Interactive Content: The Launch Pad to a New Dimension of Audience Engagement

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Interactive content and storytelling have become essential for the next level of audience engagement. Learn the essentials of interactive content marketing and more from an expert — MarTech Maven, Nadjya Ghausi of Prezi.

The human element in storytelling is essential to engaging audiences. Yet so much of the content we use in business, including marketing and sales content, lacks it. Things are changing, though. And ironically, it’s technology that’s helping to humanize how we present information to internal and external audiences.

Interactive content is what’s specifically game-changing how we, as marketers, tell stories in business. From presentations and infographics to videos and quizzes — interactive content, when used effectively, can make a powerful, positive and lasting impression on our target audiences.

Also Read: What is Interactive Content Marketing and How Marketers can Leverage It

There are three trends in storytelling that are emerging now because of businesses’ increasing experimentation with — and more strategic application of — interactive content when presenting information. Marketers and other content creators in business need to not only be aware of these trends but also move quickly to adopt and master these new ways of communicating:

Conversational Storytelling

Expect this form of storytelling to soon dominate because it’s so effective at helping marketers and audiences get on the same page quickly.

Conversational storytelling is a nonlinear approach to storytelling. It’s interactive in that it requires sharing content in a two-way fashion, like a real conversation. Instead of launching into a rehearsed speech or memorized narrative in a serial path, the presenter asks their audience what they want to hear about first — and the discussion flows naturally from there. Of course, for this experience to be seamless, it must be backed by technology that allows the presenter to navigate freely through the content.

Data Storytelling

Look for more marketers to embrace data storytelling as a way to create memorable and persuasive experiences for their target audiences.

Communicating facts and figures in a visually compelling way — through interactive infographics, for example — helps audiences to stay focused in data-heavy presentations. An interactive approach to sharing data also helps to simplify complex information, so audiences can better absorb it. And it makes the data itself a story. That’s especially important, because even if audiences aren’t likely to remember all of your data points they will remember a great story you told them about those data points.

Immersive Storytelling

This trend in storytelling is just starting to gain momentum but will accelerate in the coming year.

Technologies such as augmented reality (AR), which support visually interactive and immersive experiences, are becoming more widely used in business. As that happens, people are starting to see firsthand how these technologies have tremendous power to draw in audiences and truly move them. AR, in particular, has an important role to play in the future of work and learning — where the presenter and their content come together. It is poised to become a must-have tool for marketers who want to provide immersive experiences for everything from remote meetings to sales presentations to webinars.

People’s Attention Spans Are Evolving — and Pivoting Toward Interactive Content

There’s one more trend in motion that marketers must know about if they want to succeed at engaging audiences both now and in the future with their content and storytelling: People’s attention spans are changing. However, don’t assume that means their attention spans are shrinking — because they’re not. They’re evolving.

The deluge of content we face in our digital, multichannel and multi-device world is forcing us all to become more selective about the content we consume. We just have to. And it explains why we can hole up for hours to watch a new Netflix series in its entirety yet struggle to stay focused during a one-hour sales presentation. We freely give our attention to what we enjoy watching, and we can go super-deep and long with our focus if what we see delights and moves us.

New research backs this up: The State of Attention Report, conducted by Prezi and strategic consulting firm Kelton Research, found that nearly half (49 percent) of business professionals have become more selective about the content that they consume over the past year. And well over half — 59 percent — of survey respondents said they can give a piece of content their undivided attention more so today than they could just one year ago.

The State of Attention study aimed to gauge the effectiveness of content and presentations and how they resonate with business professionals across demographics, including Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers. The findings suggest that our ability to maintain our focus on content is actually improving over time as we become more selective about the content we choose to consume. This is true regardless of the generation we identify with.

So, what type of content grabs and holds our attention? Based on the research, engaging content that features a compelling narrative combined with gripping visuals and stimulating dialogue does the trick for most everyone. That sure sounds like interactive content, doesn’t it?

Also Read: 5 Must-Have Skills of an Interactive Content Marketer

Marketers: Don’t Dismiss the Signs of Change

One finding from The State of Attention study that should keep more than a few marketers up at night is this: Four in five business professionals — across demographics — said they shifted their focus away from the speaker (and multitasked) in the most recent presentation that they watched. Given how much time and money marketing teams invest in developing “great” presentations for the business, that is a disappointing outcome. Failing to connect with audiences in marketing and sales presentations can also hurt a company’s bottom line.

A poor storytelling experience was the root cause of most respondents’ disengagement with a presentation, according to Prezi’s research. They said the story they were told either lacked substance or did not challenge them mentally. But here’s what most business professionals, across generations, said they believe would keep audiences focused during presentations:

  • A strong narrative or the story behind the presentation (90 percent)
  • Animated visuals (79 percent)

As for content viewing, in general, 55 percent of all respondents to The State of Attention study said a great story can capture their focus and keep them engaged. And one-third (33 percent) report that visual stimulation is critical to maintaining their attention.

The message for marketers? People want interactive content, whether they’re learning about financial results or taking part in a survey. They want to be wowed by the story you have to tell and the data and visuals you have to share. Sure, the three types of storytelling described earlier — conversational, data and immersive — are only starting to emerge. But they will evolve quickly, just like people’s ability to focus squarely on content that moves them.

So, embrace the change. Shift to conversational presenting so you can start to have more meaningful and memorable interactions with your target audiences. Break free of static and text-heavy presentations and bring your data to life with compelling and interactive infographics. And experiment with exciting new technologies, like AR, to take your presentations into an entirely new dimension of content interactivity that puts people — the essential human element — right at the center of every story. It is the strength of your interactive content which will lead to better audience engagement.

Your audiences and their more evolved attention spans are waiting for you.