Beyond the PDF: How alternative content marketing formats improve customer experience

Beyond the PDF: How alternative content marketing formats improve customer experience

There is a world out there, beyond the realm of downloadable eBooks, guides or blogs, where brilliant content lives. It’s a fresh and innovative space, abounding with visually appealing and engaging content formats. As a digital marketing agency, we’re pushing into this more creative arena. We’re doing our research and perfecting our offerings to help our clients keep up with the times. Here’s a sneak peek into some of the creative menu items we hope to serve up for you soon.

The power of storytelling in the marketing space 

Marketers have known for a very long time that storytelling is a powerful means of promoting a product and brand. That said, storytelling is a tradition that’s been used for centuries to pass on important knowledge and information to individuals, communities and groups.

Storytellers of old, utilised just about anything at their disposal to bring their points home, including animated facial expressions, different tones of voice, hand gestures, and creative parables or analogies drawn from the real life scenarios around them. They even used the odd picture or two, drawn on the ground, or on nearby surfaces, to illustrate what they had to say. They truly understood the art of keeping an audience engaged.

In this day and age, however, businesses have a whole range of marketing media and activities they can leverage from to tell their particular brand ‘stories’. With an ever-evolving selection of innovative tools at our disposal, it’s becoming easier and easier to create content that ‘does it’ for consumers. But we still need to be expert storytellers if we want our target audiences to listen and absorb what we have to say.  Our chosen content formats need to be as interactive and engaging as possible because consumers just don’t have very long attention spans these days. You have just a few seconds to win them over before they move onto something new.

The following are some new tools we’re playing around with to compel them to linger longer and absorb our brand messages.

Interactive info-graphics

Branded info-graphics are perfect for sharing snippets of information with consumers in ways that are both engaging and easily digestible. Well-designed info-graphics entice (both off- and online) readers to pause and take a closer look. They work well because they engage both hemispheres of a person’s brain – the logical, analytical and word-based left hemisphere and the creative, visual and emotional right.

Digital marketers are taking info-graphics to the next level by making them increasingly interactive. Take a look at this interactive infographic by "Simply Business" on corporate acquisition strategies, for example. It possibly takes a little too long to figure out what you are looking at, but it’s still a nice example of the interactive potential of this content format.

  • You can use your mouse to zoom in and out of this particular graph to find smaller listed companies.

  • Companies are colour-coded according to their particular industry and can be filtered and categorised – at the click of a few buttons – for industry-specific insights.

  • Additional information, captured in data tables, is stored behind familiar and clickable company logos, which means that end-users aren’t being bombarded with overwhelming stats and figures from the get-go.

  • Simply Business, has also included sharing buttons for all the major social media platforms, increasing the shareability and reach of this piece of content.

Interactive ebooks/guides

This blog by the e-Training Cafe lists 15 interactive eBook creator tools and apps that are now available for building digital and interactive eBooks. Kitaboo’s eBook publishing software, for example, allows end-users to create mobile-ready guides and books that can incorporate audio, video, 3D, animation, simulation, gamification – you name it – into digital content. How’s that for left-brain/right-brain engagement and storytelling?

Video content

According to this Little Jack Marketing blog, video is not just a tasty hors d’oeuvres before the main meal of other digital content formats – it’s actually the very content that consumers are looking for these days. And, possibly thanks to reality TV shows like Survivor, The Bachelor or The Voice and apps like Snap-chat and Boomerang, end-users are perfectly happy with slightly amateur footage, shot in real-time, as long as whoever publishes it  has something authentic, value-adding and engaging to show or say.


As far as content marketing formats go, podcasts are a great way to share information with customers who aren’t strong readers. Content for podcasts could include interviews with industry or product experts, or informative tutorials.

Podcasts are excellent for showing your company culture, as they allow employees to engage in real and informal conversations, instead of just regurgitating a business’s ‘go-to’, marketing message. They can be relatively free-flowing and unstructured but do still need to have some kind of call to action, so that they have an actual marketing objective.

Another benefit of podcasts is they don't require you to pay 100% of your attention all the time, so people can listen to them in the background while getting on with other things. They should be recorded in a quiet place with minimal background noise so that voices are clear and listeners can follow along easily. Another trick is to ensure that they have a strong entertainment element, as no one wants to feel like they’ve been trapped in a lecture hall listening to a rambling varsity professor. They’ll never hit the ‘play’ button on your podcast again!

Download our Customer Journey Guide to find out how to tell great brand stories through your email marketing activities.

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