The future belongs to interactive content – you can either see it as a prediction or a statement. But that doesn’t change the truth. Interactive content is growing. It holds staggering possibilities. And you can see it coming.
Where it all started?
Interactive content is dominating everything. It's crawling into the online world and lives of people. You didn’t notice it. Or maybe, you did. But it happened too slowly to be noticeable. The internet was ordinary, and boring. People read content, consumed information and scrolled through those static things. Then something magical happened …
The internet became alive
It got life. It became beautiful. More people started accepting it. And suddenly, it became an inseparable part of the real world. The webpages which were once studded with hyperlinks became powerful. So powerful, that hey began teaching music, started selling airplanes, thrived businesses and connected people across the globe. While all this occurred, there was a tiny ingredient which made it all happen – interactivity.
How interactivity grew over the internet
The rise of interactivity wasn’t significantly noticeable until it occupied the whole internet - all of it happened too slowly. 10 years ago, there were no carousel widgets on amazon. Neither the lively animations, nor the ‘quick look’ option. Facebook didn’t have its signature ‘like button’ or the video stream option until 2009. Let alone Airbnb, Snapchat or Instagram – they didn’t even exist.
All this had a reason behind it
The internet was still budding. Back then, in 2007, internet was accessible by only 17.2% of the world population. Whereas today, 49.6% people of world population has internet access. Also, about 75% internet users in the world live in the top 20 countries. So it’s quite likely that the internet inclines itself towards serving a huge population. Apart from this, there are some other solid factors. Like the development of internet due to Web 2.0, technologies like HTML5, and the sudden mobile revolution that’s currently taking over. All these are responsible for the changing online environment. Also, devices are getting better and people are becoming ‘technology-aware’ due to growing literacy rates. Faster internet speeds have opened doors for better content. The internet continues to develop. It changes.
The current situation of content on the internet
The internet is overflowing with content. Content marketers spend sleepless nights building strategies to come up with new content. SEO guys are hell bent on achieving the first position on google.The graphic designers are bleeding to produce attractive visuals, and to please and engage their audiences. Considering the current chaos and competition – all this seems obvious and inevitable. It makes sense. But not when you think from a higher perspective, because most of the time, this process of creating content can be cut-down. Sure, the existing content is great. It’s phenomenal in its own ways – but a huge percentage of it is fluff and filler stuff. The internet doesn’t need more chaff. Neither do people.
The need for interactive content
Your audience and customers follow an undefined process while making decisions. They follow the same process while making choices over the internet as well, though differently – which makes it difficult for them to carry out their tasks. Interactive content puts an end to this whole process cycle to some extent and favors customers’ decisions.
Stages of how your audience comes across and uses your content
Here's a sample process your audience goes through when consuming content.
- Understand and assess their situation
- Search relevant information
- Scan several websites
- Visit reliable sources
- Consume content
- Gather essential info
That’s a lot of work. Interactive content kills all this.
The advantages of interactive content
Interactive content outperforms static and multimedia content in a lot of ways. Often, it can be a better replacement to the existing content. Given below is brief list of advantages of interactive content.
Unlike ordinary content such as blog posts or visuals, interactive content provides you tailor-cut solutions customized according to your needs and your current situation.
Using interactive content is convenient – you don’t need to pay deep attention or consume everything. You follow a few steps and you’re done.
Your audience doesn’t need to comprehend and read everything. It interacts with a set of provided options and receives the outcomes. Instantly.
The mistakes made during research and rewriting are almost eliminated. Also, the audience grasps everything thoroughly instead of skimming through content.
5. Saves work
Interactive content lessens a lot of work done by both creators and consumers. It reduces manual tasks such as researching, repurposing, and decision making.
6. Increased engagement and visitors
Interactive content has higher attractiveness. It can keep visitors coming back due its engaging nature. It holds enormous potential for businesses and is capable of filling a huge gap in marketing strategies.
But interactive content has a few drawbacks
Interactive content isn’t impeccable, either. Although it has a heck lot of advantages, it’s far away from being perfect. Here are some simple reasons why interactive content could be ineffective.
1. Higher effort
Building interactive content requires extensive research accompanied by precise data related to consumer needs and behavior. It becomes more complex depending on the how it’s used
2. Longer build time
Comparatively, it’s tougher to create pieces of interactive content than media files and articles.
While old content can be updated, interactive content needs some redesigning, due to which it may become outdated.
Other content types can be created frequently and used to entertain. Opposite to it, interactive content may remain as it is and might lack further scope for a long duration.
In some cases, the audience might not be able to grasp the results. Hence, the interactive content would need to be backed up by other content types. In spite of all its flaws, the role of interactive content towards a better future of content marketing is still undeniable. In fact, unimaginable.
Types of interactive content (and their usefulness)
Interactive content has several applications depending on the needs of customers and business priorities. It promotes better buying decisions, helps businesses understand the consumer demands, provides easy solutions to reduce hassle, and strengthens your brand. Here are a few existing examples of interactive content. These are the prominent ones currently. Yet, there’s a lot to come in future, because it’s just a matter of creativity.
