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Interview with Outgrow Creative Director Saksham Sharda

How Interactive Content Can Boost User Engagement – Interview with Outgrow

Ditsa Keren

Outgrow is a game-changing platform that allows you to create interactive calculators, quizzes, recommendations, polls, and chatbots that excite your customers and generate leads. This simple yet powerful drag and drop builder allows businesses to quickly create highly engaging and value-driven Cost Estimators, Savings/ROI calculators & other types of interactive content. In this interview, Outgrow Creative Director Saksham Sarda explains why user interaction is so important and gives some brilliant tips and ideas for generating leads and sales.

Please describe the story behind Outgrow: how it started, and how it has evolved so far

Originally, we had another company that was developing custom mobile apps. One of the first questions people would ask us was “How much is it going to cost to build a particular app?” To answer that question, we created a calculator that took the user through a series of simple questions, like: 

  • What kind of app do you want
  • Which stores do you want to put it on? 
  • Where do you want to outsource your team from? Because you know, the price range differs depending on the team you hire. 

That calculator gave a very personalized estimate of how much your app was going to cost, and it went completely viral. We got so many leads from it, we decided to start a company that would allow other businesses to make similar calculators and interactive content pieces for lead generation, that’s how the idea for Outgrow came about.

We realized that in the age we are living in today, there’s too much information and too much misinformation going around, so the user really doesn’t know what to choose. That’s where interactive content comes in because it gives personalized, targeted value to customers. And anyone can build such content on Outgrow.co without requiring coders or developers. 

We offer eight fundamental kinds of interactive content: calculators, quizzes, assessments, recommendations, polls, chatbots, giveaways or contests, and finally, forms and surveys. 

These are the eight basic types because each of them addresses a fundamental human need. But as you go on Outgrow.co and you start building one of these content types, what you’ll realize is that you can combine a calculator with a quiz or with a contest and you come up with something even more engaging and complex, something that is going to offer novel and creative solutions to the users’ needs. 

Even in my case, when I’m free on the weekend, I go on our own software, and I try to design stuff because it’s just so much fun and so easy to do. It’s really easy to come up with new ideas for attracting traffic to your website and providing value to your customers.  You can make applets and widgets by just using our drag and drop features: you just go on there, make something over the weekend, put it on your website on Monday, and test if it works. If it doesn’t, you can make improvements based on the data that is being collected. This basically allows you to play at the same level as huge enterprises because you are able to make and test marketing tools quickly.

How to use Outgrow

Watch this detailed tutorial to learn everything you need to know about building your interactive content with Outgrow.

In your view, what are some of the challenges that marketers are facing these days, and how does your solution help.

The age we’re living in is officially classified as the information age, but I think we’re living in a very late period of that age, and it’s now more of an age of misinformation. There is too much information. So if you want, for instance, to hire a lawyer, you go online and you look up lawyers, but you don’t know which one to pick because there are so many of them and there’s so much content on their websites. In most cases, you’ll see a basic Call-to-Action on their website like “CONTACT ME”. There are tonnes of lawyers with that kind of a call-to-action and there really is no incentive for you to go with a particular lawyer instead of another.

Now imagine if the Call-to-action was “See How Much I Can Save You in Legal Fees”, giving you a personalized estimate of what your savings would be if you went with this particular lawyer. If you are the kind of client that likes to be short and to the point, you’re more likely to click on that. So I think Outgrow solves a basic need for targeted information, that is to say, information that is relevant to each individual customer. 

That is how interactive content can help with what is known in eCommerce as Choice Paralysis, which is what happens when you go online with the intention to buy something, but there’s too much choice and you can’t make up your mind, so you drop the idea altogether. 

For example, let’s say you have a store that sells sunglasses. With Outgrow, you could have a Chatbot or a shop assistant to recommend particular sunglasses to your customers based on their face shape, eye color, skin tone, etc. Once the data is taken in, the algorithm will provide personalized recommendations, giving the customer targeted options to choose from. There are enterprises and large companies like Amazon, L’Oreal, IKEA, etc. who are doing this already, but with Outgrow, for the first time, small and medium-sized businesses have the ability to do the same quickly and level up the playing field.

What would be our tips for improving engagement and user interaction?

For improving engagement and user interaction, the first thing to begin with is convert whatever plain text you have on your website into something interactive, because one of the basic things that human beings like to do is to interact. People like to engage and there aren’t many ways you can engage with a text that is just written as an article or a post. It has to be interactive. I think the biggest example that I can give you from our own times is the meteoric rise of BuzzFeed and it’s quizzes. 

BuzzFeed got all its audiences in the 2000s single-handedly by having engaging articles, instead of static articles, and that’s what most news websites have started doing nowadays as well.  

BBC has a daily news quiz and CNN has quizzes too. In fact, one of the most read articles on the New York Times in 2017 was actually a quiz and not a static article. 

