12 Types of Interactive Content You Can Use to Increase Audience Engagement

Quizzes, widgets, maps, games, charts, and more!

Erin McCoy
Nov 5, 2019 · 10 min read
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We’re living in a golden age of quality content. This means that consumers can afford to be picky when it comes to deciding what content to pay attention to and what to ignore. And among the best types of content for keeping them engaged are interactive infographics.

In a world where more than seven in 10 consumers will only engage with your marketing content when it’s personalized to them, interactive infographic design cuts through the noise and speaks directly to them.

Just how effective can interactive content be? High-quality visual interactive content boasts a 70% conversion rate. That far exceeds the typical conversion rate for any other type of content.

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Interactive content encourages interactions that keep your audience actively involved in the story you’re telling. It encourages self-guided learning and user-driven discovery, which empowers users to follow their interests and learn in the style that works best for them.

Interactive content is engaging because it tells users something about themselves.

In comparison, video, motion graphics, and some other types of visual content drive the story for the reader. That’s great if you want to guide them along a particular journey. But when you have tons to share, interactive content can often make for a more engaging, and ultimately more educational, solution.

Just a few of the interactions it might encourage include:

  • Clickable elements
  • Animated illustrations and graphs
  • Tooltips
  • Buttons
  • Radio buttons and checkboxes

But these are just elements that can appear in any individual piece of interactive content. So let’s take a look at 12 of the most popular types of interactive design — from infographics to quizzes to widgets — that successful marketing campaigns deploy.

1. Quizzes

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The interactive quiz animated above is designed to help people choose their Halloween costume. Source: Killer Visual Strategies

Whole companies have been built up around the power of interactive content. Take BuzzFeed as a prime example. Just one of its many wildly popular interactive quizzes earned more than 40 million views. And for the vast majority of these quizzes, people follow through to the end. Those are some impressive returns on your investment.

Quizzes are engaging because they tell the user something about themselves. They deliver results that feel personal and personalized. And they’re generous: a good quiz doesn’t feel like it’s selling you something. Rather, it’s about communicating something that’s meaningful to or engaging for the reader.

If you’re worried that quizzes just aren’t useful in your industry, think again. Not all of them have to answer that age-old question, “Which Disney villain should you be for Halloween?Quizzes can be relevant to any industry. They can boost engagement and returns in any industry, as well.

For instance, a quiz could help potential customers decide which one of your products is right for them — or if your products are the right fit at all. They’ll appreciate the personalized results. They’ll also feel more confident in their buying decision once they reach the end of the quiz.

2. Widgets

Bite-sized widgets can be easily embedded on any website. Their job is to help users interact in simple ways to reach a decision, make a calculation, or obtain other personalized results.

The hugely popular Domino’s Pizza Tracker, which helped reinvigorate the struggling brand, is just one example of a widget offering personalized feedback. Take this interactive calculator widget for TurboTax as another example.

Widgets offer an effective and versatile way of adding interactivity to any page.

3. Maps

If you’re sharing data from a variety of geographic locations, your audience probably won’t be interested in reading through every data point you have to share. Rather, they’re probably most interested in learning about the states or the countries where they live or have other personal connections.

So rather than making them scroll through an excessively long infographic to find the information that’s relevant to them, consider an interactive map. Users can hover over different locales to see key information. Alternately, they can click through to a separate landing page with more relevant data.

Interactive experiences put your audience in charge, allowing them to choose how much information they want on any given topic.

This interactive map for The Solutions Project offers data both on hover-over and click-through, so users can decide how deeply they want to explore each state. Here’s a still image of one of the pop-ups that appear on hover-over:

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This interactive map allows people to quickly skip straight to the information most interesting or relevant for them. Source: Killer Visual Strategies.

4. Games

The explosive popularity of Pokémon Go offers just one example of how gamification is revolutionizing the way marketers reach their audiences. Gamification is now an extremely popular marketing technique. And when it comes to using interactive games to woo your customers, the options are truly endless.

Whatever you do, ensure the game is fun enough to keep them playing. That means keeping the sales messaging light or even nonexistent. First, give them something they love. Trust and confidence in your brand will come next. Only then can you make a sale.

5. Graphs & Charts

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Have you ever seen a graph that was so packed with information it was hard to read? Maybe every bar in a bar chart was labeled. Or, maybe there were so many slivers on the pie chart you couldn’t tell which was which.

Data visualization can be extremely powerful. But the best interactive infographics only show the minimum amount of information necessary to understand the graph — at least at first. They then offer ways to interact with and understand the data visualization on a deeper level. Perhaps when you hover over a bar you learn its exact value. Or, when you click on one slice of a pie chart, it grows larger, and more information on that segment appears.

This way, they put your audience in charge, allowing them to choose how much information they want on any given topic you cover.

Check out this interactive annual report for the 9/11 Memorial & Museum for examples of how graphs and charts can be interactive, animated, and engaging.

6. Interactive Infographics & Microsites

When you’ve got a lot of compelling information to share, a small widget just won’t do the trick. And while a static infographic might seem like a fine choice, it doesn’t offer as many options for categorizing and systematically revealing details, since users won’t be able to click on and engage with different parts of the design in an interactive way.

