Make it visually delightful. Engaging. Interactive.
Is content still king?
In the marketing world of 2017, it appears content is still king. The style, length and frequency of content may be ever evolving but the drive to engagement is still speckled with customer-centric, relevant and relatable meals of content, served-up along the roadside of the customer buyer's journey.
If you're a marketer like me, the goal is to find fresh and new types of content to deliver to your prospects.
Why visual content?
While video is ever the hot commodity of late, it can be labor-intensive to create and may not fit for every type of engagement. Interactive content is an exciting alternative. With the advent and prevalence of SaaS tools and digital apps, it has become easier for the average marketer to dip their hand into an interactive bag-of-tricks without breaking budgets or deadlines.
Let's have a look at why interactive content is so compelling and what tools are out there to help you get started.
Visual content works harder, while being remembered and shared more often than standard content.
Statistics and graphics courtesy of Ion Interactive: The 75 Essential Content Marketing Stats You Need to Know.
Consumers will come to value and trust your brand by the customization of content you offer and by the engaging nature of visual content, especially interactive content.
What is interactive content?
So, what do we mean by interactive content and what are some examples? Interactive content is any type of visual-text combination that allows the user to engage with it. This can be a quiz, a poll, a collection of links, clicks, or pop-ups, a game, a contest or sweepstake, an animated web experience, an animated coupon, ad or banner, a VR experience, navigable map, 360-degree video and any assets like these.
These deliverables can range from rich, complex evergreen content with long shelf-lives, to content that is easily generated and quickly digestible offering the advantage of grabbing the attention of your prospect to foster sharing and engagement. In either category online tools and apps can play a huge role in helping you to create information that is both spontaneous and delightfully interactive.
Some common types and tools
Quizzes -- Tools and apps that fall into this category include Qzzr, WooBox, Heyo, Tryinteract.com and Ion Interactive. I've tried a couple of these so I'll speak to my experience with those.
Qzzr is an easy quiz-building tool. I've used the free version of this tool, which is intuitive and easy to use. Like most tools of this kind, you can choose an existing template design for the quickest result. However, if you want something more custom and you have the skills to create imagery that is more specific to your theme and branding, you can import your own images with great result. Paid subscription levels offer additional features and integrations if you find this to be a frequently-used tool in your content bag.
TryInteract.com offers a nice user experience and a similar creator interface. However, the ability to score and control the outcomes of my quiz took me longer to figure out and offered less customization here than Qzzr. For more playful, less serious content applications, this may be a superior building tool than Qzzr (where I could customize my answer screen to provide more in-depth information) but I'm guessing it would fall to subjective preferences. Paid subscriptions start at $29/mo. This app also creates polls and giveaways.
Ion Interactive is a more sophisticated option for interactive quizzes. This application has a high ticket-price but offers a wide range of interactive content types, targeted at agencies or enterprise marketing teams. This app includes templates for assessments, calculators, quick-start guides, ebooks, infographics, white papers, landing pages, look-books, solutions finders and quizzes. The templates may initially require some web development expertise to build them to your brand guidelines, but once built, they can be used as the basis for a slew of interactive assets. Full disclosure: I haven't actually used this tool yet. I've only walked through a demo. I have also read some warnings on forums about the application's complexity and difficult learning curve, but for a non-coding designer/content marketer like me, the possibilities of this tool are highly enticing.
Interactive Infographics -- The tools I found for this include Ion Interactive, ThingLink and the old-school methods requiring web development and code.
ThingLink is an inexpensive subscription tool which allows you to take a static photo or existing illustration (say you created an infographic design via Photoshop or Illustrator) and add clickable links which offer pop-up content and CTAs on top of the image, thus creating an integrated, interactive experience. The links can be to a video, a pdf, a webpage, a content box, or a CTA input form. I experimented with the free version of this tool (which offers very limited functionality unfortunately). To get the full experience, you must make the annual investment commitment (or at least the 14-day trial) of $20/month.
Animation -- This is a wider category, offering animation tools for websites and online advertising to social media. Some of these tools include Zembula, Hello Bar, Ion Interactive, Legend, Canva, Ripl, and YouTube Studio among many, many others. Look also for GIF generators like ezgif and gifmaker which will take a series of static images and build an animated gif for you.
Animation alone doesn't necessarily offer an interactive component unless the user can click on it or engage with it in some way. But animation does make your content more dynamic, thus making it more sharable. That makes this type of content pretty 'golden' in my book, especially if I can create it quickly, and on-the-fly. So, here are a couple of apps I've tried.
Legend is a free app for iOS or android with some pre-programed animation sets that allows you to create some dynamically interesting short videos or gifs for social media. The tool is simple to use, comes with a library of images or the ability to import your own, and allows you to customize font and color choices in a somewhat limited way. For brands that are very strict with colors or fonts, this may not be a good choice but for ones that are more flexible, the interface is intuitive and fast. While you can save what you've created, you can't go back and re-edit. But since the process takes just seconds, it's not difficult to just start from scratch.
Ripl is similar to Legend. This app seems to have more reporting and engagement features to plan your social strategy and then track the effectiveness of your posts and campaigns. If you're not already using another social media tracking tool, this may be a good option. I found the actual creation interface less intuitive, but it offers some template types (like: offer a review, ask a question, or #TransformationTuesday a before/after post) to get you inspired.
Canva is a popular app which allows users to create various types of designed marketing or promotional materials without expensive and hard-to-use design software. Canva template types include resumes, posters, business cards, stickers, and social media to name a few. Canva doesn't create the animation, but it can help you create a series of visual frames which you download as pngs and then import into a GIF generator to animate.
Ezgif.com is one generator I've used. Simply upload your images and choose make GIF. From there you'll have some options to cross-fade one from to the next, how much time delay you want on each frame, etc. Once the GIF is to your liking, it's best to optimize the result, to reduce the file size as much as possible. Strive for 5MG max size if you hope to have it viewed on mobile devices.
Bringing it all together
So, we've looked at types and tools for interactive content. Are you ready to give it a try? Like any type of content, be sure to get the tone and the actual content itself right before investing your time into interactivity or animation. What is it you want people to do? What is the best way to communicate the point of the content is a fun and dynamic way? Neil Patel offered the following tips for developing interactive content in his article for Content Marketing Institute:
Don't forget the 'what's in it for me?'
You've thought through the best way to make your content dynamic and interactive. You've managed to capture the attention of your audience and engage them with your content. But now what? What do you want them to do next? Is it to share and invite others? Is it to visit a landing page or download more content? Maybe they are ready to fill out a lead form or assessment? Whatever it is, don't let all your hard work go to waste by forgetting the ever-important call to action.
For social media, your call to action built into the text you post to accompany your GIF or asset. It's not just "Play This" but tell them why and offer them more once they do. Whether it's a social media post, an article or a slide-share, download these templates to create your own branded set of buttons, clicks and calls to action. And, never miss the opportunity to prompt your reader to take the next step.
Content is still king, whatever form it takes
Make no mistake, content is still the cornerstone of most marketing strategies in this social-sharing age. Keeping it relevant, dynamic and fun, where appropriate, will increase the effectiveness of anything you produce. So, try these interactive types and tools to increase the impact of your content.
Need help creating your content?
Hi. I'm Barbara Bogue. The name [double b] came from my initials. Here I share tips and advice on marketing, design and copywriting.
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