The content formats we rely on today have an uncanny resemblance to the content formats we relied on yesterday — our blog posts look like print articles, our offers look like books, and our slide decks look like presentations. While these formats are fine for the most part, marketers can take their content from “fine” to “exceptional” by using interactive marketing.
Interactive marketing gives marketers a huge opportunity to engage audiences at record levels. Its early adopters have proven that if marketers want to cut through the noise, they can’t just do what they’ve always been doing. They need to refresh their work.
But obviously, you can’t properly use interactive marketing if you don’t know what it is — so here’s everything you need to know about interactive marketing broken down into easy-to-navigate sections:
Interactive marketing is a tactic that uses engaging visuals or videos to get your audience to engage with your content. This form of marketing captures your audience’s attention, delights them, and creatively presents your product or service.
Common Types of Interactive Marketing Strategies
Interactive videos: Using video is a great way to explain a topic or entertain viewers. Savvy marketers have found new ways to engage viewers by adding CTAs in videos prompting them to subscribe or participate in the conversation in real time. Some videos allow viewers to answer questions by clicking a set of multiple choice answers right on the screen. Other formats immerse the viewer in beautiful landscapes — a technique that’s becoming more popular as the use of 360-degree video becomes more prevalent.
Quizzes, surveys, and polls: Quizzes andpolls are a fun way to get visitors to interact with your site — and you can create them for just about any topic. Buzzfeed has excelled in this area, but it’s not uncommon to see them used for travel, home search, and interior design sites. They are popular tools for social media marketing as well.
Personalized content: From addressing customers by name in email to curating specific ads targeted at their individual needs, adding a personal touch gives the impression that you are speaking directly to them. Ever abandoned an item in your cart and received an email reminder about it later? That’s personalized marketing at work.
Interactive storytelling: Keeping readers engaged with a long-form article can be difficult — that’s why interactive storytelling can be a powerful resource for marketers. Uses infographics, gifs, video, clickable maps, charts, and other visual aids to help break up text and keep readers from getting burnt-out or bored.
Calculators: Whilecalculators don’t sound super interesting, they are incredibly useful for organizations that want to showcase data. Looking for a home? You’ve probably used a mortgage calculator to get a ballpark estimate of your monthly payment.
Benefits of Interactive Marketing
Interactive marketing offers several advantages, including:
Boosted Conversion Rates
Interactive marketing gives potential customers the chance to make a purchase immediately. For example, including a call-to-action at points of purchases is a common, effective interactive marketing tactic. I’m sure you’ve seen buttons during digital ads that say “purchase now” or different points on a website that include an “add to cart” button.
Increased Audience Engagement
Delighting your audience is the key to engaging it — that’s why tactics like online quizzes, personalized content, and interactive videos are so helpful. It gives audiences a unique experience that makes interacting with your business fun. If your audience is having fun, they’re more likely to stay loyal to and potentially evangelize your company.
You can easily and quickly gauge how your audience feels about your company through tactics like quizzes and polls. Is your website easily navigable? Do your products meet expectations? Are there any areas that need improvement? With interactive marketing, you can better connect to your audience and allow their voices to be heard so you can see what works and what doesn’t.
Interactive Marketing Examples
Capturing attention sounds great in theory, but you may be unsure of how to incorporate interactive marketing into your strategy. To get some great ideas, learn from some of these great examples of interactive marketing:
The band’s website gives fans the opportunity to create music and art that the band will use for future projects, such as music videos, social media campaigns, and more.
The website also includes an informal message from its lead singer explaining how the landing page is made to resemble his own desktop — giving fans a little insight into the mind of the singer and fostering a more personal connection.
England-based band Glass Animals took a fresh approach to its website’s landing page by making it appear like a computer desktop from the 90s/early 2000s. The website’s appearance entices visitors to click on different icons.
The band’s singer, Dave Bailey, also left a message to fans saying to “Dig around. Use the sounds, use the artwork … ” and to email the band anything they’ve made so it can be used in a special project. Clicking on the folder that says “Cherry stems” reveals sound files visitors can use to create their own music or projects.
