So the many-headed marketing hydra grows another head: apps. It’s not exactly a new idea, but it’s definitely starting to draw more eyeballs.
The rationale behind interactive marketing apps is sound – marketing is, increasingly, less about communicating and more about experiencing. Content like e-books, infographics, and even videos may still be consumed, but remain one-sided.
Because these lack the key ingredient that drives engagement: interactivity.
However, multiple choice quizzes and content gamification aren’t all these apps are meant for. If we’re going to embrace apps for marketing, there’s no reason we shouldn’t take that concept to the content that drives it. A classic example is the white paper.
One piece, several purposes
Efforts have been made at producing ‘interactive’ white papers – that is, customized based on interest areas that are captured by gating. While this does deliver just the right things the prospect wants to see, it’s missing at least one big opportunity: leveraging value exchange.
At the core of interactivity is this: people are motivated to engage when they can get instant feedback, and when that feedback is valuable. With an app as the delivery platform, widgets that provide such features could be embedded into long-form content.
For instance, show people how they compare against others, or against the industry standard – that’s always a strong draw. Place benchmarking surveys alongside relevant sectionsin a white paper, and let readers see how what they just read fits into their business’s context.
This turns a white paper into an educational piece, a point of reference, and a lead generator all in one. And that’s just one example.
A similar concept can be imported into infographics. Turn them into interactive maps, so users can pick their own way through data blocks (by answering questions, or choosing paths). They’ll have control, and they’ll see only what they find relevant; both encourage engagement.
Using interactivity properly
These and other cases may paint apps as a magic remedy of sorts, but they’re not without their pitfalls. Aside from the cost and effort involved in creating white papers with mini-surveys, ‘chart your own course’ infographics, and more, there’s also the risk of overdoing it.
While a lot of content is created with personas in mind, just as much is created for mass distribution and demand generation. In the latter, too much focus on a single element can make readers feel like they are being ‘rail-roaded’. This triggers their “this is not for me” response, and hinders engagement.
‘Aesthetic’ interactivity should also be avoided, or at least clearly labeled, where possible. It’s natural for people to expect value from interactive elements, and one that fails to provide any is likely to be disregarded as mere fluff.
Above all, interaction must have a mission, whether that’s capturing leads, or growing demand, or something else.
Quality over quantity
There’s no denying it. User interaction tips the scales. It’s not about rolling out more content – even if that content is highly relevant and compelling. Make the content experience as engaging as possible.
We introduce interactivity to give prospects a better experience, and thus connect better with them. If content – the backbone of any marketing activity – is not part of this equation, we’re not fully realizing the potential of this new wave.
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