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Putting Meaning Back Into Marketing


Everyone in an organization is (hopefully) aware that marketing is essential to a company’s success. However, when asked to define what the marketing team does and how it impacts business, answers tend to come up short.

Responses such as “social media, graphic design, advertising, emails and brochures,” are going to be most common – but chances are, if someone isn’t on the marketing team or doesn’t deal directly with the department, there’s probably some mystery to what’s being done there.

What Do Other Departments Think Marketing Does?

In fact, a recent survey revealed that only 13% of non-marketing employees think marketing drives business strategy, with 53% saying marketers are responsible for advertising and promotion and 43% saying its brand management. Marketing was noted as the least important department within the organization. As marketers, we know this simply isn’t true.

While all departments have their individual functions, without marketing, a company would be an anonymous entity operating with a limited customer base. The purpose of marketing is to bring in more customers, encourage and cultivate growth and discover how to better serve customers.

To do that effectively, marketers must make the rest of the organization aware of their jobs, their importance and their function in conjunction with each separate department.

Marketers have undoubtedly mastered their field and are constantly evolving it to be more insightful and efficient. Now it’s time to put the same amount of energy into informing the company about what marketing does well – and how they can collaborate as a team to increase the role the department plays in driving strategic change.

Data Analysis and Insight

One of the most crucial shifts in marketing has been the advent of data analysis to gain customer insight. It is also one of the lesser-known activities of marketers – with only 18% of non-marketers identifying it as a marketing function.

Within a business, 48% of data analytics are used to gain a better understanding of the customer. Much of that usage falls to the marketing department, who then becomes responsible for collecting and mining the data for better insights into how customers are responding to the company’s offering and what they are looking for from the industry.

Non-marketers are aware that customer insight is critical to achieving competitive advantage, but what they don’t realize is that the marketing department is the one that puts it in action. 

Analytics help improve the overall view of a company’s performance and are used to develop content and strategies that resonate with customers to generate leads and increase revenue.

For 58% of CMOs, analytics are important for SEO and email marketing research. Another vital area that benefits from data is customer segmentation, with 49% of CMOs citing this as a key marketing function. Knowing which customers are relevant to which areas of the business can make a huge difference in reaching them effectively.

If a company wants to know what their customers are feeling, thinking and saying about their products and services, marketing analytics serve as the direct line between an organization and its customers. Marketers need to bring this to the forefront of their responsibilities to prove to the company that the department is invaluable to overarching success.

Marketing the Marketing Department

To say it’s only the fault of the non-marketers for not knowing why marketing is essential is a false sentiment. It is a shared failure between marketers and their colleagues alike.

Just as a company shares customer-facing mistakes, they should also own up to their internal ones. Members of the company are only familiar with website copy, email marketing and social media because these are the most visible aspect of marketing.

Likewise, marketing is probably only familiar with R&D’s end product because it’s what they interact with most. With this logic in mind, marketing must do more to share their ways of working, their successes and their failures with the rest of the company. That takes increased dedication to internal communications.

It’s acceptable to be narrowly focused on customer-facing material, but it shouldn’t be the sole focus of marketing. Outlets like intranets, forums and internal newsletters help spread the word about all on goings of an organization. Even better than those options, marketers should be participating in presentations or discussions.

To improve internal communication, marketing needs to start small, think creatively and lead the organization with innovation and approachable subject matter. Instead of presenting those important analytics in detail, simply give the bullet points and summarize the resulting benefits.

Once you’ve gained the attention of the company, you can tailor the communications to their interests and  avoid useless weekly reports by taking a step back and looking at the big picture scale.

Driving Strategic Change

Once you’ve acquired the attention of the other departments and have effectively communicated the results created by the marketing team, you can drive strategic change.

Strategy is very much a collaborative process that takes into account all the diverse aspects of a company’s performance and needs.

Marketing is positioned to have the most influential effect on the strategy. Armed with insight about customers gained from data analysis and a general understanding of the other departments, marketing can inform the strategy to be grounded by analytics, customer demands and operational efficiencies.

