If you’ve never developed interactive content before, it can be a bit daunting to know where to start. At Ceros, we’ve found the best way to begin on a new interactive project is to brainstorm some ideas, evaluate whether those ideas are a good fit for interactive, and define our goals for the project up front.
We’ll dig into each of these steps individually in this article.
Ideation: Honing in on Your Story
Every content piece, whether it’s a static PDF or an interactive experience, begins with a story. The types of stories your brand tells will depend on a lot of factors: your industry, audience, brand mission, and intended distribution channels are just a few.
Here are a few questions you can ask to discover new stories and frame existing ideas:
- Is this story about my brand, my users, my industry, or something else?
- Who am I writing this story for? What do they care about?
- Is this story educational or entertaining (e.g. valuable)?
- Has this story already been told by my competitors or other industry publishers? If so, how can I take a unique approach?
- Is this story factual or fictional? If factual, how can I breathe personality into it? If fictional, how can I present my ideas in a relatable way?
Evaluation: Determining Whether a Story Should Be Interactive
Now that you have your story idea nailed down, the next step is to determine whether that story is a good fit for an interactive presentation.
Important Note: Not all stories are a good fit for an interactive treatment. Dont worry! There are lots of other formats you can use to communicate with your audience.
Again, asking yourself a few key questions can help you discern whether a particular story will work as an interactive experience. Here are a few we usually ask:
- Can this story be broken up into sections and smaller, bite-sized nuggets of information?
- Does this story lend itself to a visual treatment?
- Is it easier to show some of the story with graphics, animations, or videos rather than tell it with words?
- Does this story have multiple layers of narrative (a main storyline with additional details or a story told from multiple perspectives)?
- Is this a non-linear story that viewers can consume in any order?
- Does the narrative branch off in different directions depending on the viewer’s preference or selections?
- Does shareability matter to me, or is this story being delivered to a select group of people?
- Do you plan to serialize your story when you publish it?
- Do you want your story to live in multiple different locations online (e.g. a blog, website, landing page, sponsored post)?
If your answer is ‘yes’ to a few of these questions, an interactive format is probably a good bet. If not, then you’re likely better off using a more traditional long-form content type like a PDF or static web page. You can always ask your Customer Success Manager for advice if you need a second opinion.
Goal Setting: Outlining Your Objectives
All right, now that you’ve determined your story lends itself to an interactive treatment, it’s time to define your goals for the project. Here at Ceros, we use a creative briefing process at the start of every project. This helps us nail down what the objectives and requirements for each piece are so we can make sure our creative execution delivers on those goals.
A few of the key questions we use to help us hone in on our goals are as follows:
Why are we doing this?
On every project we do here at Ceros, we always start with the ‘why’. Having a clear purpose will help you create content that drives real results for your business.
In broad strokes, our clients tend to create interactive content for three core reasons: brand awareness & engagement, lead generation/nurture, and customer education.
For our interactive eBook, 5 Ways to Increase Brand Engagement, our “why” was to develop a top-of-funnel piece of content we could use to drive leads and educate prospects on a topic relevant to our area of expertise (interactive storytelling).
We also had a secondary goal to create a piece that really showcased the power of the Ceros platform as a storytelling medium. With these objectives as our guiding light, we were able to gut check our content creation process and reset when we went down a creative path that didn’t align with those objectives.
How are we going to distribute and use this content?
Once you figure out why you’re creating a specific piece of interactive content, you can then come up with a distribution plan that will help you be successful in reaching your goals. This distribution plan should include channels, frequency, and a thoughtful flow if lead gen or nurture is involved. This will also help you assess what other assets you’ll need to create to promote your interactive Experience.
For the Brand Engagement eBook mentioned above, we had the following distribution plan in place:
- Run a teaser post on the Ceros blog.
- Promote across organic social channels (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest).
- Run paid social campaigns on Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Promote in our weekly newsletter series for email subscribers.
- Use in lead nurture flows for top-of-funnel prospects with a content marketing or brand marketing title.
Based on this distribution plan, we knew we needed to create images for the blog, social sharing, social ads, email, and a landing page where we could capture information from interested readers.
What results do we want to drive from this piece?
Even if your goals are on the more esoteric brand awareness side, you can still put some concrete benchmarks in place to assess your content’s performance. This ensures that when your content goes live, you have targets to shoot for and benchmark your progress against over time.
For the Brand Engagement eBook, here are a few benchmarks we put in place to assess our thinking:
- Generate over 200 new contacts from the piece.
- Drive an average view time of 4 minutes.
- Drive an average 10% CTR from the Ceros call-to-action within the piece.
- Include in at least 10 newsletters to drive ongoing traffic to the piece.
- Use in at least 3 lead nurture workflows to leverage the content in multiple ways.
- Run at least 3 ad variants for the piece on both Twitter and LinkedIn.
We drove an average view time of 3 minutes 47 seconds, which is pretty close to our 4-minute benchmark. Your results will look different depending on the nature of your content and your underlying “why”, but this at least gives you an idea of the kinds of results you can estimate at the start of the project.