Interactive Content Can’t Be a One-off: A Tale From the Trenches
February 24, 2017 | Melissa Nazar
Ever have a home run of an idea? A new concept that you got the greenlight for, put it into execution, and, while you got a some really positive results, in the end, not everyone was fully convinced?
Even in my pre-SnapApp days, I knew interactive content was a great idea for B2B marketing. And it’s not very hard to convince people that interactive is a good idea: it’s an audience engager, by definition requires active participation, it collects more detailed data, and it’s new and advanced. What’s cooler to show your boss, a 15-page snooze-fest white paper you wrote or an interactive ebook with all sorts of animations and clickable elements?
My point exactly.
Which is why when I brought up the concept of an interactive assessment to a client at a former company, they loved the idea. More specifically, the idea was to create a maturity assessment on a specific topic, asking a user 10 or so questions to gauge their progress in becoming an expert in the company’s focus area. For the sake of this post, we’ll say the topic was cat ownership, and the concept was a Cat Ownership Maturity Assessment.
In today’s post, I’ll share with you an experience I had building interactive content in my pre-SnapApp days , what worked, what didn’t, and what I learned from it.
Getting Interactive Off the Ground
Getting the idea of the assessment bought into was the easy part. Getting the idea actually off the ground and turning into something tangible was a whole other story. The content creation part was straightforward – come up with a series of relevant questions, tie them to a set of possible results.
(I don’t want to minimize the work involved here – mapping out which questions were tagged with which results definitely takes some thinking. For example, “How often do you groom your cat?” could have timeframe ranges as possible results. It could be that those who say “Never” get a point in low maturity, “Once or twice a year” get a point for medium maturity, and “At least once a month” gets a point for high maturity level.)
But the real frustration around the content didn’t come until the actual build. It required a freelance developer and designer to put together the actual live assessment. Agreement on functionality, back-and-forth on edits, connecting the whole thing to a marketing automation platform… it all took dozens of hours, and many more dollars invested.
A Success… Sort of.
When all was said and done, the entire project took about three months from concept to live assessment – practically centuries in the B2B marketing world. But once it was up and running, it fast became the stuff marketers’ dreams are made of – lots of traffic, high completion rates, loads of qualified leads.
Sales was psyched for prospects that showed active engagement by fully completing the content experience and even sharing it themselves. In addition, they got a new call script for their conversations based on the answers plugged into the assessment (i.e. “Interesting that your cat has three toys, did you know that if you increased that by just two toys, you’d boost your cat ownership maturity significantly?”).
But after the big campaign push for the assessment, it faded out. The content lives on their website – somewhere – but isn’t actively promoted through different channels. Interest waned and soon the sales team was looking for more leads and marketing was looking for a new answer.
When the idea of a follow-up piece of content was floated (“Calculating the ROI of Your Cat”), it was shot down because of the time and costs associated with development.
What went wrong? How did this new and successful content format end up just a story the marketing team would tell? What were the key mistakes made in this case?
- They thought of it as one big campaign. A piece of interactive content like a maturity assessment should be considered evergreen and promoted in multiple places, not just part of a one-and-done campaign. It should live prominently on the website, be incorporated into nurture streams, serve as a CTA for paid social programs, be given to your sales team as an enablement tools, be used for booth engagement at a trade show, etc.
- They let it become cost and time prohibitive to create. Resource constraints are very real for marketers. We’re expected to do more with less, so dedicating someone’s time as well as significant budget dollars to one piece of content doesn’t always make sense. Finding easy, scalable ways to create interactive content makes it less of a burden.
- They didn’t think of interactive holistically. Because interactive seems hard to do, it’s impossible to think of it as a core part of your strategy, vs. a one-off campaign. Think about with a social media lense – you can’t just post once a month in each channel and expect a large following, it requires a little more commitment and participation to see good results. To be truly effective, interactive needs to be thought broader and incorporated more into your regular campaign process.
There’s so much content out there today that looks and sounds the same, and buyers are less motivated because of it. To avoid boring audiences to tears, you have to do something different to break through – visual, interactive content experiences are one effective way.
Think about the content consumers interact with through social media: the growth of visual channels like Instagram, the meteoric rise in popularity of more interactive platforms like SnapChat. It’s all highly visual and all focused on engagement.
And you can’t just invest once in interactive, call it done, and expect transformative results – you need to make it a core part of your strategy. While it may seem overwhelming, there are some easy ways to get started:
- Use existing content you have. Are there opportunities to repurpose your content into things like interactive infographics, short quizzes, or calculators?
- Start small, but think big. Each interactive piece doesn’t have to be massive. It can be as simple as a one question survey that showcases results on your homepage. Incorporating small bits of interactive throughout your program is a great way to get started.
- Lead with interactive. Instead of filling your content calendars with hefty, text-heavy content, why not take a new approach and think interactive first? Your pillar content could be something like an assessment that you build a series of campaigns off of.
- Look beyond the PDF. PDFs are really handy for their simplicity, but for a marketing experience they’re pretty bland, and not at all transparent for marketers to see what prospects are doing with them. Look for new tools that provide advanced experiences beyond the PDF.
Want to learn more about how interactive can help fuel your campaigns and drive better results? Check out our Buyer’s Journey ebook.