Since the emergence of commercial internet service providers in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the amount of content on the World Wide Web has exploded. To put the exponential growth into perspective, consider this: The total number of websites on the internet is fast approaching 2 billion today — up from 1 billion just five years ago.
And of course, as the amount of content on the internet increases (along with the array of content choices for internet surfers to peruse), it’s becoming more and more challenging to lure visitors to your website — much less keep them there once they’ve arrived. But one tried and true answer for adding interest and increasing engagement among website visitors: interactive content.
The appeal of interactive content makes sense when you think about it. After all, who wouldn’t find content that inspires true user engagement — including active participation such as providing feedback or otherwise becoming personally involved with the content — more alluring that simply reading words on a page, looking at pictures or viewing videos?
In fact, studies have found that interactive elements ranging from simple and fun features like quizzes, polls and infographics to more involved website attributes like interactive video, e-books and microsites can lead to more time spent on your site, more shares among impressed visitors, and ultimately more conversions. A couple cases in point: 66% of marketers have reported increased user engagement after incorporating interactive content, and survey participants report that interactive content is nearly twice as effective at generating conversions as static content.
The Benefits of Interactive Enhancements
When used strategically on websites, interactive content provides a range of advantages over passive content, including:
- Interactive content grabs users’ attention — While the one-way dialogue of static content can lead users to become bored with simply reading copy or viewing images/videos, interactive content piques users’ interest by opening a two-way dialogue that allows users to actively engage with data and information.
- Interactive content is easier to process — With scientific research showing that the brain processes visuals roughly 60,000 times faster than written words, one could argue that the “picture is worth a thousand words” saying might even be an understatement — especially considering the average attention span in the internet age. As such, it’s easy to see why interactive content like infographics tends to be much more attention-grabbing than large blocks of text.
- Interactive content boosts views and followers — By attracting more traffic, boosting user engagement and capturing the kind of interest that leads visitors to follow a company’s social media pages, interactive content puts more users’ eyes on your brand message — which ultimately gives more exposure to your business.
- Interactive content increases social shares — When content is engaging and spurs user interaction, the users are more likely to share it with friends on social media, which of course can bring in an exponential number of additional visitors and potential followers.
- Interactive content keeps users on your site — Once a user lands on your website, interactive content can increase the amount of time he or she spends there, reducing bounce rate and giving added exposure to your brand and its offerings.
- Interactive content offers an opportunity to capture user insights — By offering chances for users to provide feedback via quizzes and polls, interactive content can give marketers a look into the preferences of their target audience, offering the potential to guide informed brand decisions.
The Top Types of Interactive Content
Interactive content can come in a number of forms, some of them relatively easy to incorporate, and others requiring larger amounts of time and expertise to deploy. Consider these eight types of interactive content that can boost engagement on your company’s website:
Everybody loves a chance to win a prize. And for this reason, few types of content — interactive or static — are likely to draw more attention (and traffic) to your website than a contest. A few popular examples of contest offerings include:
- Sweepstakes — These offer a particularly good opportunity for site administrators to grow their databases/lists by requiring registration, then collecting e-mail list opt-ins and leads with the registration form.
- Photo contests — These can be a huge traffic draw, as users will upload their photos, then return again and again to vote foe their favorites, check standings, and often even spread the word to get more votes.
- Video contests — This type of contest offers a great way to amass user-generated content, as participants can easily upload video clips from their phones or computers.
- Pick ’ems — These are especially popular among sports fans during tournament and championship season, and administrators can further drive participation by promoting celebrity or VIP pickers, and by staging weekly prize giveaways. As an added bonus, e-retailers can draw even more attention and exposure to their products and/or services by putting their offerings up as one of the top contest prizes.
Pro marketer tip: There are a number of great vendors that can do the heavy lifting needed to make incorporating contents on your website/social media accounts a breeze. One of the most popular is ShortStack, which allows marketers to stage a range of contest types and collect leads along the way — all with multiple templates to choose from and without the need for any coding experience or expertise. Types of contests and contest-related tools on tap here include giveaways, instant win games, refer-a-friend features for extra entries (and added exposure), points for desired user actions, contest analytics and more.
