Brands effectively using interactive-content marketing enjoy a steadily growing customer base.
VIP CONTRIBUTOR Author of A Paperboy’s Fable: The 11 Principles of Success February 20, 2019 8 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Interactive content is highly effective because it connects users with a brand on multiple levels. Interactive marketing provides a creative and unique experience that is personalized to each user — this means it keeps their attention longer, it increases excitement and they’ll be more likely to seek it out.
One defining element of interactive marketing is that it gives users some control or influence over their experience, making this content more personal and memorable. Today, many brands are offering interactive-content marketing campaigns that seek to enhance customers’ experiences, boost their engagement, gain more followers and ultimately grow a brand’s customer base.
So how exactly do these tools work and how can brands take advantage of these strategies? Here are five interactive trends your brand should consider using, and some important tips to keep in mind as you plan your interactive marketing strategies for 2019.
Assessments, quizzes and calculators
Interactive assessments offer people ways to give feedback or get more information about your products or your company. Quizzes and polls are also a form of interactive assessment, and can be highly entertaining. People love filling out online quizzes and then sharing the results on social media.
They can be a great way to prompt people to visit your website or social media page. BuzzFeed is well known for their quizzes, and you can hardly scroll through social media without bumping into a few. Quizzes can also be used for more serious topics and can help people recognize the need for your service or product.
Calculators allow users to input information to create numeric answers. These tools are frequently used by companies and brands to help customers estimate and compare the cost of products or features and evaluate the benefits of these options.
Interactive, gamified video
Videos don’t have to be a passive, one-way broadcast, but can be a truly interactive experience. The interactive video has been around for several years, but many users are still unfamiliar with this medium and brands are still figuring out the best ways to harness this trend. For users, gamification appeals to the reward-seeking mechanism built into our brains; thus, it can work well in organizing contests, giveaways or interactive video stories.
For an added bonus, try using a gamified, interactive video for a quiz. Combining an interactive video with a multiple-choice quiz can be a great way to capture attention because it turns passive viewers into active ones. Facebook’s announcement that it’s introducing new features to their video platform to make video content more interactive should encourage more marketers to consider how they can use this medium.
Facebook is using polling from both Live and on-demand videos, as well as gamification for Live, as tools to add new interactive features, such as polls, quiz questions and challenges.
Augmented reality (AR) has become a buzzword in the world of games (think of the bestselling mobile game Pokémon GO), but AR has potential that goes far beyond gaming. Brands like Amazon, Ikea, Wayfair, Starbucks and Volkswagen are already utilizing AR technologies to increase customer engagement. Coca-Cola has used AR in several of its campaigns, including one with Alipay to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
As with many marketing trends, AR includes various elements to create interesting and engaging products. AR may incorporate 360-degree video and other interactive elements. Take, for example, Oreo’s 360-degree interactive AR video, which allows you to scroll around and see different views as you cascade down an animated river of milk while Oreo treats are being manufactured in a playful, fantastical self-propelled factory.
AR has also changed the way customers approach products in online stores. A 3-dimensional view of a product lets you see it on your own terms. AR apps allow customers to see what products will look like in the real world, giving them a better feel for the product and how it will fit in the home, office or elsewhere. For example, Amazon has introduced its AR view app, so you can take a picture of a room and see how a product will look in your kitchen or living room before you make a purchase.
AR is a great way to create an engaging and memorable marketing experience. It can help encourage sales, but often it’s most effective in building brand awareness and excitement surrounding a product.
360-Degree Video Content
Many brands are turning to immersive or spherical videos, which are 360-degree videos captured using an omnidirectional camera or a series of cameras. These 360-degree videos allow users to click and drag or move their phones around to explore a virtual space and become immersed in that virtual reality.
This content is powerful because it can combine two routes into immersion and engagement. There’s the first-person exploration, where users have the ability to change the angle or view of what they’re seeing, but there’s also amazing storytelling potential here. As a user navigates a 360-degree video, they’re primed to listen to a backstory about what they’re exploring, or simply hear the sounds that relate to what’s going on in the video. Either way, users are completely immersed and have stronger emotional connections to what they’re experiencing.
Some examples are Google Arts & Culture, which invites users to step into the action of performance and stories, and the New York Times, which is using this medium to give readers an up-close-and-personal view of visually stunning stories.
But this medium also works well for travel-related industries, which is all about the promise of transporting you to a new, exciting place. The Royal Caribbean offers users 360-degree videos in which users can stand on top of one of its largest ships and check out some of its amenities. Another example is Marriott Hotel’s development of “The Teleporter,” a booth that combines virtual reality and 360-degree video streaming to give users an immersive 4D experience of traveling to the far corners of the world.
The 360-degree trend will continue to be adopted by more brands in the coming year, especially those that sell large items like furniture, cars and homes.
Whether they’re playing music, answering questions or setting timers, customers are loving their smart speakers such as Amazon Echo, Google Home or Apple HomePod. These voice-activated speakers are also changing the way people buy products and services and interact with news and information.
But the true “brains” behind the smart speaker are the virtual assistants inside the device. Alexa, Google and Siri are now household names, and people are using them for more than just checking the weather. These voice-activated platforms allow customers to browse and purchase items.
But how can brands create ways to ensure they get noticed in the world of voice-activated technology? Take, for example, how HBO has been working to create applications (known as “skills” on Amazon Echo devices) to promote its shows and characters. It introduced Westworld: The Maze, a choose-your-own-adventure style game for fans of the show “Westworld.”
Brands should be looking for ways to make use of voice-powered technology in their content marketing. Find out how your customers are using their voice-activated assistants. How are these devices making customers’ lives easier? This will help shape effective strategies for using this technology in a way that’s meaningful to your customers.
Also, make sure you optimize your content so that virtual assistants can find it. For instance, when people ask their voice assistants questions, they typically use short phrases like “Mexican food restaurants near me.” Make sure to incorporate similar phrases throughout your company’s content.
Tips for getting the most out of your interactive marketing
This coming year, we’ll likely see more interactive marketing utilizing all of the above mediums. What will set the effective campaigns apart from the mediocre ones will be the ability to create an immersive experience in which users feel engaged, transported and emotionally connected to the brand.
Brands should endeavor to keep their messaging exciting, engaging and focused on the experience they are creating. Sharp, crisp storytelling is a must for grabbing and holding the customer’s attention. These interactive campaigns work best when they incorporate a multimedia approach. The more ways you can engage a person’s senses, the more immersive the experience will be.
Interactive content is especially effective in creating a buzz around a brand or company. It can be incredibly effective at increasing awareness and interest in what a brand is doing. Always consider how you can personalize each user’s experience, whether it’s through quizzes, gamified videos, interactive tools or user-controlled 360-degree video.
This article was repurposed from Entrepreneur on 10 April 2019.