Marketing holds the cards for both analytical insight and creative power. Approaching strategy with these two ways of thinking can lead an organization to more innovative and effective solutions for serving customers and increasing the bottom line.

It’s also a strong way to make decisions and help other departments develop their own strategic plans. But to leverage that power, marketing must establish themselves as a go-to entity and a critical piece of organizational change.

Marketers excel at making the unknown not only known, but also popular. They must start thinking of themselves as a product that needs launching across the company.

Using the foundation of data and insight, strengthening internal communications and playing an active role in developing company strategy, marketers can deliver lasting results and become the most well known group within the company.

Customer service, sales, finance and R&D will no longer wonder what’s behind the graphics and catchy copy. They’ll understand that marketing is in the game to help the company achieve its fullest potential.

Penguin Strategies




The Rocket Science of Social Media Marketing


At NASA, one of the world’s leading space associations, social media marketing and rocket science combine in a way that could shock even the most weathered social marketer. The organization manages more than 500 social accounts. Imagine what their analytics must look like!

From broad agency accounts to specific accounts dedicated to certain NASA missions, their social media isn’t selling products or services, but rather inspiration.

NASA has nailed down an elusive social media success around an incredibly complicated and naturally curious topic. Even with so many different accounts, NASA has managed to create meaningful connections with followers and spread a consistent message.

Although not directly marketing for profit, NASA has developed a strong social media marketing strategy that B2B brands and all marketers can learn from and use in their own content and campaigns.

How to Tell Your B2B Brand Story

If there’s one thing NASA knows—besides the mysteries of space, it’s their own voice. They have cultivated a brand image and tone that is based on history, exciting developments, generating buzz, some professionalism and a nerdy sense of humor.

In an environment where voice can vary from platform to platform, this is quite the accomplishment. From quick Twitter quips to informative Instagrams and straightforward Tumblr posts, NASA sprinkles their updates and science lessons with pop culture, striking images and conversational language. This tone complements their mission and still relates to the average follower.

To follow NASA’s lead, B2B companies first need to find their voice. This means fully understanding your company, its intention with customers and its future goals.

For example, if you want your brand to be community-oriented, write like a community leader who cares. If you want your brand to be strictly professional, keep your tone clinical and simple.

The point of even giving your brand a voice is to humanize your company. A personal way of conversing as a brand allows you to participate in conversations naturally with followers.

Find your voice by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What do I want to accomplish with my social content?
    Maybe you want to educate or promote. This answer will guide the voice of your content.
  • What tones complement the voice I want?
    A tone is an expression of language that supports your overall voice, so find a few that are good for your brand.
  • What emotions are you trying to evoke in your customer?
    Identifying the emotional connection can help nail down the voice you are looking for.

Once you’ve established your voice, you can begin to develop your story. NASA has the advantage of having a built-in story of exploration and discovery, but you can also find the story you want to tell by using themes and hierarchies within your content.

Telling a multi-channel story, as NASA does across the many social platforms, all connects back to your central goal. A story, regardless of the form it takes or how it is presented, should be specific in nature and relate to the interests and needs of your customer.

Sell the Value, Not the Product

Sometimes marketers can get lost in the microscopic focus of selling a specific product or service. Boasting the features of something and harping on its shiny new elements is an easy trap to fall into. But in the long term, it’s not about the minutiae of a single aspect of what you offer.

It’s important to take a step back and present the value of your company in a macro sense. For NASA, they have the ability to share information about an up close photo of the surface of Mars or an infinite photo of Saturn’s rings, which is literally a zooming in and out of their content. But from a deeper level, they are trying to inspire their followers and generate genuine interest in their missions and work.


Their move to post a photo of dwarf planet Pluto before the official press release of the New Horizons’ results was an impressive show of giving followers excitement and capitalizing on anticipation.

They knew the value of NASA is providing these fresh facts to a public with curiosity about the universe. Companies can also deliver social content of a similar vein by discussing the ways their product or service solves problems, avoids issues or brings certain emotions to customers’ lives.

Think about how your customers’ lives will be improved by making a purchase with you. Pinpoint a before and after effect to really determine the value of your product or service.

