By Michele Linn published December 30, 2010

Want to Give Your Users Something Different? Try Interactive Online Tools

Oftentimes, great content isn’t just words – or even pictures. Instead, consider interactive online tools that educate or entertain your audience. Here are a couple of examples of companies that are doing this well.

HubSpot Graders

HubSpot has a suite of graders that help marketers measure and analyze their efforts. At the time of this article, there are seven interactive tools that marketers can use. Not only is this data useful at driving people to the site, but they also offer useful insights into HubSpot. HubSpot graders include:

  • Website Grader
  • Four Square Grader
  • Book Grader
  • Facebook Grader
  • Twitter Grader
  • Blog Grader
  • Press Release Grader

Are these tools effective? Over 1,700 have “liked” this content on Facebook, and HubSpot states that it has graded over one million websites.

Contributed by Amanda Maksymiw

You Don’t Know Jack

You Don’t Know Jack is the flagship effort from the creative folks over at Jellyvision.  The interactive and extremely humorous online game has been leveraged to help marketers further entertain and engage their audiences.

Marketo recently used this platform for their blog to position their thought leadership and expertise in online marketing (truly self-fulfilling).  Marketo boasted that “hundreds of marketers test[ed] their skills to see how their knowledge stacked up compared to their friends and marketing peers within minutes of its launch.”  The blog positions this interactive game as content, not with the goal of immediate sales, but for – as they put it – ‘seed nurturing,’ i.e., qualifying prospects and growing relationships prior to obtaining contact information.  This alone qualifies Marketo as getting it in terms of content marketing –  and they practice what they preach.

Contributed by Keith Wiegold

Weight Watchers’ “Advent” Calendar

As a way to introduce their new PointsPlus™ program while also supporting their members and Facebook fans through the challenging holiday season, Weight Watchers created an interactive advent-style calendar launched on December 1, 2010.  Installed on the “calendar” section of their Facebook page and promoted via status updates to their 440,000+ Facebook fans, as well as on Twitter, the interactive calendar shows WW’s mastery of content marketing and social media, their in-depth understanding of their target audience’s behavior and triggers, and how they execute broader marketing strategies using content marketing.

Each day of the month in December, the interactive calendar offered a new game, tool, tip, coupon, recipe or other goodie (much more calorie-wise than chocolate!).  The choice of Facebook as the primary channel for distribution of this content is an inspired marriage of WW’s knowledge of their audience’s behavior as well as the next plank in their strategy to move members online, increasing the reach and ROI of WW’s product distribution.  At the same time, they were faced with the launch of a new program format  (which brings with it an increased risk of member attrition) in December – a time of year that already includes a high attrition risk, plus a need for them to set themselves up for the kind of all-out  promotion of their product that allows them to maximize conversions among the New Year’s resolution target market in January.  I think they scored maximum points on every count.

Contributed by Jennifer Watson

Here are some others from Joe Pulizzi:

Do you know of any other branded interactive tools that a company is using as part of its marketing?

Author: Michele Linn

Michele Linn is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Mantis Research, a consultancy focused on helping brands create and amplify original research they can use in their marketing. Before starting Mantis, Michele was head of editorial at Content Marketing Institute, where she led the company's strategic editorial direction, co-developed its annual research studies, wrote hundreds of articles, spoke at industry events and was instrumental in building the platform to 200,000 subscribers. In 2015, she was named one of Folio's Top Women in Media (Corporate Visionary). You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.

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  • SMS Reseller

    Thanks for sharing your Facebook tools. It really helps a lot in my case since I’m newbies on the road.

  • Tom Pisello

    Executives and decision makers are using the web more and more to do their own diagnostic assessments,conduct solution research and comparisons, and understand the benefits and business case for proposed solutions.

    B2B solution providers are turning to interactive tools to arm these buyers with the tools to do self assessments and analyses.

    As one example, during this economic downturn, IT executives were asked to “do more with less” and help the business reduce and eliminate costs wherever possible. Microsoft realized there was a great opportunity to proactively help these executives identify potential savings opportunities, and help their customers become “frugal heroes”.

    In response, Microsoft created the “Simple to Save” content marketing campaign to provide the research, advice and personalized analysis tools these executives needed to identify cost saving IT projects that could deliver tangible IT and business savings with fast payback, and as little up-front investment as possible.

    To help engage with these executives, and to illuminate the research, recommendations and tools, Microsoft developed a special portal, with the centerpiece being an interactive on-line assessment tool. Using the Simple to Save tool, executives could answer a few questions about their organization and opportunities, and obtain personalized project recommendations and quantified potential savings and return on investment (ROI) analysis, all documented in a customized 20+ page report.

    The content and tools were used by CIOs and IT executives directly, as well as by Microsoft channel partners and direct enterprise sales reps in interactive client workshops. On average, over 800 personalized Simple to Save assessment reports have been delivered monthly, over the past 3 years, using the interactive analysis tools.

    • Michele Linn

      This is another great example, Tom. Thank for adding to the conversation!