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:
What is interactive marketing?
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 and polls 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: While calculators 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:
Why we like it:
- 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?
Why we like it:
- 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 with Eko, 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.
Why we like it:
- 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. Using Vimeo 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 in video 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.
Why we like it:
- 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 like Ali 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.
6. Conversational Marketing | HubSpot
Why we like it:
- 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 own conversational 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.
8. Interactive Infographic | Family Fun in Scottsdale by Marriott
Why we like it:
- 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 using lemonly.com, Marriott pushes the envelope just a step further, which provides unexpected delight.
Why we like it:
- 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.
10. Interactive Slide Show | The New Media Message by Velocity Partners
Why we like it:
- 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.
Why we like it:
- 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.
12. Immersive Video | Scotland From the Sky by BBC Scotland
Why we like it:
- This 360-degree video nails the art of showing rather than telling.
- Using Scotland’s immersive landscapes as the backdrop, the viewer is made to feel like they are exploring Glen Coe with the filmmaker.
- The video’s like this are so visually stunning that they can encourage visitors to share the link with others, boosting engagement.
In 2019, Rough Guides, a renowned travel guidebook, named Scotland the most beautiful country in the world.
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
14. Interactive Voice Ad on Pandora | Doritos
Why we like it:
- 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.
15. Interactive Idea Generation | Outgrow
Why we like it:
- 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.