By Julie Wingerter published March 17, 2015

More Than Quizzes: 3 Types of Interactive Content That Drive Leads

interactive-content-drive-leads-cover

This post isn’t about quizzes. It’s not that we don’t live, love, and share quizzes. It’s that you already know they are wildly popular, hugely successful, and a must-do in your marketing plan. This piece focuses on interactive content beyond online test-taking.

1. Interactive white paper – the classic comes of (digital) age.

The white paper has been around since at least Winston Churchill (1922). B2B versions date back to the 1990s and, while I don’t know this, I would be willing to wager that Big Blue authored one of the first.

Fast forward to 2015: What has changed for the venerable white paper? The rise of creative talent has meant more visuals and illustrations. The rise of social media and text messages has meant shorter sentences, more white space, and lots of buzzwords.

In the desire to create the perception of something new and less staid, marketers stopped using the name “white paper” in favor of “guide,” “e-book,” and “workbook.” They added verbiage like “complete,” “definitive,” and “ultimate” to the titles to signal that (1) theirs is different (interesting) and (2) you won’t ever have to read another.

But, honestly, what has really changed? Today’s white papers could still be mimeographed and placed in your office mailbox next to the coffee machine. Except that your office doesn’t have a coffee machine – just a high-end European espresso maker – and you don’t have a physical mailbox.

Isn’t it time for the white paper to catch up?

White papers are great – we write them ourselves – but they also come with limitations. There are too many of them and marketers can’t tell who actually reads them. Download, yes, but read and consume? That’s a black hole.

What, then, does the modern white paper look like? It’s engaging; it’s multimedia; it’s interactive. The modern interactive white paper asks questions, provides benchmarking opportunities, and takes readers through a tailored experience based on the information they share. Questions, assessments, calculators, and videos can be incorporated, creating a truly personalized, effective piece of content that takes advantage of the power of digital and provides both marketers and consumers with targeted information. In full disclosure, here are a few examples from companies that use SnapApp, which is where I work:

  • Infinio, a data-storage company, created a comprehensive interactive guide around trends in the data-storage industry and collects feedback on each point in its interactive white paper.

infinio-interactive-guide-image 1

  • NetProspex (Dun & Bradstreet), a B2B data and contact company, created an interactive white paper about record completeness. It leveraged an existing research report for the content and used the interactive white paper to generate new leads and increase downloads. It achieved a 52% click-through rate – plus the marketing team knows how each prospect answered each question. With high engagement rates and the opportunity to both share and collect information, why not take your latest white paper and make it interactive?

2. Interactive infographic: Content marketing nirvana?

Infographics are a great format for presenting conclusions learned from analyzing data. Almost 80% of marketers report sharing infographics sometimes or frequently, according to Demand Gen Report’s 2014 Content Preferences Survey. Not nearly as dated as the white paper? Think again. Infographics have been around since at least 1626 when Christoph Scheiner demonstrated the sun’s rotation patterns in Rosa Ursina sive Sol.

scheiner_rosa_ursina3-l

However, with infographics’ rise in popularity driven by higher click rates and easy-to-create software packages has come an increase in the number of infographics. In short, they are quickly becoming a victim of their own success. Plus, like the static white paper, they don’t address the download black-hole problem – are they really being reviewed?

How to improve an already successful format?

Go with an interactive infographic. Present the data. Ask the viewers to confirm if that data resonates with them. List challenges others have cited. Have the viewers rank their challenges. Can you use these interactive results to better qualify and nurture your leads? Maybe your sales team would love to get their hands on the list of the top three challenges noted by Joe Smith while he ate his bagel and interacted with your infographic.

An interactive infographic takes one of the most effective content marketing formats and makes it better by enabling two-way discourse between the brand and the recipient. This information then can be used to update the infographic itself and provide data for future conversations between the two parties. For example:

  • Endicia, which offers online postage and shipping solutions, put together an engaging infographic on package returns showing how e-commerce companies can maximize efficiency and minimize costs.

endicia-interactive-infographic-image 4

  • Bizo (LinkedIn), a B2B data-management and targeting-technology company, created an interactive infographic allowing users to navigate through a B2B buyer’s journey so that marketers could better understand the power of pull-versus-push marketing.

bizo-interactive-infographic-image 5

Is an infographic on your marketing horizon? Take it to the next level and make it interactive.