You can also use the tactic of value and authenticity in generating leads, improving sales and affecting the company as a whole.

Involve Customers in Your Content

Another strength of NASA’s social media marketing is to not just engage with followers, but to give them the opportunity to be a part of the social movement. B2B companies should also take user-generated content as a viable component of social strategy.

The NASA program, called NASA Socials, gets followers involved in learning about and sharing information on the organization’s missions, people and programs. The program hosts events where social followers gather to get a behind-the-scenes look at labs and projects, hear from engineers and astronauts, and can meet fellow NASA enthusiasts.

The content these fans create at the event also gives them the understanding they need to make shareable content in the future. When the fans tell the story, NASA’s story becomes more powerful.

In a way, this is an even stronger tactic for companies because of the importance and reliability of brand advocacy and loyalty. Testimonials, first-person accounts and user-contributed content tell a more convincing and credible story.

Here are a few specific ways you can involve your customers in telling your story:

  • Free Trial
    Offering your product or service for no cost for a short period of time gets customers comfortable with your company. You can also build in the stipulation that they must share their story on social media to receive the free trial.
  • Case Study
    The most traditional, but one of the most effective, forms of using your customers’ experiences to your benefit is to tell their story in your branding. A case study is proof positive your product or service has performed well in a real setting.
  • Community Forums
    For hyper-specialized industries, it’s good to provide a forum for professionals to gather and discuss your product and new industry trends. You can use the ideas and opinions from the forum for social and blog content fodder.
  • Guest Posts
    Asking a customer to write a guest post for your blog or to collaborate on content shows a dedication to a partnership and presents your company from a perspective with some weight.

Getting your customers involved also shows you consider their input and are working to create an inclusive community. Customers who are part of a like-minded group will have more positive feelings about a company, increasing their word-of-mouth marketing and your sales.

Infinity and Beyond

NASA has infused their social content with originality, narrative and community. They take their mission in connecting with an interested public as seriously as an astronaut on a mission in space. They use their background in rocket science to good use in an unlikely place.

B2B companies should take away important lessons from the visuals, language and content NASA generates. They don’t have to emulate the famous association, but can be inspired by both their images of planets and stars and their brilliant approach to inbound and social media marketing.

   Penguin Strategies Case Study.jpeg




Why Content Marketing Volume is Increasing but Engagement Isn’t (and What You Can Do About It)

Content Marketing VolumeWhen content marketing first arrived on the marketing scene, it was novel, innovative and pushed the norms of traditional marketing. The idea of inbound marketing seemed outrageous. Letting the customers come to us? Marketers with years of practice in cold calls and direct mail questioned if generating content and letting their audiences find it would even work.

With refinement and thoughtful strategy, inbound marketing generated more leads, conversions and increased brand reach. This, of course, was aided by the advancement of technology and the increase in the number of platforms for communicating with customers. With the huge increase in content marketing volume, it was much easier for customers to find new companies on their own terms.

This explosion of success drove all types of businesses to start creating content to inform customers, engage prospects and contribute to the overall industry conversation. The growth in popularity caused a huge surge in the amount of content flooding the Web. Brands started believing that the medium of delivering content was smart because now customers could consume it at such fast rates, allowing them to take in even more information than previously possible.

Why More Channels Doesn’t Equal More Engagement

However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. As content marketing volume continued to rise, engagement rates stagnated. More options did not mean people would consume more. A recent TrackMaven study found that the amount of content produced last year rose 34%, but engagement decreased 17%. In their words, this engagement crisis is similar to the television offering phenomenon.

The number of channels the average viewer chooses from has dramatically increased over the years, but the amount they actually watch remains the same. This trend proves that people are only willing to consume as much content as they can handle and nothing more, even with more options available.

The amount of content marketing is not going to decrease any time soon, so brands hoping to become one of their customers’ chosen outlets for information need to have a strong strategy for their content, messaging and customer journey.

The better companies understand their customers’ needs, the better they can target content appropriately. There are a few ways to reach customers most effectively, but using the tactic of personalization is particularly successful.

