that content with interactive elements. It’s far easier for a marketing team to promote an infographic than a blog post, and audiences are more likely to willingly engage with a fun quiz than they are an advertorial piece of written content. If interactive content becomes the norm it may well lose its powerful differentiating factor - for now, though, it’s something all brands should consider.