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53 Questions to Help You Choose the Right Interactive Content Creation Platform

You may not know much about interactive content, but it’s changing the way marketers are engaging with prospects across industries and channels. With lead form completion rates in the 40% range, interactive content provides marketers with the ability to improve lead quality and to speed MQL creation.

You may already have some great ideas for weaving interactive content into your marketing campaigns and are ready to get started. Your next challenge is figuring out how you are going to create that content, which means you’re evaluating interactive content creation platform and tool options.

But how do you choose which solution is right for you?  The questions that follow will help you select the right interactive content creation platform for your company and your priorities so you can hit the ground running.

What are your goals, and how will the platform help you accomplish them?

Starting with a clear definition of what you hope to accomplish is an obvious step.  Most likely it’s a bit of an iterative process: the more you dig in, the more ideas you will have for using interactive content in your marketing mix.

Clarifying your goals will help you articulate the functionality you should look for and separate out the “must haves” from the “nice to haves.”  

  1. Let’s start at the highest level. Are you looking to create a single poll for Facebook, or do you want to develop a range of content on a regular basis and publish that content across multiple channels?
  2. Are you looking to generate top of funnel leads and nurture prospects through the buyer’s journey or create comprehensive, statistically accurate market research surveys?
  3. Does branding matter or are you OK using a rigid template?

The answers to these questions have important implications when it comes to determining which solution will meet your objectives.

Specifically, you should ask yourself:

  1. How often do you plan to create interactive content (once, monthly, weekly)?
  2. What content types are you most interested in initially?  What could you see yourself building down the road? (quizzes, assessments, surveys, interactive white papers, interactive videos, contests, polls, interactive infographics, sweepstakes, etc.)
  3. Where do you plan to publish your content (website, email, blog, social channels, mobile, all of the above)?
  4. How will the content types available help you gather data to better understand your customers?
  5. Are the available content types flexible – including flow, look and feel, and lead gen forms – based on your needs?
  6. Is the software sophisticated enough for your intended usage? Or are you looking to just get your feet wet, quick and easy with no commitment, but more limited functionality?  

Before you’ve created any interactive content, it can be hard to know what you need to know and what you don’t yet know to ask. Spend some time considering how your interest in interactive content is likely to evolve and plan for the long term.

How flexible/customizable are the design tools?

For some marketers, a simple, consistent look-and-feel template and functionality is exactly what they’re looking for. Others might need greater flexibility and customized branding, as well as flexibility to design unique content by distribution channel.

If you’re planning to create a wide range of different types of interactive content on a regular basis, you’ll want to choose a platform that offers a wide range of content types. In addition, if maintaining your brand’s look and feel is important, you need a platform that allows you full design control allowing you to choose colors, fonts, and images consistent with your brand (and devoid of another company’s logos).

  1. Will I be able to create multiple pieces of content that vary in theme and interaction?
  2. Will I have full design and brand control over the look-and-feel of my content?
  3. Can I select any font, any color, any size, create my own buttons, organize text and image blocks as I choose, etc.?
  4. Is there a white label option or am I stuck with someone else’s logo on my content?
  5. Are there templates to get me started—but not that I am stuck with?
  6. Can I repurpose content and images?
  7. Is there an asset library—both to get started and to store my own files?
  8. Can I vary the flow of the content—for example, sometimes offering multiple questions on a single page, other times a single question, sometimes providing interstitial content, etc., so my content doesn’t look cookie-cutter?

How easy is the solution to use?

With any new technology investment, there will be a learning curve and, naturally, the more creative control you have and content types you can create, the more complex the platform. However, you still want to make sure the platform you choose will be intuitive enough that with a little training, you can hit the ground running.

  1. What sort of technical skills are required to use the platform?
  2. Is there drag-and-drop functionality?
  3. Are there simple editing features?
  4. Does the platform have an overall user-friendly design?
  5. Can content be created quickly to capitalize on short-run promotions?
  6. Are there guides, blog posts and videos for quick reference and troubleshooting?
  7. What support services are available?

What does training and support look like?

Along the same lines of ease-of-use, you don’t want to get into your brand new platform and find yourself stuck with an unanswerable question. Many platforms provide extensive onboarding and training, others provide 24/7 support, others have extensive resource libraries, etc. Take a careful look at what kind of support you think you’ll need and make sure it matches up with what’s being offered.

