A Simple Project Management Process for Interactive Content

Anna Talerico, ion interactive's EVP and co-founder

Anna Talerico, ion interactive's EVP and co-founder

On the heels of the “Interactive Content: Behind the Scenes” webinar last month, I wanted to take a moment to share a quick approach to project management for your interactive content initiatives. This works well for launching any type of interactive digital experience like a calculator, configurator, quiz, assessment and anything in between.

Having managed everything from a small single landing page to a multi-million dollar website overhaul, I have always found that a simple project management framework is most effective. I like to have very defined, linear stages that progress from one step to the next and build on each other. Don’t worry agile marketers in the group, this isn’t waterfall. It’s just how to organize steps as you go from idea to launch for any type of interactive content, helping to make sure you don’t have to backtrack along the way.

Here are the stages I like to use, and what happens in each stage:

 

Brainstorm

Whether starting from a static piece of content or concepting a content experience entirely from scratch, it starts with brainstorming what exactly will be built. Sometimes the brainstorming is done by a single content person, but more often, we see that these “hats” need to have a voice at the brainstorming table (each hat doesn’t have to be worn by a separate person—there is often overlap in these roles and one person may fill many of them):

  • Marketer
  • Content strategist/writer
  • Developer* 
  • Designer

During brainstorming we take these types of things into consideration:

  • The goal of the experience. New leads, warm leads, hot leads? Sales? Shares? Engagement? Consumption? What is it that we want visitors to learn or do?
  • The target audience. Who is the intended audience for this experience? 
  • Traffic sources. What type of traffic will be driven to the experience? Organic? PPC? Email? Display? We try to understand the intent of the visitors who arrive, and the context of where they are coming from. It’s also important to look at any campaign messages that are driving visitors into this experience, to ensure expectations being set in ads & emails are met when they land.
  • Existing content or from scratch?
    • If it’s existing content, we consider whether or not all the content should be incorporated into the interactive experience, or just portions of it. We look at how we can chunk up the content into a series of experiences—a long white paper might become a small ebook, an interactive infographic of data from the paper, and an assessment based on best practices in the paper. There are many ways to transform static content into a variety of interactive content experiences, so we really take a look at the content  itself to see what’s possible.
    • If we conceive this content experience from scratch (not using any content that’s already been written), then we’re going top down based on understanding the goals, target audience & traffic sources. 

*We don’t use developers since we create everything right in the ion interactive content platform. But if you are building from scratch, without software, you’ll need a developer to talk about the aspects of your requirements that require coding.

Concept brief

Once we’ve completed brainstorming, it’s time to write the concept brief. The concept brief is a narrative of the experience that should describe the interactive content experience and organization as much as is possible. It’s usually about 3-4 pages and includes:

  • Background
    • Source content  (if any)
    • Traffic sources
    • Success measurements
    • Technical considerations
    • Samples and examples (often, we are building experiences based on our quick start cloud library of pre-built experiences, so we can link to reference experiences to provide an idea of the expected user experience)
  • Details
    • Overview—this describes the experience in a paragraph or so
    • Content outline—what content will go where
  • Data flow
    • Expected marketing insights—the aggregate visitors data that can be surfaced & analyzed
    • Expected sales insights—the individual visitor data that can be provided to the sales person to help inform great sales/buyer conversations and align sales & marketing
    • Data hand off—what data is being exported and where is it going
  • Additional content opportunities—typically when brainstorming a single piece of interactive content, lots of ideas pop up for other, related content experiences, so they are summarized here to be considered as additional projects

Interactive wireframe

Based on the final concept brief, we wireframe the experience. Our version of the wireframe is actually an interactive version that’s built right in the ion interactive content platform. It allows us to demonstrate the user experience, content organization, logic and functionality. This is the best way to ensure everyone understands the user experience before final design and copy is added. 

Design & build

Because the interactive wireframe is really a rough build, this step of the project is focused exclusively on adding content and design elements. Again, we use our software platform to create the experience, so we can skip comping and coding. We bring the experience to life inside the platform, working right inside the wireframe to add copy and design. This allows us to be incredibly agile and efficient. If you don’t have the ion platform (well, you should!), then you can consider this as just two steps instead of one. You will likely want to have a design phase, and then the build phase where the interactive content is coded for functionality.

QA

Now we are in the home stretch. The final interactive content experience goes through functional and browser testing—über important in this age of modern user experience and responsive design.

Launch

And…we’re live! Interactive content experiences can be stand-alone, meant to be used for campaign-specific traffic for paid search, email, display or social campaigns. Or, they can be embedded right into your website, so they are part of the overall site experience for your visitors. Now that you launched, it’s time to promote the heck out of it to get lots of traffic, and great results from it!

Review & measurement

Once you've launched, it’s important to review results for measurement and insights. We like to look at bounce, engagement and conversion rates and well as user behaviors within the experience. And if it is content that includes user-drive outcomes like calculators, assessments and quizzes, we look at what inputs and results are being configured. This helps provide marketing and sales insights for future content, messaging and campaigns, as well as for  improvements in goal attainment within the experience itself!

 

There you have it—that’s how we approach interactive content projects here, and it works really well in ensuring we are aligned across the teams and stakeholders throughout the entire process. Each step flows logically into the next, building on the last and helps us stay nimble. 

What do you think? What is your process for connecting and launching interactive content?