Interactive content is one of the hottest trends in B2B marketing.

Interactive websites, videos and infographics generate about twice the engagement and conversions as static content, according to estimates from Demand Gen Report and other industry observers. Creative agency MediaFly says that its customers who employ interactive content see a greater than 90% lift in content views.

And marketers are totally bought in. Semrush recently reported that about 14% of marketing budgets overall are devoted to interactive content, and spending is only expected to increase in coming years.

But, as all smart B2B marketers know, every hot new trend comes with a few caveats. Much of the hype surrounding interactive content comes from B2C, where terms like “engagement” and “conversions” have a different meaning. B2B is a different animal – you’re not selling $90 sneakers.

B2B buyers are demanding. They enjoy being entertained as much as the next customer, but ultimately they expect to be educated and informed about how your solution stands out – not just what makes it “cool.”

To put all the buzz in a little more context, only about half B2B buyers say that interactive content is useful when helping them learn about a purchase. That’s in step or even a little behind more traditional forms of content.

So, what best practices can B2B marketers follow to ensure that they are optimizing their investment in interactive content?

Engaging with the Right Audience for Interactive Content

Perhaps the most important thing to remember about interactive content is that it is, in fact, a significant investment. A great interactive video is going to cost a lot more than 2x the price of a cornerstone blog post. This reality puts stats like “twice the conversions” in context, particularly in the ROI-driven world B2B marketers live in.

So, you need to design interactive content experiences that:

  • Attract and engage the right audiences
  • Provide useful, actionable information
  • Connect with prospects at appropriate stages of their customer journey

All while building your own understanding about customers’ wants and needs.

Where do you start?

Know Your Most Profitable Audience

Gather business intelligence from all internal sources – Sales, Marketing and Product teams – to identify issues that resonate with your most valuable prospects. Direct feedback from loyal current customers is invaluable, if you can get it. Remember, engaging with interactive content is an investment of the users’ time, as well. Make that investment pay off, and your relationship will grow.

Of course, your topic selection should map closely to your Buying Group and purchase journey models. Again, this isn’t B2C. The conversions your interactive content generates should represent a meaningful step toward closed business, not just buzz for your brand. As with all B2B marketing, outbound and other active promotion of your interactive content should be based on Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs) and precise audience segmentation that leads to revenue opportunities.

Use Intent to Refine Your Interactive Content Plan

First-hand research on the best topics is great, but don’t forget that there’s a whole world of potential customers that you haven’t met. Be sure to work with your demand generation partner to include intent data as a guiding principle of your content planning.

Intent, when mapped to your ICPs, enables you to zero in on topics with the most appeal for your desired audience segment. This should increase the likelihood of your content ranking high in search results, as well as attract enthusiastic users who are likely to share your content to their peer networks.

Keep the UX Simple

Interactive content experiences can include a lot of information – here at Bython, our team has helped develop entire microsites in support of our customer’s demand generation strategies. But unlike a standard site with a completely open-ended navigation, these sites have clear, purpose-driven content flows that make it easy for the user to engage with the exact content you’ve invited them to see.

Be sure that navigation is clean, easy to read and central to the page. Any confusion is an invitation to abandon your interactive experience. And, particularly for content aimed at the C-suite or other purchase ratifiers, remember that the coolest, edgiest UX may well just come off as annoying. Clean and simple is the best bet.

Personalize the Experience with Useful Content

Ensure that every prospect who visits your interactive content gets something useful out of the experience. (Of course, this should be limited to the ICPs in your Buying Group model – you can’t please everybody.)

Use conditional logic to route users to the detailed information that most interests them and to the purchase journey stages that users self-identify with their interactions. Self-evaluations are a great way to keep users engaged in deep-dive content that might be a little stale or overwhelming when presented in a static format.

And above all else, be sure the content you offer is useful to them – no hard sells.

Learn About Your Prospects as They Learn About Your Topic

Quick quizzes and calculators are a great way to grab users’ attention. For B2B audiences, more in-depth evaluation tools, such as this epaper our team built for cloud infrastructure company, Softchoice, offer high value in exchange for their time and transparency in sharing info about their business challenges.

At the end of the assessment, the site provides a recommendation and the opportunity to request a detailed consultation.

Depending on the nature of your solution, ROI or staffing calculators can also be a big winner.

As your prospect is getting useful information about their purchase decision, you are gathering business intelligence about the accounts and individuals who are actively in-market for what you are selling.

Show A LOT While You Tell

Your interactive content should be highly visual. Study after study shows that users retain more information when they consume via visual means, such as images, infographics and particularly video. In fact, 92 percent of all marketers say they see a positive ROI on video, which is not cheap to produce.

Again, B2B is a bit of a different animal, and at some point an engaged purchase researcher is going to want to dig into product specs. But use images and motion to get their attention, particularly at the high funnel.

Make It Mobile

This may seem like a no-brainer, but some marketers get so caught up in all the bells and whistles that they forget to optimize their interactive content for mobile devices. If you are relying heavily on email to promote your content, this is a particularly self-defeating mistake, since about half of all email opens are now on mobile devices.

Use clean, simple layouts and be sure to optimize large images, like infographics, and video for delivery on slower data networks. And be sure that any conversion forms are clean and easy to complete on a touchscreen.

Develop Meaningful KPIs to Find Your ROI

As with any B2B demand generation strategy, identifying the ROI on interactive content can be a little complicated. Brand awareness is part of demand gen, afterall, but most B2B marketers want interactive content to drive conversions and really push the conversion forward.

Here are a few of the key metrics you should consider when evaluating your investment in interactive content, particularly when comparing it to traditional content such as blogs and whitepapers.

  • Time on Page
  • Bounce Rate
  • Click-through Rate
  • Session Length / Landing
  • Events (GA Version, etc.)
  • Shares
  • Conversion Rate
  • Feedback / Sentiment Analysis

How you weigh these are up to you. Most marketers will focus on conversions, of course, but there’s real value in getting direct feedback from prospects who’re engaged enough to complete a full self-evaluation.

Stay Consistent With Cost-Effective Content Production

Like all marketing assets, interactive content should be integrated into an overall campaign strategy – you want to offer a self-evaluation or microsite at exactly the right time in an ongoing conversation. That means creating a consistent flow of high-quality, useful content that addresses the specific needs of your ICPs and Buying Groups.

And that can get really expensive. In fact, lack of resources and specialized skills is often cited as one of the major factors that can undermine interactive content performance. No matter how flashy the delivery vehicle, if content is not useful and personalized, it’s not going to drive engagement

Many B2B marketers choose to outsource interactive content production to strategic partners. Our team here at Bython develops interactive infographics, microsites and ebooks for our customers that fit seamlessly into their overall campaign objectives. This is a key benefit for B2B marketers who are looking for highly targeted revenue opportunities, not just nifty content delivery.

Quality Interactive Content Is the Key

Interactive content is a hot trend in B2B content marketing, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. B2B marketers should stay focused on the basics of demand generation – audience, quality content, and personalization – to drive meaningful engagement and conversions that result in real revenue opportunities.

More posts you may find useful.