Both newer forms of interactive content marketing and traditional content marketing seek to attract and retain customers while guiding them along in the sales funnel, or through their buyer's journey.
Traditional content marketing includes things like blogs, videos, infographics and how-to guides aimed at providing timely information that customers will find valuable. The end goal behind traditional content marketing is facilitating a desirable customer action by informing and educating your audience about your products or services. By providing beneficial tools, tips, and tricks in the form of digital content a brand can help establish and cultivate a relationship with its current, past, and potential customers.
Providing accurate and relevant content to customers saves time and energy. Plus, it allows customers to cut through the noise while raising the standard of thought leadership in their industry and do so while boosting brand awareness.
The same holds for interactive web content—the main difference being that interactive content marketing is, even more, sensitive to the customer experience and provides interactive polls, interactive videos and interactive white papers and infographics to take brand awareness to the next level.
Transitioning from transaction-based marketing to an ongoing conversation with customers is what the move from content marketing to interactive content marketing has always been about.
What is interactive marketing and why is it suddenly so relevant?
Interactive marketing, sometimes shorthanded as trigger-based marketing, takes the idea of timely and relevant content one step further by providing tailor-made content to each customer based on his or her preferences or on-site behavior.
Interactive marketing is sometimes also called event-driven marketing because the content that customers are receiving is predicated on a particular event that that customer took. Such a tailored approach makes the perceived value of marketing content much, much higher in customers' eyes.
For interactive marketing to work, you need to isolate the right triggers, respond to those triggers intelligently and finally evaluate the success of your efforts.
One great example of interactive marketing that most people are very familiar with is Amazon. Acting as an interactive marketing medium, Amazon asks its users to store some of their preferences and favorite books, then Amazon markets according to that preference and the particular user's buying history.
What is interactive content and where can it be applied?
Surveys, interactive white papers, interactive infographics, and even games all qualify as interactive content and can result in significantly more clicks, conversions and higher rates of content completion.
Interactivity allows customers to engage with content raising their brand awareness and providing useful answers. Content hubs are an increasingly popular way for both small and large businesses to bring together branded content, some of which may be interactive, and user-generated content.
Interactive content is also typically broken down into two categories - education and entertainment, although an interactive game that teaches customers something about the industry, for example, clearly blurs that glib distinction.
Nonetheless, interactive white papers would be an example of more educational interactive content whereas an interactive branded game might be a purer example of entertainment interactive content.
So, why should businesses really care about any of this? Interactive content has been shown to have longer session times for one. This indicates that customers are finding content relevant, fun and informational.
Another reason that business should embrace interactive marketing is because it promotes greater customer engagement, more sharing of your content, and, therefore, higher levels of visibility and brand awareness.
How does interactive web content relate to other forms of marketing?
Interactive content marketing isn't so much reinventing the content marketing wheel as much as rendering that marketing more of a dialogue with customers. Accordingly, interactive content marketing can bolster a business' current blogging, social media outreach and lead nurturance efforts.
It's common knowledge that over the last ten years inbound marketing has proven itself as the most effective way of turning strangers into loyal customers.
The fact that inbound marketing has risen in popularity over the last decade with social media outreach and lead nurturing campaigns has really paved the way for the deployment of more interactive content.
The confluence and growth of all of these factors - inbound marketing, social media, lead nurturing and interactive content - also means that interactive content can be applied to B2C as well as B2B environments.
From managing prospects before a sale to ensuring that companies stay relevant in customers' minds after a sale, interactive content is simply the most powerful and cost-efficient way to stay relevant with customers. Interactive marketing, finally, works for both high and low transaction businesses.
How can incorporating interactive content kickstart a company's website?
Facebook has over one billion active users, and it gained a lot of that traction over the last decade by incorporating polls, surveys and games to drive member (customer) interaction. Participating in a poll or survey generates instant excitement and customer engagement while allowing customers and businesses the chance to interact more closely.
Polls and Surveys
Including interactive content like polls and surveys onto your website can have a similar effect and get audiences talking about your brand.
Interactive content has also been shown to increase the time that customers spend on a professional website, significantly improve engagement and result in more content being shared and talked about on social media.
The important thing to realize is that interactive content could start on your website before being shared on social media, or that same interactive content could be started and shared on your social media feed.
You could, for instance, post a poll asking customers what they like to see more of from your brand or whether they prefer your products to a rival's.
Infographics and Videos
Animated, interactive infographics are also a great way to engage your customers and get them talking about your brand at the same time. Check out this example of an effective interactive infographic curated by The Guardian here.
Incorporating industry-specific interactive content like this into your website can significantly improve your brand following, customer engagement, and overall customer satisfaction.
Including interactive videos to let customers know a little more about your industry and distinctive brand is another way to create a fruitful dialogue with your customers.
Does interactive content marketing actually drive leads and sales?
Interactive content marketing allows you increase customer engagement while moving prospects from the initial awareness stage of the buying cycle to the purchase and repurchase stages much more efficiently.
The fact that loyal customers are more prone to sharing your content on social media and enjoy having their friends contribute to interactive polls and surveys inevitably and cost-efficiently expands your marketing reach.
Remember that interactive content marketing works with your sales tunnel to drive leads and conversions.
Try posting quizzes or interactive calculators on your website to drive interest and awareness among your top-of-the-funnel followers, then increasingly more niche interactive content for sales-ready leads and return customers.
Interactive Content Marketing in Context
Interactive content is only going to get more popular as more customers use social media and mobile technologies to explore their purchasing options. Interactive polls, interactive white papers, interactive infographics and interactive videos are only the start.
Suddenly, instead, of customers feeling like they're talking to a monolithic brand that doesn't talk back, they feel like they can have a quid pro quo with your company and realize they are able to get more out of the relationship. That's what interactive marketing is all about.
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