With so many trends to keep up with, it can be hard for marketers to stay on top of industry developments and to decide which are the most relevant for their brand and strategy. While it can feel like the industry is constantly moving as a result of fast-paced technological change and increasingly-demanding audiences, in fact this offers multiple opportunities for marketers to streamline their strategy and embrace new ideas.
What is interactive marketing?
One of these opportunities is interactive marketing. According to Marketing Schools, ‘traditionally, advertising flows in one direction. A marketer will design an ad, purchase ad space, send the ad into the world and wait for the results.’ Yet as consumer preferences, the rise of ad blocking and the sheer volume of marketing directed at individuals on a daily basis have begun to present a real challenge to marketers seeking to convey their marketing messages, strategy has had to evolve.
For Marketing Schools, ‘customers now expect to be welcome and respected participants in the brands they love.’ Interactive marketing is just one answer to this demand, and one which ‘relies on customers expressing their preferences so that marketers can produce more relevant marketing messages [via] a two-way dialogue between a business and its customers.’
NG Data builds on this definition, pointing out that the term interactive marketing encompasses ‘dynamic content such as visual storytelling, personalised content [and] layered information’, with the aim being ‘to make content engaging and relevant for customers.’
Why interactive marketing can benefit brands
While implementing interactive marketing requires a large amount of customer data, which of course not only needs to be collected but must also be processed and analysed to generate insights, there are a number of benefits to interactive marketing.
One benefit is that brands can market to their target audiences in real time. In an article for Forbes, CEO of By Monday Larry Myler explains that because brands already have multiple touchpoints with their prospective consumers, from websites and email to in-store, ‘making offers to customers and prospects when they contact you is much more effective than a cold outreach.’ By tracking customers’ clicks, responses, profiles, and interaction histories, brands can make sure that their interactive campaign reaches the right consumer at the right time and therefore drive more targeted sales.
Another obvious benefit of interactive marketing is that it builds a stronger relationship between brand and consumer, which is increasingly valued by buyers particularly from the millennial generation. For Entrepreneur.com, a good example of this is McDonald’s interactive marketing campaign, which saw American actress Mindy Kaling ask viewers to Google “that place where Coke tastes so good” while she waited for them on screen to find the answer. Without featuring a logo or indeed even mentioning the fact that the advert was from McDonald’s, viewers were forced to interact with the campaign if they wanted to know what was going on. Entrepreneur.com argues that ‘what really matters is that all interactive marketing has a stickiness that binds the user to the marketed product or service,’ focusing on giving a unique or memorable experience to the consumer in exchange for their attention, loyalty and ultimately money.
Do marketers have a choice?
Buying into interactive marketing might soon become a must for marketers, as the popularity of interactivity leads such interactions to become the norm. According to a whitepaper by digital marketing platform wayin for Marketing Week, traditional digital marketing no longer works because ‘advertising has perpetuated the lack of real interaction a brand has with consumers.’ With ad blockers becoming ever more sophisticated, Wayin argues that this is a question of survival, of fending off extinction for many brands. It is suggested that rather than ‘playing cat and mouse’ and investing time and money to find new ways around ad blocking software, the only solution is to create ‘new, interactive ways to share experiences with everyone.’
One way that the whitepaper suggests this can be carried out is via appverts, which are defined as ‘an interactive marketing ‘applications’, fully customisable by the advertiser, which are used instead of the traditional ad unit.’ Powered by ‘engaging and flexible live experiences’ and producing everything ‘from user-generated content to quizzes, live polls to meme generators’, the platform has numerous campaign types and real-time visuals that can be embedded into appverts and help brands stand out and drive action.’
By creating content which is interactive, shareable and generates a memorable experience for the user, rather than relying on tried and tested methods that have become static, marketers can recapture the interest of generations turned off from advertising and create meaningful engagement with a brand’s message.