There’s even an icon that says “MEME-IT” that allows users to generate their own memes of the band. The website provides a fun experience for visitors and gets fans involved in the band’s creative process. The website’s landing page almost feels like a game, and who doesn’t love games?
The feature allows visitors to Lancome’s Instagram page to virtually “try on” some of the brand’s products before purchasing, giving them the opportunity to purchase with more confidence.
The feature is easy to use and visitors can simply swipe through different shades the same way they would swipe through different filters on the app.
Online shopping is popular among many consumers and has only gotten more popular since the start of the pandemic. However, one of the downsides of online shopping is that customers aren’t always able to try on a purchase before buying.
Makeup company Lancome addresses this issue on its Instagram page by providing filters of different makeup shades users can access through their phone’s cameras. This allows customers to see how a shade would look on their face before deciding to buy.
3. Interactive Series | Sweet Digs by Eko and Refinery29
Why we like it:
This series gets viewers directly involved with the show by having them choose furniture or answer questions in real time.
Additionally, it builds on Refinery29’s already successful content
If you’ve ever watched a house hunting or interior design show and either found yourself talking to the TV or gawking at the owner’s decor choices, Refinery29’s Sweet Digs is for you. It partnered withEko, a platform known for creating interactive shows, to bring viewers inside the coolest and quirkiest homes — with a twist.
Instead of merely being a voyeur, viewers are prompted to interact with homeowners and renters. From recommending how they should redecorate to guessing how much certain furniture items cost, viewers can get in on the action. Even more satisfying, you’ll get to see if they chose the items you suggested at the end. It’s HGTV on steroids.
The best part is Refinery29 didn’t need to create a new marketing idea from scratch. Instead, it took a concept that already did well and improved upon it, using Eko’s interactive tools. This new content gives viewers a sense of agency over the content they’re consuming while also leveling up engagement.
Adding details like a studio playlist helped Y7 patrons create the studio atmosphere at home.
Creating an online community not only helped the studio stay afloat, it provided patrons a sense of normalcy in uncertain times.
The experience is user-friendly and easy to navigate thanks to small details like a video QR code.
Pandemic restrictions shuttered many businesses that required in-person interaction, like gyms and fitness studios. Those that survived adapted their offerings for the virtual market. But let’s face it — working out at home just isn’t the same as getting a boutique fitness experience.
Trendy Yoga studio Y7, rose to the occasion. UsingVimeo OTT, the brand known for its candlelit classes and trap soundtrack moved instruction for all 15 studios online. It then kicked the online experience up a notch by helping its students create the studio vibe at home, complete with an invideo QR code to access the class playlist.
All the little details paid off. These improvements in virtual teaching kept students coming back for more, enabling Y7 to stay in business and retain its loyal fanbase.
The visuals and diagrams dissecting Wong’s routine are like taking a class on performance and creative writing at the same time.
It leaves the audience with a deeper understanding of not only how Wong crafts her routine, but also allows them to connect with her in an empathetic way.
The diagram is easy-to-understand and gives fans a better understanding of the artistry behind comedy.
Stand-up comedians might seem like the lucky wisecrackers who are blessed with the talent to improvise some of the funniest jokes and bits you’ve ever heard, but in reality, they polish their performance with painstaking precision.
To crack their audiences up as much as possible, they make sure their routines’ stories seamlessly flow from one to the other. However, some comedians likeAli Wong take their stand-up preparation to an entirely different level.
In its interactive slideshow about how Ali Wong structured her Netflix special Baby Cobra, The Pudding, a digital publication that crafts visual essays about culture and entertainment, describes how she sculpts her routine into a narrative instead of just telling a bunch of separate jokes.
By visually outlining her entire routine, The Pudding reveals how Ali Wong weaved all her bits into a story, building her world and perception of life in a way that her audience can truly understand, which left them with a deeper feeling of empathy, meaning, and ultimately humor.
The chatbot’s prompts allow users to customize their own experience on the site, ensuring that they quickly get the information they are looking for.
Since the user is dictating their experience on the site, it eliminates any sales pressure, providing a better overall user experience.
Most people are already familiar with chats, text messages, and direct messaging in their daily life, so the chatbot feature is easy for visitors to adapt to.
