Interactive content: engaging your audience in the digital age

Posted by Brian Shelton on 8 Nov, 2023
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How to tailor and design interactive content to keep your audience hooked in the age of short attention spans.

Interactive content.

Image: John Schnobrich on Unsplash

The digital age has transformed the way we consume information. It's not just about being online anymore; it's about being present, engaging, and impactful. The competition for attention is fierce, and only those who adapt, innovate, and consistently deliver value can hope to secure a loyal following.

Did you know that the average human attention span has decreased from 12 seconds to just 8 seconds since the advent of mobile phones? The takeaway here is clear: in a world where a goldfish outdoes us by one second, presenting your audience with engaging, interactive content is critical.

In this article we’ll look at why you need interactive content, the different types you can use, and how to create effective interactive content.

The challenge: short attention spans

The decreasing attention span of online users is a significant challenge for content marketers. With so much content available at their fingertips, users can quickly lose interest if your content doesn't engage them from the start. This can lead to lower engagement rates and fewer conversions, significantly impacting your business or brand.

As attention spans continue to decrease, finding new and innovative ways to capture your audience's attention and keep them engaged is crucial.

The solution: interactive content

Interactive content effectively solves this challenge, requiring active participation and creating a unique experience for your audience.

A report from the Content Marketing Institute shows that 81% of content marketers agree that interactive content grabs attention more effectively than static content. Interactive content is any type of content that requires the user's active participation.

By providing an interactive experience, you can help your audience connect with your content on a deeper level and increase their engagement with your brand.

What makes interactive content so effective is that it triggers cognitive engagement, which requires the user to think and actively participate in the experience. This not only increases their engagement with your content but it also helps them remember and retain the information you're presenting.

The psychology of engagement

Interactive content is effective because it leverages basic principles of human psychology to engage your audience. When we interact with something, we connect with it on a deeper level. This connection triggers emotions and fosters a sense of belonging, which can help your audience connect with your brand or message on a more personal level.

Research has shown that interactive content triggers emotional responses in users, such as excitement, curiosity, and surprise. These emotions help create a connection between the user and your brand, leading to increased engagement and stronger brand loyalty.

Does interactive content align with Google's guidelines?


Interactive content can boost your SEO strategy by attracting more users to your page and putting your brand in the spotlight. But more than that, its primary purpose is to provide value to the user by delivering a unique and valuable experience for users.

This user-focused approach is at the heart of Google's helpful content guidelines, which advocate for creating content for people, not just to manipulate search engine rankings.

Types of interactive content to engage your audience

Here are some of the different types of interactive content you can create:

1. Quizzes and polls

Quizzes and polls are a fun way to educate and entertain your audience while receiving valuable feedback. They allow you to engage your audience and encourage them to share their opinions or knowledge on a particular subject.

BuzzFeed is widely known for its engaging and interactive content, and a popular section on its platform has quizzes and polls. These cover topics ranging from pop culture to food preferences, allowing readers to weigh in on different matters.

Buzzfeed poll.

Image: BuzzFeed

Tip: Create quizzes that are relevant to your industry or niche. Keep questions concise and provide instant feedback or results to encourage participation.

2. Interactive Infographics

Interactive infographics take traditional infographics to the next level by allowing users to click, hover, or interact with data points. They can bring dull data to life, making it more understandable for your audience.

This way you can give your audience an immersive experience that keeps them engaged with your content.

The University of Washington used an interactive infographic to present their study on how the lunar cycles affect people's sleep cycles. Click through to check it out.

Lunar cycle and sleep.

Source: University of Washington

Tip: Use clickable elements to reveal additional information, statistics, or data points.

3. Calculators and tools

Online calculators or interactive tools offer great value to your audience. They allow users to make informed decisions and can provide practical answers to their problems. This approach can boost engagement and establish trust with your audience.

This BMI calculator from a medical website is simple and easy to use, appealing to a wide range of users. It enhances  the site's credibility and builds trust with its audience by providing a useful resource.

BMI Calculator.

Image: Patient UK

Tip: Make the tool relevant to your niche, user-friendly, accurate, and mobile-responsive for a wider reach.

4. Webinars and live Q&A sessions

Hosting live webinars and Q&A sessions is an excellent way to establish yourself as an industry or niche expert. You can share your knowledge, answer questions, and connect with your audience in real time. They can help you create a direct and personal connection with your audience.


Image: X (Twitter)

Tip: Promote sessions in advance and encourage audience interaction through questions, polls, and chat. Record and share the sessions afterward.

5. Interactive videos

Interactive videos are a fun, engaging way to present your content. They allow you to create immersive experiences that capture your audience's attention and encourage them to interact.

See how leading coffee brand Nespresso created an interactive video to advertise its Vertuo range. The video uses Hotspots and Time Triggers for easy navigation, making it unique through many interactive elements.


Source: Wirewax

Tip: Use clickable elements to guide viewers to related content or provide choices for different story paths.

