In 2019, content marketers were enjoying bigger budgets, more expertise, and more success…
But here’s a question: are you resting on your laurels, or looking for ways to keep innovating with interactive content? Interactive marketing agency Easypromos offer this advice:
According to research from CMI, around half of marketers use interactive content – but a new study from HubSpot shows that only 8% think interactive content is a priority. In this article, we’re going to look at why interactive content matters (spoiler: it’s all about personalization and data collection) and how to make it work for your brand. Creating interactive content is easier, and more effective, than you think.
Interactive content can take on many different forms, from choose-your-own adventure stories and videos to responsive quizzes, surveys, product advisors, dynamic web pages, and even games. But before you dive into the design stages, let’s take a step back and ask: Why does interactive content matter?
Why interactive content matters
We know that other, more passive forms of content marketing can be effective, such as reading blog posts or watch ing videos. So why go to the trouble of making your content interactive? Does it really make a difference?
First – and most fundamentally – the internet is a social place. Five of the top most visited websites in 2019 are social networks, while the other top sites (such as Wikipedia, Amazon and IMDB) all have internal communities with the power to collaborate and create together. It’s clear that people are seeking out and enjoying interactive experiences online.
There’s also evidence that interactive content may be more memorable. People have to pay more attention when they’re asked to make decisions or take actions. And the effect of heightened attention, plus actively taking part in an experience, may help people form stronger memories about your marketing message.
Let’s take an example. Remember when Buzzfeed-style quizzes became all the rage a few years back? Brands quickly got in on the act, using quizzes to educate consumers and offer product recommendations that would stick in people’s minds.
According to Buzzfeed editors at the time, they borrowed the original idea from glossy magazines. Quizzes were a form of interactive content that people already enjoyed using – and marketers could create easily.
But now, things have moved on. Mobile users dominate the internet, and interactive content has shifted toward augmented reality, choose-your-own-adventure narratives, and quick games. So, just like with the quiz craze, brands need to tap into forms of interactive content that consumers already love.
Some brands have actually been in tune with this trend for a while. Back in 2000, Taco Bell gave away a free platform game as a floppy disk with kids’ meals.
However, not every brand can afford to develop a game on that scale. In order to give people what they want, marketers need to find a new equivalent of the “Buzzfeed quiz”: a simple, customizable, web-based template for interactive games.
And the new generation of interactive content requires one more key feature: the ability to collect zero-party data.
The challenges of zero-party data
We’re just starting to understand the power of personalized content – while at the same time, consumers and legislators are becoming more protective of personal information. New laws, such as the European GDPR or the California Consumer Privacy Act, have the potential to restrict tracking and third-party data collection.
Instead, brand and marketers need to focus on zero-party data (also sometimes called first party data). The concept is simple: instead of filtering data through social networks, ad services, or dubious data sellers, brands get their information directly from the customer.
Active, opt-in consent
It’s now much more difficult for brands and marketers to collect data without telling consumers about it. When brands collect zero party data, they have to explain to customers what they’re collecting, how, and why. And they have to get active, opt-in consent.
So we still need data – but we need new, transparent methods to obtain it.
When we talk to brands, we hear the same 4 questions again and again:
How do I incentivize people to share zero-party data?
How do I make zero-party data cost-effective?
What’s my legal exposure when I collect zero-party data?
How do I target interactive content for the right people?
We believe that the solution to all those obstacles is interactive content in the form of quick games. Mobile games combine three essential elements: interactivity (including the capacity for personalization), incentives, and easy data collection. Let’s take those 4 challenges – and their solutions – one by one.
1. How do I incentivize people to share zero-party data?
With a mobile game promotion, you can offer three obvious incentives :
Spending time with friends
The thrill of competition
A commercial incentive such as a discount or free gift
A reason to share data
You’re giving people plenty of reasons to sign up and share their data with you. They don’t just get a commercial reward – which, as we already know, is an effective motivator – but they’ll have fun in the process, too.
Friends play together, recommend games to others, and even make new connections. So when you create your own mobile games, there’s also an opportunity to collect social proof, recruit new leads through existing customers, and harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing.
2. How do I make zero-party data cost-effective?
As we monitor interactive content strategies from brands, we’ve noticed an interesting trend towards classic games.
Many brands are turning to old-fashioned puzzles, paper games, and card games – rendered in a virtual world. This is because video games, platform games and even arcade games can be expensive and tricky to create.
Popular game renaissance
On the other hand, roulette wheels, puzzles, and find-the-hidden-object are all popular, accessible formats which are currently having an online renaissance. They’re a simple solution for both creators and consumers.
Why? Because they’re easy to build out from a standard template, and everyone knows how to play.
Some brands have started sharing photo-based games on social media – while others are embracing mini-game apps, which include registration forms for secure, zero-party data.
These apps and microsites usually stand on their own, as a space that’s owned, operated and administered by the brand itself. When you control the space, you control the data.
3. What’s my legal exposure when I collect zero-party data?
As we’ve discussed, collecting zero-party data through interactive marketing is a creative solution that works for both brands and consumers. But it needs to be underpinned by a solid legal foundation.
The GDPR, for example, has a very high standard for consent to data collection: “… freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous…”
The trick is to give people the information they need, without intruding on the experience of interactive content. That includes:
Terms and conditions about the use of your minigame: These can be shared unobtrusively as a short link or menu item within an app or on a landing page.
Email opt-ins: If you invite people to subscribe to your email list, you must collect explicit consent, and offer a clear path to unsubscribe later on.
4. How do I target interactive content for the right people?
The key point about interactive content is that, to some extent, it targets itself. People are led down different paths depending on their actions; and, based on the data you collect, you can decide which leads are worth following up and how.
So targeting interactive content is a virtuous circle: the more you interact with targeted audiences, the more targeting data you accumulate, and so on.
Broad initial audienece
However, you can’t rely on content to do all the work for you. When you first share an interactive content campaign, you’ll need to find a broad initial audience. And there are plenty of ways to reach that audience. Some ways are obvious, others less so.
Distribution channels: Use segmented email campaigns to reach existing customers. Organic and paid social media will help you reach a mix of old and new followers. Use QR codes in print and OOH advertizing for a truly broad impact.
Design: Don’t underestimate the importance of your content design for targeting. Does your campaign make you look aspirational, exclusive and competitive, or affordable, accessible and inclusive? People will judge your content on appearances, which means that your content audience is partly self-selecting.
Gameplay experience: Similar to design, the experience of interacting with your content will also help people to self-select. Do they feel that the content is made for them? Is it too difficult, or too easy? Do they recognize the game from childhood, or are they looking for new experiences?
Incentives: As we’ve mentioned, the prize or reward for an online promotion is the strongest motivator for consumers. Choose a prize which will be valued by your core target audience, but leave less relevant consumers cold.
Interactive content makes it possible for brands to build a new kind of relationship with customers: one which prioritizes fun, personal recommendations, and time spent together over simple views and likes.
That relationship relies on zero-party data – which, in turn, relies on consumer trust, clear data policies, and intelligent audience targeting. And, while many brands are looking to trim budgets, it requires marketers to be more creative and innovative than ever before. Are you up to the challenge?