We rely on messaging apps to interact with friends and family, so it only makes sense that brands should incorporate them for communication to reduce friction in the buying journey. Despite this, marketers have been sluggish to adopt conversational marketing — using chatbots, live chat, Facebook Messenger, and other chat features — into their inbound marketing strategies.
In fact,according to Business 2 Community, only 36% of companies have adopted these tactics. At HubSpot, we hope to change that by offering new messaging tools that can integrate with your entire marketing suite and database.
We double down on this idea by using our ownconversational marketing software on our homepage. Website visitors are asked a question and given several choices of potential answers. This allows the prospect to engage in website content almost like a “choose your own adventure” story. This improves the overall site experience and ensures that the site is serving up the content (or actions) that will benefit them the most… without any sales pressure.
7. A Personal Thank You with Vidyard | Amnesty International Canada
Why we like it:
Giving donors a visual representation of how their donation aided Amnesty International’s various causes builds trust and establishes a personal connection.
Donors will most-likely share the video with friends and family, which could lead to an increase in donations.
In social settings, getting too personal too quickly is intrusive. However, when it comes to marketing, getting a little personal can go a long way in building brand loyalty.
Take this carefully crafted thank you video created by Amnesty International Canada using Vidyard’s platform. Personalized videos like the one above were sent to all of the organization’s donors. After reviewing their metrics, the organization reported higher donor satisfaction and retention from the use of these videos.
Sending a thank you card or email is nice, but adding a personal touch in the form of a video really won their donors over. When customers are happy with your product or service, they will inevitably share it with their network, providing you with valuable word of mouth promotion and credibility.
This interactive ad is a fun take on vacation planning.
The clickable flowchart acts as a tool to help viewers customize their vacation activities to the parameters they set (e.g., interests, age)
Marriott Hotels manages to make vacation planning even more fun while positioning their brand in front of potential customers with an interactive infographic. Vacationers who are headed to Scottsdale are able to take a customized path through the flowchart to receive destination advice. Just a little bit of animation goes a long way, and it adds a touch of personalization that normal infographics don’t.
The beauty of this is that infographics are a great visual tool that have a ton of utility. By usinglemonly.com, Marriott pushes the envelope just a step further, which provides unexpected delight.
By having an audio conference instead of a traditional virtual one, Wistia freed up their audience to attend whenever was convenient for them (while running errands, at the gym, etc).
Visitors could attend any session in whatever order they liked instead of being forced into a rigid schedule, making the event more accessible.
By now we’re all used to virtual events, but meeting and video fatigue is real. How do you keep guests engaged? By mixing it up. That’s what Buffer and Wistia set out to do when they created the first ever audio conference for brand builders.
That’s right, no staring at the screen or being stuck at a desk. The audio format allowed listeners to join in from wherever they were, be it during their commute or while taking an afternoon stroll by connecting to a podcast player.
Each session ranged in length from roughly 25-35 minutes, and gave listeners the option to “choose their own adventure” by simply selecting the sessions they wanted to attend. This reduced friction as listeners were free to attend only the sessions relevant to their interests instead of committing several hours of their time.
This slideshow beautifully illustrates the importance of showing rather than telling audiences why they should care about a particular topic.
The build-up from the basic slides walks us through the progression of how using more interactive and attention grabbing graphics changes the audience’s experience in real time.
In its interactive slideshow, which honestly looks like it belongs in Tron, Velocity Partners, a B2B marketing agency, explains why innovative marketers need to leverage new content formats in order to tell more refreshing stories.
Velocity Partners shows, not tells, how their interactive slideshow can captivate an audience. This is in stark contrast to how marketers have churned out so many blog posts, ebooks, and SlideShares that they’ve become dull and predictable. The end result of this message hammers home the point that the most engaging and surprising mediums are the best at delivering the most engaging and surprising stories.
Ceros’ take on a visual representation of the article instead of traditional text is fresh, and immediately draws readers in.
Bucking the norms of article structure, readers can quickly toggle to the information they want to know first, rather than having it dictated to them.
