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The definition of “interactivity” is tough to pin down because it can be implemented in so many different ways. There is no right way or wrong way to make use of interactive content on your website.
The point of interactivity is to get your audience more engaged with your content and, thus, with your company. If you can do that, your interactive experiment was successful.
Now, of course, it’s tough to accomplish that. What really makes a piece of interactive content great?
Many companies have tried to find an answer to that question, and some have shared what they found in their experiences with interactive content. It’s not easy to create interactive content that resonates, and many examples fall flat.
But every once in awhile, you come across a piece of interactive content that hooks you. You consume the content, it resonates with you, and you share it. This is the gold standard for interactive content – the best of the best.
Let’s take a tour around the wide world of interactivity to see which sites are really knocking their interactive content out of the park.
Who: The Washington Post
What: Interactive timeline of satellite maps
Why It’s So Great: It’s interesting to see exactly how much redevelopment goes into various parts of Olympic host cities. Some of the construction is promising – watching dilapidated stadiums turn into Olympic-quality venues can be uplifting. Some of it is a bit more disheartening – it’s tough to watch neighborhoods and protected land reservations get flattened to make way for the Olympics (not to mention the fact that many facilities are reportedly not ready for next week’s Opening Ceremonies).
Both a marvel in human engineering and a disappointment in human capabilities, these timelines evoke both positive and negative emotions, and that’s just the point.
Apply it to Your Marketing: Find a topic your audience is interested in, and dive deep. Look for angles others aren’t covering, and dig into the emotions at the core of the issue. Whether you’re marketing software or swizzle sticks, look for the emotional connection and bring that out.
What: Interactive geographical maps
Why It’s So Great: FiveThirtyEight has established itself as an authority when it comes to statistical analysis, and that usually comes in handy around election season. The site’s 2016 Election Forecast landing page includes a standard geographical map with state-by-state breakdowns, a timeline indicating how odds have changed since the beginning of June, and a map weighted by each state’s electoral vote count.
Since the election is expected to be close and every vote matters to each candidate, it’s easy to get lost in the maps for hours. Skip the CNN binge – this breakdown will provide whatever you need to know about the upcoming election.
Apply it to Your Marketing: Offer your visitors multiple ways to explore the information they’re looking for. Allowing them to tailor the content to their situation will keep them engaged with your content and your website longer, building a deeper connection to your brand.
Who: The New York Times
What: Interactive, three-dimensional satellite images
Why It’s So Great: Outer space is one of those things that is really tough to explain effectively in words – sometimes, you just have to see it. This interactive experience recognizes the one-year anniversary of NASA’s New Horizons becoming the first probe to explore the dwarf planet Pluto. It was quietly one of the bigger space voyages in recent memory.
A major breakthrough like that deserves an equally great content experience, and the Times delivered with this one. Think Google Earth, except it’s not Earth. Google Pluto.
Apply it to Your Marketing: Choose the right content format for the information you want to express. The Times could have told the Pluto voyage story in words, or even pictures – but the experience of interactively navigating the trip itself makes this come to life.
What: Assessment / Calculator
Why It’s So Great: Runzheimer offers a different quiz based on the primary type of vehicle program – company-provided vehicles, per-mile reimbursement, or flat monthly reimbursement – offered to one’s employees. Right off the bat, this piece of content is delivering a personalized experience to the participant.
The concept of the assessment itself is bound to draw in an audience, because who doesn’t love saving money? The whole assessment takes less than four or five minutes to complete.
Apply it to Your Marketing: Offer a variety of paths to discover the right content – which also means creating multiple versions of the same asset for each of your core buying segments. It might seem like more work up front, but the individualized experience your buyer receives will be worth it.
Why It’s So Great: A pretty simple concept from a company that rarely dabbles in interactivity, this quiz is short but exhaustive, light-hearted but educational. The quiz accounts for a number of factors – team culture, playing style, and city, to name a few – and chooses the NBA team that best matches the individual’s preferences. For what it’s worth, I (unselfish point guard, would take less money for the right situation, big-city nightlife) would be a great fit for the Brooklyn Nets. Just waiting on the call.
Apply it to Your Marketing: Even if you haven’t tried something before, it might be a great fit for your audience. Take a risk with a new type of content and see how your audience responds!
The best way to get better at something is to study those who do that thing well. So if you’re looking to experiment with interactive content soon, learn from the companies that have been killing it for a while.
Don’t produce carbon copies of their work – the capabilities of interactive content are expansive, so tailor every aspect of your content to your audience.