How Brands Use Interactive Elements to Drive Engagement

By Hearst StoryStudio Jun 20, 2024

Recently, my family took a trip to Spain. While exploring things to do, I visited several travel sites, spending hours researching how best to spend our time. I noticed how the more interactive a site was, the more likely I was to consider adding the advertised activity to my itinerary.

This anecdote explains a larger truth in today’s digital marketing space: the importance of interactive content. The history of successful advertising is a continuum of technology that drives brand engagement. Interactivity is one of the latest such innovations and it’s working. According to a study by Gitnux, interactive content gets 4-5x more pageviews on average compared to static content.

Which makes sense. I was more likely to click through on a page that asked me what kind of traveler I was that then matched my preferences to cities and activities, than I was a static advert. Research backs this up. A study by Demand Gen Report showed interactive content was more effective at educating buyers than static content by 23 percent.

The Benefits of Interactivity in Sponsored Content

The goals of sponsored content are often specific to your brand but one overarching theme is clear: Effective sponsored content drives customer engagement with a brand. Interactivity transforms the one-way nature of a sponsored story into a participatory conversation that educates and entertains.

Forbes put it this way: “Properly utilized interactive marketing tools are all substance, with the right amount of flash too.”

Interactive content has unique advantages:

  • Enhanced User Engagement When users can interact with content, they are more likely to remember the message. This increased engagement leads to higher retention rates and a stronger connection with the brand.
  • Personalized Experience Personalization has been the great advancement of the digital age. Interactivity allows brands to deliver more relevant and meaningful messages. Personalization not only increases user satisfaction but also enhances the perceived value of the content.
  • Better Insights through Data Want to truly understand how your content is performing? Through interactive content, brands can gather data on how users engage with the content, what interests them, and what drives their decisions. These data are crucial for refining marketing strategies and creating more targeted and effective campaigns. Additionally, real-time feedback from interactive content helps brands make immediate adjustments to optimize performance and engagement.

Types of Interactive Content 

Interactive content presents in many forms. Quizzes, polls, interactive graphics, videos, maps, timelines, shoppable images, gamification — the sky is the limit. Experience has taught us that interactive content rewards thinking outside the box. Within each type of interactive element, the StoryStudio encourages customization. What good is a quiz if it’s not tailored to your brand? How informative is a map that doesn’t show you where you want to go?

There are a few indispensable jumping-off points to get the creative juices flowing. Elements like quizzes and polls allow for a brand to get to know their audience while offering a deep understanding of your brand in return. Brands looking to educate their customer base may choose interactive timelines of important events or an interactive map highlighting the locations of a proposed product trail or the must-dos of a potential vacation destination. If the goal is sales, then crafting interactive product catalogues, shoppable images or video may be the way to go.

Importantly, remember these elements should be fun, too. Gamification encourages engagement through memorable and repeatable interactivity mostly because it’s fun to play.

Four Brands Using Interactivity in Their Sponsored Content

At the StoryStudio, we’re experts at crafting engaging interactive content that gets results. Here are four unforgettable campaigns we’ve produced that showcase what’s possible.

Nemacolin

A recent campaign with Nemacolin, a top luxury resort in Pennsylvania, showcases the real life magic on offer at this destination. The story’s interactive element, the “How do you guest?” quiz, was designed with the resort’s wide range of activities and experiences in mind. Using light-hearted yet engaging questions, readers learn about the resort’s amenities while learning something about themselves.

Nemacolin Interactive Element

Chris Webber 

What’s the most effective way to brand a living legend? While working with NBA Hall-of-Famer Chris Webber, our creative strategists had to answer that question. Our custom site includes an interactive timeline highlighting what made Webber’s life and career so unique, allows readers to arrive at the conclusion themselves: that Webber’s story is one they want to know more about. Which is a perfect time to direct those interested to Webber’s debut memoir.

Interactive Elements

Austin Air Systems 

How safe is the air you breathe? That’s a question that necessitates an answer. It’s also the headline of our campaign for Austin Air Systems. The Branded Hub helps readers come away with a better understanding of the metrics of air quality, courtesy of a custom interactive infographic. Visually compelling and easy to navigate, the “Air Quality Index” imparts valuable knowledge relevant in one’s everyday life.

Copy of Wachusett RFP-1

Destination British Columbia 

At the beginning of this explainer, I wrote about researching for a recent trip. If only I’d had a resource like this interactive map for British Columbia. Not only is the map a tour in miniature of one of the most idyllic mountain destinations on North America’s West Coast, it serves as the basis for an itinerary and a guide all in one. Featuring must-dos in each highlighted location, the interactive map is an engaging introduction to the region.

Interactive Elements copy

Best practices for Interactive Content

Effective interactivity depends on seamless integration. If elements are clunky, generically written, or intrusive, your reader is less likely to interact. Readers should also have a clear why to engage in the first place with a definitive call to action. Finally, a great user experience is also key, including optimization for mobile devices.

As brands marketers, it’s our job to guide consumers toward pockets of utility, empowerment, and knowledge that help them in their journey. Where before this pursuit was one-way, interactive content transforms native advertising into a two-way conversation, resulting in more pageviews, more click-throughs, more engagement, and superior brand awareness.

As interactive content evolves, especially with the rise of interactive shoppable video and innovations on social media, our advertising can only become more relational.

 

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