When Rob Gronkowski temporarily retired in 2019, Ceros, an experiential content creation platform, decided to create an interactive article that spotlights the two things Gronk will always be remembered for — his athletic prowess and goofy attitude.
When you visit the interactive article, you can toggle between Gronk’s “Warrior” and “Goofball” side, clicking on hotspots that reveal his impressive achievements, his laundry list of injuries, and some of the funniest things he’s ever done. Once you finish interacting with the article, you’ll truly understand how Rob Gronkowski is just as athletic as he is goofy.
And a big reason why it’s such a spectacle is that Glen Coe, a Scottish valley that cuts through the ruins of an ancient supervolcano, is one of the most striking landscapes in the world.
With their immersive, 360-degree video of Glen Coe, BBC Scotland can grip viewers because they’re able to experience the landscape from an intimate point of view at every possible angle, making them feel like they’re actually there.
13. Playable Video Game Ad | Narcos: Cartel Wars
Why we like it:
The ability for people to go from just viewing the game to participating in it is a great way to draw them in.
Allowing potential customers to play the game before buying eliminates sales pressure and puts the customer in control of their experience.
In the past, video game apps had to use video or gif demos to advertise gameplay in hopes to attract new players and increase app downloads. The thing about watching videos, though, is that it’s a passive activity. The visuals of the game may be enough to attract prospective players’ attention, but it may fall short of giving them enough inertia to actually engage and play.
FTX Games found their way around this by partnering with Glispa for their game Narcos: Cartel Wars. Prospects are immediately drawn into the action of the game with the ability to try it before buying it. Rockets and explosions abound for a few rounds before the demo prompts the player to install the app and continue their game.
The good news is that this type of functionality is about to become much more mainstream with Facebook offering playable video ads on their platform. Much like the Cartel Wars example, these playable ads are composed of:
A short video preview
A playable demo to get people hooked on the gameplay
A call-to-action to get the users to take the next step
Doritos found a creative way to take the audience from passive to active listeners, complete with crunching chip sounds to get folks salivating.
The ad serves up questions to the audience and then uses AI to tailor their experience based on their answers.
Pandora for Brands has recently begun testing a new interactive ad functionality on their platform that allows users to verbally engage with the ad. Doritos is one of the first brands utilizing this new interactive format on Pandora.
The audio uses the distinctive Doritos crunch and then prompts the user to answer a yes or no question. Using artificial intelligence, the ad can then serve up a personalized experience based on how the listener answered.
This is exciting for the same reason as the playable video game ads are: They disrupt passive listening in an attempt to get the listener to engage and actually process the information being conveyed to them. Plus, by being able to respond hands-free, there is less friction in order to learn more.
The idea generator allows any marketer to input their industry and business website and automatically get ideas for different types of interactive content.
The results page shows personalized content and tools for specific industries, audiences, and positions in the conversion funnel.
In the past, idea generation required more generic statements or long calls because we could not easily personalize ideas and use cases for each customer at scale. The advantage of an idea generator is that it shows any marketer personalized sets of ideas for how they can use and better leverage your product or service immediately after they input a few data points.
Depending on the industry, audience, and position in the funnel, Outgrow will create a list of tools and content to help convert and attract website visitors. Depending on the need, it will suggest different quizzes, calculators, and chatbots to help engage traffic and provide more lead generation.
Applying Interactive Marketing to Your Campaigns
The campaigns in this article should give you a few takeaways to apply to your own marketing. As you create great content, you should also be thinking about:
How to disrupt expectation to earn attention, engagement, and interest
How to best personalize the experience for each individual prospect
How to reduce friction as much as possible to increase momentum
By putting concepts like these in action, you’ll be in a position to generate buzz, make your content stickier, enhance the experience, and fuel your flywheel.
This article was originally posted April 3, 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
These are the engines you want to give extra consideration if you intend to expand internationally. They all have their own unique search algorithms that are in many ways as complex and developed as Google’s.
Why they matter and how to rank on them
If you’re like me a few years ago, a die-hard Apple fan remarkably repulsed by Microsoft’s products (I’ve now converted to the seamless team of PC), you might think prioritizing resources to optimize content for Bing or other engines is a waste of time. What I failed to consider then, and what you might be overlooking, is geographic segmentation.
