Looking for new ways to tell stories that spark meaningful connections? Enter: experiential content.
Keeping audiences engaged is perhaps one of the toughest jobs today. Content must be immersive and interactive if it has any chance of creating a lasting impression. Audiences aren’t only looking for content that’s inspirational and educational – they also want it to be genuinely meaningful.
If you want consumers to truly connect with your brand, and to build positive, lasting relationships, then you need to think about creating some form of experiential content. The good news is that it’s much easier than you think. With no-code tools, creating experiential content doesn’t require technical know-how or massive budgets. All you need is your imagination, and this article for some added inspiration.
What is Experiential Content?
Experiential content is content that’s specifically designed to take your audience on a journey. It’s content that encourages consumers to feel immersed and involved in your narrative, whether you’re telling a story, promoting a product, or sharing news. It’s active content, not passive, and it uses techniques like 3D design, animations, videos, data visualization, and interactive storytelling to draw the reader in and better connect to your brand.
While just a year or two ago, having a degree of interactivity within your content would be enough to make your brand stand out, these days consumer expectations have rocketed–and they will continue to do so. It isn’t enough for your content to be immersive, or interactive; it also needs to be relevant, authentic, and feel personal and emotional for each user.
This degree of personalization is the real clincher, because experiential content helps you get closer to your audience. It isn’t just about telling a story, or constructing a captivating narrative–it’s about taking your audience on that journey with you. You might be the content creator, but by forming emotional connections with your audience, you’re taking them along for the ride with you, and this increased engagement will help you create shared experiences, and as a result, stronger bonds.
Producing powerful experiential content is a great way to enhance your brand experience across all stages of digital interaction.
Why You Should Be Crafting Online Content into Experiences
Now that we know what experiential content is, and have an idea of why it’s becoming increasingly popular, it’s time to dig deeper into its benefits. Beginning to craft your online content plans into experience-based ones takes time and effort, but as you’ll see below, it’s absolutely worth it.
Experiential Content Makes your Brand Stand Out
Experiential content helps your brand stand out from the competition. No matter how good your products are, or how slick your site is, these days that’s just not enough to make your brand unique, or differentiate yourself from the competition.
Marketers and content creators are constantly being told that user attention spans are becoming shorter, and audiences are looking for new, and different, experiences. Experiential content is all about delivering these new experiences, generating more engagement, and hopefully, not only separating you from the pack, but impacting purchasing behavior too.
Experiential Content Boosts Brand Recognition
In terms of brand recognition, experiential content can have a powerful effect. We rarely remember mediocre experiences; in terms of memorable moments, audiences tend to usually only remember the really positive or really negative experiences.
By creating immersive experiential content, you’re increasing your brand recognition–and the likelihood that it is to be recommended. The more impressed a user is with an experience, the more likely they are to recommend it to others–and according to a Limelight survey, when someone has a positive experience, they tell, on average, 17 other people.
This means that experiential content can work well as a word-of-mouth marketing strategy, too.
Experiential Content Improves Brand Experience
Producing powerful experiential content is a great way to enhance your brand experience across all stages of digital interaction. Whether it’s a slow website, uninspiring content, or subpar customer service, all these things affect how audiences feel about your brand.
Effective experiential content won’t only engage your audience, it will help them stay in contact with your brand for far longer than they otherwise would, and come away with a positive experience–whether that’s from simply browsing your website or actually making a purchase.
Experiential Content Boosts Sales
As well as increasing audience engagement, brand recognition, and helping you to stand out from competitors, experiential content can also help to boost sales.
There are plenty of stats that seem to back this idea up: according to research by Forrester, 77% of consumers have recommended, chosen, or paid more for a brand that gave them a personalized experience; plus, based on that previous Limelight survey, a further 98% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase after an experience.
After moving over to experiential content, marketers themselves are able to see a difference: 65% stated they saw an increase in conversions that were directly related to the experiential content. Beginning to craft online content into experiences is a seriously effective way to get closer to your audience and boost sales.
Examples of Experiential Content
Now we’re well aware of how beneficial experiential content can actually be, it’s time to take a look at some examples of it. What experiential content actually looks like can vary greatly; some examples use interactive techniques like scrollytelling, whereas others rely on audio and video to draw the reader in.
Canadian environmental organization Hakai Institute have used Vev to create a number of pieces of powerful experiential content/ One of these, The Demon River, uses an immersive scrollytelling technique to tell the story of the costliest disaster in British Columbia’s history: the flooding of Nicola River.
The power of the river is instantly conveyed by a video of dark, churning waters, which, when paired with descriptive text like the river “sounded like thunder”, immediately pulls the reader into the story. As the reader scrolls down, the story unfolds, with text floating above the striking imagery.
The content also includes videos throughout–some showing water lashing down on windows, others showing the area that was affected by the floods. On top of this, readers are asked to involve themselves in the story through the inclusion of an image comparison slider in which users can uncover more information for themselves. All these design choices serve to show, not tell, what happened during this disaster, creating a lasting impact.
