The art of digital storytelling
When it’s done right, content marketing can accomplish a lot. It can get your audiences interested in the brand, create awareness around products and services, help generate relevant leads, improve conversions, enhance visibility, and foster a trusted and long-lasting relationship with customers. Traditionally, there have been many formats available to content marketers—including long-form content like case studies, guides, and ebooks, and short-form content like social media posts and infographics. But how do you take your content marketing efforts to the next level? How do you maximize customer engagement?
Digital content is evolving rapidly. The next generation of content formats bring exceptional possibilities to storytelling, inspiring new ways of communicating your brand to your audiences and differentiating it from the competition. It’s customer engagement on a whole new level.
The future is interactive
We’re in the era of interactive marketing. Think playful, intuitive, and immersive brand stories. New digital formats focus on crafting an experience from start to finish. It’s not just about the words, but how you combine written content with visual content—imagery, animation, and video—to boost customer interest and engagement. When crafting your brand’s overall content strategy, consider experimenting with a few of these innovative formats.
How do you make a 3000-word article engaging? Make it an immersive multi-sensory experience. Scrollytelling—or scroll-based storytelling—lets you present in-depth information using a range of multimedia assets, resulting in an accessible, interactive, and visually engaging experience.
Have a look at the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) A Wilderness of Water website, for example. Written content and quotes are broken up with photography, dynamic illustrations, and video—all revealed by simply scrolling through. By completely removing the complexity of navigation, the site keeps the reader focused on the issue being discussed, while the strategic use of visuals ensures concepts are easy to grasp.
Scrollytelling can also be used to effectively convey complex data. The Pudding, a digital publication, used this format to showcase the global research effort to combat the Coronavirus pandemic. And the results were impressive. Scroll-triggered animated graphics, statistics, and data maps add context and meaning to the written content, making it an immersive reading experience.
Reimagine the humble ebook. With just a few interactive components, you can raise the value of your content and provide your customers with a richer reading experience.
Tools like scroll-based page transitions, navigation links, rollover pop-ups, videos, animations, audio, hyperlinks, and contact forms allow you to present the right information at the right time. Prophix’s ebook, which uses multiple interactive features to answer key questions about artificial intelligence in finance, is a great example. Interesting page transitions and the use of audio narration create an engaging flow of information while the guided navigation feature allows readers to stay in control of how they consume the content.
Infographics, even in their static form, are highly efficient at communicating complex information. The combined use of text, illustrations, graphs, charts, and imagery create a well-structured, easy to consume format that’s ideal for data-led stories.
The inclusion of movement brings all this data to life. Consider the “Annual Satellite Monitor” infographic we created for SES. The use of animation adds layers to the information presented, highlights key takeaways, and keeps audiences engaged by creating visual interest at strategic points.
‘Choose your own path’ content
Your brand’s stories are more effective when told from the customer’s perspective. But what if you could go one step further? What if you could allow your audiences to create their own story? ‘Choose your own path’ content is all about putting your customer in control. Using clickable buttons, quizzes, and flowcharts, you can create a personalized path of discovery for each member of your audience.
‘Choose your own path’ content is especially effective when trying to simplify decision-making processes for your customers—helping them find an ideal product in a multi-path guide, or getting them acquainted with relevant product features via a quiz-based web page.
Finding success with interactive formats
Experimenting with fresh content formats can drive great results and help build positive associations with your brand. However, it’s important to consider a few things before you dive in.
Get the basics right
Consistency is the key to effective content marketing. Ensure your brand identity—and its verbal and visual language—informs every content experience and drives the overall brand narrative through every story you create.
Match intent to innovation
Leverage the right format for the story you want to tell by taking the time to understand your audience and where they are in the customer journey. For example, scrollytelling is a great tool for building awareness while a ‘choose your own path’ guide may be better suited to driving conversions.
Interactive formats use a strategic interplay between written, visual, and audio content, and the user interface to elevate the user experience. That’s why it’s important to have multi-disciplinary teams—content strategists, writers, designers, and web developers—all working together from the concept phase through to delivering the finished product.
Stay focused on the story
New formats unlock a wide range of possibilities. And finding the right balance between innovation and storytelling can be overwhelming. When over-used, interactive elements can dilute the story and distract the reader. So it’s wise to let the narrative lead the way. Once you have a clear content flow in place, it’s easier to plan out the visual journey and interactivity to support the story and enhance its value.