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How “touchable” is your marketing approach? Can your customers hold your vision in their hand? Can they contribute to the values of your company, or help shape the future of your brand? Are their comments, concerns, and recommendations constantly influencing future iterations of your product line? Or do they just sit in some anonymous email inbox, never to see the light of day?
Interactive marketing refers to this idea of “touchable” marketing. Over time, consumer/brand relationships have evolved, whereby marketing has moved from a transactional-based effort to a more inclusive relationship-based approach. In order for your company to succeed in an increasingly competitive marketplace, you need to not just promote your product – you need to encouraged your customers to interact with it.
On the surface, this seems like an easy enough task. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find interactive marketing requires a great deal of planning, collaboration and creativity.
It All Started at Harvard
The formal definition for interactive marketing was coined by John Deighton of Harvard University. In his 1996 paper, “Interactive Marketing Technologies: Implications for Consumer Research,” Deighton refers to interactive marketing as the ability to address the customer, remember what the customer says, and address the customer again in a way that illustrates that we remember what the customer has told us. As such, interactive marketing allows consumers and prospective customers to participate in the process of building a brand – its image, values, targets and products.
While this disruptive approach to marketing has certainly been made easier through the rise of technology and internet marketing, it’s worth noting that interactive engagement isn’t synonymous with digital outreach. While Internet marketing is a piece of the interactive puzzle, it’s just a small part of a much larger concept.
The Three Pillars of Interactive Marketing
A successful interactive marketing campaign hinges on three important factors: experiential marketing, digital marketing, and the execution of creative designs, campaigns and events. Through the use of these three strategic pillars, marketing professionals can quickly and efficiently react to the actions of customers through intuitive and informative trigger marketing outreach. Dramatically more effective than normal direct marketing, trigger marketing can be executed across a wide variety of target markets and demographics, including:
- Business to business marketing
- Business to consumer marketing
- High and low transaction businesses
- Pre-sale prospect management
- Post-sale customer management
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Interactive marketing approaches always begin with a solid base of data – data that’s mined directly from the consumer. This information is then used to build a relationship with the consumer, ultimately personalizing their brand experience.
Extending Engagement Time
Once you’ve done your due diligence and collected the appropriate information, it’s time to create experiences and campaigns to hook your customers. Websites, social media, e-marketing and live events with brand ambassadors can be combined to create a holistic outreach and campaign. The end goal? Increase engagement time, build brand sentiment and turn customers into believers.
Consider the following: at a traditional experiential marketing event, you’re lucky if your brand ambassadors can guarantee 10 seconds of one-on-one engagement time with your customers. That’s not nearly enough time to make a lasting impact. However, when you incorporate digital marketing and creative design into your approach (this includes pre- and post-event interactions, as well as event-day activities) the engagement time can often last as long as 5 or even 10 minutes. Talk about an unparalleled opportunity for direct engagement and two-way conversation with your customer!
Every Relationship Has its Hiccups
While interactive marketing has the ability to blow your engagement metrics through the roof, it’s worth noting that not all interactions are guaranteed to be positive. Every relationship has its struggles, after all. Even so, these hiccups and rocky moments aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Interactive marketing is all about responding to a customer’s needs, and sometimes those needs are based on a poor experience. Brand management and customer service is thus a key aspect of your interactive marketing approach. By soliciting feedback, both good and bad, and then utilizing this information in a productive manner, you show your customers that you care about their participation and that their voice matters.
Companies can no longer ignore the need for responsive interactive marketing. Consumers don’t just prefer it, they expect it. Customers expect to have the opportunity to comment, share and contribute to your brand, so why aren’t you embracing their input? A nimble interactive marketing approach will help you harness this feedback and turn it into a living, breathing, profit-generating vehicle. Contact Midfield today to learn how interactive marketing can further improve your overall marketing strategy.