Useful stuff doesn't get ignored. Tools that wash away problems – yes, that’s what customers wish for. Ease of work and more outcomes. If you can provide tools related to your industry that help people along with benefiting you, then go for it.
Example: Meal Planner.
Giveaways, referral contests etc. are an easy shortcut to direct interaction with your customers, and for further engagement with them. There are some hidden advantages to it, such as increased word of mouth marketing and customer loyalty.
Example: Goodreads Giveaways.
Compile a huge amount of data and present it in a visually appealing infographic. A single interactive infographic crafted with care can compensate for hundreds of infographics.
Example: The evolution of the web.
It’s fun. Gamification of content makes content marketing interesting and easier to deal with. If you can somehow blend your marketing messages or branding into something fun and addictive, you’re ready to win lots of hearts. In fact, the doesn't even feel like marketing.
Example: Mi Open and Win, HubSpot Marketing Trivia.
Finding out is better than assuming.Using surveys is still a trustworthy way to discover the exact expectations your customers have from you.Some of your customers would always be kind enough to lend their time and will contribute to your betterment.Example: Customer satisfaction surveys conducted by online shopping sites.
Resolve some simple problems or questions your customers are dealing with. Ultimately, this only benefits you, as you gain a share of increased trust from your customers. If based on proper research and data, quizzes can be used to solve more complex answers. Or, they can be used to have fun as well.
Example: MindSpot Depression Quiz.
Polls are an interesting way to collect data.People are likely to take part in polls, as they contribute to the outcomes – and wish to see the results.Also, polls provide lot of varying information, statistical data and opinions, which makes them even more engaging.Example: Twitter polls.
If I gave you $100,000 right now, but you couldn't use social media ever again (FB, TWTR, IG, Future apps) Would you take it? Chat apps OK.
— Glen Allsopp (@ViperChill) March 11, 2017
Calculators are a quick solution. Most people don’t always wish to go through data, collect information and then find out some solution. That’s where calculators come in. They solve the existing problem based on the user’s context to provide an appropriate answer.
Example: BMI calculator by Mayo Clinic.
Tweets, videos, iframes – all these are underrated. Embedded content can back-up the existing content on the internet to a vast extent. Not only it makes the existing content easily consumable, but also inspires customer participation and ultimately results in increased engagement.
And whatever doesn’t exist, yet
You never know what’s next. Get your hands on technology and use it to connect with your customers wherever they are. Make your content easy, fun, useful and convenient. That pays off. Be prepared to adapt.
A quick example of interactive content
Just in case you’re curious how interactive content actually works, then the following example might be helpful.
Consider Google Maps. It shows your current location, measures the distance between your destination and current location, lists down all the landmarks near you, suggests efficient travel means, and even leads your way. Imagine if you had to refer a map and calculate all the information it gives you. That would be tiresome, right?But that’s only the usual stuff - it does a lot more than that. It goes through hundreds of reviews, scans the geographical region, examines the relevance of results to your query, and finally shows them on a page to you. Though you might not notice, Google Maps does a lot for your convenience. How crazy would it be if you had to do all that it does!That’s how interactive content works. It cuts off several unnecessary tasks you don’t even know you might need to do otherwise.
Here’s how some bloggers are using interactive content
Bloggers are among the quickest-adapting species on the internet. And they definitely noticed the strength of interactive content. Here are some absolute examples of how bloggers are nailing interactive content.
Chris started a quiz based on the information in his book, Born for This. It asks the user a set of questions to test his personality and choices. Finally, it tells him what he’s born to do and gives him certain of career choices he can make for himself. It’s cool!This quiz also helps Chris in promoting his book without making him behave like a salesperson. You can try it here.
Ramsay Taplin, aka Blog Tyrant, created a small quiz on his blog that tells his audience how ready they’re to start a blog. The quiz assesses various factors like how much time the person can dedicate, effort he’ll be putting in, his current knowledge, etc. and gives him a score based on that. How ready are you to start a blog?
Neil, the big deal. Neil has a cool SEO analyzer tool on his website which helps his audience analyze the situation of their website. Not only that, but it also suggests some clear recommendations and changes based on the analysis. You can have a look at it here.
Some examples showing usefulness of interactive content in the real world
Can interactive content be used further to grow businesses?Here are a few ideas which show how interactive content can replace the existing content types and further encourage customer-centricity.
The existing online stores provide numerous option ranging from sorting prices, choosing colors and patterns, to suggesting the hottest fashion trends. Yet, imagine what can happen if interactivity comes in? Right now, the clothing section on sites such Amazon and other online stores gives innumerable clothing options. But what if users could create their own avatar?They would add the measurements of their body, color, face shape, etc. - and a virtual avatar would be created for them, after which the shopping section would come up with the most appropriate suggestions.
Based on current content trends, content marketers and fashion writers are most likely to come up with SEO optimized and cool posts like these:
- 15 Fashion Trends to Try This Summer
- 5 Must-have Casual Shoe Types [Infographic]
- 5 Sunglass Types Which Suit Women Having Oval Faces, etc.