So the one advice I can give about engagement and interaction is to make your content less static. The key thing is people generally have very low attention span nowadays (as the saying goes: “millennials have the attention span of a goldfish”), so they are not going to focus on your content for more than, say, a minute. That is to say, you have 60 seconds to catch their attention and provide them value, and if they don’t see something that catches their eye, they would just go to some other website. 

So the best thing one can do is provide a personalized value via a quiz or a calculator or a recommendation. That way, you have the users’ attention and you’re giving them an immediate value that is very relevant to them, so that’s what I would advise.

Can you mention some typical use cases for Outgrow?

I already gave the example with the “Which Sunglasses Would Suit You Best” widget  where you ask the user for their face shape, skin tone, eye color, what fashions they like, and based on that you automatically suggest sunglasses to them There are actually two things you are doing here: 

  1. You are recommending relevant products and providing educational value 
  2. Every-time the user answers a question, you are collecting marketing data that you can later use to re-target the customer even if he or she makes no purchase. You can use this data to further improve your products, to see what kind of products you need to add to your stock, and to understand how you should advertise to your audiences. 

Another example: Beauty and Wellness sites can use it to help their customers find “What Makeup Sets Would Suit You Best”. I actually didn’t know about this until a client told me that one of the key questions for this recommendation should be “what color are the veins under your wrists?” that determines what makeup set suits you. 

So the point I’m trying to make is that anyone who has specialized knowledge about their industry probably already knows how they can use interactive content to provide a better service to their clients. Outgrow is used in around 31 industries. We have universal use cases for small, medium and large enterprises.  Here are some other examples: 

  • Which Advertising Package Should You Get? 
  • Which Haircut Should You Get? 
  • Homepage Chatbot
  • Cost Savings Calculator: How Much Do You Save by Buying a TESLA?

outgrow interactive content examples

Let me give you another example: you must have seen there are a lot of influencers nowadays, but on Instagram specifically, there are a lot of fitness influencers inviting you to follow their workout plan and assuring you that it’ll make you fit in so and so many days.  The problem with this is however that one fitness plan is probably not going to work for that influencer’s diverse audience.

So then you see some influencers who have gone one step ahead from this, and they put a link to a quiz in their Instagram story. The quiz asks you to answer some particular questions about you and your body type, and it then recommends a particular fitness plan that will work only for you. Now, these influencers are providing a very targeted value to their users, so they’re keeping them engaged very naturally. It’s like having your own personal trainer online. And so that is what a lot of Instagram influencers are doing now and that’s just one use case of how you can use interactive content. 

Another use case is calculators. More specifically, there’s a return of investment calculator that a lot of software companies are using. If your company is selling a physical product, it’s easy for users to see that they are spending say $40 and they are getting something concrete in return. But when you provide a service, usually it’s going to be a long term benefit, so you need to show your users how much money they will save over time and what benefits they will get over time by using your service. 

The easiest way to do this is to have a calculator that lets people insert their budget, and see what results they can get from it over time. The calculator can also make a personalized infographic for the users, where they can see, for instance, how many clients they can get per year and in the long run by using this company’s services. Infographic data is easier for audiences to understand, and for the service industry, you really need to show your customer (in a graph) how the value will be provided over time. 

How has COVID-19 affected your business and industry?

Oh, not much. We have had subscribers who are pretty loyal and have been with us for a while now, so I wouldn’t say it’s particularly affected us. For us, it’s actually been all about finding ways to help our clients through these tough times. 

We never had a defensive approach, we never worried about whether people might leave us, we always had more of an aggressive approach, and the main question was “how can we be helpful as a service to our clients as well as the general public.” 

For instance: as soon as the lockdown started coming into effect, all restaurants were banned, but the law had a bit of a loophole in it and said restaurants are banned but Takeaway and Delivery are not banned. So restaurants started converting into takeaway and delivery spots, using delivery services like Uber Eats or Wolt. Other restaurants decided to do their own deliveries to further reduce the rate of infection and save costs. But most restaurant websites were not modern enough to actually have interactive menus that could allow people to order online. So we came up with a new template, which I designed myself on Outgrow over the weekend. It’s basically a McDonald’s type Build Your Own Burger Menu, where you choose the bun, the patty, the cheese, and all that, and it gives you a customized price for your order. 

We built this for restaurants across the industry so our clients can choose between “build your own meal” or “build your own sushi takeaway” and easily customize the choices. We’ve had a lot of customers who have expressed their interest in this solution and they are using it a lot because it’s very relevant to the current economic situation in the restaurant industry. To sum it up, Coronavirus for us has mostly been about finding new ways to help people out with our technology. 

Which trends and technologies do you expect to see more of in the coming years?

I think it’s important to note that no-coding, as a trend, is really going to take off. It already has, but the ability to build stuff on the internet without knowing how to code is the future. Right now people think they need to learn code in their free time or learn a new Html language etc. You don’t actually need to do any of that. All you need to do is look for no coding solutions. If humanity is really good at coding, they would by now definitely have invented tools that can help you code without knowing how to code. And no-code tools like Outgrow certainly represent this trend.

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