Interactive Content is Changing Content Marketing—But What is it Exactly?

Here at ion, we recognize that most of our customers and content marketers in general are after the same goal—engagement.

We have seen this statement several times, circling around content marketing roundtables and online but I believe it can be originally credited to Mari King, “Content is King but engagement is Queen and she rules the house.”

And do you know what can help content marketers achieve successful engagement? Interactive content.

Stephanie Tunis, ion’s Director of Creative Services says,

“The possibilities presented to businesses who adopt interactive content are endless. They have the opportunity to craft content in a way that allows for a meaningful, digital conversation with their user, which can be extremely powerful.”

When marketers first started to look at content marketing as a way to accomplish these goals, they saw a lot of value in creating long-form, static pieces that were educational. Unfortunately, the internet became more crowded with these pieces, making it harder to stand out amongst the noise. When coupled with the introduction of smart phones and social media networks, it became more clear that internet users wanted to interact with the content they consumed rather than just read it. Interactive content was the next frontier.

“Interactive content is browser-based and designed for visitor participation. It isn’t content created solely to be read or watched; rather it’s designed to be something that your audience actively engages in—getting and giving useful information.” - from our Interactive Content Basics white paper.

The Interactive Content Elevator Pitch

When I try to explain what interactive content is, I always try to do it in the form of an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is usually just enough information to help you understand something without a lot of unnecessary details. In a nutshell, interactive content is any type of content that includes interaction points where the user can engage with the content. Interactions can be as simple as clicking a tile to see more information or answering quiz questions about a product or service in order to receive personalized results. That’s the most simple explanation of a strategy that can (in theory) have a lot of moving parts.

Interactive Content in Popular Culture

Who can remember the days before Buzzfeed clogged up our Facebook newsfeed with quizzes that told us what type of sandwich we are? I can barely remember those days and I will admit that I love them and I know now that I am not alone. Most of us love a good quiz, even if the results are not at all valuable to our everyday life. Several years ago, Buzzfeed launched a quiz that told you which state you should live in based on your answers to a few simple questions. Shortly after they launched the quiz, they generated 41 million page views. That is a lot of data and engagement for Buzzfeed and of course it is. We see the results as a reflection of who we are or an affirmation of who we believe we are. Every time we answer these questions, we are hopefully closer to confirming our true identity—even if we find that our identity is a grilled cheese sandwich as opposed to a BLT for example.

One of ion’s designers Olivia Terrizzi, likes to take these quizzes as well. She is especially gravitated toward any that have to do with Harry Potter or Disney.

"As a designer that makes quizzes like these, I know why they want me to complete the quiz — to collect data. I go through with it anyways because it's a fun way to spend a minute or so and get confirmation on whether I'm more like Harry Potter or Hermione Granger. And as a side note, another reason I take the quizzes is to see what answers are available that correspond with what I think my result should be.”

So, What Does Buzzfeed Have to do With This?

Ok, so yes, we really don’t need to know what tree or fish or Seinfeld character our target market is but we can safely assume that they have taken at least one Buzzfeed quiz at some point. Why? Because most of us are at least somewhat interested in engaging with them even though we know that the end result will not change our lives and more than likely we are giving Buzzfeed data in exchange for a very brief moment of satisfaction (or disappointment depending on the results).

How Does This Translate to Business?

Going back to what Stephanie Tunis said above, businesses who adopt interactive content are now able to create a far more engaging digital conversation with their customers than those whose sole focus is on static content. Now, we are not at all suggesting that you launch a quiz that holds no value to your prospects lives. Those types of quizzes are already in existence and they can stay on Buzzfeed.

A business that creates a product that can solve a problem can still benefit from a quiz. Your customer may want to know what product of service of yours best fits their need. Interactive content is a great way to tell your story and provide value to your prospects.

To continue learning about interactive content and the basics of launching an experience, view our Back to Basics webinar here.