What the Heck is Interactive Marketing?
Marketing loves a bit of jargon. If we were to gather up representatives of every industry around the globe to participate in sort of crazed international jargon-off, marketing would win it hands down. Except what we’d actually be doing is touching base off-line with some actionable ideation to pivot a real value-add solution. Honestly, as a creative agency in Malaysia that likes to think we’ve got a finger on the pulse, even we sometimes get confused.
With that cynical burst of self-reflection to frame our exploration, you might be forgiven a bit of scepticism when it comes to the term ‘interactive marketing’. Is it really a new way of thinking? Is it some intriguing new solution to established marketing challenges? Is it just jargon powered up? Let’s explore what interactive marketing really means.
What do we mean by interactive marketing?
Interactive marketing is a marketing ethos that promotes an adaptive, reactive and interactive communication strategy with your audience.
This is a marketing strategy designed around building understanding of your audience through interactions, and then utilising that understanding to offer responsive marketing that meets their needs. Simply put, customers interact with you to express their desires, marketers react to those desires to frame a relevant marketing message.
This isn’t a new term. As far back as 1996 the Harvest Business Review was discussing the emergence of this marketing mantra, and the way it could transform our marketing communications. The difference today is that with social media and the growth of internet connectivity, we’re better placed to encourage and respond to those interactions than ever before.
Is interactive marketing the same as inbound marketing?
Some of you might be scratching your heads now, thinking this whole thing might be rather familiar. You’re not wrong. Isn’t it all sounding suspiciously like inbound marketing? Here is where marketers should probably hold their hands up and apologise for what they’ve done. We’re so busy loving what we do, we sometimes get overexcited and even rebrand the terms we use to describe it.
The term interactive marketing almost certainly predates inbound marketing, but the ethos is broadly the same; responsive marketing built on interactive audience communication.
Does the terminology for interactive marketing matter?
No. Whether you call it interactive marketing, inbound marketing, content marketing, event-driven marketing, trigger-based marketing or yeehaw-we-gonna-get-this-done marketing, the conclusion is the same. What matters are the results.
Interactive marketing is a term and ethos that touches on all of these marketing mantras. It’s about putting the customer at the heart of the marketing effort, responding to their preferences and working to meet their own unique expectations and demands.
How does interactive marketing work in practice?
Chances are if you’re positively engaged with your audience in your marketing efforts, you’re already implementing elements of interactive marketing without realising it.
- Social Media – Social media is a powerful opportunity for interactive marketing. Don’t just use it to post brand updates or announce new products. Social media is an opportunity to respond to your audience, building understanding and positive interactions through valued conversations.
- Email – Providing bespoke email lists that respond to customer preferences is another useful way of building positive customer interaction. Don’t just utilise a single email list that blankets everyone with the same emails, create interest features and customer designated preferences that allow targeted content which responds to their desires.
- Search Engine Advertising – An often overlooked element of audience interaction is search engine advertising. That’s paid adverts which are prominently displayed as a result for key search terms. Ultimately this is a form of interactive marketing; customers input a desire, your targeted adverts respond with a solution.
- Company Blog – Don’t get lost down the narrow alley of one-way blog traffic. Your company blog offers the perfect opportunity to interact with your audience. Create blogs that not only inform and educate but pose questions and spark conversations, then use the comments to interact with your audience and build positive brand sentiment.
So what next for your interactive marketing?
The examples above offer some easy reference points to understand your interactive marketing opportunity. Ultimately it’s not about specific use-cases, it’s about the attitude you take towards your marketing.
It’s clear that customers are keen for brand’s to build conversations. That doesn’t mean you need to be instantly responsive at any time day or night, it just means you need to show an willingness to engage with your audience.
So next time you’re sitting looking at your social media, staring at the notifications and wondering if you have time to reply – do. It’s not just about keeping one customer happy, it’s about evolving the way your marketing works. Building a positive interactive marketing experience for your audience starts with your first conversation.