Using Personalization for Good

Personalization is nearly ubiquitous within marketing, with 94% agreeing it is important and 85% of brands using at least the most basic form. The challenge is using it in a way that customers feel comfortable with and aggregating real-time results for instant application.

A survey of marketers using personalization found that 40% can’t gain insight quickly enough, 39% don’t have enough data and 38% worry about inaccurate data. Despite these challenges, marketers overcome the obstacles to implement real acumen into their content. The ones who do find they have on average a 19% lift in sales.

When customers feel the content they are consuming is both relevant and informative, they return for more. One sure-fire way to create relevant and informative content to your specific customers is to learn what else they consume, what they respond to and what they look for in their content.

It also helps to identify each touchpoint of the buyer’s journey that can be tailored with specific information you’ve collected. For example, if your customers enjoy commenting on LinkedIn posts and sharing articles on Facebook, you can retarget them in these places based on what they are already interested in.

Start with consistent trends among your audience to avoid the challenge of keeping up with changing preferences. Once you have a handle on foundational personalization, you can adapt to the most current reality of your customers’ habits.

Control for Change

Personalization is knowing more than where your customers spend time and what topics they are likely to click on. It’s also being aware of what is related to their interests, so you can recommend additional content and lead them down the funnel. The most important aspect at any point of the content journey and the use of personalization is giving customers some amount of control.

While 60% of customers are aware personalization plays a role in the online content they consume, 29% prefer to have little control and 41% prefer to have a great deal of control over how brands use this tactic. The levels of control you can offer include privacy controls, voluntary information forms with options of what a customer can give you and choosing their own content journey. This requires you to tailor your content to different demographics if you are trying to reach a broad audience.

Control doesn’t sacrifice personalization for your purposes, but simply puts the power in your customers’ hands, which can be beneficial to you. Trustworthiness and an established relationship emerge from giving customers control, leading you to have a transparent personalization process for more effective results.

Content Types for Success

Before gracing the industry with your content or producing more ineffective blogs and social, you should determine the types of content worth generating and what is likely to promote engagement.

You want to avoid the dry, lifeless content that so many companies are guilty of throwing online. The following content formats should help stop the decreasing engagement rate right in its tracks:

  • Short and sweet. Bounce rates are the kiss of death in online marketing. Most people only read about 50% of an online article before leaving the page. But if you limit your blog posts to half the length of a typical blog, you’ll see an increase in lingering visitors and potential conversions.
  • Questions and answers. On social media, if you are asking questions that are probably going through your customers’ minds, make sure to give them an answer. Lead them to your site to discover an in-depth answer to any question, no matter how small.
  • Community forums. People love to share their own opinions more than anything. It’s why companies with community forums see so much success in engagement. Cultivating and monitoring the community is also a great place for content inspiration.
  • Anything with visuals or interactive elements is instantly going to grab your prospects. Use them thoughtfully and creatively to make a splash with your innovative content.

Infusing these formats with the insights gained from personalization creates a real connection between your brand and customers.

To escape the engagement crisis that is resulting from the surge in content marketing volume,  you can collect information from your customers with their control and apply it to content better suited for interaction. This tactic is no task larger than adjusting your sails in the winds of change.

Then you will be prepared to navigate the marketing space with intelligence, wisdom and ingenuity.

Inbound Marketing Case Study




Is Predictive Intelligence the Future of B2B Marketing?


In the last century, the world saw a massive revolution of innovation.

Beyond modern marvels such as digital advancements and the evolution of the smartphone, artificial intelligence is gradually changing society and how people navigate their lives. Machine learning is gradually being integrated into nearly every aspect of life.

It’s already used in machine translation, email spam filters, ATM check depositing and facial recognition – and that’s just what an average person uses day-to-day.

Predictive intelligence is making businesses more efficient, effective and successful. B2B companies deploying predictive intelligence for marketing activities are closer to the holy grail of understanding each individual customer – and personalizing all content to their needs and interests.