Do you want to reach the American audience using voice search? Consider Bing.
Are you expanding into China? Check out Baidu.
Each search engine matters because of its unique user types. Regardless of how small that market share might look on a global scale, if there’s regional search volume from your target audience, it’s worth the optimization.
Bing Search, in combination with Yahoo, is without a doubt the strongest player after Google. Together, they have more than 10% of the global market share for desktop.
Now, some say that Bing’s market share will increase due to mergers and acquisitions, while others argue for its decline due to the death of Internet Explorer.
Still, all Microsoft browsers, such as Microsoft Edge Legacy and Chromium-based Microsoft Edge, have Bing as the default search engine, making Bing Search the natural choice for Microsoft product users. Yahoo, which is powered by Bing Search, is the default search engine for Mozilla’s browser Firefox, adding billions of impressions to Bing’s search results each year.
Although the algorithms differ, optimizing for Bing search results is not much different than optimizing for Google. With a bit of fine tuning, it’s more than possible to come up with a strategy that allows for high rankings on both.
To rank on Bing, and thus Yahoo, make sure to do the following:
1. List your business on Bing Places
Bing Places is the equivalent of Google My Business and is the fastest way to get your business ranking for local seo. Many even consider Bing Places to favor small business owners as Bing puts their information more prominently on display.
2. Upload an XML Sitemap using Bing’s Webmaster Tools
While the debate on how much sitemaps really do matter for Google SEO continues, uploading one with Bing’s Webmaster Tool for XML Sitemaps allows the algorithm to better categorize and manage your content, making it more visible and relevant to the search audience.
3. Match keywords in your content
Check that the exact keyword match can be found in your page titles, meta descriptions and overall content. It’s known that the impact of on-page tactics as a ranking factor is much greater in Bing than Google.
4. Keep your social media profiles up to date
Go social! Bing considers your social media presence more than any other search engine. The Webmaster Guidelines specifically states that Bing considers social signals from third-party platforms to rank your content. Bing might even extract certain information directly from your Facebook company page to your Bing Places display.
5. Use high-quality images to enhance your content
Bing’s image search is much more advanced than Google’s. If you want your landing page to rank, add high-quality design assets to showcase your offerings. If you want your blog to rank, attach too-long-to-read infographics to highlight your points. Like the one above.
While it looks a lot like Google, its algorithm is different in many ways. Most prominent is the way Yandex indexes pages. Unlike Google’s almost continuous indexation, Yandex indexes pages sporadically. That means that you might have to wait around for a while before your site shows up on Yandex.
Despite this, it is still possible to rank on Yandex. You just need to have a bit more patience.
While waiting for your site to be indexed, take a look at the following:
1. Focus on tags over internal site structure
According to The Ultimate Guide to Yandex SEO, your header tag, title tag and slug are way more important than your internal site structure. In fact, it was only recently that Yandex started to support hreflang tags. Before that, Yandex only allowed the <head> hreflang implementation.
2. Consider search intent to rank
Some argue that Yandex meets search intent better than Google. The modern ICS score, which replaced the Thematic Index Citation, is determined by how relevant a site is to the query. Yandex uses its own version of expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T) test to determine relevance.
3. Eliminate toxic links
Many do not know this, but Yandex was actually the first search engine to roll out a link-based algorithm. Already in 2005, 7 years before Google’s Penguin algorithm, Yandex introduced the Nepot filter, which specifically looked at the impact of toxic link exchanges and spam links.
While the site is available worldwide, the site predominantly favors simplified Chinese. So before taking any other steps, hire a native speaker to help you along the way. To win at global, you have to ditch translations.
Here’s a few steps to get your content ranking.
1. Localize your keywords and content appropriately
As with all multilingual SEO, you need to work with a native language expert to ensure proper keyword localization and content optimization. If your site experiences high bounce rates, Baidu will tank your rankings immediately. As with any search experience, localization matters.
2. Position relevant content and keywords to the top of the page
Baidu favors a completely opposite layout than the Westernized one. The sooner you get to the point the better. Therefore, it is important to position your keywords as early as possible in the text and introduce all relevant content already in the top of the page to rank.
