The rising popularity of content marketing has resulted in intensifying competition. Years ago, content marketing used to mean selecting the right keywords and writing short 600 to 800 word articles containing those keywords. Search engines have since prioritized authority content – or long-form content with a lot of reputable backlinks and social media mentions – and achieving authority status has become an arms race among content marketers.
In this post, we will take a look at one of the most cutting-edge tools in this arms race – interactive content – and how you can wield it in your marketing strategy.
What is Interactive Content?
Interactive content is the use of embedded or custom-built software within the content to drive interaction. This software makes a piece of content a lot more valuable and engaging for readers, which ultimately helps the content achieve authority status. Interactive content has become a great lead generation tool in a world where pop-ups are increasingly ignored. This is why half of all marketers use interactive content and nearly 80 percent of them plan to ramp up their use.
Let’s take a look at a quick example of interactive content:
EmailMarketingROI developed this educational calculator to supplement their landing page content and help readers determine their specific return on investment for email campaigns. In addition to providing a lot of value to the reader, the calculator’s “benchmark” section serves as a lead generation tool that likely converts a lot better than a newsletter pop-up or e-course. The same piece of software is also reusable across multiple pieces of content.
The most popular types of interactive content include:
- Interactive Infographics
- Interactive eBooks
- Interactive White Papers
- Interactive Lookbooks
Interactive content works best when it’s designed to meet a business goal. For example, a financial advisor may develop a retirement calculator that can be embedded into any content covering retirement planning. The calculator provides the reader with a lot of value since they can calculate their needs, while the results of the calculations may provide financial advisors with much more information than a conventional inbound lead form.
Does Interactive Content Work?
Demand Metric’s Enhancing the Buyer’s Journey research report found that interactive content was significantly more effective than passive content at educating potential buyers. In fact, over 90 percent of respondents said that interactive content was somewhat effective or very effective at educating buyers compared to just 70 percent for passive content. Interactive content was also shared on social media much more frequently (38 percent versus 17 percent).
The Content Marketing Institute’s The Symphony of Connected Interactive Content Marketing research report found that the use of interactive content has been relatively flat between 2016 and 2017, but nearly 80 percent of those that do use these techniques plan to increase their use over the next 12 months. Moreover, nearly 90 percent agreed that interactive content grabs the attention of readers more effectively than static content.
These were just some of the benefits associated with interactive content:
How to Use Interactive Content
There is little doubt that interactive content is a great way to increase engagement and drive leads, but there are often high development costs associated with it. In fact, the CMI report found that 50 percent of companies wanted to use interactive content but lacked the staffing or bandwidth, nearly 40 percent said they lacked the expertise, and over 10 percent indicated that it was too expensive to develop this type of content.
Given these high development costs, the best way to get started with interactive content is to develop one or two pieces of software that can be used in anchor content. A great example is the financial calculator for an advisor, which can be embedded in anchor content targeting retirement keywords – the bread-and-butter of their business. They can then build other content around these pieces of anchor content to bring everything together.
It also makes sense to plan out what types of interactive content to use at various stages of the buying process. The CMI report found that calculators tended to be the most useful across the entire buying process; contests and games tended to be the best early-stage options; and configurators and wizards tended to be the best late stage options. The best overall conversion rates were seen with contests, calculators, and configurators, respectively.
Interactive content is more difficult to produce than passive content since it involves software development. There are some companies that have developed easy ways to make interactive content, but these solutions are expensive for many publishers and less customizable.
- D3 – A data visualization library that’s helpful for creating interactive infographics and other data driven documents.
- Finance – A library that’s helpful for handling financial calculations for the purposes of return on investment and other things.
- QuizLib – A simple library that’s helpful for creating quizzes.
Enterprise companies with a higher budget might want to consider companies like SnapApp, which provides a platform for developing interactive content for a monthly fee that ranges from $1,650 to $3,600 or more. This option may be appealing to enterprise users that would like a more fully-integrated platform that handles everything from marketing automation integration to A/B testing and search engine optimization.
The Bottom Line
Content marketing is becoming increasingly competitive and interactive marketing is a great way to differentiate your content and get more value out of it. With nearly half of content marketers using these techniques already, these strategies are becoming increasingly necessary to remain competitive, especially in competitive keyword spaces. Interactive content involves a higher cost, but these costs may be worth it since it can be reused in many areas.