But when you consider the whole picture, both creation and consumption of such content is somewhat a long process. Such content is dependent on a lot of factors. There are some clothing rules and conventions that help people dress-up properly, or suggest changing attires according to seasons, etc. For instance, people having broad bodies shouldn’t wear skinny ties, whereas skinny people should avoid wearing V-neck t-shirts – the internet is full of sites teaching all these rules. This data can be used to back-up the interactive content that’s being created to suggest customers what would suit them the best. If there was a tool to help users find the right clothes for them, wouldn’t it keep them coming back?
The tool can ask users to enter a set of information, and then he’d just need to sit back and watch.A sample questionnaire can be like:
- Enter the measurements of your body (Height, waist, chest, etc.)
- Which face type do you have? (Oblong, triangle, etc.)
- Choose your skin shade (Provide different tones of color)
- What kind of occasion do you need to dress-up for? (Casual, formal, festive, etc.)
- What’s you estimated budget?
- Which brands do you prefer?
Done. If crafted precisely, the tools would generate a report suggesting the right colors that suit a skin tone, type of clothes, etc. along with a list of most relevant items available in the store. Also, there can be a 360 degree view of a virtual avatar representing the final outcomes of what would the outfit actually look like on the person. The customers could be given a choice to save multiple avatars in their account database for future purchases. The possibilities are wonderful.
Here’s a relevant example based on the above explanation
The ‘Real Men Real Style’ blog run by Antonio Centeno is one of the most popular blogs in the men’s fashion niche. Read his posts and you’ll find that most of them are quite well-researched and framed such that it becomes easier for the readers to relate themselves to the content. The content is great, undoubtedly. But what if it Antonio starts using interactive content on his blog? In fact, how should he do it? Let’s take this particular scenario for example – you need to buy yourself a watch. Now, you won’t simply go to a shop and come back wearing one. There are some things you would likely think of – such as size, budget, type, etc. The following blog posts on Real Men Real Style help you buy an ideal watch:
- How To Buy The Right Size Watch For Your Wrist
- How To Match A Watch With Your Outfit
- Matching Your Watch By Dress Code Infographic
- What Is The Right Size Watch For My Wrist?
But, what if the person is looking for quick buying suggestions and doesn’t wish to go through those thousands of words, or worse, cannot make a choice in spite of reading them?
Interactive content is chiefly helpful in replacing the need for such content
Now consider that there’s a tool on the site which helps users find the right watch for them. It can contain a form requesting the following information:
- Enter your wrist size (Inches)
- Choose an occasion (Formal meeting/Regular use)
- What kind of outfit do you wish to wear it on? (Suit/T-shirt/Casual shirt)
- How much is your budget?
- What kind of personality do you have?
The form can be adjusted accordingly depending on the needs and content. Finally, after processing stored data, the tool would offer user most appropriate options available for him – all without making him read a single blog post!
Some other practical uses
There can be financial tools in future which help people create a plan to manage their expenses, get rid of their debt, or improve their personal finance practices. These tools can be based on the data collected by several financial advisors and algorithms. Tools for simple tasks can be created as well. Say, buying a gift for someone on a certain occasion or suggesting what needs to be cooked on a certain occasion. Interactive content can make it easier for people to make choices by coming up with creative solutions. Who knows, soon the interactive content might itself start behaving like a counselor, consultant or an assistant.
Examples of interactive content
Although interactive content isn’t quite dominant and might seem like a new concept to many, it’s already used on a large scale. Look at these examples.
Spotalike is a tool created by Osynlig to craft a playlist of songs similar to the ones you already love. Unlike other content which presents similar music or reviews, it gives you what you want.
This tiny tool with a single text box reduces a lot of hassle for writers. Instead of recalling grammar rules for different styles, writers can simply copy-paste their post title in this tool and … bingo!
You enter three nouns and this HubSpot tool comes up with a list of ideas you can use. No need to refer e-books or spend minutes finding titles – this tool can do a lot for you.
An interactive website that not only teaches you how to code but also makes you do it at the same time. It has completely dominated the online code-learning websites. It's hard to deny role of interactivity in its success cannot.
Based on Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, this quiz analyses the personality of people and tells them their traits. Based on scientific research, it can help you predict your behavior and increase self-awareness.
Career and job search boards
Career and job websites have the responsibility of guiding students, not confusing them. So instead of bombarding a list of articles at students, it provides them courses based on their current qualification, and suggests colleges depending upon their preferred fees and geographical location. This space used to be quite messy before interactive content came in.
The 3D try-on created by Lenskart enables you to experience virtual demos of their products, i.e. sunglasses, spectacles, etc., while eliminating the need for physical trials to a huge extent in the process.
Meet your friend, artificial intelligence. The transformation towards interactive content will bring lots of complexities with it. Its foundation will need a strong base of AI. Generation of algorithms, processing of data and constant dealing with analytics would probably become a necessity. Who knows, amusement parks might start giving 3D demos through VR, consultants may automate their services, or fitness bands might warn you about your expected health hazards and give monthly reports. Though, that’ll take some time to happen. We're still in the phase where the curve is rising. The tipping point is away. But you never know when the shift occurs. Be prepared to adapt to the change.
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And a question
Are you using interactive content on your website? What do you think its future might be like? Tell us in the comments.