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If you are a marketing professional, you likely spend much of your time thinking about lead generation.

Lead generation was cited as the number one challenge by 61% of marketers in a 2022 HubSpot survey. The survey also found that more than half of marketers are spending at least half of their budget on lead generation.

Those kinds of stats mean that marketers seeking to generate new leads through advertising must acknowledge that they face a lot of competition for potential customers. Standing out requires something unique.

Interactive ad campaigns, which invite buyers into a conversation before presenting them with an opportunity, provide the right kind of disruption to attract attention and generate leads.

The Essence of Interactive Campaigns

To be truly interactive, a campaign must allow for a two-way flow of information. It must give potential customers an opportunity to influence or control the information they are receiving.

Traditional advertising does not accomplish that. Whether relying on a billboard, a postcard, a blog post, or an Instagram story, most ad campaigns simply make a statement to a potential customer about a product or service. Although it might invite someone to engage by commenting or liking or sending a text, traditional advertising does not seek to have a conversation.

At its core, interactive advertising shifts the goal of a campaign from selling a product to building a relationship with a target audience.

By inviting someone into an interaction, ads communicate that a brand wants to know about its market as much as it wants that market to know about its brand. In many ways, interactive ads communicate to their target audience that a brand is willing to take the time to provide a more engaging encounter or to understand customers on a deeper level.

Interaction Invites Viewers to a Personalized Experience

Even when the level of interactivity is minimal, such as with a one-screen survey, interactive ads allow for a campaign to give each potential customer a personalized experience.

Consider a poll that you post as an Instagram story. Most stories offer you an image or video to view, whereas poll allows each user to have a unique experience with the ad. It asks viewers what they think. It invites a conversation. When users engage, they change the ad by contributing a vote. Interaction has occurred.

Even if the campaign ends with the potential customer's participating in a poll, it has already accomplished more than a traditional ad does. But it does not need to stop there.

If the brand shares the results of the poll, either on Instagram or elsewhere, it communicates to the participants not only that they were simply invited to vote but also that their voices were heard. If the results of the poll are used to shape future advertising or future products, customers may begin to see themselves as contributors or creators. When that happens, brands become more relevant, and customers experience a deeper connection to them.

Although an Instagram poll is a simple example of interactivity, it maps out components that can be used with other media to build interactivity into campaign:

  • Ask for a contribution, rather than offering a solution.
  • Build the engagement around something relevant or entertaining.
  • Make it easy for the viewer to engage.
  • Give the viewer a reason to check back (e.g., provide updated results).
  • Make shared input a part of the campaign (e.g., use user-generated content).
  • Share ways user input improved a product or service.

Interaction Invites Marketers to Think Outside the Box

Interactive ad campaigns typically use a kind of call to action that's different from traditional advertising's. Rather than inviting people to "buy now," or "book now," or "click to lock in savings," interactive CTAs invite users to have an experience that is personal, memorable, and relevant for the brand's target market. As a result, a wide range of nontraditional methods are available to engage potential customers in unconventional and out-of-the-box ways.

For example, providing a customized calculator that allows potential customers to see what they could save by using a product makes for a highly personalized experience while also engaging with the brand. HubSpot's Advertising ROI Calculator is an example from the B2B world. It allows potential HubSpot customers to figure out the profit they should expect from their ads based on variables such as monthly budget, expected CPC, and average sale price of their product. Those who are unhappy with the calculator's projected results are given the option of hiring HubSpot to help them to create better ads.

If that level of development seems overwhelming, keep in mind that the heart of interactive advertising is not showing off technology but, rather, giving users some control over how they will engage.

Something as simple as a branded GIF can make for an effective interactive campaign in which the call to action is not as obvious. Branded GIFs, by playing up creativity and playing down branding, give viewers the opportunity to decide how they will interpret the ad and what it means to them. When the GIF connects with viewers, they become more aware of and accepting of the brand. That may not result in a viewer's making a purchase or providing contact information, but it can generate data that can be used for remarketing, retargeting, and general demographic or geographic targeting.

* * *

Creating personalized experiences such as interactive ads can be expensive initially, especially because it takes time to show their advantages. However, if businesses are patient with the process, interactive, personalized ad campaigns will eventually help their brand to develop loyalty and recognition in its target market, creating an environment where leads are more easily generated.

More Resources on Interactive Content and Ad Campaigns

Five Interactive-Content Tools to Engage Your Audience and Generate Leads

How to Build Interactive Content to Achieve Your Digital Marketing Goals

What Is Interactive Marketing, and How Does It Help Your Bottom Line?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

image of John Horn

John Horn is the CEO of StubGroup, an ad agency that provides its clients with solutions for brands that want serious, practical, growth-driven performance.

LinkedIn: John Horn