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A Detailed Guide to Using Interactive Content in Your Email Marketing Campaigns

We love email (shocker).

Naturally, we stay up to date on the most effective methods that are currently being used in the email marketing world. And when it comes to tactics, there are occasionally trends that come along that can help you easily stand out from your competition.

Interactive content is one of those trends. If you’ve been focused on running and growing your business, you might not have even heard of it. Lots of posts have mentioned the importance and growing popularity of interactive content, and in this guide, we’re going to show you everything you need to know.

Let’s get started.

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First, What is Interactive Content? 

We’ll go technical definition and then break it down. Here’s the definition according to the folks over at SnapApp:

Interactive Content: Content that requires the participants’ active engagement — more than simply reading or watching. In return for that engagement, participants receive real-time, hyper-relevant results they care about.

Everyone knows the benefits and basic premise around content marketing. In the marketing world, when everyone knows about an effective strategy, said strategy begins to lose its effectiveness.

In a prescient post back in 2014, marketing strategist Mark Shaefer wrote:

Look at the two factors that impact the economics of content marketing — the amount of content available and the amount of content consumed (supply and demand).

Of course the volume of free content is exploding at a ridiculous rate. Depending on what study you read, the amount of available web-based content (the supply) is doubling every 9 to 24 months. Unimaginable, really.

However, our ability to consume that content (the demand) is finite. There are only so many hours in a day and even if we consume content while we eat, work and drive, there is a theoretical and inviolable limit to consumption, which we are now approaching.

This oversaturation of content creates the need to take things beyond content that’s merely useful.

That’s where interactive content comes in.

Arguably, the single-best way to engage your leads and email list is to invite them to talk back. You provide something for them to interact with, they give you their input, and you react accordingly.

Some of the biggest names in digital marketing are now creating interactive content, including Neil Patel, Justin Brooke, John McIntyre, and others. Interactive content is also being used in some bad ways. Let’s go over a few of the better examples and see what we can learn.

We’ll organize them into beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

Beginner Level: Simple and Effective

Using interactive content doesn’t have to be an intricate affair to begin with. There are several ways that you can get valuable intel from your list, while allowing them to engage with your brand.

A few of these ways include:

Surveys: These definitely aren’t new, but still not used regularly. In fact, many brands take a survey about as often as a census. Putting out a few questions to new subs (and your entire list periodically) will give you a living snapshot of your business.

Quizzes: While you might think quizzes aren’t a valid use of your time and effort, don’t write it off too soon. The key is to get them to interact. A poll about your business may not interest them and they can smell the corporate on it. A game of trivia about their expertise may just get them to play ball on your court.

Here are a couple of recommended quiz building tools:

Bonus Case Study: How Startups Can Generate Leads for as Little as $.05 with LeadQuizzes

These surveys and quizzes don’t just generate leads; you can use people’s answers to create personalized drip campaigns and follow-up sequences. They’re also fairly easy to set up.

For an even easier solution, you can use Trigger Links in Drip to build a one-click survey on your website.

Here’s the one-click survey Eric Siu from Single Grain uses to quiz his subscribers, right after the opt in.

interactive content image

Of course, you can also add Trigger Links in emails, too. When you learn more about your subscribers, you can create a true “Choose Your Own Adventure” email course that’s tailored to your prospect’s exact situation.

Instead of offering one lead magnet to all of your website visitors, try letting people customize an email course based on their interests. According to Experian, personalized emails deliver 6x higher conversion rates, even though 70% of companies fail to use them.

One-click surveys are an easy way to gain an edge immediately.

Intermediate: Tools and Try-Outs

Now we’ll take a brief look at the middle of the road level of interactive content. We call it that due to the effort that it will take. In order to stand out in the world of email marketing, you have to up your game.

Here’s a look at how.

Tools

What kind of custom tool can you create to prove the benefit of your product or service? Answer this question and you could have an interactive way to move your audience down the sales funnel and grow your list rapidly.

Retirement planners often have calculators to help prospects learn where they stand financially.

While you can certainly hire a developer on Upwork to build you a variety of tools, let’s keep it simple and talk about calculators. In business especially, ROI calculators are a great way to anchor your prices against the value you provide.

Online Courses Example: Ramit Sethi has a course that teaches students how to create products online. To demonstrate the power of adding a second or even third product, he created an online business math calculator. This shows people the power of creating multiple, tiered income streams within one niche, rather than sticking with one $17 ebook. Obviously, this helps people justify the cost of his course.

Coaching and Consulting Example: John McIntyre helps retailers set up email campaigns that convert. To show companies how much revenue they’re leaving on the table without an effective email marketing strategy, John created an Email Marketing ROI Calculator. This calculator not only generates consulting leads; it pre-sells businesses on the value of John’s services before they ever speak to him.