Technology not far from artificial intelligence is making a significant impact on the marketing industry. In fact, 86% of marketing executives have already indicated they have seen a positive return on investment in marketing technology and predictive analytics. The future of B2B marketing will focus on predictive analysis and intelligence, and have a major impact on lead scoring and content targeting.

The Transformation of Lead Scoring

Lead scoring is essentially a points system used to determine where your prospects are in the buying journey. The idea is to look at customers uniquely for a better understanding of what they looking for, what you can provide them with – and if they’re likely to make a purchase.

Manually scoring leads, with this helpful guide, can be an excellent introduction to the strategy of fully comprehending customers. Assigning this responsibility to your B2B marketing team brings consistency, reliability and focus to a personalization approach.

Beyond manual lead scoring lies predictive lead scoring. This is a proactive way to accelerate the sales process by determining which customers are ideal based on past behaviors and purchasing history.

This takes into account other technologies, such as CRM or marketing automation, and demographic information to predict whom sales and marketing should be nurturing closely. Still done semi-manually, this method uses the insight from traditional lead scoring and blends it with modern ways of working.

In terms of the future of B2B marketing, predictive lead scoring using predictive intelligence is yet one step further. This is even more accurate than basic lead scoring, because of its correlation between patterns discovered in both a company’s first-party data and general third-party trends.

It has also become the standard for most companies, especially technology-based businesses. A 2014 study revealed 90% of users agree predictive lead scoring provides more value than traditional approaches. The comprehensive nature of looking at customers holistically and integrating that insight into how you communicate with them can fast track your marketing efforts.

Given that artificial intelligence can predict the status of hundreds of prospects in a matter of minutes, marketers have everything to gain by using this technology.

A recent Gartner study concluded that predictive intelligence is a must-have for B2B marketing leaders. Just as marketing automation is being adopted widely within the marketing industry, predictive lead scoring is likely to follow.

The immediacy of reaching customers, understanding their needs and effectively determining their value to your company has created a necessary place for predictive intelligence in lead scoring.

The Power of Personalized Content Targeting

Predictive intelligence, an important component of predictive analytics, is also critical in learning which pieces of content to target to which customers. After predictive lead scoring reveals where each customer is and might be headed in the buying journey, you can glean insights from predictive analytics for establishing the tone, material and style of content each prospect will respond to most fervently.

An algorithm that determines the factors influencing a prospect can also pull the appropriate content. Just as you would send additional white papers to a manually-scored lead with interest in more in-depth material, this algorithm identifies the many customers to whom whitepapers would apply.

Sending the right content is just as important as creating it in the first place. Predictive analytics also leads to informed idea generation and content development.

Using predictive analytics in your content marketing takes careful consideration, but can be done successfully if you know the right data points to use and what to integrate into your existing strategy.

Seeing what content receives the most engagement and is most worthwhile to your prospects helps you tailor future content to those interests. Even with predictive analytics on your side to help you gain incredibly beneficial insights, it still takes a human to use the insight wisely and proactively.

Marketing professionals who work based on data, emotions and customer connections are the whole package in targeting content most effectively.

A.I. and the Future of B2B Marketing

Although artificial intelligence is not quite at the point of thinking, processing and completing tasks at the speed of a human brain, developments in the science of machine learning are getting closer to a complete takeover of this technology.

The existing uses of artificial intelligence within marketing is a good indication that the future of B2B marketing is bright – and that lead scoring and content targeting will be perfected as the technology matures.

With an already efficient system of analyzing data from thousands of sources to make sense of a single customer, predictive intelligence is making it possible for even small B2B companies to grow at rapid rates and expand their potential faster than traditional methods.

Penguin Strategies Lead Scoring  




10 Things Every B2B Tech Marketer Needs to Know


For B2B tech marketers, it’s crucial to understand the real value of the technology you’re promoting – whether it’s a simple consumer product or a complicated enterprise service.

The real trick of technology marketing is learning a subject (one which may be completely foreign to you) quickly and efficiently. When that subject is a complex technology tool or service, you might feel lost trying to comprehend everything there is to know.

While I can’t give you a crash course in your client’s work—only they can do that successfully—I can offer 10 tips for every B2B tech marketer to help them optimize their approach.

