Traditional advertising was—and in some ways, still is—one-sided. A company buys ad space, shares the copy and images for the campaign, then waits for people to purchase their product or service. This type of advertising relays a message but doesn’t start a conversation with customers. As we’ve gotten used to advanced platforms and technologies, this type of advertising may not be as effective as it was in the past. Interactive marketing is a more popular option in the digital age to help customers feel they’re part of the buying and selling process. Today, we’re discussing:
Interactive marketing is a strategy that relies on readers and viewers sharing their thoughts and preferences with marketers. The process helps marketing teams produce more engaging, relevant, and targeted messages for the audience. While the marketing departments get the final decision on what content to share, they use public opinions as a guide or reference for what’s popular. This differs from advertising methods in the past, where executives sat in a room and decided what they thought people wanted or needed with fewer data points from actual customers.
There are different types of interactive content you may encounter across the internet and other mediums. These tools allow for real-time responses and reactions from leads. Marketers use that information to shape their campaign strategies and on which metrics to focus in analysis reports.
Interactive marketing provides benefits for your company, like:
Most interactive marketing takes place online. Internet advertising often costs less than traditional advertising forms like television, print, or radio ads. This is because internet space is less expensive, and you can typically make internet ads in-house. Online advertising may also produce greater sales and returns than traditional methods in the digital age because of its prevalence and convenience for consumers.
Whether or not we like to admit it, everything we do online leaves a digital footprint behind. Marketing companies love this because they can use all that data about demographics and personal preferences to learn more about their audience. Using that data market research helps them better analyze consumer behavior online and create more targeted and relevant campaigns.
The more input consumers have in marketing, the more chances a brand has to grow and develop with a new or expanded audience. The more people talk about a company online, the more exposure it gets at no cost. People may use reviews, comments, social media posts, and videos to promote a brand through their own channels without compensation.
Any company can use interactive marketing. Most brands use it primarily online and scale production for what their teams can handle. You can produce interactive content in-house or by using an agency or freelancers. Both small local businesses and large brand-name companies benefit from this style of marketing. If your company has a website, blog, or social media presence, you already have the most basic tools necessary to create interactive marketing campaigns.
There are many types of interactive marketing you can use to reach potential customers, including:
Interactive webpages allow customers to engage with a brand for an infinite amount of time on their own schedules. Developers design these pages for browsing, research, education, and participation, depending on the features of the site. Interactive websites usually allow for more engagement than just clicks and scrolls. They may include features like:
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Interactive kiosks are touchscreen tablet-style stands you may see in places like grocery stores, restaurants, or other retail establishments. Most kiosks invite customers to click on touch screens, input data, or complete other actions. Your brand may use them to collect feedback from shoppers, display videos, take branded photos, or create a game for your marketing campaign. Some may include sensors that can detect when someone’s nearby and start broadcasting content to catch their interest.
Interactive ads go beyond a static display message and encourage people to engage. The advertisement then becomes an activity rather than just something to look at. These messages can be as simple as inviting people to click to see a new screen or link. Other options may include finger swipes or typing responses. Interactive ads aren’t passive and require users to become involved to get the full message.
Polls are interactive because they encourage the public to vote and make their voices heard. They’re common on websites and social media platforms. Marketers pose engaging questions in the poll, and respondents choose their favorite answer from a pre-determined list. Sometimes marketers include an “other” option to let people add their own responses, allowing the team to gather more diverse data.
Surveys and quizzes ask for customer feedback. You can create your surveys on paper or provide them electronically through websites, emails, and social media. The goal is to learn more about customer needs, wants, and opinions. Marketers can create surveys for any purpose, such as asking for reviews, determining product usability, or confirming customer interest in a product or service.
Search engine marketing (SEM) is a common type of interactive advertisement. When a customer types in a search query, they receive ads based on the words and phrases they entered. SEM involves many of the same practices you use for conducting search engine optimization (SEO) and creating pay-per-click (PPC) ads. This helps your information show up in the most relevant search results.
Email marketing is interactive because it’s a direct-to-consumer method of communication. It creates opportunities for dialogue and leaves a data footprint to analyze as well. You can segment your subscriber lists to get information to the right people based on what you know about them. You can also customize your mailers in response to the data you collect and analyze. This method allows people to respond to you and give feedback. It also expands the data portfolio because you can track the metrics of these communications.