3. The calculator. Interactive and poised to move beyond mortgage payments.

Calculators are where infographics were a few years ago – a great idea but open only to the few brands that could afford to develop one. Long used by consumers trying to figure out how much house they can afford to buy, calculators are now possible in a whole new world because their creation no longer requires six months of coding. Calculators can tabulate:

  • ROI on your trade show investment
  • Cost of computer downtime
  • Cost of employee and/or customer churn
  • Cost of poor ad performance

The list of possibilities goes on and on.

Regardless of your industry or your department, chances are that before you are authorized to make an investment, you are asked to demonstrate its expected ROI. How do you go about this? Do you find it easy to pull together the data to prove your case? Providing prospects with an easy way to calculate your product’s ROI is a high-value, high-impact method. Here are a few examples:

  • SilkRoad, a talent management company, offers an Onboarding ROI Calculator, which allows companies to calculate their annual investment in dollars in performance reviews. In the first months, SilkRoad achieved more than 250 new leads.

  • Harte Hanks, a marketing services organization, provides a market-intelligence calculator that tabulates the value of missed opportunities. This single calculator boasted a 51% click-through rate.

Ultimately your job as a content marketer is to first get your audience’s attention, and then to keep it. With average click rates of 50% and lead conversion rates of 40%, interactive content might be just what you need to boost your lead gen in 2015.

Want to interact with the Content Marketing Institute? Sign up today to receive the CMI’s daily email and receive exclusive content from CMI Founder Joe Pulizzi.

Cover image by Viktor Hanacek, picjumbo, via pixabay.com

Author: Julie Wingerter

Julie Wingerter works in strategic partnerships at SnapApp, which has an interactive content creation platform that enables B2B marketers to improve ROI by up to 50% across all their existing demand gen programs. You can follow her on Twitter @JWingerter.

Other posts by Julie Wingerter

Join Over 150,000 of your Peers!

Get daily articles and news delivered to your email inbox and get CMI’s exclusive e-book Launch Your Own Content Marketing Program FREE!

  • Shai Geoola

    Very well written article Julie. I had no idea about the history of infographics! Thanks for sharing. Cheers

    • JulieWingerter

      Thanks, Shai, I was even more surprised by the white paper’s history: I think of white papers as having been born in engineering departments. Apparently not!

    • JulieWingerter

      Thanks, Shai, I was equally surprised by the history of the white paper– I would have assumed it was born in an engineering department in the the 1960s!

  • Walter Smith

    Not too happy with DISQUS so far, wrote a long reply and “registering” obliterated it.

    The post was about the security of these white papers being interactive. The first thing which comes to mind is the ability for marketing to scan click throughs (not so bad), how long is spent on each page, mouse movements etc. Being new to Interactive White Paper’s, is there a standard “offline” mode which would give people the added sense of security they’re not being tracked with the usage if downloaded?

    – Walter

    • JulieWingerter

      Hi, Walter, I feel your pain– I had the same DISQUS experience yesterday– and I was already registered.

      As for white papers: often we see companies create an interactive (web page/ app) experience and a “downloadable” PDF. If someone did not want the interactive component, they would download the static version.

  • Terri Zora

    It’s true that content is becoming incredibly ubiquitous, and it’ll be interesting to see how effective content in the future is going to have to truly focus on quality instead of quantity.

    • JulieWingerter

      Agree 100%!

  • http://www.gopromotional.co.uk/ GoPromotional

    Very good information! Interactive infographics have been around for a while, but despite this they’re still massively underexploited due to the time and expertise involved in creating them.

    • JulieWingerter

      I agree that interactive infographics are under-used, but I think this this is due to the _perceived_ time and expertise required to create them. Actually, there are a handful of software platforms that make the creation of them relatively painless. The greater challenge, then (at least the one we face) is getting the word out that these platforms exist.