3. Obtain a verification level and get certified
By registering and paying a small fee you can obtain a verification level to improve your domain authority and rankings on Baidu. If you want to secure top ratings, you can get certified and obtain an ICP license, which is much more difficult than getting verified.
Top alternative search engines by data privacy
While most of the search engines mentioned above are tied to big corporations or political forces, global initiatives are setting the stage for more privacy-focused search engines. Among these is DuckDuckGo, the forefront runner with over 130 billion searches processed since launch.
Why they matter and how to rank on them
In many ways, the movement is a response to Google’s invasiveness on privacy. Many are fed up with how they are capitalizing on personal data and controlling the narrative with targeted search.
Consequently, this attracts tech-savvy experts with a lower bounce rate. Once they commit to a search, they stay.
Here’s how to optimize for it:
1. Sharpen Your User Experience
UX continues to make an impact on SEO, not to mention for DuckDuckGo. Make your content easily scannable and stay away from intrusive pop ups that harm your users’ experience and ease of navigation.
2. Focus on High-Quality Backlinks
As with any SEO, high-quality backlinks play a huge role for ranking. If you already have a solid backlink profile from your Google strategy, you should be good to go. If your backlink profile has a high level of toxicity, do some cleansing.
3. Rethink Local SEO
Since there’s no location tracking available for searches, location-specific searches such as “services near me” don’t work. If you like to rank for these types of searches, include a specific location in your keyword strategy. Otherwise, you won’t be able to optimize for local seo.
Startpage could be my personal favorite among the alternative search engines. It basically is Google without the tracking.
And while many consider DuckDuckGo to be the forefront runner of the privacy-focused search movement, many forget how Startpage ‘blazed the trail in 2006’. Offering a search experience without IP recording or tracking back when it was more or less unheard of. Now, it is the common denominator among all privacy-safe search engines.
So, how do you rank in Startpage? Simple. You rank in Google.
There are many more privacy-safe alternatives to search engines than the two mentioned above. Perhaps one without equal is SwissCows – a search engine that prides itself on being the only family-friendly, privacy-safe semantic search engine available on the web.
This means that any intrusive search results, like adult entertainment or offensive content, is naturally censored from the search results. At the same time, they never store any data nor track user specific information.
SwissCows SERPs bring up organic results and paid ads directly from Bing so in order to rank in SwissCows, you need to rank in Bing. Just make sure to omit any content that’s not PG-13.
What do they all have in common?
In the end, none of these alternative search engines can replace Google. As an SEO, I’ll never advise starting out with anything other than a Google strategy.
But when you are ready to branch out and extend your reach, give these alternatives a try. Analyze where your target audience hangs out and optimize thereafter.
Many of the privacy-focused search engines require little optimization as they pull their search results directly from other sources anyways. Simply do a quick check to see how you rank on each one.
And who knows, perhaps Microsoft will continue to steal more of the global search landscape. If that happens, you’ll be there — ranking in first position, ready to reap the rewards of your diversified efforts in an ever-changing search landscape.
For your team, screen recorders can be used for several reasons — from creating tutorials for your website to recording a recurring tech issue to sending your marketing team a quick note instead of an email.
Looking ahead to 2023 and beyond, businesses worldwide face lots of uncertainty.
One thing will remain constant throughout this period — customers expect excellent experiences when interacting with a brand. According to Acquia’s latest CX Report, businesses plan to prioritize customer retention over the next 12 months: 56% plan to improve customer experience, and 58% will focus more on customer service.
This should be a common goal. To weather a potential storm, businesses must keep customers by meeting and exceeding customer expectations.
Cynthia Ramsaran is director of custom content at Third Door Media, publishers of Search Engine Land and MarTech. A multi-channel storyteller with over two decades of editorial/content marketing experience, Cynthia’s expertise spans the marketing, technology, finance, manufacturing and gaming industries. She was a writer/producer for CNBC.com and produced thought leadership for KPMG. Cynthia hails from Queens, NY and earned her Bachelor’s and MBA from St. John’s University.