Sad news, marketers: The content clutter has just begun.
Consider that in every minute of 2016, the following happened:
- Snapchat users watched 6,944,444 videos
- BuzzFeed users viewed 159,380 pieces of content
- Tinder users swiped 972,222 times
And that doesn't even begin to speak to the volume of content shared daily, estimated to be upwards of 30 million pieces - numbers that will only continue to grow, considering we'll create more content in 2017 over previous years. Couple that with a decreasing attention span (the average reader spends only 37 seconds reading an article or blog post) and you, my marketing friends, are dealing with a cluttered landscape, and customers and prospects whose first instinct is to tune you and your content out.
There's no magic bullet for this dilemma. However, there is something you can do to get an advantage over some of your less innovative, slower-moving competitors: Make your content interactive.
91% of buyers say they prefer on-demand interactive and visual content - but why? What real competitive advantages does interactive content provide versus all your good old-fashioned static content?
Here are some reasons to consider complementing your static content with interactive, and how it can give you a competitive advantage over those who are just now noticing that interactive is actually here, and isn't going anywhere.
1. You'll be left behind if you don't
Anecdotally, I would say that more clients than I would ever have imagined have mentioned interactive content to us in the last several months alone. Statistically, a 2016 survey by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) says that 53% of respondents already use interactive content to influence the buyer journey, and a Demand Gen Report predicts that over the next 12-24 months, 88% of B2B marketers will make at least 10% of their content interactive.
Given the trends, it's unlikely that people will continue to be bowled over by your flat PDF if everyone else has something more appealing.
2. It's what users want
Per the 37-second rule I mentioned above, you need to give users what they want, and get it to them fast. Generally speaking, static content doesn't achieve that goal as well as interactive content.
Most users want to skim and scan, and only truly read when they reach something they want to understand more deeply, or find interesting or entertaining. Interactive content is much more efficient in getting the user to what they want to read more quickly by querying them on their preferences or needs. Once they make a choice, they get exactly what they're after, without having to skim through content they aren't interested in.
3. It creates better, more engaged leads
Interactive content, by definition, is content that requires the participant's active engagement - it forces your potential leads to participate. This involves them more with what you're presenting, but it also helps them retain more about what you're saying and your brand message.
66% percent of your peers who responded to that CMI survey say that audience engagement has increased since they started using interactive content.
4. It enables you to really target your audience
Flat PDFs give you one path and outcome for presenting content to your defined audience - present information pertinent to audience, offer call to action.
With interactive content, your options unfold exponentially.
Do you have a topic that might apply to three distinct audiences? Interactive content enables you to ask which group your reader belongs to, then tailor the subsequent content according to the answer.
You can have multiple channels of content and multiple calls to action.
5. You learn a lot more about those targeted audiences
This is a marketer's dream. Most interactive platforms like SnapApp or Ion integrate with your existing marketing technology software so that you have a greater depth of knowledge, not only about who is looking at your content, but exactly what they are interested in, why, and what they want more of.
You're in control of the information you get out of those experiences based on the questions you ask in your content. From now on, the decision about each new piece of content is not a simple set of questions about audience, topic, and call to action. Your up-front process as a marketer is now more complex, and might include a set of questions involving multiple audiences, a different goal for each one, several opportunities to gather data about each audience, and several options for your goals or calls to action.
The potential for information gathering might now be 10 times or more what you got out of your static content.
6. There are more options
We all know the basics when it comes to content types: blog post, eBook, white paper, infographic, webinar, etc.
You know them all, but when you think about getting interactive with your content, the options multiply. You can certainly make those oldies but goodies into engaging interactive experiences, but some of the other interactive types you can also think about include:
- Quizzes/assessments: Help move your prospects through the sales process using these survey formats that feed back personalized and industry information to users. They get to track progress and/or see how they stack up next to their peers (or embed quizzes into other, larger content pieces, like eBooks).
- Look books/pitch decks/galleries: Get your sales team into the act with interactive content. Think of how much more engaged prospects might be in a face-to-face meeting if they were walking through an interactive deck or look book that could be customized based on their responses.
- Video: Yup, you can make video interactive too. Offer viewers a 360-degree view of your product, or enhance the script with pop-up factoids or quizzes.
- Polls or surveys: You can build engaging functionality into many of your interactive experiences. These tools are a path to potentially jumpstart your prospect a few steps ahead of your normal sales cycle. You get information about them and they get instant data about your solution or service.
- Calculators: People love calculators. They can help make the case for your service, or say something meaningful about your mission, if done well.
- White paper/eBook: You can still offer these long-form gems but make them more navigable so that readers can get to exactly what they want - quickly.
- Infographics: Still more shared than other types of content, but imagine if the user could "build" or "navigate" his or her own infographic. Appropriate data appears based on questions answered and the infographic becomes customized to the users' needs and interests.
7. It's the gift that keeps giving
Interactive content is like Christmas morning for repurposing options. Yes, static content can also be repurposed, but with interactive experiences, one piece can have repeat visitors if you offer enough options and paths to explore. And that eBook you made can now also become a quiz, an assessment, an infographic, a survey, and more.
Interactive content isn't just one of those passing fads. It's really an opportunity for marketers to combine content, technology, and design in a way that can make strategy take off, and allow you to really measure the results. But if you start paying attention to it next year, you could be too late. Your competitors will have passed you by and you'll continue to fade into the content landscape.