As evidenced by the popularity of BuzzFeed, which launched to internet fame largely based on the popularity of its online quizzes (think “What state do you actually belong in?” — one of the digital media company’s most popular all-time quizzes, earning more than 40 million views), the quiz offers an often irresistible invitation to interact with a website or social media post. Brands can use the quiz format to garner insights about their target audience’s preferences and behaviors, or to simply promote engagement with interest-piquing inquiries.
Pro marketer tip: Seeking a bit of expert guidance on making your quizzes as interesting and effective as possible? The most effective quizzes should: – target specific audiences – be mobile-friendly – include visual elements
3. Interactive Infographics
Infographics offer a great way to convey data in a visually appealing, easy-to-digest way through the use of charts, graphs and other illustrations. And interactive infographics kick the appeal up a notch by inviting users to mouse-over, click or scroll their way to a specific subset of information. For example, a map could be made interactive by allowing users to click on areas of particular interest to get additional info, or a timeline could allow users to scroll down or up the page to advance forward or move backward in time, with added graphic elements unfolding as the user does so.
Pro marketer tip: One great tool for creating interactive infographics is Visme, which provides hundreds of templates and other assets that allow users to create infographics right in their browser, then add animations, transitions, links and pop-ups to incorporate interactivity.
4. Interactive Video
Video is already one of the most popular online draws, and it’s a clear winner among consumers. In fact, according to research, almost half of web users view a video online before visiting a store, and nearly 80% of consumers prefer watching video about a product to learning about the product via reading about it. And now, marketers can make their videos even more engaging by adding interactive elements to them. One of the most popular ways to add interactive elements to videos is to incorporate hotspots — tags that, when clicked, provide the viewer with additional information by sending them to a website or to another video. Other interactive elements that can be added to video include calculators, questions and polls.
This example of interactive content asks users to answer a series of questions, then typically offers a recommendation based on the answers provided. For retailers, this tool offers a great way to point consumers toward a particular product or service that provides a great fit for their needs — especially if the brand’s range of offerings is a broad one.
Pro marketer tip: Assessments are highly effective in the earliest stages of the marketing funnel, when product or service awareness is being built. When employed strategically and providing genuinely helpful guidance, assessments can help build trust among consumers by carefully considering their needs and pointing them to solutions that fill a need in their lives. They also offer a great way to collect data regarding what offerings a consumer might be in the market for.
6. Polls and Surveys
Among the original types of interactive content offerings, polls and surveys are excellent ways to get consumer feedback and collect user data. While they’re very similar, there’s a key difference between polls and surveys — polls consist of a single multiple-choice question (and often offer users the chance to see how popular their answers are in relation to all poll-takers), while surveys contain multiple questions.
Pro marketer tip: While most marketers want a lot of information about their potential consumers, it’s critical that surveys be kept relatively short — otherwise, they run a serious risk of driving users to abandon them before completion. So wise marketers will narrow their questions down to the ones they find most critical. It’s also helpful from a user-experience standpoint to keep users abreast of their progress in the poll while they’re taking it (often done with a progress bar that appears atop each screen in the poll-taking progress), and especially with longer polls, some sort of incentive or reward should be provided upon completion.
Online calculators are great tools for helping users easily determine numerical answers — data along the lines of payment requirements, savings accruals, interest costs, etc. — by entering their specific info, which is then plugged into a formula to generate an immediate, personalized figure for the user. From a content and user-interest perspective, they can eliminate large blocks of boring copy and figures, such as large, number-heavy charts, and replace them with a much less-complicated alternative that’s far more interesting and interactive. All said, they provide users with valuable information and a much more user-friendly experience on your website.
8. Interactive E-Books and White Papers
E-books and white papers are tried and true ways for marketers to provide consumers with a wealth of information with a deep dive on a chosen topic, product or service — but since they often contain so much information, they run the risk of boring readers. By adding interactivity to these tools with features such as personalization via info the reader provides up front, multimedia like videos and animations and social sharing opportunities, marketers can increase interest and engagement.
Could your brand use some expert guidance to incorporate some of these interactive elements into your website? At The Brandon Agency, our fully integrated marketing firm boasts a team of seasoned specialists, located in Charleston, SC, Charlotte, NC, Myrtle Beach, SC and Orlando, FL, who can cover content creation and much more — including web design, brand strategy, creative, interactive, social media, analytics, conversion rate optimization, SEO and more — all in one place. To get started with help ranging from a simple website analysis to a comprehensive strategy tailored to boost the performance of all of your marketing campaigns, contact us today.