How interactive marketing is more than just the flavour of the month

Firstly, what even is interactive marketing? It basically means facilitating a two-way conversation or interaction between the source and the receiver via a marketing message. Or a marketing campaign that is created so that the audience engages and interacts with the brand.

This is an integral change to how marketing used to go about its business. In the past, traditional advertising would flow in one direction, from the people who created the adverts to the target audience. Advertisers did a lot of guesswork around what customers wanted and even went so far as influencing what customers will want in the future.

No film encapsulates the mantra of advertising in the 90s better than the first 5 minutes of the satirical film 99 francs, when the Creative Director of an advertising agency says:

‘I’m sorry to be so ahead of all of you. But I am the one who is going to have to decide what you will want tomorrow(…)Everything is temporary and everything can be bought. A man is just a product, with a limited sell-by date. I am advertising, I am the person who makes you dream about the things you will never have. Blue skies and perfect happiness retouched in Photoshop.’

Modern marketing (which basically ate up the traditional advertising sector as it continues to bloat) is still, of course, trying to influence consumer behaviour but what has changed is that consumers expect to be part of the conversation, they expect to be welcomed and respected participants in deciding what they want to purchase. They don’t want to be told anymore, they want brands to listen.

Thirst Rate

This is of course mutually beneficial. The people using and buying a brand are involved in making the product or service better so that it fits more with what they want. The brands get to improve what they’re selling so that they can align themselves more with the core audience. Win, win.

Collaborative and mutual feedback is the working mantra for interactive marketing, the whole point of 2-way input is that it helps both sides. Modern marketing is no longer outbound in nature, it no longer prescribes how consumers should think and feel, marketing is now pricking up its ears and listening to what the person at the other end of the receiver wants. In fact, inbound marketing intelligence is so crucial that any campaign that doesn’t analyse and adapt with the market will most likely fall flat on its insular face.

The modern world is moving so quickly, and we have so much more choice at our fingertips that what we want and need change constantly. And so, ideas and messages that aren’t bounced off the people that use them on a regular basis very quickly lose their appeal. Even a timeless idea needs to be constantly rehauled and made to look like it’s timeless and relevant.

And that’s why there is no such thing as too much feedback for brands. Feedback is a bit like a bottomless treasure chest or when you don’t realise how thirsty you are, and you find yourself downing a pint of water. Feedback is basically the fountain of youth for modern marketing, without it you’ll soon start hearing the cruel tick of Father Time.

Feed me grapes

Even the idea of feedback has moved on a bit since paper feedback forms or even electronic ones.

Now feedback can even be involuntary. Your swipes, bounces and clicks are all being hoovered up by clever little analytic bots, who feed it back to the people who know what to do with all that raw data. And because marketing can never have enough information from us, brands are now developing websites, games and marketing campaigns which push for absolute collaboration and total interaction.

Push notifications, moving graphics, quizzes, moments and games or even live stream videos where the host and the viewer can interact with each other are all forms of feedback. They are all out there on the world wide web because they help collate the maximum amount of information from us while at the same time giving us an interesting and positive experience. The audience always needs to get something from the interaction because it’s a two-way deal.

We need you

Interactive marketing reflects how much the world has changed since the 1990s advertising brigade or even the classic wartime adverts. The whole point of marketing now is to create a dynamic process that creates organic interaction, a continuous loop of communication. Dynamic because it is fuelled by us and should react to a substantial change in pattern or behaviour.

Interactive marketing is more tuned into human nature than the older advertising ways. It’s no longer about talking at your audience, it’s about listening. This integral change happened because the consumer is now smarter and more experienced than the consumers of old, they know a plug and a marketing trick a mile off and will only live with it if they are involved in the game of chess instead of the unaware pawn.

Crucially, the target audience woke up and realised that choice was the downfall of any brand, and that if they use their loyalty as a bargaining chip, brands would finally let them sit at the table and listen to what they have to say.