  • http://www.veritycontent.com/ Lisa D. Sparks

    Sooo … this is an ad for SnapApp? Really, CMI? I’d love to see some affordable platforms – or a richer range of options – for replicating the success those using interactive content. You’re losing credibility here. This is 100% promotional from SnapApp. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Just call it what it is, an advertorial.

    • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

      Hi Lisa,
      Point taken. Honestly, when the team reviewed this post we thought these were great examples. We did consider that the examples came from the author’s company, but we also disclosed this. This is certainly not meant to be an advertorial from any way. My apologies if this came across as such!

      • http://www.veritycontent.com/ Lisa D. Sparks

        OK. Do you have any posts that offer an array of interactive content options? When CMI came up in my google search results, I instantly clicked. I just want to get good, objective information about this subject. I’m doing my own research, but would love to have a quicker way to get at what I need and evaluate choices.

        • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

          Hi Lisa,

          We have not covered interactive content too much on the CMI blog. But, here are some posts from others that may help:

          http://www.inc.com/jayson-demers/interactive-content-marketing-a-glimpse-into-the-future-of-content-marketing.html

          http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/3-ways-to-create-amazing-interactive-content/

          http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/interactive-tools-examples/

          Ion Interactive also has some examples from their clients: http://www.ioninteractive.com/interactive-content-examples/

          If this does not answer your questions, let me know what they are, and we can do our best to cover them in a future post.

          I welcome others to add their examples as well!

          • Josh Haynam

            I’ll jump in here and add Interact (https://www.tryinteract.com) – disclaimer, my company.
            We offer interactive content tools with a free option as well as inexpensive paid options.

          • http://www.veritycontent.com/ Lisa D. Sparks

            Thanks, Josh. I came across your service through a google search a few days ago. I appreciate you sending this over. Best. – L

          • Josh Haynam

            You are very welcome!

          • http://www.veritycontent.com/ Lisa D. Sparks

            Thanks, Michelle. I checked out the articles. I’m looking for resources that are affordable and focused on serving small buisnesses.

          • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

            I will keep my eyes open for this and add it to our blog post ideas. Thanks for your input on this, Lisa.

          • Stan Chris

            Hi Michele.

            These are awesome posts on Interactive content. This is what I believe is the future of content marketing. Here is one more post I read on this: http://blog.netpeak.us/interactive-content-the-future-of-content-marketing/

        • JulieWingerter

          Hi, Lisa,

          There are dozens (hundreds?) of point solutions
          out there. In particular the quiz, contest and survey spaces offer a a
          variety of choices

          A few ways to think about solutions:

          1. Are you looking form something more brand or B2B?
          2. Channel (Social/ Facebook) versus comprehensive (website, blog, mobile)

          3. Content type: quiz, contest, assessment, survey, interactive whitepaper

          A few things to think about as you are considering solutions:

          1.
          Are you looking to produce just one piece of content (what type?) or
          something on going to add as a platform to your marketing stack?

          2.
          How important is branding/ customization–is an “out of the box”
          template suitable for your needs or do you want full brand control?
          3.
          Is integration with any other marketing platform important- including
          marketing automation, blogging platform, etc.? Do you care if something
          is pre- integrated or can you tap into your own developers to
          integrate?

          4. What’s the “goal” of your content (e.g., a
          survey built for lead gen feels very different than a survey built for
          market research)

          A few ideas:

          If you are looking for social channels (Facebook) you might look at Short stack or Votigo or Woobox or Offerpop

          If you are looking for surveys: Survey Monkey and Survey Gizmo. There is also Polldaddy

          If you are looking for “contests,” here is a thread from Quora that list dozens. It’s old, but has some recent comments http://www.quora.com/Who-are-the-largest-WildFire-competitors

          If you are looking for interactive whitepapers and calculators perhaps Visual.ly.

          Let me know if this helps, or if you have specific questions that I can try to answer.

          Julie

          • http://www.veritycontent.com/ Lisa D. Sparks

            Thanks, Julie. I have the strategy in the bag. I’m looking for a comprehensive list of affordable quiz and testing tools for my small biz.