B2B marketers across industries are diving head-first into the interactive content pond. It’s easy to see why: More buyers (a whopping 86%) now prefer it, according to Demand Gen Report research. But it’s not enough to hop on the latest content marketing. Putting together a stellar asset takes time, thought and careful planning; failing to do so can lead to a flat or downright frustrating experience and mediocre results. I say this out of experience.
We’ve been refining our interactive content approach for about five years now. And during that time, we’ve worked with a multitude of different businesses of all sizes and across industries to do the same. So we’ve obviously learned some things along the way. Here are some key mistakes we made with our earliest interactive content and ways you can avoid making them, too!
1. We didn’t validate that the audience wanted interactive content.
When interactive content first came on the scene, we had cases where we proposed interactive content merely because we believed it was the best way to tell the story. Not to mention, it was a great way to make that story more entertaining for the reader.
But before we dove in, we didn’t think critically about whether the audience wanted interactive content to begin with. Content consumption habits and behaviors should guide your approach just as much as (if not more than) your messaging.
If you’ve never done interactive content before and you want to test it to see how your audience will respond, consider repurposing an evergreen asset or doing a short-form piece in order to get more value in exchange for time and resources spent.
2. We let themes overshadow the story.
Sometimes a powerful theme lays the foundation for an immersive experience. But a story is what makes it all come to life, making the content valuable for your audience. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day, right?
It’s easy to let the powerful features and capabilities suck you in. It’s easy to run away with an uber-creative theme. If your story isn’t in-depth or relevant enough to keep buyers engaged, however, engagement may drop and the content likely won’t lead to qualified opportunities.
3. We added too many bells and whistles.
This is another area where your imagination can get the best of you. Your design and development team can add a lot of features to make the experience fun and entertaining — think carousels, flip cards, interactive charts, maps and more — but you can’t overwhelm your audience.
Resist the temptation to be flashy, because it will quickly distract your readers from the core story you’re trying to tell. Instead, focus on elements that add value to the consumption process and make it easier to navigate. Otherwise, simple builds and animations will suffice.
4. We didn’t set clear objectives or establish metrics.
This is a big “oh, duh” moment. After all, interactive content gives us the opportunity to track deeper reader engagement and better understand how much time our audience is spending with the content.
All this engagement data is great, but when we first started with these exciting projects, we didn’t set firm enough goals. We didn’t determine exactly what we wanted to get out of producing the content, simply that we wanted something “cool” in the field to build our brand.
High-level engagement metrics like social shares are great, but not if you’ve created an interactive piece for the middle of the funnel. It’s important to have this measurement conversation early on to ensure that the content strategy and messaging will ultimately help you meet these goals.
5. Our story and design were too narrow.
Great content always has a specific audience in mind, and there should always be a core story driving the flow of your interactive experience. But you have the opportunity to stray from the traditional linear structure by adding more advanced navigation. These jumps or unique sections can allow you to add more focused content based on a specific industry, role or even business pain point where users can choose what matters to them. This works well when you have a theme that spans audiences, but there are certain considerations or best practices that vary based on company size, role or other factors.
Our approach to interactive content has evolved significantly since our first foray, and we’re constantly learning and improving every day. It’s an area of the content universe that I’m extremely passionate about, so I’m eager to hear from my content marketing colleagues: Have you dabbled in interactive content? What has worked well for you? What hasn’t?
If you want to learn more about the benefits of interactive content and how it can inspire your buyers to learn and act, take a look at our own brand-new interactive asset, Get Smart About Your Content: How Interactive Formats Can Create Immersive and Intelligent Buyer Experiences.