1. Timing is Everything

As quickly as the technology industry evolves and grows, timing is everything. When researching any topic related to technology, or when sourcing a statistic or fact, it’s crucial to ensure you’re looking at the most current information available.

Always check the dates of studies and surveys. Even something published a year ago might not reflect the current reality of the industry. If a stat is pertinent to your whitepaper, blog, etc., and you can’t find the same stat for the most recent year, a good rule of thumb is to not go back more than two years or to qualify the data with a disclaimer.

2. Curate Content

Keeping tabs on the industry will help you curate the best content from thought leaders, customers and other important figures. Taking in a great deal of information from all of these sources can inspire your marketing efforts in other areas. Curating content will also provide a fuller picture of the technology industry and how it’s talked about in different channels.

First, you need to learn how to listen on social channels (primarily Twitter and LinkedIn), which content to pay attention to (influencers, competitors), and how to use it.

For example, once you’ve been promoting curated content for several months on social media, you can see which posts received the most clicks, and then develop blog posts on similar topics.

3. Create Buyer Personas

Personalization is seen as the key to unlocking prospects and creating conversions. Creating a buyer persona is the first step in targeting inbound marketing content for personalization purposes. Creating a persona involves getting to the root of who your customers are, how they behave, where they look for information and how they make purchasing decisions.

Technology might be a challenging area to create specific buyer personas for, but if you look at the types of customers who need your product or service, you’ll discover the little things that separate one persona from another.

4. Follow Big-Name Sources

As with any industry, it’s crucial to follow the news about what’s happening in technology. This provides fodder for content ideas, raises awareness of trends and informs you on competitor activity.

Just like journalists and news junkies follow The New York Times and the Associated Press for the beat of what’s happening in the world, technology marketers should follow certain publications for similar business reasons.

Beyond the online experts, such as TechCrunch, PC Magazine and CNET, you can also keep up with technology-focused sections of major publications like The Wall Street Journal, Wired and CIO. These outlets, among others, cover all aspects of technology from cloud solutions to cybersecurity to consumer goods.

5. Know the Influencers

As you invest time and energy promoting your clients across social channels, you’ll find thought leaders and influencers. Listen to what they have to say, participate in conversations they start and develop a mutual awareness. This builds trust and credibility with your customers. If all goes well, you can even invite these influencers to write a guest post, co-host a webinar, or become an advocate for your client.

6. Learn the Terms

There is nothing worse in technology marketing than not using the appropriate terminology. No one expects you to know these terms when you’re starting, but they will expect you to learn them, and how to use them as you become aware of the space and target audience.

The more exposure you have to the industry, the more naturally this terminology should come. It also helps to do your research and study the terms and so you can wrap your head around their meaning.

There might terminology specific to your client’s company, or just general terms used widely in the industry. Also, look out for acronyms or terms that may mean different things – and can be differentiated based on the industry context.

For example, a CMO in the business world (as you well know) is a Chief Marketing Officer, but in the healthcare industry it stands for Chief Medical Officer. Those involve very different qualifications and responsibilities; let’s face it – it would be embarrassing to get them mixed up. The same goes for tech terminology. Be vigilant of what you and your client are talking about.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

The best way to catch up to speed on any topic is to ask questions. Ask as many as come to mind – and more. As topics get more complicated, the questions you ask your client may help them realize how a “layman” is viewing and comprehending their products and services.

Even if a question seems obvious, simple or stupid – you should still ask it. No one should fault you for trying to grasp concepts in your own way. No matter how confused you are or how well you think you get something, keep asking questions. It only leads to more insightful content down the line.

8. Understand the Competition

This is key to any marketing strategy, but in the tech sector, understanding the competition helps differentiate your client in your mind and to your customers. Seeing what other companies offer can make your client’s features and benefits more obvious. Creating and monitoring a Twitter List that includes your competitors, or even signing up for their newsletters, are two easy ways to start. 

9. Take Advantage of Existing Content

Unless a company is starting from scratch, repurposing existing content is an excellent tactic to first understanding the topics and voice of your technology client, and then replicating that with success.