Another experiential content example from Hakai Institute titled The Autonomous Ocean–also created in Vev–uses interactive techniques to connect with readers, engage them, and keep them focused on the narrative, as well as become aware of what the organization actually does.
Just like The Demon River, this content is studded with scrollytelling photos and videos, as well as interactive elements such as image sliders, that help the reader connect with the story, experiencing the narrative rather than just reading about it.
A very different type of experiential content can be seen on artist, violinist, and composer Sarn Oliver’s website, which was also created in Vev. This is a deeply immersive, multi-sensory interactive website that uses audio, video, and 3D design to create rich and rewarding experiences that will stay with the viewer long after they’ve left the site.
Landing on the site takes you to a 3D image of a violin, which is set against a vibrant, paint-splattered background, which instantly conveys Sarn Oliver’s artistry. As you scroll, the violin rotates, and the 3D design guides the audience into the actual hollows of the violin; once inside this three-dimensional space, which looks like a room, a 3D video of Sarn himself appears.
Sarn Oliver talks directly to the audience, further immersing them into the website and his own story, and as he talks, his own violin composition swells in the background. The audio acts as a soundtrack, enhancing the site’s ambiance, and together with the video and 3D design, it transports the audience into another world–in this case, Sarn Oliver’s. This is a really impressive piece of augmented reality-inspired experiential content.
Vev: 2022 Year in Review
Annual reports are hugely important documents, and when done right, are great ways to create positive brand perceptions, engage stakeholders, inspire potential customers, and provide reporting transparency. While in the past annual reports were often rather boring and clinical, at Vev we know what a difference immersive design can make.
For our 2022 Year in Review, we turned away from static PDFs and focused on turning our report into an interactive experience that would engage the reader from the moment they land on the page. Using rich visual media, interactivity, animations, data visualization, and video, our report is striking and creative, and encourages the reader to keep scrolling.
Animated numbers are the focus of the cover design, and when you scroll down, stats about our year are displayed in relevant ways: e.g. the number of designs our userbase created using scrollytelling, animated words or letters, Lottie animations, image parallax, and horizontal scrolling are showcased via each of their respective design technique.
An interactive model of the globe shows where each Vev staff member is based, which helps personalize our brand and make the company feel more human.
Our annual report is unusually feature-rich and immersive–but then for a brand that’s encourages our users to create unique, dynamic, and interactive creations, that should come as no surprise!
Service Now: The Sustainability Advantage
ServiceNow’s ‘The Sustainability Advantage’ infographic was also created in Vev. This is another example of a report that could otherwise be a bit dry, but thanks to exceptional digital storytelling, it keeps its readers engaged in a story about the importance of environmental, social, and corporate frameworks. And it does this by ensuring the content is visually appealing, interactive, and dynamic.
As the reader scrolls down, snappy animations are triggered, which helps bring the content to life, and the animated charts help to convey the relevant data in a way that keeps the reader engaged. Interactive charts and graphs showcase important data, and eye-catching animations draw the viewer’s eyes to the most vital information.
It's this level of interactivity that makes the report so successful, as it allows the reader to scroll at their own pace and enjoy their own personalized experience. By using multiple immersive forms of media to grab audience attention and impart key statistics, this interactive scrollytelling infographic is a unique example of experiential content, as well as unique digital storytelling.
Red Bull: Stratos
It’s hard to talk about experiential content without mentioning Red Bull’s infamous "Stratos" jump, when Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner set the world record for the highest skydive. Though it happened more than a decade ago, in 2012, this is still one of the finest–and most exciting–examples of experiential content.
To achieve this record-breaking stunt, Red Bull sent Baumgartner 24 miles above Earth’s surface in a small communication capsule using a huge helium-filled balloon. When he reached the troposphere (128,000 feet above Earth!), he stepped out into the void and began his descent back down to Earth.
Red Bull live streamed the whole event online, and peaking at over eight million viewers, it was the the most-watched live stream ever broadcast on YouTube. This type of experiential content obviously errs on the extreme side, but the ultimate reason it worked is exactly the same as the reason the other examples work: they offer viewers the chance to experience something new and memorable.
The design of the web content telling the story of this event is, in itself, a stunning example of how brands can create experiential content in the digital realm, reaching wider audiences than ever before. The digital storytelling piece is filled with scrollytelling sections, animated 3D graphics and striking imagery. For those who couldn't experience the event in person, this piece of experiential content works wonders in converying it and connecting remote audiences with the story.
The more connected your audience feels to your brand, the more likely they are to remember it and think positively about it.
Create Engaging Experiential Content With No Code
With Vev’s pre-built design elements and animations–from animated charts, numbers and letters to horizontal scrolling and embedded audio and videos–you can create experiential content that doesn’t only capture your audience’s attention, but convinces them of your message, too. The best part? You don’t need to write a line of code.