Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.
Having a Conversation
Imagine all the people you talk to in a day: your parents, children, significant other, the store employee, co-workers, your boss. By communicating with these people, you're able to understand each other's wants, need, likes, and dislikes and they can understand yours. Keeping those lines of communication open makes for better relationships, better shopping experiences, and better workplace scenarios.
Now, imagine you no longer speak to any of those people. How would you know what someone else needed or wanted?
Communication is at the heart of everything we do; and, it is at the heart of interactive marketing. But, how can simply talking be a marketing strategy? Read on to find out.
What Is Interactive Marketing?
Interactive marketing has emerged as a new form of reaching out to customers in a digital age. Defined, interactive marketing is a shift from more traditional one-way forms of marketing communications to a more two-way communications-based model, one that encourages dialogue between the brand or company and the consumers they're trying to reach.
Interactive marketing focuses more on 'active' marketing such as listening to customers, engaging with your audience and structuring your marketing efforts to meet their needs, rather than the 'passive' marketing of old, where customers are given the messages the company wants them to have, with little to no two-way communication.
Interactive marketing takes many forms. Let's look at a few.
Types of Interactive Marketing
Content marketing: This includes tactics such as your company's websites, videos, podcasts and blogs. This tool is anywhere you publish content about your company, products or even hot topics in your industry.
Social media marketing: Social media marketing has thousands of channels to draw from and includes community groups where like-minded individuals promote and engage with their favorites brands and products. Think Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Search engine marketing: Marketing tactics in this group include Search Engine Optimization and Pay-Per-Click advertising. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of boosting your website to appear higher in search engine results. Pay-Per-Click advertising is a method of advertising alongside organic results in a user's search efforts. You pay each time your ad is clicked.
Digital advertising: There are many forms of digital advertising on the internet such as banner ads and contextual ads. Banner ads are a way to advertise on various websites, pointing people back to your brand. Contextual ads are ads placed on pages that are relevant to that page's content.
Mobile marketing: The popularity of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones drives this category. As a marketer, you can use it for text message marketing, development and promotion of mobile applications, and websites that are designed to be used efficiently across mobile devices, called 'responsive' sites.
Email marketing: Email marketing is a low-cost form of interactive marketing that allows you to collect email subscribers and use those addresses to send advertisements, special offers, newsletters and more via your recipients' inbox. By segmenting your email list based on details such as likes/dislikes, gender, previous purchases and more, you can achieve another level of personalization.
The pros here are enormous in the interactive marketing spectrum. Among the benefits of this type of tactic are:
- Reduced cost - both in terms of marketing budget items such as printing, purchasing ad space and distributing your content, and overall expenses, particularly if you have an e-commerce store and no brick-and-mortar location.
- Customer data - Online interactions with your customers can lead to a wealth of data, both in terms of demographics (age, gender, household size) and psychographics (buying behaviors, preferences, wants, needs)
- Audience engagement - Engaging with your audience strengthens not only those relationships, but enhances brand loyalty and allows you opportunities to fulfill a need or want they've expressed. Engagement helps you create personalized content that is relevant to your audience as well.
- Social sharing - Interactive marketing tools are easily shared due to their digital nature. This means more word-of-mouth advertising and more people seeing your messages.
- Quick turnaround - If you design a new blog post this afternoon, you can have it in the hands of your audience this afternoon. There's no lag in terms of moving your content to your intended recipients. Email is another tool that can help get your messages out quickly.
- Immediate feedback - How are you doing? Interactive marketing is a good way to find out. Feedback from customers, prospects and others will allow you to make changes and improve your company and products almost immediately.
- Accessibility - Believe it or not, there are still customers out there who do not have access to your digital marketing channels, so you're limiting your message to people in that category. Internet speed and areas of no service can also limit accessibility to your content.
- Lack of control - When you open yourself up to more engagement and communication, you also open yourself up to more criticism. One place this is evident is in social media circles and the customer review section of your website.
Interactive marketing is a conversation-based approach to reaching and understanding customers. Types include:
- Content marketing a company's websites, videos, podcasts and blogs.
- Social media marketing: engaging on social media platforms
- Search engine marketing: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) (boosting your website to appear higher in search engine results) and Pay-Per-Click advertising (Payment for each time your ad is clicked in a search engine).
- Digital advertising: Banner ads (ads on various websites, pointing people back to your brand) and contextual ads (ads placed on pages that are relevant to that page's content).
- Mobile marketing: Text message marketing, development and promotion of mobile applications, and mobile-responsive websites
- Email marketing: Sending advertisements, special offers, newsletters and more via your recipients' inbox.
The advantages range from affordable costs to quick delivery and better personalization and engagement. Disadvantages are lack of accessibility to some audiences, and being subject to more criticism.
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