Technology companies love webinars and presentations. Request access to these, get inspired and use them as a springboard to create more content. Moreover, these can often provide a more human side to the technology your client is selling, which only helps you when translating technical information to the average customer.

10. Know the Difference Value vs. Specifications

Technology depends on technical specifications in a customer’s purchasing decision. The smallest detail can be the deciding factor, so it’s vital to never underestimate the importance of this information. However, a great marketer practices the balance between using these specs and a company’s value proposition. Knowing your audience helps tailor your message with these approaches.


Now that you have some tips and tricks for marketing technology, you can enter the game.

As a B2B tech marketer, promoting products and services isn’t much different than marketing other industries, but it’s essential to be vigilant of what technology customers, whether consumers or big enterprises, look for in their content and messaging.

                                Quick and Dirty Guide to Curated Content




5 Ways to Make Your Blog Post Interactive on the Cheap

Anatomy_of_a_blog_post-2.jpegStatic marketing content is as outdated as print-only newspapers. Just as day-old newspapers become litter in the streets, static digital content is useless to the average reader. With such an inundation of static marketing content, one piece hardly stands out from others, meaning brands blend and ideas fade.

Readers crave the dynamic nature of interactive digital content. An ion Interactive study measured the success and general feeling from marketers regarding interactive content. In terms of effectiveness, 93% of marketers say interactive media is great at educating buyers; 88% say it’s effective at differentiating brands, whereas static was found to be only 55% effective. Not convinced yet? Did you know that interactive content also drives 2X more conversions than static content?

Despite these numbers, many marketers shy away from interactive content. It might be because it has a reputation for being expensive and labor-intensive. But that is an unfair reputation. Creating interactive elements is, in fact, easy, fast and even free.

These five tools allow you to start immediately interacting with customers, which draws them in, converts at higher rates and gives feedback to improve your business.

1) PlayBuzz

The original PlayBuzz site is for the average Internet user interested in which Hogwarts house she belongs to or wants to test her knowledge about 1990s TV shows, but PlayBuzz’s business site is tailored to empowering companies to generate an interactive feature, embed it in their marketing content and watch user engagement rise and their network grow.

With PlayBuzz you can create free countdowns, polls, personality quizzes, flip cards, trivia, rankable lists, general lists, gallery quizzes and a swipe voting feature made popular by dating apps. Each element has an appealing quality that catches readers’ attention and can communicate information quickly in a visual manner. It also keeps visitors on your page longer and is designed for social sharing.

When choosing from so many options, remember highly interactive features like quizzes and swiping are good for social platforms and visually driven posts, while flip cards and polls are good for text-heavy content.

When you are designing these embeddable features, keep in mind your company’s brand and voice, this will ensure consistency while adding that added bonus customers appreciate. The best way to track the success of PlayBuzz content is to monitor its social performance in shares, engagement and views.

PlayBuzz is so user-friendly, you will forget you are marketing while playing with the design tools and fun features. Check out these flip cards we made with it.

2) SlideShare

Slide presentations are something nearly every professional has seen or used, whether it’s from business trainings, college lectures or group projects. Putting information in a condensed, easily-digestible format is one of the most popular marketing, sales and proposal tactics because of its familiarity and logic.

SlideShare can be embedded into any blog post and breaks down a topic for readers in a much more visual and attractive manner than static paragraphs of text. Try it with an existing post that needs more visits but provides valuable content.

Take text from the blog, simplify it for each slide, keeping word count at a minimum, include a CTA on the last slide, and embed the feature somewhere in the post. If you put the slides near the top, you can include a friendly disclaimer such as, “Don’t have time to read the rest? We summed it up for you here.”

Readers appreciate options for taking in information and really appreciate when you understand their limits. SlideShare transforms already written content into powerful snippets of data.

Don’t think of SlideShare as a place to put all the information in bullet points; think of it as a place to present an idea in a visual and condensed manner. It might be a good challenge to fit a hefty amount of information into a slide show. This exercise will help you write succinctly and think about content in an out-of-the-box way.

