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With more than 90% of B2B marketers using content marketing as part of a larger inbound strategy, today’s marketing teams are finding that audiences are nearing a saturation point in regard to the amount of static content being sent their way.
As a result, these teams are looking for ways to tap into the engagement economy, wherein there’s a real back and forth between organization and consumer (rather than a one-way, mass message.)
In the engagement economy, interactive content paired with marketing automation is enabling a two-way conversation that’s highly personalized and relevant, unlike the one-size-fits-all approach that we often see with static content.
Let’s get on the same page and address a few key questions:
In 2017, we’re living in a world where customer expectations are at an all-time high.
Audiences want highly personalized content and expect stellar experiences – and companies are taking note. According to data from Gartner, 89% of marketing leaders expect to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience today, compared to just 36% four years ago.
Shifting content marketing efforts to reflect customer desires is highly effective, and companies that are taking a new approach to address these primary expectations are seeing engagement rates increase. According to a 2015 IBM Digital Experience Survey, 56% of marketers say that personalized content results in higher engagement rates.
So why do we care so much about engagement rates? What happens when target audiences start interacting with companies?
Gallup data shows that customers who are fully engaged represent 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth compared with the average customer.
The bottom line: Engagement = Loyalty, Profit, and Relationships.
Traditionally, content marketing has focused on static, one-sided material that doesn’t leave much room for ongoing dialogue.
This type of content is kind of like a megaphone, shouting out mass company messages without also amplifying the voice of the recipient in return. Users are simply “talked at,” and engagement rates suffer as a result. The one-sided approach also makes it difficult to build imaginative, entertaining experiences that can be more adaptive to user behavior.
The other downside of this approach is that it doesn’t allow marketing and sales teams to collect much user data. Sure, they might glean a name and email address in an opt-in form from time to time, but this surface-level data doesn’t help lead scoring efforts, doesn’t provide insight into customer pain points and specific interests, and makes it hard to nurture leads effectively.
As a result, teams are turning to interactive experiences and marketing automation to more efficiently deliver personalized experiences that truly give customers a voice and collect important information at the same time.
Maybe you’re wondering, “Are static content and interactive content really that different?”
Let’s take a look at examples of both to see some of the major differences in context.
In this traditional white paper, you can see that there’s a lot of information packed into the document. The trouble is: It’s a one-sided information dump. And even though they’ve included social sharing buttons, at no place in this document is there an opportunity for the user to engage with the content. The only option is to read it and move on.
The other downside: Because it’s a PDF, the data here is locked away from search engines and isn’t helping company SEO efforts.
In contrast, this event assessment from Oracle lets users share their interests to get personalized recommendations on sessions to attend at this upcoming event. There’s a back and forth between organization and user, and a real opportunity for engagement.
And the benefits don’t stop there: While the user gets customized results at the end of the assessment, the event organizers also get in-depth insights into what attendees are looking for from their event. That’s a win-win.
In the engagement economy, marketers are striving to create a dialogue with their audiences and to build robust customer profiles based on data from those interactive experiences. But beyond these high-level goals, there are some more specific benefits to integrating interactive, automated experiences, such as:
Momentum in the experience: Unlike static content (like a blog post, for example) where the end of a post leads to an abrupt stop in the user experience, interactive content (like an assessment, for example) has a clear start and finish. Once the user’s results are generated, the data collected during the interaction can be leveraged in automated sequences, like a personalized follow-up email drip campaign.
Customized results: Because users are inputting their own unique information in interactive experiences, the results are completely customized, meaning they get more relevant data. There’s not a one-size-fits all response – each participant is delivered tailored information that addresses his or her distinct needs, questions, and concerns.
Personalization: While users get customized results from these types of experiences, on company side of these efforts, user data shared during interactive experiences can be leveraged down the road for more personalized automated efforts. This is extremely important, as data from Monetate shows that there’s an average of a 20% increase in sales and conversions when personalized experiences are delivered.
Lead generation and personas: User information gleaned during interactive experiences can be leveraged to fuel lead generation and lead scoring efforts, as well as to perfect buyer personas. Overall, this makes the marketing and sales teams much more efficient and, again, helps boost relevancy for the target audience.
Aside from these factors, interactive content is proven to produce impressive results. Compared to static content, interactive content achieves 4-5X more pageviews, typically achieves a 50% click rate and a 55% conversion rate.
If there’s one major takeaway from this shift in content marketing, it’s that engagement is now the name of the game. Rather than investing in one-sided efforts that can often fall flat, now is the time to find out how you can participate in the engagement economy to build out rich lead profiles, to better interact with your target audience, and to create interesting, value-packed experiences.