Interactive vs. Static Content: What is the Competitive Advantage?

April 6, 2017 •

Interactive vs. Static Content: What is the Competitive Advantage?

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 that say they will create more content in 2017 versus what they did in 2016. 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 establish an advantage over some of your less innovative, slower-moving competitors: Make your content interactive. Ninety-one percent of buyers say they prefer on-demand interactive and visual content, but why?

And what real competitive advantages does interactive content provide versus all your good old-fashioned static content?

I’m not saying you should throw out all your static content, my friends. But here are some reasons to consider complementing your static content with interactive, and why it will give you a competitive advantage over those who are just now noticing that interactive is actually here and isn’t going anywhere.

You will be left behind if you don’t. It’s a thing, people. If you don’t jump on the bus, it’s going to leave you on the curb. Anecdotally, I will 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 percent 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 percent of B2B marketers will make at least 10 percent of their content interactive. Unlikely that people will continue to be bowled over by your flat PDF if everyone else has something more appealing.

It’s what the user wants. Per the 37-second rule I mentioned above, you need to get the 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 are after without having to skim through content they aren’t interested in.

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, which involves them more with what you are presenting, but also helps them retain more about what you are saying and your brand message. Sixty-six percent of your peers who responded to that CMI survey say that audience engagement has increased since they started using interactive content.

It allows 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 allows you to ask which group your reader belongs to and then tailor the subsequent content according to the answer. You can have multiple channels of content and multiple calls to action.

In an interactive experience that we recently created for a Right Source client, one of their goals was to understand who was reading their content from their three target verticals. We asked which industry the reader was problem solving for, and then gave them a factoid about planning as the answer.

You learn a lot more about those targeted audiences. Guys, 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 are 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.

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 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 user’s needs and interests.

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’ll be too late. Your competitors will have passed you by and you’ll continue to fade into the content landscape.

Want to learn more about how to use interactive content to move your marketing efforts forward? Get in touch. We can help.

About the Author

Yvonne Lyons is Right Source’s vice president of content marketing, overseeing content strategy and creation for all of our clients. She ensures that all content produced at Right Source is of the highest quality and is aligned with our clients’ business strategy and goals. Yvonne received a bachelor’s degree from the Johns Hopkins University in writing and literature and has more than 20 years of experience in marketing, branding and communications. You can find Yvonne on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn or read her other posts.

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