Give the most important points priority instead of cramming an entire blog post into a slide show. Graphs, statistics and quick thoughts are especially effective on SlideShare.

3) Make a GIF

Regardless of how you pronounce it (“JIF” or “GIF”), these little graphics excel at entertaining and inserting some fun into your digital content. It shows you have a sense of humor and don’t take yourself too seriously. That said, make sure to use GIFs sparingly and only for appropriate topics.

Many websites have tools for creating your own animated GIF or have a domain of popular ones for every emotion and situation. This imagery also warrants the use of BuzzFeed-worthy titles and descriptions to accompany your chosen GIFs.

This type of interactive content performs excellently on social platforms because of the flashy element and viral qualities. These qualities lend themselves well to tracking social success easily by monitoring shares, likes and engagement.

When choosing or creating a GIF, make sure it is a reference your audience will understand. You wouldn’t want to use a GIF from a popular TV show if it’s not likely your customers are familiar with it. However, if pop culture references are common in your content, feel free to use GIFs as freely as you’d like. 

Websites such as GIPHY make the art of finding the right GIF quick and entertaining, while at the same time providing you with everythin you need to share with your audience. Take the GIF below – I typed “content marketing’ into the search box, found this gem from Mad Men, and simply copied the embed code into the blog. Easy!


4) Qzzr

If the products or services you are marketing lend well to quizzing your prospects, Qzzr is the right tool for engaging them further. This free quiz-making platform allows you to create a quiz in minutes, embed it into any post and track the results. It also comes with a WordPress plugin for easy integration.

Customers love to test their knowledge, if only to prove how much they know. They also love to reveal pieces of their personality and discover new sides of themselves. Giving your customers these opportunities through quizzes is the perfect gateway for interaction and connection.

Keep quizzes as short as possible so as not to fatigue your readers. Make sure the answers are pointed and don’t allow quiz takers to avoid questions. There is nothing worse than a vague answer and worthless results. And there is nothing better than seeing interactions with customers and the fruitful rewards of getting specific.

You might use a quiz if you are trying to target specific products or services to your customers as they begin their buying journey. The fashion-delivery company Stitch Fix requires all first-time users to take a fashion quiz to determine which products will please them most.

You can emulate this model or use a quiz for testing your customer’s knowledge about your industry, current events or other relevant topics. Readers especially love quizzes that tell them which [car, building, time period, scientist, politician, 1980s pop star, etc. they are most like.

The great thing about Qzzr is the ability to integrate with CRM systems. This feature allows you to track the success of each quiz, pull data from the results and target customers more accurately and personally.

5) Podcasts

Podcasts aren’t just for Serial fans or listeners of public radio. The audio format is a gold mine for the busy professional. It gives multi-taskers a chance to consume your content on their terms. There might not be enough time in the day to read all the content circulating within certain industries or interact with specific companies.

But if marketers give professionals a way to gain all the benefits of static content during their daily commute without burying their faces in a screen, they might see a rise in interest and customer conversation. It’s also great for audio learners and is a much more casual and open environment for bringing guests and commentators to foster a fruitful discussion.

Before creating a podcast, study up. Listen to all different kinds of podcasts to figure out what works. It’s also good to pay attention to which length is appropriate. If you are getting more downloads and listens for shorter episodes, your customers might want quick conversation. But if you see a demand for longer form podcasts, your customers probably appreciate deep dives into certain topics.

Bring in guests for fresh perspective. Try implementing different segments to break up the monotony of a single episode. But make sure to get into the groove of podcasting before you give up or count your early success.

As you develop your podcast and find what works, you will find you can adjust and evolve episode to episode based on listener feedback or performance statistics. The key is keeping your eyes and ears open. Podcasting is just as much about listening as it is about talking.

Wrapping it up

Interactive content rules the marketing landscape for now and the foreseeable future. There’s no denying customers want more than some block text on a page. They want to dive in, learn more, give feedback and get to know the company. Just ensure you are balancing the message within the format and you will see immediate success. Trying any of these methods should result in an increase of engagement and possibly even leads without the headache of a complicated tool and it won’t cost you a cent.

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