Key Tip: Create interactive content for the purpose of showing your ideal buyers how your product or service can make them money, save them money, or improve their life in some quantifiable way.

“Show, Don’t Tell” Content (SaaS Specific)

If you have a product (SaaS or otherwise) you have demos and webinars. You have sales pitches, freemium versions, and maybe even a trial offer.

These things are all awesome.

But what do your customers really love? There’s likely one feature or tactic that really makes your product “click” for users. Growth expert Andy Johns calls this the magic moment. If you want an interactive content idea, take that one thing and allow your email subscribers to play with it.

Example: Here at Drip, we noticed that folks love building automation rules. That’s why we added an interactive Easter egg on page 17 of our whitepaper, 10 Questions You Must Ask Before Choosing Marketing Automation Software, that demonstrates the power of automation rules right in the subscriber’s inbox.

secret rule

When you click the above link, you get taken to a secret page. If you’re a cookied subscriber in Drip, visiting this page will then trigger an email to your inbox, which walks you through the exact automation rule we used to set this up in Drip.

Demonstration is especially persuasive in SaaS, because you show prospects what they could be doing in their business — if they sign up for your software.

If a lead came to your list for the right reason, they want to know what you can offer. Show them how your tool works. You can use a page visit trigger in Drip to send campaigns based on the features people are evaluating on your website. Why not give them a 3-4 minute interactive demo of a feature 5 minutes after they visit a relevant page on your website?

Advanced: Not for the Faint of Heart

While we’ve gone over easy ways to create interactive content for your list, there are always companies that want to change the game.

Creating next-level interactive content will require a sizeable budget, for sure. We’ll discuss two real-world company examples to get your creative juices flowing.

Example One: Hasbro “Save Your Token”

You’ve played Monopoly, right? It’s the game that your uncle takes way too seriously.

For some reason, Hasbro noticed people were playing Monopoly less and less. Sales were flat or down for several years.

That is, until Hasbro decided to get rid of one of the iconic tokens (e.g. top hat). To build massive buzz for the classic game, the company launched the “Save Your Token” campaign, which required the public to vote to help their favorite token make the cut.

Save Your Token
Image: Hasbro

To replace the fallen game piece, new tokens were being introduced and voted on as well. Genius.

Instead of just announcing new pieces and hoping for press, Hasbro went straight to the fans of the game. The Save Your Token campaign was a cultural hit and even garnered the attention of big brands like Duracell and Zappos.

Key Takeaway: When your brand is doing a big push or change, take it to your list in an unorthodox way and get their input. Consider using Thunderclap.It to maximize your reach and customer input.

Example Two: Disney World “March Magic”

One of the best ways to use interactive content (or any marketing method) is to get people talking about your brand without trying to sell them at all.

Disney Parks pulled this off by creating the “March Magic” contest in 2014. Instead of basketball teams, the contestants were different attractions from the Disney World and Disneyland parks.

Subscribers and social media fans were encouraged to choose from their favorites to advance the attractions down the bracket similar to the NCAA tournament.

Disney March Magic
Image: Disney

No discounts were offered directly for participating. However, their email list and social reach improved drastically due to shares and email forwards. The campaign was such a success, they’ve continued it every year and it just grows in popularity.

This type of interactive campaign isn’t just for Fortune 500 companies, either.

In July 2016, CopyHackers and Inbound teamed up to launch the Email Copywriting Challenge. This added thousands of email subscribers to the CopyHackers list and rallied the Inbound community of marketers to write (and vote for) email copy. It’s amazing how much engagement you can get when you encourage people to vote and share their opinion.

Takeaway: Do you have a blog? Consider letting your email list vote on upcoming blog topics. Or if you’re launching a product with bonuses, let your email list vote on which bonus they would prefer the most. You can take this a step further and tag everyone in Drip who votes for each product, so you can follow up with.

Where Do You Go From Here?

Interactive content is a rapidly growing marketing method. In many niches, you can be one of the first to build an epic ROI calculator, one-click survey funnel, or lead generation quiz that gets $0.05 leads. As with all marketing approaches, it’s dramatically easier to gain traction with a first-mover advantage.

If you’re not currently using any form of interactive content, two things are important to take away.

First, start using interactive content. Second, start small. Giving your subscribers something that’s slightly different than 1,000-word blog posts can do wonders for your list building and conversion, so it’s important to not get paralyzed by choice. Here are a few more great reads to further your education:

Experience “Content Land: An Interactive Quest” [Infographic] (via SnapApp)

Where Are Your Buyers? How to Create Interactive Experiences Based on Their Stage in the Journey (SnapApp again)

5 Interactive Email Design Elements that Increase Click-Through Rates (via Marketing Tech Blog)

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What interactive content have you used? What do you think the future holds for content marketing? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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