Modern marketers have it tougher than ever before. They have the resources and the manpower and yet the fruitful execution is tough. The constant pressures of generating and improving RoI on marketing require solutions that will deliver across the board. They need solutions that will engage the audience and convert them from prospects into leads. Content marketing has been one of the most effective ways to engage with audience. This has led to huge amount of content being churned out, at an even faster rate which just continues to grow. This has resulted into content being generated that never really reaches the audience because it has no value for them. There is nothing in the content that engages them. The challenge has thus shifted from mere content creation to creating engaging content for your audience. We need content that establishes a two-way dialogue, thus enabling a personalized experience for the audience; something that grabs the eye and engages their mind. It passes the message to the viewer before his mind wanders somewhere else. Let’s look at some of the most common and effective types of interactive content format.
- Comments: This is simple comment section that one finds below the text article. Usually this is not classified as interactive content. However, if one is creative about how these comments are asked to the user they can become very interactive. For example, instead of a simple ‘write your comments below’, the comments can be made part of the user journey through the content. A nice caption such as ‘tell you friends what you think about this article’ and made shareable on social media appeals to the users to share their own ideas with others. If used properly and innovatively, the simple looking comments section can be great interactive marketing tool.
- Infographics: People don’t want to read long articles. The idiom ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ is quite true. The content story is more effective when told with graphics. Basic pie charts and bar graphs deliver the numeric information faster and help reader interpret the figures faster than plain text. There are various formats such as lists, timelines, side by side comparisons, maps etc that present the information in an attractive and engaging format. An effective approach to use infographic is to embed the graphic image in the page with other information and link it to the higher resolution downloadable graphic. Reader must enter his details before he can download the higher resolution graphic image. This generates the actionable lead information. However, as with any other image, the graphic must use colours, fonts, figures, drawings in such a manner as to appeal to the eye of the reader and entice him to click on it.
- Video: A simple video is better than plain text or even a graphic, provided it’s done correctly. It engages the ears, the eye and the mind of the audience. More often than not, it has total attention of the audience. A video can be made further interactive by use of annotations, just as YouTube does. Static links can be provided as annotations on the video at multiple points. Questions can be asked in the video and response to those questions can be collected by the way of annotations. This way a simple video is converted into a 2 way dialogue interaction where viewer is providing his responses right over the video as it plays. There is virtually no limit to such interactions. It is up to the marketer how deep a conversation he wants have with the viewer. Interactive video can be used to gather lead data, profile the prospect, take feedback from the customer and generally keep the conversation going.
- Polls/surveys: Polls and surveys are ideal for simple engagements. There is no right or wrong answer in polls and surveys. These are excellent form of engagements to collect opinions, information and many times valuable feedback from the users. These can be done very easily on various social media platforms (such as Twitter and Facebook) or on the proprietary content distribution system. For example, having a pre-event poll on ‘which of these event do you plan to attend’ or ‘what do you look forward to in this event’, gives a real actionable feedback on which event is generating more interest and why. The simple voting mechanism of polls is easy for the users to interact with, controls the feedback to pre-defined options, instead of becoming an outlet for rant by irate users (though, that in itself can be a very useful feedback at times). Engaging polls and surveys also provide incentive to users to come back to your content to validate their beliefs and contribution (Voters like to see where they stand when the poll results are out)
- Calculators: Calculators are great when your product or service being offered has complicated numerical implications. For example, calculating the mortgage payment or insurance premiums. They are a great way to capture valid information from the user, and user has an immediate incentive to share these details (customer gets to know his mortgage or insurance premium immediately). Even in B2B scenarios, calculators can be used to depict RoI for the customer when he invests in the product or service. It’s a great way to show value of the product in terms that really matter to the user, i.e. the money.
- Online Assessment: Assessments are great lead generation tool. Some marketing studies put assessment at the top of all interactive content. They are so effective because they are actually helpful to the people completing the assessment. For the marketeer, the information gathered can be used to create an elegant and personalized follow up. Assessment tools such as ‘are you ready for interactive content marketing’, with simple questions could tell the customer how mature are his content marketing processes and tell the marketer about the level of service such a customer will need.
Content marketing is already in a very competitive space and will continue to get more competitive. Creating a good or even great content may not be good enough, if the user does not have interest in it. Interactive content generates the interest and engages the customer. Having said that, market is always conducive for quality products and it holds true even here. Having superior quality content and used in the right manner can boost the impact of your marketing efforts exponentially and give your business a meteoric rise. However, as in any field, there is no one size fits all solution in interactive content marketing. The kind of interactive content that will be most effective depends on the target customer segment and his persona. Careful study needs to be carried out before right format of interactive content is used. After all an interactive graphic with a complex formula to calculate premium for fire insurance will not be as effective as an insurance premium calculator.