By Lisa Murton Beets published June 7, 2017

Interactive Content Fuels Customer Experiences [Research]

symphony-connected-interactive-content-marketingThink about the last time you took an online assessment or used a web-based calculator. You were probably engaged and learned something useful. It was an “experience,” right?

According to Content Marketing Institute’s latest research, nearly half (46%) of marketers surveyed are using interactive content. Their top reason for doing so? Engagement – followed by educating the audience, creating brand awareness, and lead generation.

Here are some other key findings from CMI’s white paper, The Symphony of Connected Interactive Content Marketing, sponsored by ion interactive. The paper presents the results of a survey CMI conducted in January and February 2017. We conducted the same survey in 2016, so the paper explores how some things have changed over the last year and includes guidance for using interactive content for content marketing purposes.

Engagement is the No. 1 reason marketers are using interactive content, says @CMIContent research. Click To Tweet

More marketers beginning to use interactive content

More than half of the respondents (55%) report that they’ve been using interactive content for fewer than three years (versus 47% last year), indicating more new entrants in the survey. These newer users indicate that 13% of the total content they produce, on average, is interactive.

The longer a company has been producing interactive content, the more likely it is to produce more: Those with three or more years of doing so say that interactive content on average comprises 24% of the total content they produce.

Furthermore, the use of interactive content will continue to rise: 79% of those that use it say they plan to increase their use in the next 12 months (last year, 75% said they anticipated an increase).

79% of marketers plan to use more interactive content in next year, says @CMIContent research. Click To Tweet

anticipated-change-interactive-content-use

What types of interactive content are they using?

The most-used type of interactive content is infographics (52%), which also displays the highest growth in usage (18%) over the last year. Interactive infographics were followed by contests (which rated as the most effective type), calculators, quizzes, and assessments.

types-interactive-content

We also asked respondents to rate the effectiveness of content types at different stages of the buyer’s journey:

  • Games (77%) were rated most effective in the early stage (awareness/discovery).
  • Interactive e-books (54%) were rated most effective in the middle stage (consideration).
  • Configurators and wizards (tied at 33%) were rated most effective in the late stage (decision).

stage-buyers-journey-interactive-content-most-effective

According to Robert Rose, CMI’s chief strategy adviser, who authored the white paper, “It was interesting to note that marketers found ‘lighter’ interactive content experiences, such as games and contests, almost as effective – if not more effective – than more intensive experiences, such as assessments and lookbooks. This suggests that if marketers spend time connecting a more holistic platform rather than producing one-off or ‘big-bang’ projects, they will see more success.”

Interactive content like contests is almost or more effective than assessments, says @Robert_Rose. Click To Tweet

More time and budget might encourage use by non-users

Like last year, when we asked non-users why they don’t use interactive content, the most-cited reason, by far, is lack of staff/bandwidth (50%). Lack of budget comes in second at 39%. When we asked about motivating factors that might encourage them to use interactive content, the top three reasons are:

  • Tools to simplify the process (52%)
  • Tools to reduce the cost (46%)
  • Tools to shorten the timelines (45%)

Creativity and unique approach are key

“It’s only going to get more crowded with interactive content out there,” Robert writes in the white paper. “If you’re a large business, know that smaller businesses can and will start to provide these experiences, too. If you’re a small business, know that you can compete with some of your larger competitors. However, the only way you will succeed is by creating an interesting experience that could only come from you – not by copying someone else.”

Read the white paper for additional guidance based on the findings, and to see more survey results, including:

  • Perceived benefits of interactive content by those who use it
  • Places where they use it
  • Metrics they use to measure success

Are you using interactive content? If so, how’s it going? If not, why? Let us know in the comments.

To glean more insight from this and other CMI original research, visit our custom research page.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Lisa Murton Beets

Lisa Murton Beets is Content Marketing Institute's research director. She oversees all aspects of our annual content marketing survey, as well as the reports we publish based on the findings. Lisa also works with CMI’s consulting/advisory and sales teams to develop and report on custom research surveys. Follow her @LisaBeets.

Other posts by Lisa Murton Beets

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  • Will Schmidt

    Great read! Curious what some examples of these interactive pieces look like – can you link any of them here? Thanks!

    • http://www.jbh.co.uk/blog Aran Jackson

      Hi Will. I’ve got some I can send. Anything in particular you’d like to see?

      • Will Schmidt

        I’d love to see a calculator, wizard, and configurator if you’ve got em. Thanks!

        • http://www.jbh.co.uk/blog Aran Jackson

          Will, ion have this covered – check ’em out

    • http://www.brandlovellc.wordpress.com/ Lisa Dougherty

      Hi Will! Here’s a few examples in this post if you would like to check it out: http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2016/05/interative-content-good-bad/. Thank for your comment. Cheers, Lisa

      • Will Schmidt

        Thank you!

    • http://www.websuccessagency.com Stephanie

      Hi Will. ion interactive, who partnered with CMI on this report has several interactive content pieces on their website. You can see customer examples here: https://www.ioninteractive.com/interactive-content-customer-examples

      You can access the specific content types that you are looking for from there as well. Let me know if you have any questions. 🙂

      • Will Schmidt

        Thank you very much!

      • http://www.jbh.co.uk/blog Aran Jackson

        Top stuff, you guys at ion are producing great experiences.

        • http://www.websuccessagency.com Stephanie

          Thanks, Aran! I just browsed your interactive stuff on your site as well! Looks great. Really love the interactivity in your infographics! Followed you on Twitter and bookmarked your blog. 🙂

  • http://www.jbh.co.uk/blog Aran Jackson

    It’s worth noting how much of an impact interactive content can have on SEO too. These tools can be created around certain keywords that you’re looking to increase rank in and when they’re really shareworthy they can be excellent for link-building activities.

    • Lisa Murton Beets

      Thanks for the insight, Aran!

      • http://www.jbh.co.uk/blog Aran Jackson

        No problem, Lisa. Thank you for shedding light on such a great tactic.