  1. What, if any, training is available? Is it included in the purchase price?
  2. How much time does it typically take to complete training?
  3. How quickly will I be up and running creating content?
  4. Do you offer ideation and campaign planning training/support as well as platform training?
  5. What sort of ongoing coaching and support is available including regular reviews of what’s working, best practices, etc.?
  6. What is the format for support?  Email only?  Phone?  What’s the turn around time?

One last note on training and support – make sure you understand how much you can truly do on your own once you’re trained, versus requiring help—either from an agency, a programmer, a creative designer, in-house integration teams, etc.

What effectiveness metrics does the interactive platform provide?

It’s all about the ROI.  And that is where interactive content really shines:  you can achieve more, higher quality leads, at a lower price point than many other content options.

Be sure to understand what metrics you can track so you can measure how effective your content is and prove it!  Some of the data you might want to access includes:

  1. Can you see click through rates, completion rates, and conversion rates?
  2. Can you determine performance by channel?
  3. Is there support for A/B testing?
  4. Are there prompts and suggestions to help refine your content and make it more effective?

Creating engaging content rests on testing and finding out what works for your audience.  Knowing what does and doesn’t work depends on collecting and crunching the data around content performance.

How is data passed into your existing marketing systems?

If you’re using interactive content to generate new leads or nurture existing ones, you’ll probably want that data flowed into your marketing automation system. Of course, you want this to be as seamless as possible to avoid any prospects or customer data falling through the cracks, and naturally, the more content you plan to produce, the more important it becomes to be able to “set it and forget it.”

  1. Are there existing software integrations?  To which platforms?
  2. What APIs are available?
  3. How much of the data you collect via interactive content can be transferred into your marketing automation system?
  4. Does the platform integrate with platforms beyond CRM (such as Google Analytics, social networks, and CMS programs)?
  5. How flexible is the lead capture functionality? Are you stuck with pre-set fields or can you customize them to your marketing system?
  6. Will the integration support your lead scoring and nurturing efforts?
  7. Is data transfer real-time?

Partner integration is one of the most common differentiators in the interactive content platform space. Simple, inexpensive solutions may require manual data transfer; others may transfer only some of the interaction data. Identifying where you’re willing to compromise on data transfer is another way to narrow down your selection.

What will it cost?

Interactive content solutions range in price from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousand of dollars based on a range of factors including functionality, integration and services requirements.  

When you ask about price, make sure you really understand the numbers.

  1. What is the pricing structure?
  2. How does that translate into dollars? (total dollars, term, functionality included, number of users allowed, services provided, integration included, etc.)
  3. What training fees are there?
  4. Are there design or custom build costs to consider?
  5. What is not included that companies often need?
  6. What additional investments will be required to achieve your goals?

Ultimately, you’ll want to understand the fully loaded costs of the solutions you are considering so that you don’t end up with unanticipated expenses.

What is your estimated ROI?

In addition to looking at the dollars spent on purchasing and maintain the platform, make sure you are thinking about it in terms of ROI.

  1. If your interactive content goals include generating more leads at higher quality, does the platform support those goals as efficiently and cost effectively as possible?

Advanced considerations

If you are feeling good about all of the questions above, here are a few advanced considerations that can help you refine your selection.

  1. Does the vendor offer responsive design?
  2. Is mobile optimization automatic?  What does it entail?
  3. Can you create super-sophisticated content:  quizzes that branch based on responses, March Madness style brackets, “Choose Your Own Adventure” type booklets, videos with assessments embedded, etc.?
  4. How does the vendor’s product road map align with your expected priorities? 53. Where is the vendor coming from on the technology front and where is it headed?
  5. How much of a voice will you have in determining future features, providing feedback to the product team, etc?

Conclusion

Selecting an interactive content creation platform doesn’t have to be overwhelming.  The best way to select a platform is to align on very clear goals from the outset, and make decisions that are consistent with those goals. The questions outlined here, from ease of use to martech integration, should be a helpful jumping-off point as you narrow down the field and select the perfect platform.

What do you think is important?  See how your thoughts compare to your peers.

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Author bio: Julie Wingerter works in strategic partnerships at SnapApp, an interactive content creation platform that enables marketers to boost results across all of their existing marketing programs.

For more on content marketing, be sure to download the Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Content Marketing where you'll get tips from leading content marketers and thinkers, new content categories to consider and a whole lot more!

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