The rise of experience-driven immersive content

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By Alex Kelly, director of digital marketing, Ceros

Buyers expect a lot from the businesses from which they choose to purchase. Speed, reliability and service are all essential, but increasingly buyers look for better overall experiences. This expectation has expanded from consumer-facing to business-facing companies. The notion of personal and professional lives has merged to create a simpler vision of consumer expectations. 

To effectively map this changing behavior, Ceros surveyed more than 1,000 marketing, PR and design professionals, all of whom craft these digital experiences. The resulting report highlights their shared tactics, habits and traits — and spotlights the advantages of creating more effective immersive content. 

Experiences have gone online 

For many businesses in a mid-COVID-19 world, the only way to engage with their prospects and customers is through digital channels. Those making this shift for the first time must find unique ways of delivering value, and those businesses that have already invested in digital marketing have been faced with an ever-changing landscape of channels.

For example, Google has made several changes that keep eyeballs on their own results pages instead of diverting that traffic to other websites. Consequently, over 50 percent of Google searches end without a click to other content. Add to this the rise of ad blockers and restrictions on cookie tracking in regulations such as GDPR in the EU and it’s becoming more difficult for digital marketers to proactively engage their target audience digitally.

These changes are indicative of the challenges of building a digital experience strategy on tactics and channels that are inherently rented. Businesses have no control over the changes Google makes, and they can only fall in line as regulations are passed limiting their targeting. The primary solution is to create content that draws the audience inward, delivering entertainment and education in ways that truly stand out in a crowded landscape. 

This requires a high level of creativity and innovation, and can only be achieved when marketers and designers come together around their customers’ unique needs. 

Immersive content works 

In Ceros’s report, The Embrace of Immersive Content, 90 percent of survey respondents agreed that “content designed to create an experience performs better.” An overwhelming majority of marketers and creatives said more immersive content, designed to encourage active participation and a higher level of engagement works better as well. 

They also found that brands producing “very effective” content used more immersive formats in their strategies. Those strategies included the following approaches.

  • 60 percent said they were more likely to build calculators
  • 200 percent said they were more likely to use data visualization
  • 200 percent more likely to create games
  • 300 percent more likely to produce interactive publications

Individuals expect their digital interactions to stir emotion and no longer differentiate between consumer-facing or business-focused brands. Marketers need to act as change agents within their organizations and re-imagine their content programs. 

Effective content creators know that good design leads to content that doesn’t just engage, it elicits an emotional response and leaves a lasting, positive impression. And those looking to deliver more immersive content formats to their audiences need to invest in the right mix of people, products and practices that allow creativity and design to flourish. Only then will they create the kind of human experiences consumers crave

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