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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. Share on X

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. Share on X


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.


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).


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. Share on X

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