Consumers have grown weary of push content marketing; they are looking for experiences. Value and experience continue to trump price. Customers no longer pay heed to experiences which are not personalized to their individual needs. It’s more about customers now than ever before. Thus, it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that the approach towards content marketing needs to shift. The static, one-way communication doesn’t engage people, let alone getting them to share their information. As marketers, we need to make our campaigns more personalized, humane, and customer focused. It’s like what you do on your first date. You talk and get to know about the other person rather than just blabbering about yourself. It’s time we initiate a dialogue with the consumers rather than just feeding them with information.
The need of the hour is to revisit your content strategies and introduce dimensions of interactivity and interaction. Let’s look at three content dimensions you can introduce in your strategy to make it more futuristic and customer-centric.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
The global Augmented Reality (AR) market is expected to reach USD 117.40 Billion by 2022 while the global Virtual Reality (VR) market is expected to reach USD 33.90 Billion by the same time (Source). However, these technologies are no more the domains of just gamers or technology enthusiasts. AR/VR are gaining a foothold across industries as a device as ubiquitous as the smartphone, according to a Goldman Sachs Virtual Reality research report. What’s more? Even consumers have started realizing the power of these technologies. According to Greenlight Insights 62% of consumers say they would feel more engaged with a brand that sponsors a VR experience and 71% of consumers think a brand is forward-thinking if it uses virtual or augmented reality. Keeping this in view, it becomes imperative for marketers to invest in AR/VR campaigns that can engage consumers.
Using AR/VR as a part of your marketing strategies gives your brand the opportunity to captivate consumers through immersive experiences (remember Pokemon Go?). This not only helps in creating brand awareness and explain product/service offerings vividly but also gives them the first movers advantage because a relatively small number of companies are doing this. Thus, customers are more likely to remember the campaigns, improving retention rates. In fact, some businesses have already jumped on the bandwagon and launched effective and memorable AR/VR campaigns.
Marriott hotels created a VR teleporter, which is touted as the most ambitious project thus far. The machine used to sound, video, and sensation to transport users to different destinations. From a beach hotel in Maui to a ski resort in Armenia, consumers could visit every location using the Oculus Rift headsets and feel everything. Even Coca-Cola created a VR experience for its consumers during Christmas using Oculus Rift. The VR sleigh ride let thousands of people be Santa Claus for a day.
Speaking of holiday campaigns, Starbucks came up with special Xmas cups back in 2011 that came to life through augmented reality. People had to download an exclusive AR app and point their phone cameras towards the red cup to see animations involving five characters — an ice skater, a squirrel, a boy and a dog sledding and a fox. This was the first major AR campaign by the company and got them a lot of desired attention.
Inspired enough? Here are a few things you can do to get started – build a VR app, create a 360 degree video, create an AR/VR game (of course you can’t forget the insane success of Pokemon Go), or go the New York Times way and use branded Google Cardboard to enhance customer experience.
It’d be wrong to say that the concept of interactive content is still a novice. Back in 2013, New York Times did a dialect quiz, and guess what, it became their most popular content piece for the year! Just a heads up – this was the year when Obama was elected for his second term and Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation. Back to the present, we’ve Buzzfeed, which proves the love of internet users for online quizzes. 96% users finish a Buzzfeed quiz they start. Now that’s some number!
Marketers have also started embracing the trend and including interactive content as a part of their marketing strategy. According to a recent Content Marketing Institute survey, 81% marketers feel that interactive content grabs more attention, while 79% believe that it results in repeated visitors and multiple exposures.
Source – Content Marketing Institute
However, the use of quizzes and calculators for lead generation is still in its early days. While marketers are creating more and more interactive content, they’re missing out on the point of optimizing it for lead generation. Here are a couple of things you can use to generate more leads through interactive content marketing –
- Ask the Right Questions – Questions form the framework of interactive content pieces like calculators and quizzes. These are the points of engagement for the consumers. If you don’t ask the right questions or ask too many questions, you might lose the user’s interest. It is best to keep the question count under 8. In case you need to ask more questions, you can divide them into sections. Use images and GIFs wherever possible to captivate attention and provide a visual break. Keep the questions short and sweet and the language easy to understand. Above all, try to be relevant. Don’t ask questions that don’t make sense or won’t add value.
- Add an Optimized Lead Form – A quiz or calculator without a lead generation form is good for nothing. Add a form at the end of the quiz/calculator – before or after the results – depending on the goal of your quiz/calculator. For instance, if your aim to promote a giveaway or offer something to download, you can choose to show the results and then ask for the email of the users for the giveaway. However, if your aim is to use the interactive piece to simply get more leads, feel free to add a form to the results. But keep the form short; don’t add too many fields or ask for information that you won’t use.
- Sharing is Caring – Add social sharing buttons to your interactive content piece. These can come on the results page. Design the results in a fun way, with quirky copy and interesting images, so that people are encouraged to share them on their network. Don’t forget to include a link back to the quiz in the sharing text. This will not only get you more exposure but also will generate more leads.
Once you’ve got your content optimized for generating leads, you can start seeing results. Take the case of Venturepact, a SaaS firm, that generated more than 11K leads using a mobile app cost calculator. Within 2 weeks of launching, the calculator boosted their traffic by 15% and increased conversion rate by 28%.
As discussed earlier, consumers prefer brands that create moments and experiences to engage in versus products to sell. And if these experiences have an individualized touch or include the users themselves, the impact gets magnified. User-generated content (UGC) gives your brand the opportunity to connect with consumers on a personal level and results in a better customer experience. Your customers become your brand advocates and thus give you the chance to tap into an unexplored territory of the audience. What’s more – UGC improves social reach and helps build SEO value, which in turn gets you more leads.
Take Burberry’s example. In the year 2009, they launched an Art of Trench website where users could upload and comment on pictures of people wearing Burberry products. This initiative leads to a 50% year-over-year increase in Burberry’s e-commerce sales.
And this isn’t the lone example. In its immensely popular Pepsi Max vs. Coke Zero campaign, PepsiCo received over 7,000 entries and the was visited over 50,000 times. The level of participation was impressive as the average time on site per visitor was about six minutes!
Video Link – https://youtu.be/Ux8BskWTrAw
As easy as it may look, UGC campaigns can be a little tricky. Here are a few things you must keep in mind –
- Build anticipation around the campaign to get as many entries. Flood your social channels with a flood of content every day. These regular updates spark conversations that influence your consumers and their peers to take part in the campaign. Having a dedicated UGC contest page or a branded hashtag is also a good idea.
- Focus on interactive content forms such as videos and picture galleries. While text submissions may also work, these content forms can make your campaign look rich and vivid. It also increases the chances of participation.
- Give your users support tools and more than one way to upload content. The easier it is to submit a story, the more submissions you’re likely to get. In fact, this can give you up to 10X boost in submissions.
If the content is the lifeblood of your marketing campaign, interactivity is its soul. It won’t be wrong to assume that if you’re still stuck to using static content forms, the growth of your business can get stagnant.
How do you add the ‘interactivity’ element in your content marketing campaigns? Let us know in the comments section below.