We live in a visual world. Gone are the days of black and white columns of type. Today’s modern culture expects—even demands—visual presentation. Or visual clues. Or just visual content to play with, interact with, and disseminate.
For B2B marketing experts, we know words can’t be written in a vacuum, without considering the digital presentation. This is true whether you’re talking about an electronic PDF or a 15-second motion video, an animated infographic, or a smart ad for social media.
Where it gets more complicated—and, at the same time, exciting and intriguing—is where content meets the brave new world of interactive digital design and user experience. This is where new flavors of digital presentation are emerging, some of which feel familiar, and some of which we can’t yet imagine. Things like:
- Digital ads that spring up, roll back, or expand
- Infographics with clickable links
- Videos with motion or handwritten “notes” on top using augmented reality (AR)
- Polls, benchmark assessment tools, quizzes, and surveys
Then consider the new technologies of the future – moving beyond today’s touch screens and fingerprint scanners to technologies that enable new forms of physical interaction.
Case in point: Under Armour has used the machine learning and AI capabilities of IBM Watson to create a “virtual” personal trainer. Right now the “Record” app serves up personalized training and nutrition advice – but there’s no reason why it couldn’t offer you 25% off new running shoes after it records how many miles you’ve logged in those sneakers.
Now imagine that health-tracker-turned-body-monitoring-system capturing your heart rate and sympathetic nervous response, then using an algorithm to assign you an emotional state. Are you happy or sad? As website techcrunch.com writes, “companies will no longer be bidding on Jennifer, but instead on Happy Jennifer or Sad Jennifer or whatever emotional state aligns best with their product offering.”
This is where content marketing is headed – and it’s essential that today’s marketers not only understand these new forms of digital presentation, but master them. This means adjusting our way of thinking, the actual words we write, the messaging, our creative ideas, even the color palettes we recommend, to the new styles of visual presentation, and the many creative interpretations of each.
Tomorrow’s marketing message might be dictated by Siri-like devices—in multiple languages—or pop up, personalized, after a consumer scans their fingerprint. Consider examples like:
- What message works best in spoken form, across multiple cultures?
- What words should be used when the delivery channel is human touch?
The words we select may shrink into forms below Twitter character counts and text messages to a 1- or 2-letter call to action. Icons, such as “hamburger menus” on websites, will replace pull-down menus—and their words.
What does all this mean? It means finding the words that describe the experience, rather than just direct the user. We won’t tell the “value prop,” but show it. We will need to think in terms of concepts instead of verbs—using an icon, or a photo, or a visual clue, as a call to action.
There’s some irony in using a written blog to talk about the importance of messaging for interactive design – in fact, this very type of post I’m using to communicate with you may soon be a relic. But if I’m already thinking like tomorrow’s digital, interactive, and user experience designers, then I anticipate how my messaging will change. It may be complicated, but it’s also exciting.
Barbara Call is Digital Content Director at IDG Strategic Marketing Services. Find her on Twitter at @BarbaraRCall1.