Guest post written by Jessica Edmondson
When I say “content,” what’s the first word that comes to mind? If you answered “blog posts,” you’re not alone, as the terms have become pretty much synonymous. But as more and more companies develop rich and vibrant online presences, a blog-only content strategy just isn’t going to attract eyeballs (and clicks) like it used to. To really drive traffic with content, you’ve got to become your own multi-media empire, ready to entertain and educate however you need to, whenever you need to. In other words, you’ve got to be engaging, and you’ve got to be diverse in the how.
Let’s take a look at how a few savvy companies are getting diversification right, and what doing so does for their brand.
1. Simply Business’ Interactive Data Visualization
From Pinterest to Twitpic, there’s a distinctly visual trend to today’s content. There’s a reason for that: humans are primed for visual processing, and it can be a lot easier to wrap our minds around complex information when it draws on visual cues. (Don’t believe me? Imagine how many more car accidents we’d have if each light was replaced with written text. Red = “Bring your car to a complete stop.” Green = “Go for it.” Yellow = “Depending on your distance from the intersection and current velocity, you may make this light, but you may not, so make a gut call about whether to put your foot on the gas or the brake”).
You’ll see a distinctly visual theme in all of the content we suggest here; however, it’s particularly vital in cases like that of the Simply Business’s interactive data visualization, Hungry Tech Giants, which depicts the acquisition history of the world’s biggest tech firms. If the term “acquisition history” sounds boring, that’s because it is — if it’s displayed in spreadsheets. In the Simply Business visualization, however, it’s easy to see that the size of each circle represents the amount spent on the deal, and every color designates a different kind of acquisition, like Mobile or Search. The user can decide how much of each kind of acquisition they want to display, so, for example, it’s easy to see the Amazon has been gobbling up eCommerce companies faster than anyone else while Apple is hungrier for Software and Hardware.
Studies have shown the consumers are 44% more likely to engage with a brand when they’ve got pictures on their site; imagine what an interactive display like this can do! Deeper engagement might not drive initial traffic, but it does drive repeat traffic from loyal users, which is essential in growing an authoritative and profitable web presence. What’s more, an interactive visualization like this demonstrates Simply Business’ authority in their niche.
2. Concert Hotels’ Interactive Flowchart
Again, “interactive flowchart” doesn’t exactly sound like a crowd pleaser. (“OMG you guys, you HAVE to check out this decision tree. The if –> then statements are out of this world!”).
But it can be a big hit if you get the visuals and content right. Just look at this newly-launched flowchart from Concert Hotels. Drawing on the popularity of music players like Pandora and Spotify, this chart allows users to discover new music with embedded music you can listen to. Now that’s a flowchart. This is just the kind of interactive content that’s so unique, it’s bound to pique crowd interest and generate lots of shares on social media. If the flowchart is embedded on a website that’s also interesting, those new visitors are likely to click around, engage with even more of your fantastic content (which you’ve got waiting for them, right?) and check out what services you have to offer.
3. The Trainline’s Interactive Guide
A website like Trainline is clearly a very practical site (it helps you find train timetables and the best deals on transport, hotels and theaters). However, the travel space is pretty flooded, and it can be difficult for a site like this to think beyond the typical, “Top 5 Destinations for Summer Travel” blog posts. They sure have, though, with this interactive Guide to UK Endurance Events. Just choose your favorite sport, plug in how far you’re willing to travel and a little bit of information about what kind of events you prefer, and the guide suggests a number of upcoming events that suit your needs.
This is obviously a very useful tool for sports fanatics who like to fantasize about more than the average beach vacation or weekend outing. No doubt, Trainline came up with the idea based on research into its core or target audience’s likes and dislikes, which makes it all the more powerful. Naturally, this will garner many shares within these niche communities (and niche communities are often the biggest movers and shakers). This will increase organic linking to the site, which will have clear SEO benefits, placing Trainline higher in search results. It’s a win for everyone involved.
4. Two Little Fleas’ Medical Fix or Fraud
If my Facebook feed is any measure, quizzes are immensely popular among just about every audience out there — all the more so when they’re visually compelling and have a unique hook, like the quiz, Fix or Fraud, from Two Little Fleas, which takes visitors through a number of medical old wives tales. Given that it’s a quiz, it’s about as interactive as it can get. And it’s got enough “I never knew that!” moments that it’s just made to be shared or embedded on other websites. Together, these are all big drivers of traffic.
Don’t get me wrong. Blog posts and guest posts (like this post!) are still crucial elements of expertise building, engagement and traffic generation. It’s just that they’ll do even better when augmented with interactive and highly visual content that more cogently communicates complex issues and engages visitors at a much deeper level. Get yourself a good hook, design your display well, make it helpful and make it fun, and you’ve got the heart of an effective and diverse content strategy.
Jessica is a writer and content marketer at Distilled, a creative online marketing company. She particularly fancies small business topics that involve social media and branding. You can circle her on Google+ here or follow her on Twitter here.