Subscribe to The Marketing Scope Newsletter

Study Examines the Growth of Interactive Content

Study Examines the Growth of Interactive ContentNothing improves engagement like content that requires your audience to interact rather than simply read, hence the increasing popularity of interactive content in the content marketing world. Have businesses been taking advantage of this fairly new tactic, and if so, how? That’s what the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and ion interactive set out to uncover in their report, The Symphony of Connected Interactive Content Marketing. Check out some of the findings below.

How the Study Worked

CMI and ion interactive sent their survey to about 20,000 of CMI’s subscribers from organizations of different sizes. Some had just one employee, and some had hundreds or even more than 1,000. Before sending the survey, they made it clear that interactive content is useful content that facilitates two-way communication or exchange of information.

Some examples of interactive content include:

  • Quizzes
  • Calculators
  • Interactive infographics
  • Interactive eBooks
  • Interactive lookbooks

Once interactive content was defined, the subscribers who received the survey provided the following insight into the topic.

Who Uses Interactive Content, and Who Doesn’t?

About 46 percent of the survey respondents said they use interactive content. Of that 46 percent, 63 percent are in an enterprise firm, meaning they have at least 1,000 employees. Mid-level firms with 100 to 999 employees are less likely to use it, since just 37 percent said they do.

On the other hand, just over half (54 percent) of respondents said they do not use interactive content. Why? Here are the top reasons:

  • Lack of staff – 50 percent
  • Lack of budget – 39 percent
  • Lack of technical expertise – 37 percent
  • Not sure where to start – 33 percent

Clearly, more than half of companies are lacking a lot of things that are necessary for interactive content, or they’re just plain confused on where to start. But this survey shows that the interest is there. Only 9 percent are not convinced of the value of interactive content, while 2 percent don’t think it’s effective.

What would convince them to give interactive content a try? These answers might clear it up:

  • Tools to simplify the process – 52 percent
  • Tools to reduce the cost – 46 percent
  • Tools to shorten the timelines – 45 percent
  • Education on how to use it – 42 percent

So, the lesson is that if interactive content were cheaper, faster, and easier, more companies would try it out.

Why Use Interactive Content?

The survey respondents had many reasons for using interactive content, with engagement being at the top of the list. About 66 percent named that as their main reason, while 63 percent said they use interactive content to educate the audience.

Creating brand awareness is another top reason, since 58 percent said they use it in this way. About 57 percent use interactive content for lead generation, while 50 percent use it for conversion and 46 percent for social media/community engagement.

Now you know why many companies use interactive content. Here’s what they said about the specific benefits of this type of content:

  • 87 percent agreed that it gets the reader’s attention more than static content.
  • 77 percent said it can be reused a lot, leading to repeat readers.
  • 75 percent said non-gated interactive content offers a sample of the brand and nurtures leads.
  • 73 percent said that combining interactive content with other content marketing tactics increases message retention.
  • 68 percent said interactive content makes it easy to repurpose passive content.

With these benefits, it’s no wonder that 79 percent of survey respondents said they plan to increase their use of interactive content in 2017.

Most Popular Forms of Interactive Content

So, which types of interactive content are most commonly used among the companies responding to this survey? Interactive infographics top the list, with 52 percent using this type of content. Here are the top five forms of interactive content, in order from most to least popular:

  • Interactive infographics
  • Contests
  • Calculators
  • Quizzes
  • Assessments

Among the least popular are wizards and interactive lookbooks.

But popular doesn’t always equal effective. That’s why this survey also asked companies what their most effective forms of interactive content were. The top five are:

  • Contests
  • Calculators
  • Configurators
  • Assessments
  • Interactive infographics

In particular, respondents reported that contests and games are most effective at the early stage, during discovery. In the middle stage when education occurs, lookbooks, white papers, and interactive eBooks are best. And in the last stage, when the decision takes place, the most effective options are calculators, configurators, and wizards.

So, where do companies use this interactive content? The top four places are:

  • Landing pages – 60 percent
  • Blog posts – 54 percent
  • Social media – 54 percent
  • Microsites – 45 percent

The Takeaway

What can you conclude from this research? According to CMI and ion interactive, the following are some facts they derived from the survey:

  • It’s no longer just big companies using interactive content, since more small businesses than last year have been using it.
  • Companies are branching out into multiple types of interactive content, not just a couple, as many companies use four types on average.
  • Companies have found light content, such as quizzes and contests, to be nearly as effective as assessments and lookbooks.

You can find out more insights when you download The Symphony of Connected Interactive Content Marketing. Then fill us in on your thoughts on this. Are you using interactive content yet? Why or why not?