Consumers are craving more interactive content, and brands are attempting to give it to them. Over the next several years, we’ll likely see the emergence of multiple new forms of interactive content, and the transformation of classical or traditional online content to a more interactive format. But how exactly will this transformation manifest? And why is it happening in the first place?
What Is Interactive Content?
Interactive content is a broad term that includes any type of content that allows users to actively engage with the material. Their actions can influence the presentation of the content, or they may be able to use the content in new ways. Ordinarily, readers are merely passive consumers of content; they read or listen to the content, and don’t have to take any further action. Interactive content puts them in the driver’s seat, so to speak.
It’s best to understand interactive content with the help of examples. A simple iteration of interactive content is an online calculator; for example, you can easily find websites that offer calculators to help you estimate your monthly mortgage payments, given some initial parameters. To get the full experience from this content, you must enter some information about yourself—namely, the amount of money you want to borrow, your interest rate, and other numerical variables.
However, interactive content can be even more complex. For example, it’s increasingly common for brands to make use of motion graphics, which use simple animations to add life to advertisements, websites, and other visuals. With a simple change, these motion graphics can come to life only after a consumer’s response; for example, you can make the graphic come to life when a consumer hovers over it with a mouse or clicks it directly.
Interactive content is also demonstrated by dynamic presentations of data. Modern platforms (and some kinds of infographics) often present data in charts and graphs, which a user can manipulate directly to see the impact of various variables.
The Benefits of Interactive Content
So why is interactive content about to become more popular?
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of interactive content:
- Greater consumer engagement. For starters, interactive content tends to do a better job of holding the attention of consumers and increasing engagement rates across the board. Consumers are much more interested in interactive content than they are in static content. Additionally, they must take some kind of action to get the full value from the content. This draw encourages them to interact with the brand even further.
- Access to more consumer data. Interactive data can also give companies more access to consumer data, which is especially important if you’re using artificial intelligence (AI)v to boost the power of your content marketing campaign. Take the mortgage calculator as an example; if 10,000 people enter their basic information to figure out mortgage rates, you can use that information to estimate the average amount of money your target demographic wants to borrow. As long as you’re tracking how your consumers are interacting with your content, you can learn something valuable.
- Higher retention rates. One of the biggest problems modern brands face is consumer retention. It’s hard to get a reader to stay on your site long enough to consume a full piece of content, let alone get them to continue to subscribe to your services for years. But interactive content can boost your brand retention rates and help prevent people from turning to a competitor.
- Competitive differentiation and memorability. Speaking of competitors, the internet is full of them. If you’re an online brand trying to achieve greater visibility, you know the pain of dealing with hundreds of brands similar to yours—all fighting to achieve higher search engine rankings and bigger streams of traffic. Interactive content isn’t especially common these days, so it can be a great way to stand out from the competition. You can use interactive content as a way to better position your brand, increase its memorability, and help it stand out from the crowd.
The Future of Interactive Content
Any brand can start developing interactive content right now—at least with some rudimentary versions. It doesn’t take much effort to develop a simple calculator or a basic quiz for your consumers. But the future of interactive content is much more advanced.
Where does interactive content go from here?
- New ways to interact. For starters, consumers will have more ways to interact. Some forms of interactive content will be able to do more with less consumer information, requiring fewer and fewer inputs from individuals to customize the experience. Others will be interactive in new ways; for example, instead of tracking the movement of a mouse cursor, with the right device, a website could track a user’s eye movements. Gesture-based interactions could also be a potential course for development.
- Cross-device experiences. Our lives are becoming cluttered with a diversity of different devices. Chances are, your household has at least a dozen internet-connected devices, if not more, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, wearables, and even your TV. Interactive content could take advantage of this, drawing data from interactive moments across a wide range of device engagements; it could also present content in a cross-device format; for example, you could begin analyzing data on a wearable device, and continue analyzing it on another screen when you change rooms.
- Personalization. More brands are hoping to integrate personalization into their content marketing strategies. Rather than giving the same experience to every user who visits your site, brands want to tailor the content to appeal to the individual accessing it, based on things like demographic data, browsing history, and previous experiences on the site. Interactive content could make this easier, giving consumers a chance to personalize their own experiences.
- “Upgraded” traditional content experiences. We’ll also see traditional forms of online content (like simple blog posts) become “upgraded” with new opportunities for interaction. For example, a blog post can instantly become more engaging if it gives readers and option to learn more about the topic through an interactive visual element.
Why Is This Transformation Taking Place?
In many ways, interactive content represents the future of content marketing. But why is this transformation taking place?
- Objective value. As we’ve seen, interactive content has tremendous objective value for the brands experimental enough to use it. With the right interactive content strategy, you could increase consumer interest, make your brand more memorable, increase customer retention, and ultimately bring more revenue in for your brand.
- Consumer demand. Increasingly, consumers want more from their content consumption experiences. The internet is overwhelmed with basic, static written content, and users are beginning to grow fatigued. People want more personalization and they want more direct control over what they consume; brands that are able to give them that experience will be at a decided advantage.
- Competitive pressure. As more brands begin to experiment with interactive content, there’s going to be more competitive pressure to deal with. If you want to “keep up” with one of your top competitors, you may need to rival their overall interactive content experience. If you’re the only company in the industry that isn’t offering consumer interactions through your content, you’ll quickly fall by the wayside. Accordingly, many brands are attempting to be proactive—and be on the forefront of this trend.
How to Stay on the Forefront
How can you benefit from this rising trend in the content marketing world? Try to stay ahead of the curve. Look for opportunities to transform your existing content into something interactive; how can consumers get more value and more engagement from this? Additionally, consider working with a professional content or design agency; they’ll be able to provide you with strategic recommendations as well as the core material you’ll use to build your campaign.