Make it a Game: How Interactive Content Increases Site Traffic and Sales

Last week while scrolling through my twitter feed, I found an article about the world first interactive music video (article and video can be found here).  The article was good, but I was entranced by the video, so entranced that I watched it three times, despite not really caring for the music.  What was so great about it?  You can click on items people in the video are wearing and the video pauses and takes you to a screen where you can purchase said items.  While the items in the video were items that I wouldn’t choose for myself  I still had fun clicking on items that caught my attention.  During this experience the business side of my brain was processing the implications of a new monetary stream for the music industry and the impact this could have on the price of music downloads while the consumer part of my brain was like a little kid in an elevator, simply having fun pushing the buttons.  I had so much fun in fact that I couldn’t wait to share it with as many people as possible.

When I think back to my favorite websites, they are all ones with cool interactive features, where instead of passively absorbing information I am engaged in an experience.  This kind of content leads me back to sites over and over again to play, purchase, and to share.  If you really think about it, you would probably say the same. For this reason, the whole Web 2.0/Social Media marketing space is based on the idea that the consumers determine the value of the content and as a result determine the reach and success of your advertising campaigns.   In their book The Open Brand, Kelly Mooney and Nita Rollins tell us that, “Marketers must develop content that is immersive, participatory, and relevant to earn a place in the social web and consumer conversations.”

Whether you know it or not, your website is the central piece to your online marketing program.  It is the first place a consumer goes to find out about you, what you sell, and get a sense of whether or not they feel they can trust you.  If this is your customer’s first impression, why wouldn’t you want to go the extra mile to wow them?  Because trust me, if you don’t, and your competition does then you are likely to never get a chance at a second impression.  Beyond that, a single customer who is wowed by your website will share and that single view can quickly turn into hundreds of views.  That is hundreds of leads that can be generated by creating a feature on your website that engages users.

Many companies have used this strategy to great effect.  For instance, Al’s Formal Wear lets you dress a mannequin with the tux selections you have just made.  This tool has value to the consumer and it is just plain fun to play with all of the various combinations.  The automotive industry has also used this strategy to draw traffic and sales on their websites.   Case in point, Infiniti (among others) has an application where you can build and price your vehicle.   Another good example is the Ikea website, which takes a different strategy.  They show pictures of their rooms and you can click on the items you like to add them to your cart (much like the interactive music video).  There are many other examples and many other ways that a fun and attention getting application have been used to draw attention and get people talking.  The common element here is that it’s fun!  Shopping can be a real drag especially online where you don’t even get the advantage of an afternoon out of the house, if you find a way to turn it into an enjoyable experience users will come back and they will bring their friends.

There are a couple of things to remember when you are considering implementing an application for your website.  First, get professional help; it is incredibly important to your credibility as a vendor and to the success of your application that it works effectively.  A professional can help you design a product that is user friendly and able to the handle massive surges in traffic generated by your campaign.  They will also help you with testing to make sure that there are not any bugs with the program that will cause you issues.  Development time and advertising are expensive, you don’t want to spend time and money on an application that will not work as it is intended.  Remember your website is your first impression and when things don’t work properly there it gives the impression of incompetence and sloppiness.  For more about how technical problems can cause problems check out our previous blog on how technical problems are a major driver in cart abandonment.

Also, remember to make it relevant and useful.  What makes the interactive music video and the sites I have mentioned above so interesting and shareable is that they provide a new way to do something that can be mundane and boring.  If your application is distinctly different than the primary purpose of the website you run two risks.  First, that the application will be ignored because it isn’t a part of what the consumer needed.  Second, that for those who do use the application that it becomes a distraction from their primary purpose; as a result your effort to increase traffic and sales cannibalizes your traffic.

Finally, no one will ever see your cool new toy if you don’t share it with them.   This is not the Field of Dreams, “If you build it…”  they will not come, unless you tell them where to go. Spend some time and money promoting your cool new feature.  You can utilize ppc campaigns, print campaigns, in store promotions, or any other marketing medium you prefer to use.  Many development companies will also  consult with you on some of the most effective ways to market your website and application.   You should also make it a point to talk about your new application to anyone who will listen; people who come into your stores, friends, the person you are meeting with at 1 o’clock.  Perhaps, most importantly though is to get people talking about it in the social media space.  You can utilize your company’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, but you should also be using your personal social media accounts to start talking about your tools.  People are more likely to take advice from a friend than look at advertising for a company, so you have to make it a part of people’s conversations.

Don’t be afraid to be an innovator in your industry!  A great feature that works well and is well promoted can be a huge boon for your business.  This is even truer if you are doing what no one else in your market is doing.

If you are already using a great interactive tool on your website, tell us about it!  How has it affected your traffic and sales?

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