Why you need interactive marketing
Imagine that you have a question for your favorite brand. You reach out on Twitter and within minutes receive a response that’s clearly written by a real person, not a robot. You not only get the information you need — you also get a personal experience that cements your loyalty.
In a world where marketing campaigns have traditionally targeted all customers with the same message, interactive marketing is an exciting new direction. Interactive marketing is a personalized method of outreach that revolves around individual customer actions, behaviors, and preferences. There are many ways to use interactive marketing to engage with your customers. Consider, for example:
- Posting videos, such as music videos
- Hosting live online events
- Engaging on social media
- Creating an online group
- Recording a podcast
Whichever interactive marketing strategy you use, you can be sure it will increase engagement and likely result in an uptick in customer satisfaction, referrals, and ultimately sales. Read on to learn more about why you need interactive marketing and what it can do for your business.
Engage with your customers
Engagement with your audience is the central element of interactive marketing. Ideally you are interacting directly with your customers to learn about their challenges and their views on your products.
“Sometimes customers will have very specific suggestions that are great ideas, and if you’re paying attention, there are opportunities to understand what problems they’re facing,” says Mike Allton, head of strategic partnerships at Agorapulse. “Interactivity is critical in that regard.”
There are many ways that you can seek out engagement, from posting on social media to making videos. A particularly interactive format is live video events such as webinars and live explainers. Allton recommends providing an option for the audience to ask questions in real time.
“If you leave a comment or say something, the host will take the comment and put it on-screen,” says Allton. “That triggers your happy brain chemicals. That makes you more engaged, more interested, more likely to attend the next live show, and more likely to be more in tune with not only the host but also the brand they’re representing.”
Be present on social media
Using social media is an excellent way to expand your reach, especially if your audience is inspired to share your content with their network. It’s essential to create engaging content to promote organic visibility on search engines, which is a rating of your site in relation to a set of keywords. Good organic visibility helps you rank higher in search results.
“For small brands, social media is a real opportunity,” says Allton. “If you’re a big brand like Coca Cola, for example, you can get a lot of engagement, and that can take a lot of time and staff to respond. For a smaller brand, you can have conversations in the comments.”
You can improve the chances of users sharing your content and engaged with you on social platforms by tailoring the content you publish to the audience you are trying to reach on the specific platform. For example, paring a longer video down into a short gif can be appropriate for TikTok but likely won’t resonate as well on YouTube.
“It’s really important to make sure the platform is a good fit,” says Joseph Kerschbaum, vice president of search & growth labs at 3Q Digital. “Everybody thinks right now, ‘I just have to be in video.’ But folks need to figure out where they want their videos to appear and create videos that are best optimized for the platform where they’re going.”
Satisfy the customer
Customer satisfaction arises when your product or service meets your audience’s needs and when they feel that you value them. Interactive marketing can help you pursue both of these goals by encouraging feedback.
Create spaces where customers can provide your company feedback — where they can be confident they will be heard, such as a live Q&A with the CEO on LinkedIn or a webinar. Make sure to provide prompt, transparent responses to customer comments.
“One reason that customers don’t tend to give any type of feedback is because they don’t feel like they’re heard,” says Allton. “If you’re responding, you’re teaching your customer base and your potential customers that you as a brand are listening. And that will encourage them to share more, and that’s a great feedback loop to have.”
Lower marketing costs
Personalization in your marketing — or customizing messages for types of customers — is likely to make your customers feel valued and increase their sense of loyalty. Considering that it’s cheaper to keep an existing customer than acquiring a new one, putting the effort into interactive marketing that boosts your customers’ satisfaction is a cost-effective strategy.
Compounding the strategic benefit, satisfied customers are more likely to refer new customers to your company. Referrals are highly valuable but can cost relatively little to generate since they’re driven by word-of-mouth. In fact, researchers at Wharton Business School found that a customer referred by someone else is 16-25 percent more valuable to a company than a non-referred customer.
Measure what’s working
Interactive marketing encourages two-way communication between you and your customers, which can help improve the quality of your marketing data and simplify the process of gathering it. Digital tools shed light on how the audience is interacting with your content.
“You can see engagement rates overall via platform, and you can also slice and dice by content type,” says Allton. “If we’re creating good, live content, and it’s getting interesting engagement, that’s going to inevitably lead to boons in other areas: website traffic, leads, sales.”
Since analytics tools only provide raw data about customers’ clicks, views, shares, and other interactions, they should be supplemented with high-quality feedback solicited directly from your audience, wherever possible.
“The question is, ‘What is this data telling me about my audience?’” says Kerschbaum. “Then you can replicate that and use that in other marketing and other content.”
Customer satisfaction = sales
Interactive marketing provides powerful benefits, particularly helping increase customer satisfaction and referrals and enabling you to solicit useful feedback. Both of these dynamics are likely to lead to more sales as loyalty and retention rise among existing customers and referrals convert to new — and loyal — customers themselves.
Whether you’re hosting webinars, conversing with customers on social media, publishing videos to a YouTube channel, or using some other strategy, interactive marketing is an indispensable approach to growing and sustaining your business.