This Time It’s Personal: How Personalization Takes Interactive Content to the Next Level
December 28, 2016 | MattDerman
When we talk about interactive marketing content, we often use the word dialogue.
The thinking goes that if traditional, static content is a monologue, delivering information to an audience without needing or even asking for their input, then interactive content is instead a dialogue since it requires the users to actively participate.
That’s certainly true, and it speaks to the key value of interactive content, but simply stating that interactive content is a dialogue only scratches the surface of what it can do. After all, there are many types of dialogues, from friendly conversations to professional interviews to outright interrogations.
Not all of these are equally appealing, so it’s important when creating interactive content to think about what kind of dialogue you’re inviting your audience into.
This is where personalization can add a tremendous amount of value.
The word personalization (like the word dialogue) can mean many things. At its core, it’s the idea of presenting each user with a more individual experience by using learned information about them to give content that’s more tailored to their interests.
Personalization lets a single piece of content speak directly to multiple audiences by providing each of them with a slightly different take on the material based on their specific perspective.
There are various ways to leverage personalization in your interactive content. Some are quite simple and straightforward, such as pulling the user’s name from the lead form into other copy within the content.
There are also more elaborate options like having the user’s behavior throughout the experience affect and actually change what content they see.
Whatever the specifics, personalization rewards the user for their interaction with the content in real-time, adjusting the experience to make it more relevant and engaging as they make their way through it.
With that being said, let’s explore a few personalization possibilities to better understand the different ways it can make interactive content more valuable for marketers and audiences alike.
We’ve established that interactive content allows you to talk to your clients, but how do you use the information they’ve already given you to enhance the experience?
When someone fills out a lead form or answers a question, conditional text allows you to pull in the information they’ve submitted and distribute it throughout the rest of the experience. For example, you could put a lead form at the beginning of the content that includes a field for the user’s name. Once they’ve filled that form out, you can refer to the user by name in any text that appears along the way, creating a more personalized user experience.
A user’s name is one of numerous possible pieces of information that can be pulled into the rest of the experience, including any other lead data or answers to individual questions.
No matter what text you use and how you use it, the value for the user is that they feel listened to and more directly engaged with. Knowing that the information they’re providing is being put to use in real-time helps them remain engaged as they move through the experience, and encourages them to pay more attention to each step of the journey.
This concept is similar to conditional text, but takes that idea to the next level.
Conditional content means you can present different content to the user based on their behavior during the experience and their interactions with it. Let’s say, for instance, you have two different verticals to which you market your products or services, and you want to provide each with its own unique messaging and CTAs within a particular piece of interactive content. You could begin by asking each user to choose which vertical they fall under, and then use their answer to send them down a different path with its own follow-up questions, results, and so on.
Or maybe you have a particular whitepaper that you only want to offer as a download for users who have a specific need, because otherwise the content of the whitepaper won’t apply to them. Again, you can ask them whether or not they have that need. If they do, you can immediately offer them the whitepaper download, whereas if they do not, you can move them through to the next step of the experience and give them access to different assets later on.
Where conditional text repeats back to a user info they’ve already given, conditional content can actually individualize how your interactive content responds to the audience members, giving them only the questions and assets that apply to them and leaving out less relevant pieces. It makes the content more targeted and resonant, and allows you to reuse the same interactive piece for multiple audiences or segments.
At the end of an experience, the user gets their result, be it a maturity score or an ROI calculation or whatever the key value prop of your interactive content might be. But what comes next? How do you expand on that result or talk about potential actions they can take in the future? And how will the user remember the result they got, or how they got it, or what recommendations or CTAs you offered them as part of it?
All of these questions can be answered by offering your audience a custom download (usually a type of document), providing them with a tangible takeaway from the experience. This could simply be a review of the questions they answered and the result they received, or it could be something more in-depth, actually offering feedback, advice, and suggested next steps based on those answers or results.
Before we wrap this up, how about a chance to see personalization in action? Take a minute to click through the experience below and notice the ways in which its messaging and content change based on how you respond to each question along the way:
Pretty cool, right? By having the content react to your behavior, it feels much more like you’re actively participating in a conversation with it, rather than simply sending information about yourself into a vacuum.
Obviously, that experience above was just fluffy and fun, but the same ideas can be applied to any content to make it resonate more powerfully with the target audience(s). From the small and simple things like calling the user by name to something more complex such as a precisely targeted custom download at the end, any personalization, big or small, will help drive both initial engagement and ultimate completion of your interactive content.