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Image: Niamwhan / Freedigitalphotos.net

Image: Niamwhan / Freedigitalphotos.net

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video has to be worth at least a million – and an interactive video is even better. As one of the top digital trends as we close out 2014, this tactic should be in the arsenal of any savvy marketer or business owner.

What Is Interactive Video, Exactly?

To put it simply, interactive videos are any type of video that blend traditional audiovisual content with elements that require and/or promote human interaction.

There are many different types of video within in the interactive sphere. For instance, there are simple options that can be automatically customized for the user if they are logged into Google, Facebook, Twitter, or other social platforms (pulling in their locations, images from their network, and more). More complex interactive video options include clickable hot spots, overlays, and in-video purchase options.

There are many reasons why a company would want to use interactive video, but they really all stem from one desire – to move beyond basic awareness marketing into a world where customers can actively participate in the advertising process.

Why Is Producing An Interactive Video Worthwhile?

Users tend to remember any kind of marketing effort that they can actively engage with. Interactive videos let customers lead the way, or choose their own online adventure as they discover what your company has to offer them.

These types of videos aren’t just for large corporations with equally large budgets. Every sort of company could potentially develop unique video content, including home-based businesses.

Collect Audience Info

Instead of the more prosaic and typical surveys that ask for a ton of information up front without an obvious benefit or reward, interactive videos encourage the gradual sharing of information as your users view and participate in the various components of your videos.

Using this video style, your audience gets to decide how and when they interact with your brand, and what information they share. Ultimately, they can shape their own experience, which tends to have much more positive results than demanding information before you offer anything useful in return.

Gamify Your Marketing

Nothing encourages user participation and opt-ins quite like an easy but addictive video game. It can be something complex that plays into an existing game (or you can even develop your own), or it can be something as simple as giving them a reward (such as a gift or discount) for performing certain actions, like checking in to your store, leaving a review for one or more of your products, tweeting your company hanlde, or sharing other user-generated content.

Keep in mind that some of the most popular and most imitated (but never duplicated) advertising campaigns ever, succeeded because they encouraged consumers to have fun with the brand and personalize the advertising experience for themselves.

Get Viral with Customisable, Exploratory, And/Or Controversial Content

Everyone remembers the success of Three mobile’s dancing Pony or Evian’s roller-skating babies campaigns. These can be replicated on a smaller scale – think of ways that your users can either take control of your videos, or insert themselves (or their friends or family) into the process. That’s one of the key takeaways of interactive video marketing in general : let your users take ownership of the content and you’ll be rewarded.

Reach Customers Where They “Live,” Work, And Play Online

With an ever-growing number of users taking advantage of smartphones and tablets to watch videos, ensuring that your interactive videos are optimized for mobile is key – especially since that’s where customers want to watch videos nowadays.

What’s more, you can use customer data to create unique stories that enable customers to feel like they possess some ownership with your brand.

Creating Interactive Videos Is Easier Than You Think

You don’t need a major corporation budget to produce a clever interactive video. New software and tools that are cheaply or even freely available make it possible for business owners and marketers to create their own videos without needing animation skills or a big agency budget. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that interactive video is one of the largest growing segments in online advertising.

Really, all you need is some creativity and the willingness to experiment with your brand’s online presence. And a good idea for a video and a compelling story to tell, of course!

Measure Your Success: Interactive Video Analytics

Of course, if you are spending the time and budget on creating interactive videos, you’ll want to make you track partial views, completed views, click-throughs, shares, and more. Setting up a baseline, proper tracking, and reporting on KPIs (key performance indicators) is the final step in creating a interactive video marketing campaign. After all, measuring your success not only justifies spending time, money, and effort on the initial project, it provides valuable learning for future marketing plans.

Interactive videos are set to become more and more important in content marketing terms. Studies time and again show that telling your story is a great way to engage with your customer and interactive videos move that on even further – do you remember the fun you had reading those choose your own ending books as a kid?

Are you already using interactive videos? We’d love to see how you are putting them to use. 

Owen Andrew is a tech enthusiast, writer and gamer.

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