Content marketing is huge. In the post-penalty world, all marketers are rushing to create remarkable blog posts, amazing infographics, killer videos and stellar webinars. All are aimed at attracting and engaging their target audiences and pleasing the search engines. But if everyone is creating the same type of content, how do you stand out? How do you earn more links? How do you make a piece of content truly useful?
Differentiating yourself is one way to stay ahead of the competition. Creating a different type of content will help you cut through noise and triumph over your competitors. Enter interactive content.
Its a type of content that requires a users action, input or a response to generate a result, activate and/or tell a story. The most common types are self-assessment tools, calculators and automated diagnostics.
Although they require more resources and time to develop, when completed, they are the ultimate evergreen link earners.
Self-Assessments, Calculators and Quizzes
Self-assessments and quizzes vary from business applications to solely for entertainment purposes. In this category you'll often find quizzes that provide an assessment of everything from your marketing practices to insurance cost calculators. On the other side of the spectrum, for the entertainment value, Buzzfeed has it mastered with interactive quizzes that tell you what city you should live in or what Game of Thrones character you are.
A staple of many online services, such as SEO firms and SaaS providers, automated diagnostics tools automate an assessment of an entity — usually a website — and provide a score. Hubspot has a tool that provides you with a Marketing Grade and specific recommendations for improving your website. Meltwater has a Likealyzer tool that evaluates your Facebook Page and provides you with a feedback and recommendations based on your Facebook presence. Another very useful tool is the Headline analyzer. Just enter your headline and after you hit submit you'll be presented with score and feedback on the quality of your headline.
These are mini-sites or mini-guides that can be found either on separate domains or exist as a part of a larger website. The microsites are often topic specific, and are complimentary to or an extension of the main brand or the parent company. What makes Interactive Microsites unique is that they are focused on guiding a reader through a narrative, whether its a story or a how-to guide. Check out Google's Inside Search portal. Google created a nice Interactive Microsite that explains how search works from beginning to end. Here's another great example of an interactive How-to guide by Shutterfly. It's an easy to use guide on how-to take perfect photos every time. All you need to do is pick your camera and what photo type you'd like to learn about.
Everyone talks about data these days. Big data, small data, economic data, marketing data – you name it, there's a data visualization. Some companies are using their data to create interactive content to help their audience understand it better. Just take a look at LinkedIn's Education tools that allow users to visualize the data on where a specific school's Alumni have landed, their top skills and what they studied. Because this tool connects to continuously updated data, the findings and stats will shift over time as well.
But you don't have to be a multi-million dollar company or have millions of users to create visualizations from your data. There are many tools and applications online for you to help you make your data beautiful. Take a look at what Story Maps does. It allows anyone to use maps and other data to create a story with interactive elements. For inspiration and possibilities check out the gallery.
Can't think of a blog title, a business name or baby name? There's an app for that. Idea generators are just that. You input a few parameters and a generator will produce a few ideas for you. Hubspot has a Blog Title Generator and so does Portent. There are also business name generators, plot generators, web domain name generators and someone even built a baby name generator.
Interactive content is one of the best ways to create a richer user experience on your site, earn links, increase visitor stay times and reduce bounce rates. But it takes a significant amount of time and resources to plan, create, launch and support. However, when complete, the benefits are more than worth the initial time and resources investment.