Combat Content Overload: How Interactive Content Engages Audiences

Two decades ago, a static advertisement might have been enough to pique consumer interest. But this isn’t 1996, or even 2006 — it’s 2016. Attention spans are shorter than ever. Traditional advertising doesn’t work like it used to. The ability of brands to connect, engage, and — buzzword — be authentic is directly correlated with success and appeal among consumers. Companies that once would have regulated their marketing efforts to banner ads and direct marketing are now launching ads on Snapchat and reaching audiences through Instagram. It’s a brave new world in advertising — and one that relies heavily on a brand’s ability to directly engage consumers.

Enter interactive content. Designed specifically to engage users, interactive content encourages active participation to draw in the audience and encourage them to interact — and it works. According to a recent joint study by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and Ion Interactive, 81 percent of content marketers (out of the 341 polled) said that interactive content grabs readers’ attention more effectively than static advertising. Users agree, too: According to the 2015 Content Preferences Survey, 91 percent of buyers prefer visual and interactive content more than traditional formats. This presents brands with a unique opportunity to offer consumers information that they find more valuable, while also encouraging them to engage with the brand and take action.

“Interactive content enables users to personalize and participate in the content presented to them,” says Jodi Harris, the director of editorial content and curation at CMI. “By helping consumers see themselves in the brand’s experience, the technique offers the potential to deepen engagement and drive greater satisfaction.

One of the main advantages of this form of marketing is that it can be used by a wide range of companies, and for a number of uses. From inciting social change, like Usher’s interactive music video which used facial recognition to confront the issue of racial profiling in America, to selling luxury vacation experiences, like Tully Luxury Travel’s interactive microsite, the medium’s variety offers brands an unconventional way to connect with audiences, regardless of industry.

Quizzes

Quizzes encourage the audience to interact with the brand by testing them on business-relevant topics.

Brand example

Mystery Tackle Box encourages user engagement through quizzes like, “Which Famous Body of Water Should You Fish Next?” and “Can You Name These 12 Lure Types?”

Assessments

A personality-based test that goes deeper than surface level quizzes, assessments allow brands to collect valuable information about their users. Assessments can also lead to increased sales by helping users identify a need and providing them with a product or service-based answer.

Brand example

Data backup company Unitrends drove traffic to their website through an assessment designed to identify each user’s “backup and disaster recovery hero” persona. Each persona directed the user to a product solution from Unitrends.

Calculators

Calculators are often used to provide estimates regarding the price of specific products and the benefits of purchasing based on information provided by the customer.

Brand example

HR management company SilkRoad highlights the business benefits for their core product offering through an ROI calculator, which shows users how much their business can save with onboarding automation. In the first two months of launching the calculator, the company generated over 250 leads.

Interactive video

Interactive video provides customers with the opportunity to virtually try out a company’s product or service before making a purchasing decision.

Brand example

To promote Unity, the first Assassin’s Creed game conceived for cooperative multiplayer gameplay, Assassin’s Creed gave users the chance to create their own avatars to be featured in the video game’s trailer. In two months, more than 2.5M fans visited the website, customizing more than 200,000 avatars, the top 134 of which were featured in the trailer, shown on TV and in theatres. An interactive version of the trailer was made available to users online, enabling them to pause the video at any time to find their own avatar or one created by a friend, and generating more than 300,000 social media shares.

Games

Games allow the audience to connect to the brand in a way that’s fun and educational.

Brand example

Engineering Company Siemens created the Power Matrix Game, which allows players to create their own simulated power station.

When considering the use of interactive content, however, brands must determine whether the medium is correct for their message.

“Interactivity should enhance the natural appeal and longevity of your message — not serve as a substitute for real substance,” says Harris.

Bottom line? When done right, interactive content can help brands connect with their audiences in an engaging and authentic way that encourages sharing and increases brand awareness. Brands must be careful, however, to ensure that they use this medium to highlight their message and enhance their overall platform.

Image Source: Ubisoft Assassin’s Creed Unity

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