6. Interactive social media content

Social media platforms offer built-in features that allow you to create and distribute interactive content easily. You can leverage interactive features such as Instagram polls, Facebook live videos, or X (Twitter) Q&A sessions. This can increase engagement and create a sense of community around your brand.

The UK's much trusted financial expert Martin Lewis conducts weekly polls on X (Twitter) on a range of issues.

Twitter poll.

Image: X (Twitter)

Tip: Make sure you respond promptly to comments and messages to keep your audience engaged.

7. User-generated content (UGC) campaigns

UGC campaigns can help you foster brand loyalty and increase engagement. Encouraging users to create content related to your brand can establish trust with your audience and create a sense of community around your brand.

By featuring UGC on your website or social media, you can show your audience that you value their contributions and opinions.

Sephora's Beauty Insider Community is an online platform where beauty enthusiasts share their experiences with products. It provides potential customers with authentic reviews and creative inspiration, showing how products appear on different skin tones and types. This UGC strategy empowers the community and offers a more authentic approach than traditional advertisements.

Sephora community.

Source: Sephora

Tip: Encourage users to share their experiences, photos, videos, or reviews related to your brand. Create branded hashtags and offer incentives to participate.

8. Gamification

Gamification is a powerful technique that boosts your brand's engagement and interaction. Introducing gamified elements into your content can make it more fun and enjoyable for your audience.

This approach can lead to increased engagement, better results for your business, and a deeper connection between your brand and your audience.

One of the most successful examples of this approach is language-learning site Duolingo.


Duolingo gamification.

Image source: Duolingo

Tips: Offer meaningful rewards or incentives to keep participants engaged.

How to create effective interactive content

Creating effective interactive content requires a strategic approach and attention to detail. Here are some key steps to follow:

1. Define your objectives

Setting clear goals before you start creating your interactive content is crucial. You need to define what you want to accomplish with the content you're making. This will help keep you focused and provide a way to measure how successful you have been.

Your goals can cover many different areas, each one unique and measured in its own way.

Here are some common goals that marketers often aim for:

Lead generation

Does your interactive content aim to increase your customer base? If so, an objective could be generating new leads. The key here is content that not only attracts but motivates potential customers to share their information.

For example, interactive quizzes that culminate in capturing email addresses or a downloadable resource gated behind a contact form.

  • Define how many leads you aim to collect and how you'll measure this objective's success.
  • Determine the demographic you are targeting.
  • Decide on the type of interactive content that will engage your target group while achieving your goal.

Increasing brand awareness

Are you looking to make more people aware of your brand, or improve your brand's image? In this case you might create interactive content highlighting your brand’s unique selling points, company story, or important initiatives.

  • Identify what aspect of your brand you specifically want to highlight.
  • Establish the 'reach' target, such as views, shares, or other engagement metrics.
  • Craft content that reflects your brand's image and values, maintains consistency across all platforms, and provides value to viewers.

Improving engagement rates

Your aim could be to increase engagement rates, such as likes, comments, shares, and average session duration.

  •  Determine the baseline engagement metrics of your existing content.
  • Set a target increase percentage.
  • Develop engaging, interactive content that encourages comments, likes, or shares.

2. Choose your format carefully

After you've decided on your goals, it's time to choose the format for your interactive content. This choice needs careful thought and planning. It's not just about the message you want to give but also how you plan to deliver it.

Interactive content can take any number of different forms. The format you pick depends on what you want to do and who your audience is.

Here are some things to bear in mind:

Consider your audience

Perhaps the most important consideration in choosing the format for your interactive content is your audience.

  • Who are they?
  • What type of content resonates with them?
  • Are they tech-savvy, or do they prefer more traditional formats?
  • Do they have time for longer, in-depth interactive experiences, or would they prefer something quick and to the point?

It's important to analyze your target audience and then tailor your interactive content in the way that will most likely appeal to them.

Consider the type of information you want to present

The type of information you want to present should also be a key influence on the format of your interactive content. For instance, an infographic or video works best if you're illustrating a concept. On the other hand, a quiz or poll would be a better option if you're gauging personal preferences.

Make sure you choose a format that best aligns with your aim in producing the content.

3. Design elements

Interactive content is not just about making something look good; it's about creating an experience that grabs your audience's attention and makes them understand your product, service, or idea better.

The success of your interactive content depends to a large degree on how well it's designed.

Visual appeal

A crucial component in the design is the visual aesthetics of your interactive content. Humans are incredibly responsive to visual stimuli, and well-designed, attractive aesthetics can be decisive in capturing your audience's attention.

Strive to incorporate compelling visuals that not only transmit the message of your content effectively but also provide an engaging and captivating experience for your user.

Appropriate color schemes, legible typography, consistent design elements, and the intelligent use of space all factor into the visual appeal of your interface and, consequently, its ability to draw and retain user attention.

Navigation and user experience

Despite how visually stunning your content might be, its potential success is reduced if the user struggles to navigate it.