That’s why an interactive infographic or microsite might be the best choice for your content design. You’ll be able to share a wealth of data and fascinating information without worrying whether you’ll lose your audience’s attention.

This was precisely the goal when the Nuclear Threat Initiative chose to make an interactive microsite. NTI wanted to educate world leaders on the importance of biosecurity. Here’s a glimpse of what that site looked like:

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Learn more about the NTI interactive infographic project shown above.

7. Interactive Video & Motion Graphics

Interactive design isn’t just about infographics and widgets. Even motion graphics and video can be interactive. How?

If you’re looking to increase engagement on a motion graphic, or ensure that people watch through to the end, add mouseover elements, tags, and hotspots. You can even create video quizzes where people can answer questions about themselves or the content along the way.

You never know what information your viewers might find most useful. Interactive content gives them more options.

8. eBooks

If your eBooks aren’t leading viewers further down the sales funnel, it might be time to take a more dynamic approach.

Consider sharing your eBook in the form of an interactive landing page rather than a PDF. There are several advantages to this, including:

  1. They’ll be able to click through all the data you share to explore the sources or read more about it on your website.
  2. Animations and other interactive elements will ensure they spend more time perusing the eBook and gain a deeper understanding of the topic.
  3. You’ll be able to provide easily actionable ways to further engage with your brand in the form of hyperlinks, buttons, and dynamic calls-to-action.

9. Annual Reports

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An interactive annual report is effective for many of the same reasons that an interactive eBook is. It allows you to boost engagement with your content. It also offers users the choice between whether to skim for a high-level overview or take a deeper dive into key pieces of information.

For instance, take a look at this interactive annual report design for the Seattle Department of Transportation. An infographic-style map allows viewers to quickly discern where paid parking occupancy is being tracked.

And what if you want to learn a little more? That’s easy to do. You can simply hover over a particular neighborhood to view average occupancy by the time of day:

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For an even deeper dive, you can click on a neighborhood to see a graph that tracks occupancy hour-by-hour. You can also learn other information about the area, such as the total number of paid spaces:

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In this way, the viewer is presented with multiple levels of information, and they can choose to engage with what’s most useful to them.

On a static infographic or whitepaper PDF, it might feel excessive or repetitive to include graphs of information broken down both hour-by-hour and by morning, afternoon, or evening. But you never know what information viewers might find most useful. An interactive annual report gives them more options.

10. Calculators

Ever found yourself aimlessly browsing Zillow or Redfin? Then you’ve probably used the mortgage calculators on their sites. Calculators allow you to enter information that’s specific to you for a highly personalized result. That’s why they’re such an incredible tool — and why your audiences will be grateful if you share a calculator of your own.

This interactive calculator for TurboTax presents users with a series of yes-or-no questions in order to give them a tax-related recommendation.

Other calculators will ask you to enter specific numbers. For example, they might ask for your income or the percentage you’re paying on a loan. It all depends on what the calculator is helping the reader achieve.

11. Polls & Surveys

Looking to collect a large amount of poll data? Want to deploy a survey? A well-designed interactive interface is a great way to ensure poll-takers stick with it and complete the poll. Interactive buttons, video embeds, and even animations can elucidate the topic or question at hand. All the while, they can help you maintain your audience’s attention. They can even make filling out the survey fun.

The type of interactive content you produce depends on your target audience, where the content will live, and what goals you want to achieve.

Unlike many quizzes, polls and surveys often also allow users to view results and see how others answered the same questions. This may occur in real-time as you answer the questions, or it might appear at the end of the survey. By giving your audience a look at how others have responded, you can give them a sense of how their opinions and preferences compare to others in their demographic — and beyond.

Meanwhile, you have the data you need to make informed decisions about your brand, product, or service.

12. Timelines

Timelines can be incredibly detailed — sometimes to the point of being overwhelming. When the information you’re sharing feels cluttered, interactive timelines can be a great solution. They allow users to explore the time periods and topics that interest them most, often while presenting only one or two events at a time. This way, viewers aren’t presented with too much information at once.

What’s more, the ability to click around and explore what captures your attention in a non-linear way keeps the timeline engaging. This increases time-on-page as well as the likelihood that users will click through to another page on your site.

For instance, in this interactive timeline (view it with full interactivity here), you can click on whatever decade or topic sparks your interest:

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For an example of the variety of functionality your timeline design can exhibit, check out this interactive infographic timeline for the National Endowment for the Arts.

The type of interactive content you produce — whether it’s a microsite, widget, calculator, or interactive infographic — depends on your target audience, where the content will live, and what goals you want to achieve.

But one thing is clear: so long as you focus on delivering a quality experience, your interactive content is sure to yield higher engagement and returns. And that spells success for your next marketing campaign.

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Thanks to Niklas Göke

Erin McCoy

Written by

Editor @ medium.com/the-visual-marketer | Director, Content Marketing & Public Relations @ Killer Visual Strategies killervisualstrategies.com

Better Marketing

Marketing advice and case studies to help you market ethically, authentically, and effectively.

Erin McCoy

Written by

Editor @ medium.com/the-visual-marketer | Director, Content Marketing & Public Relations @ Killer Visual Strategies killervisualstrategies.com

Better Marketing

Marketing advice and case studies to help you market ethically, authentically, and effectively.

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