New forms of marketing seem to rise to the top of the priority list every few months. And although trends like influencer and experiential marketing are important and effective, being able to read and respond to your customers' actions is arguably the most valuable currency for engagement.
And, for that, you need to make an interactive marketing strategy a priority.
As a customer-centric strategy, interactive marketing (sometimes called event-driven or trigger-based marketing) involves reacting to a customer's behaviors or actions, and then working to meet his or her expectations.
Because interactive marketing is facilitated by the technology at your disposal, it offers new ways for your brand to engage with customers. And now that customers journey through digital channels and expect seamless interactivity, interactive marketing has become crucial.
For example, consider a common lead-generation journey for a software-as-a-service company as a member of its target audience goes from prospect to client:
- Someone visits the website looking for more information about the software.
- That person comes across educational content covering what the company does and enters an email address to download a whitepaper or case study to learn more.
- The SaaS company sends emails to the person prompting him or her to schedule a call and consult with a salesperson.
Behind that journey is a web of interactive marketing: the platforms, content, and emails already built to attract clients and guide them toward the next step of their engagement.
Interactive comprises all the digital touchpoints your brand has with customers—including experiential and influencer—and it also takes into account media planning, SEO, and content. It allows customers to connect with companies directly, through two-way communication channels.
Although everyone says being proactive is better than reactive, in this case it's better to be both: Interactive becomes a cycle of responding to—and then anticipating—customer actions.
Adding Value to Your Brand Through Interactive
Regardless of the industry you're navigating, you can use interactive marketing initiatives to bring cohesion to your marketing. Here's how.
1. Involve all departments in your strategy
Every department is affected by an interactive marketing approach. From Sales to Services and Operations, all can benefit from having a clearer understanding of the needs of their customers—even if their customers are their colleagues.
Let's say you're a well-known real estate brand looking to attract brokerages to join your business. It's a B2B play: You'll need to show fellow business owners that you offer services and a brand that will benefit their clients.
You might undertake several interactive features to begin engagement with your potential partners: A downloadable whitepaper could outline your existing tech stack in exchange for an email address, while a poll could let visitors to your site to measure the success of your existing affiliates against their own business.
In the background, those kinds of features benefit multiple teams. Sales can start to identify which prospects to target based on their level of business sophistication. Product can identify new offerings to develop to fill in revealed market white space. And Marketing and Operations can begin to plan in a more tactical way for business growth.
By adding customer touchpoints to your site, you're helping visitors select their own levels of engagement—and you're earning valuable insights for your teams.
Think about the departments that manage internal systems at your company. The service team is affected any time you release a new capability, as it is responsible for creating awareness and getting the word out to your constituents in the field. So it's important that the interactive team provide the servicing team the information it needs to understand new capabilities and the access to analytics to measure the results. They help you measure adoption so you can help move the growth of your brokerages in a positive direction.
2. Don't confuse interactive marketing with the technology department
A common misconception is that interactive marketing pretty much amounts to IT, and that if you find a talented tech employee that person will automatically fit into an interactive marketing role.
But interactive requires a skill set different from the technological expertise of IT. Yes, the interactive marketer should have some understanding of how IT infrastructures support marketing initiatives, but he or she foremost needs to have an eye for customer experience.
Although an IT person might build server infrastructure to support your website, it's the interactive marketer who defines how that website is structured and how the experience of using the site should play out for the customer.
Bring IT and interactive marketing talent together, and you can use the technology at your fingertips to craft a seamless and appealing experience for users.
3. Get passionate about goal-setting and measuring
Interactive shares many goals and objectives with more traditional marketing initiatives. And as with the marketing approaches of the past, if you're not setting interactive goals and tracking your progress, you're shooting at a target in the dark.
Because there are so many helpful tools you can stack, there's really no excuse for not implementing measuring methodologies.
Choose the metrics that make sense for your plan. Consider your website, for example.
- Is your goal to drive leads? You might want to track conversions.
- Do you want to create a portfolio of quality content that increases engagement? Measure users' time on page and social shares.
Your results will tell you whether you're moving forward. Whatever your target, whatever the metric, creating a feedback loop helps you improve and grow.
With interactive marketing, it's helpful to remember that although you might fall behind one quarter, your consistent measuring means you can quickly course-correct. Use your goals and understanding of your customers to make adjustments in real time—and take one quarter's losses to make gains in the next.
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Forget getting stuck in a single fashionable channel. Master the art of interactive marketing and connect with customers right where they are, on the platforms that move them.