If you’re one of the people who has taken a personality quiz online (What kind of building product are YOU?) or estimated the amount of material needed or the cost of a project using a website’s online calculator, you’re probably a fan of interactive content. You are in good company, too. According to Mediafly, B2B buyers prefer interactive content and presentations in an increasingly digital selling environment.
Although part of the preference is in reaction to being forced online during the pandemic, the statistics support the growth of interactive content. Even if your audience members aren’t demanding it from you, they want it—in ever-increasing numbers.
Part of the appeal is that interactivity takes a simple piece of informative content and kicks it up to a participatory experience that audiences remember and seek out. It increases engagement, raises conversion rates and lifts lead generation. Good interactive content can be twice as likely to engage a visitor as static content and, according to popular SEO tool Semrush, many forms of interactive content allow you to easily capture data from those engaging with your assets.
Got it. But, we must inject some caveats:
- Know your audience. Yes, you’ve heard it a million times, but it’s always, always key to planning any communication or messaging effort. Just because a type of interactive content is fun and cool doesn’t mean it will land with your audience.
“Different audiences respond to different formats of interactive content, and you must take the time to understand what is working for others in your sector or the broader topics that could benefit from interactive content,” according to Semrush.
- Know your resources. Interactive content can be engaging (yes, please!), but it takes time and knowledge to make it serve you and your business well. First, it can be a budget-buster. Consider how much money you can put to interactive and who will create it. Second, you may not have the team to create and support it. You don’t want to get into an idea only to have it scrapped because you lacked the resources to make it work.
- Know what technical requirements you require for what interactivity. When you upload passive or static content, it’s often just uploading an image via your CMS. Incorporating interactive assets can be tricky and complicated. Again, know if you have the digital infrastructure and team (or person) to make it happen and keep it seamless for users.
Now that we’ve laid out our forewarning, let’s look at three categories of interactive content that you can employ to help you reach—and interact—with your audience.
Interactive film and video
Interactive videos allow viewers to act together with the video’s elements and alter the story, which creates a more personalized experience for viewers.
By allowing viewers to control content, you give them a more dynamic role in the viewing experience than they would get in a linear video. Oftentimes this leads to higher satisfaction levels and loyalty from viewers—and customers.
Linear videos—in both long and short form—still intrigue viewers more than static content, interactive videos kick the intrigue up a notch and compel a viewer to react and be more participatory, which can increase recall and loyalty.
Branched stories and 360-degree videos are two examples of interactive content. Let’s start with 360-degree videos, because they’re often compared or used interchangeably with virtual reality (VR), but these two visual experiences aren’t the same, as they differ in immersion, interactivity possibility and application, according to virtual reality platform VRdirect.
“Interactive 360° videos are live-action videos captured using special 360-degree or omnidirectional cameras. As with usual videos, these too can be viewed with any 360-compatible devices such as smartphones or computers,” says VRdirect. “They allow users to interact with the video in a 360-panoramic view of the space, but influencing the story or creating the intended narrative is out of the question. Even though users can look or walk around using direction keys or a mouse, the experience is confined to a limited space captured from the camera’s point of view.”
Think of the videos real estate companies post to their homes-for-sale listings. The video that provides a 360-view allows viewers to get the feel of a space and move the scene around with their fingertips. Google Street View is another example. A warehouse space or new facility are ideal to show to your customers using 360 views, as is the introduction of a complex new product. Go here for PC magazine’s top picks for 360 cameras.
Virtual reality is a more interactive and immersive experience that pulls users into a spatial, 3D-dimension replicating life-like scenarios, according to VRdirect.
“There’s greater freedom to move or interact without the limitation of a particular narrative, “ according to VRdirect. “The possibility to make a conscious choice, influence the narrative, and interact almost realistically with real-life scenarios makes VR the key to unlocking the future.”
Branched stories, or branching scenarios, are common in e-learning. You may have participated, or created, an employee orientation or self-guided course using branched stories.
“Branching scenarios are much like a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ story,” write the authors of Vanderbilt University’s online course development. “In a branching scenario, learners are taken through a scenario where they must make decisions based on the events presented. Responses lead learners through a custom pathway where each decision leads to a corresponding consequence. Branching scenarios may also be called branching logic because each decision creates a new ‘branch’ of the path for learners to follow.”
Branched stories don’t need to be long, complex course. They can be quick and relatively easy to create and deeply engage participants. For ideas on how and when to use branched scenarios – and the associated tools, the gaming or eLearning industry have resources galore. Try learning experience design consultant Christy Tucker for basic tips, or think about trying a scenario building software.
Games and quizzes
This is self-explanatory overall, as almost everyone is familiar with a game or quiz done online. (What building product are YOU?) And they’re easy to create with online tools, including QuizMaker , Survey Monkey (which builds surveys, too!) and Canva.
The Content Marketing Institute, which was a fierce and early advocate for interactive content in marketing, says quizzes, polls, games, and surveys are best used “to test your audience’s knowledge or opinions on a relevant topic and then generate a shareable report card so they can compare their results to those of their peers.”
The feedback piece is key. No one wants to take a quiz and not know the score.
Interactive maps and image sliders
Maps have been a popular way to build personalization and interactivity in content for years. For online visitors looking to envisage different locations or directions, no more appropriate format exists. Tools such as Maphub or Mapme are good starting places, or just use Google Maps. If you have something akin to a “find a dealer” or “find a professional” page on your website, you need an interactive map.
Images on their own can be visually arresting and engaging, but when they show a comparison among two or more things, such as a before and after as sliders, says Semrush, they stop traffic and draw users in. Online news sites are particularly good at this, including The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. A basic, but quality image slider, can effectively compare multiple images in a way that increases engagement and creates a powerful impression.
These three interactive content ideas are among many, all of which ER Marketing can assist you with, if you’d like to up your content interactivity. Call or email us today to start a conversation.
Interactive content refers to content that allows the audience to actively engage and participate rather than passively consume. It can include videos where viewers influence the storyline or quizzes where users answer questions to receive tailored results.
B2B buyers prefer interactive content because it enhances engagement, provides a personalized experience, and helps convey complex information more effectively.
Interactive content boosts engagement, increases conversion rates, and improves lead generation. It can also capture valuable data from user interactions.
Understand your audience’s preferences and your available resources before creating interactive content. Also, be aware of the technical requirements for implementing interactivity.
Interactive videos include branched stories where viewers make decisions that shape the narrative and 360-degree videos that provide a panoramic view but limit user influence on the story.