The user interface should be intuitive, allowing users to explore the content with minimal effort. Menus, buttons, and links should be clearly identifiable, well-positioned, and logically organized.

Following well-established conventions in design layout can assist with this. For example, keeping the navigation menu on top or side of the page and using familiar icons. It is equally important to ensure that your design is optimized for various devices and screen sizes, and includes accessibility features.

User-friendly design

The user-friendliness of your design directly influences the level of engagement from your audience. Your content should be easy to understand and interact with. This includes using clear, concise language, providing clear instructions where needed, and ensuring that interactive components respond as expected.

Keep cognitive load – the amount of mental effort used in the brain's working memory – to a minimum by avoiding complex instructions or interactions. The easier it is for users to process the information, the more likely they are to engage and remember this experience.

Engaging multimedia elements

Finally, don't overlook the power of multimedia elements such as animations, sound, and video. They have the potential to elevate your interactive content, making it more engaging and memorable.

Animation can guide the user's attention, clarify transitions and changes, or simply add an element of delight.

Sound effects and music, when skillfully used, can enhance the aural experience or create a specific mood. Make sure to provide controls allowing users to adjust or mute the audio as they wish.

Video content is now much easier to produce with cheap and accessible tools and apps. It’s popular with users and can enhance your content by providing rich, dynamic, and relatable narratives.

4. Make it shareable

With its unique blend of user participation and dynamic presentation, interactive content offers a distinct advantage in today's digital marketplace. It is easy to share across multiple platforms, boosting your outreach, brand visibility, and, potentially, conversion rates.

Key elements for maximizing the shareability of your interactive content include:

Social sharing buttons

Make sure you integrate social sharing buttons into your interactive content, making it super easy for users to share the content in their social networks, thereby expanding your content's reach.

The design and placement of these buttons should be strategic to ensure visibility and accessibility and not disrupt the user's content interaction experience. This convenience fosters user engagement and promotes content sharing.

Encourage your audience to share

Merely providing social media sharing buttons doesn’t guarantee users will share your content. So it can be helpful to incentivize or motivate your audience to share.

Of course, creating high-quality, relevant content that resonates with your audience is crucial if you want it to be shared. An emotive connection or value-added discovery also drives intrinsic motivation for content sharing.

Including direct calls-to-action that encourage users to share your content can also be beneficial. Whether these are general prompts like "Don't forget to share this with your friends" or potentially offering rewards for sharing (for example, access to additional content or entry into a contest), a proactive nudge can significantly boost content sharing.

It's essential to remember that each audience is unique. The best approach will vary depending on your audience's demographics, interests, and online behavior. Consequently, you should adapt your strategies to align with your audience profile, continuously testing and refining your approach to optimize content sharing.

5. Test and optimize

Like any other type of content, testing and optimizing are crucial steps to guarantee the efficacy of interactive content. Digital marketing is constantly evolving, and what works today might not necessarily tomorrow. Consequently, it's important not to let content stagnate but to evaluate and enhance it based on real-time data and feedback.

Analytics tools and monitoring

The key step to evaluating your interactive content is to use high quality analytics tools. These provide valuable insights into how users interact with your content. Leading platforms to consider include Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, and others.

The following key metrics can help determine the effectiveness of your content:

  • Engagement rate: This metric measures how long users interact with your content. It could include features like time spent on page, scrolls, clicks, etc. A high engagement rate usually indicates that your content resonates with your audience.
  • Conversion rate: This is the percentage of users who take a desired action after engaging with your content. This could be a purchase, a form submission, or a content download, among other things. By tracking your conversion rates over time, you can see which elements of your content drive conversions and which may need to be optimized or reworked.
  • Bounce rate: This is the number of users who view a page and leave without interacting with any of the content. This metric can indicate whether or not your content is appealing to users.

Continuous optimization

Interpreting these metrics and making data-driven decisions is crucial to successfully optimizing your content.

It’s important to understand that this is an ongoing process and not a one-time effort. The following should be regular or ongoing tasks:

  • A/B testing: Testing two versions of the same content to see which performs better can help you understand which elements your audience responds to. You can then adjust your content accordingly.
  • User feedback: Pay close attention to any feedback or comments left by users. Their input can provide valuable insights into what works and what doesn’t.
  • Keep up with trends: Stay updated with the latest trends and advances in content marketing. Incorporating these will ensure your content remains relevant and appealing to your audience.

Remember, the goal isn’t to achieve perfection and stop, but to employ a cycle of continuous improvement, making small, data-driven optimizations over time to consistently enhance the quality and effectiveness of your content.


Interactive content provides a powerful answer to the challenge of short attention spans in the digital era. Creating engaging and immersive experiences for your audience can increase engagement rates, improve brand loyalty, and drive conversions.

Whether you choose quizzes, interactive videos, or user-generated content, ensure your content is well-designed, shareable, and optimized for maximum impact. With these tips in mind, you can create interactive content that truly resonates with your audience and delivers results for your business or brand.

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