Content is king; we’ve heard this over and over, accepted it, made the necessary investments and jumped on the content marketing band wagon. Today, we’re churning out more newsletters, blog posts, articles, white papers, infographics, videos, podcasts and webinars than ever before. But while we’re busy overloading our audiences’ inboxes and social feeds with our content, we must stop to ask ourselves: is this really effective? Or is it time to innovate?
With over 27 million pieces of content being shared online each day, audiences are bombarded with information. An old friend just moved back into town, a cousin had a new baby girl, Kim Kardashian did a racy new photoshoot. How can you compete with that?
If that sounds tough, consider what your peers are doing. Recent research shows that roughly 75+% of organizations have content marketing on their agenda, which means that your ‘best practices manual’ that took a month to prepare is probably sitting somewhere next to your competitor’s ‘how to guide’. Why should your audience pick yours over your competitor’s?
Differentiating in today’s crowded online arena is clearly a challenge, and is forcing marketers to become more creative, innovative and strategic with their content. – giving rise to the concept of interactive content.
What is interactive content?
Interactive content is content that actively involves audience participation with the objective of engaging, entertaining or educating them about a certain topic. Designed to create a personal, immersive experience, interactive content goes beyond simply reading or watching content and requires audiences to choose preferences, answer questions, assess, vote, play or compete.
More interaction = more engagement
While traditional content talks at the user, interactive content talks with the user by involving her active participation. In contrast to a typical 1000+ word blog post, an interactive white paper, for instance, gives audiences the opportunity to shape and inﬂuence content as they interact with it. This creates a highly engaging, personal and memorable content experience that satisﬁes people’s desire for individuation.
People like and share it, because it’s personal
By creating a custom experience, and a custom outcome for users, interactive content is much more effective at driving audience action. Let’s take for example, a rudimentary knowledge test that produces a score for each player – we’ve seen how something as simple as this can make audiences want to share their scores and challenge their friends to participate.
By boosting likes, shares, comments and follows, Interactive Content makes it possible for marketers to rely less on paid media and more on the quality of their content to carry their message.
Deeper data on individual needs, preferences, habits and pain points
When it comes to collecting audience data through content, most of us employ more or less the same methods such as newsletter sign-up forms, opt-ins and gated content access forms. Unfortunately, this means that the data points we collect through these methods are also very similar, which means that in your line of business, you and your competitors are sharing pretty much the same data set.
In contrast to traditional content, interactive content sets the user on a journey where each interaction aids in drawing a clearer picture of her. With this is mind, marketers can strategically mine specific sets of data that reveal their audience’s needs, preferences, habits and pain points. Marketers can leverage these insights to keep their business ahead of the curve not only in terms of marketing, but also in terms of product development, business development and sales.
More qualified leads
As a marketer, you’d probably agree that aligning with sales on lead management is an epic battle. ‘Marketing doesn’t generate enough leads’ or ‘These aren’t leads, they’re just email addresses’ are complaints many marketers have had to deal with at some point in their careers.
Interactive content has the potential to be the medium that aligns marketing and sales on these issues and brings these two natural foes together. Because interactive content offers a custom experience, audiences are more willing to share personal details to access it than they would for say a blog post or a static PDF article; increasing the quantity of leads that marketers can hand over to sales.
By plugging in the data collected from audience interactions, marketers can significantly improve lead qualification and arm sales teams with the right insights needed for making highly personalized, tailor-made sales pitches.
So, is Interactive Content on your agenda?
If not, you should definitely consider it. We’re already starting to see rudimentary examples of Interactive Content like those buzzfeed quizzes that are slowly taking over our facebook pages. But when Interactive Content really breaks into the business arena and companies learn how to leverage it for their audiences, it will change how we publish and consume content; ushering in the next phase in content evolution.