Remember the good-old days of meta-marketing content (AKA content about content) when the following was said, repeated, tweeted, sprayed on overpasses:

“Nth percent of content marketers are creating more content than they did a year ago.”

We all hurriedly wrapped up our Hubspot Inbound Marketing Certifications, closed our Seth Godin books, and started producing content like crazy. But a funny thing happened—engagement levels started dropping.

As we were rushing to meet demand, the demand kind of, well, stopped demanding our content. Or did they?

Spoiler alert: They didn’t.

THIS ISLAND EARTH

The venerable Exeter, downloading a colorful interactive eBook about tractor-beam optimization.

In truth, audiences grew more and more weary of static whitepapers that didn’t ask anything of them. Apparently, people like to interact with the content they’ve deemed “downloadable.”

Some marketers learned this over time, finding higher engagement levels with surveys, quizzes, and videos (which either directly or indirectly provide an interactive experience) than with whitepapers and infographics. They optimized. People celebrated, and then… you guessed it. Engagement began sliding again.

So where are we today? Well, we’re entering the interactive content wave of meta-marketing content (welcome!).

Enough fluff. Get to the data!

I’m willing to bet the readers of this are a bunch of data-driven, technology-obsessed marketers, so I’ll cut to the chase. Here are some real numbers:

According to SnapApp, interactive content typically generates the following engagement results:

  • 50% click rate
  • 55% conversion rate
  • 80% completion rate
  • 13% share rate

Demand Gen Report’s 2015 Content Preferences Survey found that 91% of respondents preferred interactive content to static.

For its report Enhancing The Buyer’s Journey, Demand Metric surveyed marketers of various industries and learned that 70% said interactive content is effective at converting visitors, while only 36% said the same about static content.

There are plenty more statistics out there presenting similar findings. But I’ll let you embark on the adventure of tracking them down on your own. The takeaway: Both users and marketers prefer interactive content, and it typically generates higher engagement than passive, or static, content. So that begs the following questions: What is ID’s current definition of interactive content and how do you bring it to your organization?

First things first…

What is Interactive Content?

As mentioned above, traditional formats of interactive content may include surveys, quizzes, videos, and assessments. I qualify them as “traditional” simply because modern marketers are now moving past the idea of “content” and more in the direction of “experiences.” Through that lens, the list of content formats goes up: look books, interactive infographics, interactive eBooks, etc.

I particularly like Ion Interactive’s definition in its super cool Interactive Content Marketing Toolkit.

According to Ion, one of the more robust interactive content platforms out there, interactive content is “browser-based digital content experiences designed for visitor participation [and] usually includes a feedback loop in which the outcome of the experience is directly impacted by the interaction of the visitor.”

As you can see above, the new wave of interactive content provides an experience. This adds a second dimension to your content-creation process: UX.

Creative departments can’t simply approach this type of content like a passive, downloadable guide with a definitive beginning, middle, and end. In order to incorporate true, modern interactive content into your mix, you need to invest some considerable upfront time before your designers start concepting and your writers start putting pen to pad (or, rather, finger to keyboard).

If, until recently, you haven’t considered producing interactive content, you have a few choices to get started. You could dedicate a portion of your team’s time to learning more about UX, hire someone who has experience in creating this type of content, or do what pays ID’s bills—hire an agency.

How ever you approach it, your participation in the content planning phase will look and feel more like the steps you would normally undertake to create a microsite. True, there is still a distinct starting point for users, but where they go, or explore, isn’t quite so black and white. That’s where story mapping comes in handy.

Wait… what is story mapping?

No doubt, many of the marketing nerds reading this post are very familiar with buyer-journey mapping. Think of story mapping as a distant cousin of the buyer’s journey—the kind of cousin you can marry.

More commonly practiced during UX design or web development, story mapping is one way to illustrate the potential experience a user might have interacting with a product or interface of some kind. Like a buyer’s journey, the exercise requires you to put yourself in the user’s, or prospect’s, shoes.

Instead of trying to explain it, I’ll just show an example:

Interactice

Image Courtesy of UXPin

In the example above, you can see that this story map follows a user named Paul. The point of this exercise is to think through the things Paul might see/interact with and the information he might need or places he might get stuck along his journey.

Your content story mapping needn’t be so in-depth. One saving grace of building interactive content is you get to control the complexity of the universe your users will experience.

On a small scale, your interactive content might be a long scrolling guide that utilizes animation and a couple survey-like questions embedded in the content. To a user, it feels like a “choose your own adventure.” To the creators of the content, the experience is still operating in a linear way.

How do you bring interactive content to your organization?

Come on, now. You’re a savvy content marketer. We’re an agency, so you know I’m not just going to give you all the tools you need in this blog post alone. But don’t fret. We will be dedicating an entire series of posts to the topic of interactive content.

In our next post, we’ll dig a bit deeper into the business case for interactive content and the ROI of incorporating it into your content offerings.

Don’t want to wait for the next post? No problem. Contact us today and let’s talk interactive content.

Theo Romeo

Author Theo Romeo

More posts by Theo Romeo

Theo oversees ID’s Creative Department and works with ID’s other practice areas to architect integrated campaign messaging and content strategies. Theo is routinely demanding to know more about your prospects’ pain points, your unique value proposition, and the best way to address both in your campaign’s messaging architecture.

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