Engaging SMBs with Interactive Content

We’ve had increasing interest from our clients in developing interactive content elements to engage small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs). Increasing B2SMB use of these tools – ranging from easy-to-navigate white papers to quizzes, calculators and configurators – is consistent with general trends in interactivity. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 79% of marketers plan to use more interactivity this year than last, and fully 87% agree that interactive elements are more effective than static content at engaging their audience.

What is interactivity?

There are lots of different kinds of interactive content. The one unifying theme is that they are not “flat” – like an article, blog post, static PDF or lead capture form. Interactivity can take the form of a white paper with graphic links to jump to different sections, animated infographics, quizzes, calculators, benchmarking tools, and product comparison tools or configurators. The common thread is that they accept user input to provide customized feedback.

Interactivity across the sales cycle

Interactivity can help engage SMBs across the entire sales experience. For example, you might conduct a survey of SMBs on their marketing tactics or productivity habits, and create an interactive tool to let SMBs benchmark themselves against their peers. This is a very effective tactic to drive awareness and site visits. Mid-funnel, you might provide a tool that lets SMBs determine the benefits of your solution, such as cost or time savings. To close, you might provide a tool that lets SMBs determine which of your offerings, or which specific configuration, is best for their particular needs.

Benefits for marketers

The most compelling benefit of interactive content for marketers, of course, is that it provides more relevant information and advice for SMBs. They get information tailored to their specific situation. As a result, SMBs are more engaged, and see the content sponsor as a trusted advisor.

A less obvious but still important benefit of interactive tools is data collection. In addition to standard analytics such as tool visits and usage, marketers can assess data that SMBs enter into interactive tools. For example, your might post a tool that asks about SMB business challenges, and find that hiring is a pressing concern. That might spur ideas for products, partnerships or content that you can provide to help SMBs.

Benefits for SMBs

The primary benefit of interactive content for users is, of course, more personalized advice and recommendations. SMBs can compare themselves to their peers, get relevant business management tips, and determine which of your offerings best meets their needs.

Well-executed interactive content can also take advantage of mobility. For example, short quizzes are easy to complete on mobile devices, and can provide robust value via a simple interface.

Implementing interactivity

Getting started with interactivity doesn’t have to be hard. You don’t even have to create new content. You can use interactivity to breathe new life into old white papers or research reports, or create simple quizzes to enliven site navigation. If you’re feeling more ambitious, you can conduct surveys to seed benchmarking tools. And if you don’t already have them, you should strongly consider tools to help SMBs understand the benefits of your offerings and determine which is best for their situation.

 

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About Stu Richards

Stu is responsible for setting Bredin strategy, as well as day-to-day management of company operations including marketing and business development, partnerships and alliances, product development, finance, operations and HR. A frequent speaker on marketing to SMBs, Stu has more than a decade of technology sales and brand marketing experience at IBM and Nabisco Brands. Stu holds an MBA from the Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth College.