I recently read a post by inc.com on how content marketing is dead. Now to be fair they weren’t really saying that content marketing is dead—the point that they were making is the fact that everyone and their mother is doing content marketing and what really stands out—and is more effective in 2015—is interactive content marketing.
It’s interesting to me because it really highlighted something that we’ve been helping our clients solve for over the last 10 years, and that’s the question: how do you make your content and marketing programs stand out from all the other events, distractions, blogs and advertising that are competing for your customers’ attention online.
According to a recent study by Microsoft, you now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish—a mere 8 seconds. When you think about the time that a user actually allocates to paying attention to anything, it’s very little—and for the most part—it’s not geared toward your content—unless that’s specifically what they’re looking for.
To narrow the focus (which is a challenge in and of itself) you’re competing with these marketing initiatives by your competitors:
- Email marketing
- Social media
- Blog posts
…Not to mention all manner of networks and channels and content creators and influencers to compete with.
With this cacophony of noise and chatter, you’re probably asking yourself all manner of content-related questions. How do I differentiate my content? How do I brand my content so that it’s uniquely mine? How do I know it’s working? What’s the ROI of content marketing? How do I create better content?
If you haven’t been under a rock, you know there are any number of books and resources and online platforms and tools that will teach you how to create content—some even claim to teach you how to create great content, or content that lasts, or stick content. But it’s that last question that you—and really, everyone—are trying to answer: how do I really make my content truly remarkable?
In fact that’s a question that we were facing ourselves as we pulled together our latest resource: 2015 Interactive Content Marketing Statistics.
Originally I was looking to create the next skyscraper blog post by MESH. Part of our own content marketing strategy is to win at SEO (frankly you can’t realistically expect your clients to hire you for content marketing with an SEO component if you can’t prove that you’re doing amazing things in the space yourself).
Given this, you probably haven’t noticed that some of our blog posts run a bit long. This includes the 4,180 word blog post I wrote on content marketing best practices a few weeks back. This is part of our strategy as we move forward and continue to position ourselves as a truly interactive Boston content marketing agency.
So, I was really looking for a way to take our 111 data point infographic and do something more with it. The inc.com article was—in a way—inspiring. It highlighted some of the key ways that people are getting their content to stand out in 2015, including:
- Polls: For example, you could provide interactive polls during presentations to help “wake up sleeping audiences”
- Infographics: The author in the inc.com article feels that animation infographics help engage viewers and make even the most mundane topics interesting
- Interactive video: The article mentions swiping and scrolling, but that doesn’t even scratch the surface. As far back as 2012, brands were experimenting with concepts like V-commerce—where users watching the video could click on fashion styles that were tagged in a video to buy the clothes.
I see most of the examples provided in their post as really only just touching on basic interactivity. It doesn’t really highlight anything new. By their definition, just about every bit of content on your website could be considered interactive content marketing. And I don’t think that really takes the concept far enough.
What does interactive content marketing truly mean?
If just clicking and swiping doesn’t go far enough to qualify as interactive content marketing, what does it take to truly create interactive content and to use that to drive your content marketing program?
To understand that let’s split apart the phrase “interactive content marketing” into its individual components. A quick Google search tells me that Interactive is defined as “allowing a two-way flow of information between a computer and a computer-user; responding to a user’s input.” Note the two-way aspect of that. While touching, swiping and sharing are considered input, there’s a lot more implied by two-way flow of information.
Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” Basically you create content that helps your buyers in hopes that they will return to you when they are ready to buy your product.
So how do we combine “interactive” with “content marketing” to get truly remarkable and shareable interactive content?
First, you have to start off with great content. And content that is relevant to your target audience (via adaptive persona development), useful in their buyer’s journey, and shareable is “great content”.
Next, you have to stop thinking about content just in terms of words (blogs), pictures (infographics), and video (ads). Can you take the words and have the information they deliver to your buyer change based on user input? Can you take those still infographics and make them move? Can you take that video, and provide different outcomes based on user interaction?
Examples of interactive content marketing
Check out this example of content marketing using a truly interactive video by Usher. They leverage the user’s web cam to detect if you look away during the video—super cool or mildly creepy?
And of course, there’s our own Interactive 2015 Content Marketing Statistics Infographic where we highlight visual content marketing, content marketing strategy and creation, content distribution, and more.
Can you see value in providing truly remarkable and interactive content to your users? What about input of user-generated data to impact the content delivered to the user? Have you ever considered generating a white paper that provides different results based on user-generated input? Do you have examples of content marketing that you’d like to share?