Interactive Content: Can it help your brand?
[By Karen Geier]
Brands have been steadily becoming publishers, but limiting your content offerings to blog posts, photos, and videos might be leaving attention and money on the table. Companies that understand the true purpose of content marketing – to provide value to customers and help capture and maintain loyalty by being useful to them — are looking at other ways they can deliver that content in interactive ways that tell brands what content and values are important to consumers. Interactive content can help you augment your content efforts and make your content “sticky” and shareable.
What Interactive Content Is
If you’ve ever taken a quiz online, you’ve used interactive content. Interactive content is anything you create that isn’t consumed passively by a reader or viewer. This can include quizzes, “generators” (“what’s your baseball name?”), tools such as mortgage calculators, games, and anything involving participation from your customer.
How to Plan Great Interactive Content
Interactive content, by nature of its complexity, requires more planning than you would put into creating an article. You will have to plan for every contingency and input a reader might throw at your content, and have a crafted response or method built in to account for it.
Start with the ultimate goal that you want to achieve. Is this content’s purpose to collect email addresses for a list? Are you building a generator to surprise and delight readers and to be virally shared? Is it to help your clients plan their finances so you can broach conversations and pick up leads? Select a type of interactive content that best will marry the goal with an experience for the end user.
Be specific about your goals, and make every decision that goes into planning your content answer that question.
Once you’ve decided on a content type, put together the most important content pieces you need to convey in a list, and look for ways to make that content more appealing or engaging for an end user. No one likes to be inundated with information. No one likes to have to read a novel just to complete a quiz that is supposed to be fun. Think about your audience and look for ways to engage and entertain them at every touch point of their interaction with your content.
Don’t Forget Design and User Experience
Even if you’re building a quiz that leverages an existing service to deliver the quiz results, you should think about the design of your quiz. If your content is ugly, off brand, or cluttered, then potential customers will not bother to interact with it.
You should also look at the user experience from end to end. Ask people who are not tied to your project to test your content and give real, honest feedback. It’s important to lower the barrier to entry for the largest number of users, so make sure your copy connects from start to finish, your asks are clear, and that all of your content is on brand.
Promoting Your Interactive Content
Make sure you can embed and share your content easily, and give your content prominence on your blogs. Pushing your content through social media channels should be done in a way that bubbles the content to the top, including possible answers or outcomes in your updates (Buzzfeed does a great job of this, allowing quiz respondents to easily share their quiz results with one click). Think about what would attract someone to spend 10 minutes filling out a quiz or interacting with your content and focus your updates around it.
Consider putting together an email campaign specifically for your interactive content and monitor the success of click-throughs.
Connecting With Your Users after the Fact
If you’ve created your content to collect contact information (and this is a good idea to do), you should be careful of the cadence by which you contact new users. You should email them their results or the outcome of their interactions, but you should then wait at least 10 days before contacting them again to avoid appearing like you only collected this information with intent to spam them.
When you do reach out to users after the fact, make sure you’re continuing the conversation you started with your content, not introducing a new topic. Add value to your last interaction with new information pertinent to your interactive content.
Interactive content is more step- and time-consuming to pull together than simple blog posts or short-form content, but can pay off in engagement and shares with targeted potential leads. Careful planning and a focus on the end user where it pertains to design and content is essential to ensure success. Make sure you engage testers along the way who will give you honest feedback, and keep those relationships going.