Blogging serves as a form of interactive media because it’s designed for sharing and often comes with features that allow readers to voice their thoughts. Most blog posts have social share buttons that make it easy for readers to add to their social feeds. This shareability can expand readership and increase the data profiles of your audience. This increased information allows you to figure out how to turn leads into potential customers. Most blogs also have a comment section or include forms and polls that encourage readers to take part in the discussion.
Widgets allow you to connect your brand social profiles and content from other sources to your primary website. For example, WordPress offers a variety of widgets for sharing information like Goodreads lists, social media feeds, and Spotify playlists. You can customize the widgets to get visitors to follow links and travel the web, on and off your domain, to see more content.
Social media is one of the driving forces behind interactive marketing. These platforms make sharing, conversing, and providing opinions as simple as typing a sentence or speaking into a device’s microphone. Social profiles create opportunities to share information with customers instantly and get automatic feedback, which then helps drive campaign evolution.
Targeted ads, while not as interactive as some methods, still use data from other sources to provide the most relevant content. All the demographic data you collect from elsewhere on the internet can help you plan and segment groups for this type of advertising. Using these ads is a popular option in connection with SEM and PPC advertising.
Though less popular, you can still use interactive marketing offline. Some options for offline interactive advertising include:
Use these tips to help you strengthen your interactive marketing tactics:
It’s interesting to speculate on what the future of interactive marketing may look like, especially when we haven’t even invented some of the new technologies that may become most important to the strategy yet. For example, Harvard Business Review published an article called “The Future of Interactive Marketing” in 1996. It discussed the benefits of the World Wide Web and how television ads could be interactive if they encouraged people to call a toll-free number. It’s safe to say that we’ve made just a few more advancements in interactive marketing in the last 25 years.
Michael Brenner of Marketing Insider Group published a more recent article in 2018 called “The Future of Digital Marketing: Predictions for 2021 and Beyond.” He expected the following to be prominent in digital and interactive marketing by the year 2021:
Overall, Brenner’s predictions have been correct. In the future, it may not be a surprise to see more advances in AI and augmented reality for marketing, especially because those tools are closer to their infancy in 2021, just like the World Wide Web was in 1996. Though we can’t accurately predict the exact future of interactive marketing, some of Brenner’s observations may continue to grow until they overtake some common methods of advertising we use today.
Real companies and prominent brand names already use interactive marketing in their campaigns. Some examples include:
Image via Hulu
GatewayGo is a type of action-oriented advertising associated with the streaming platform Hulu. It takes the traditional TV ads you see while watching shows and turns them into an interactive experience. The program uses QR codes and the choice to opt-in to receive information from clients using the phone number and email address attached to their Hulu account.
Image via Quicken
Quicken is a finance software suite that provides budgeting, accounting, and personal finance services to customers. The company offers interactive web tools like a free budget calculator on its websites. This tool allows users to input data like their monthly income and savings figures, housing, transportation, educational, and personal expenses. The tool then determines whether a person’s income covers all their necessary costs. Quicken writers also provide information on how to create an effective budget and insert calls to action throughout to get users to purchase their products.
Interactive marketing doesn’t have to be just for selling products. Heineken used the Go Places campaign in 2016 to serve as a recruitment tool to find new employees. The company created a choose-your-own-adventure format to inform potential hires about the company culture and benefits.
The Hulu TV series “Only Murderers in the Building” has its own Instagram account, which takes the interactive experience to an immersive level. The bio for the account appears in the first person, as do many of the captions on the posts. This makes followers feel like perhaps the figurative murderer in the building is the one running the account. Creators also use hashtags and other tools to get the audience involved in the mystery. For example, during the show’s second season, creators developed a website for viewers to vote for who they thought was the prime suspect.
Image via Instagram by @onlymurdershulu
Marketers now incorporate more interactive elements into their campaigns in order to attract and maintain their audience’s attention. Not only does this make a brand seem fun and relevant, but it can also help marketers collect user data and listen to the public. It’s possible that interactive marketing may become even more prominent and sophisticated in the future as new technologies develop.
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