Interactive Marketing Communication



Interactive Marketing Communication is important because today's customer is not like the customer of yesterday. Likewise, today's marketing must be different from the marketing of yesterday. Customer's today are less susceptible to sales and marketing efforts in general and are more informed than buyers of the past. In order to effectively influence customers today, marketing must be personable, intelligent and emphatic.

Interactive Marketing Communication forms part of the approach to new marketing that is required to succeed in today's business world. It is predicated around treating customers as individuals with whom we make consistent efforts to build a relationship with. This relationship is based on communicating with customers as friends, being aware of their needs and aspirations and being sincere in wanting to help them.

This section discusses the factors that make Interactive Marketing Communication an integral part of new marketing with new media. As well, learn how the mindset of interactive relationship building applies to traditional marketing methods in addition to the online and digital media to which it is usually applied. Whichever Marketing Communication Tools you utilize to reach your customers, only consistent and persistent contact based on a sound philosophy of creating customers will spell success.


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What, Why, Who and How Of Interactive Marketing Communication

A multitude of changes in business, consumer behavior and the world in general has shaped our current marketing environment over the last several decades. From the print, radio and TV media revolution to the digital age. From industries dominated by a few key players to a mix of successful companies of all sizes in today's market. From unassuming, susceptible consumers to the analytical, skeptical and information buyer of today.

Interactive Marketing Communication is one of the marketing strategies that has evolved to cope with our changing times and the changing buying patterns of our customers. Starting with the concept of customers first, marketers today are finding that they must commit time and effort into establishing trust and actively building a relationship with customers. "If you build it, they will come" no longer applies.

The following characteristics of Interactive Marketing Communication are key to understanding customers today and how to market to them. As you read through this list, think about your own customers and how you can shape your own attitudes and marketing initiatives to better cultivate meaningful relationships with your buyers. As well, think about the various Marketing Communication Tools that are available for you to enhance your level of interaction with customers.


Pull vs. Push

Marketing no longer means bombarding passive customers with one way messages via print media, TV or radio. Rather, these "push" techniques have been supplemented by the various interactive media of the Information Age as well as an interactive customer.

Interactive Marketing Communication is predicated around buyers today who do not sit back and listen but themselves choose the time and place of their interaction with companies. Exemplified by the internet, marketers today operate in a "pull" environment where customers choose between a variety of products and services, sellers and media.


Dialogue vs. Monologue

As marketers, we no longer talk to customers but rather speak with them. Gone is the passive customer of yesterday who is content to receive, absorb and act on a marketing message. Customers today have plenty of questions and are less prone to buy without investigating your message and validating your claims as best as they can.

Customers want to interact with you before doing business and therefore part of your job in sales and marketing is providing them ample opportunity to do so. Information brochures, online forms and toll-free numbers are just some of the ways in which you can facilitate a conversation with customers. Information gathered during these interactions is invaluable to the sales process as whole.


Active vs. Passive

Interactive Marketing Communication by definition is designed to engage the customer and marketer in a meaningful exchange or dialog. As such, it can be termed a "lean forward" methodology as opposed to TV, print and radio, for example, which allowed customers to "lean back" without engaging their undivided attention.

In many ways, Interactive Marketing is a more intense and absorbing experience for the customer be it online, at an event or taking part in an marketing experiment at a booth in a shopping mall. This goes both ways as the marketer engineers and delivers an experience that gives the customer control as well as responsiveness to their needs.


Variable Attention

It is true that you only have a limited time to make an impression on a customer and engage them in a dialog. If a customer does not find what they are looking for or something that appeals to them immediately, they will very likely disappear never to return. However, with an intelligent approach to Interactive Marketing you will find that once customers are engaged they are in fact happy to give you more of their time than they otherwise would.

A key consideration is having just enough "flash" to interest a customer amidst thousands of other sales and marketing messages they absorb without scaring them away. As well, a "layered" interactive approach that seeks to engage more of a customer's time and attention in successive stages is sometimes most effective. For example, you might offer a newsletter subscription only after a customer has signed up for your prize raffle.


Greater Detail

Longer interactions with more informed customers leads to the necessity of more detailed marketing in the world of Interactive Marketing Communication. As stated, today's customers have plenty of questions and are driven by a need to investigate to validate claims and find the best value buy that benefits them.

Marketing information should be plentifully available to customers in whatever form they seek it, be it online, over the phone or in person. Just as with everything else in the modern business world, the goal is to cater to the needs of the customer and design marketing programs and tools around best serving buyers.


One-To-One vs. One-To-Many

Mirroring the move from "push" to "pull" marketing communication, Interactive Marketing Communication is characterized by a move towards personalized marketing. Whereas traditional marketing saw companies succeeding by broadcasting a single message to a large target audience, more and more customers today demand a more individual, customized marketing effort.

As much as you are able to answer to this need to one-on-one interaction with customers, you will succeed. Fewer customers today respond to the mass broadcast marketing of yesterday and some of the most successful marketers today are those, such as Google, who find ways to personalize messages to make them more specific to individual customers.


Multiple Players

Another changing paradigm in today's marketplace is the/ fact that marketing communication is not restricted to buyers and sellers only. Rather, traditional company / customer communication has been augmented by a number of new voices that influence the buying process and have substantial broadened the scope of marketing communication.

Consumer groups, product forums, third-party evaluators, industry analysts and certification groups are just some of the many interests that weigh in on discussions pertinent to any given industry today. As a marketer, you must not only communicate directly with consumers but, where and as possible, strive to become a thought leader in the overall discussion as a whole in your field of expertise through a variety of communication efforts and approaches.


Multiple Channels

More media, more technology and more stakeholders in the buying discussion means that there are more ways than ever to reach your customers today. As well as a variety of communication tools at your disposal, there are no end to third-party marketers and service provides offering you newer way to contact and forge relationships with your target audience.

While there is no "silver bullet" Marketing Communication Mix that will work in every situation, truisms such as the need for intelligent, emphatic discussion hold true regardless of which medium you use. Part of Interactive Marketing Communication is defining your own unique mix of tools and methods for engaging customers and generating sales, one that will be subject to change and ongoing experimentation.


Mixed-Mode Buying

Just as there are a multitude of ways to communicate with your customers, there are also various means by which customer can interact with you to do business. Mixed-Mode Buying alludes to the fact that a characteristic of Interactive Marketing is facilitating a number of ways for customers to actually purchase your solution.

It is not enough to set up shop and expect people to walk through the door and buy. Successful sales and marketing today entails seeking out and cultivating the best ways to communicate and sell to customers from amongst an endless number of possibilities be it online, in person, through catalogs or door-to-door.


Integration

Multiple communication channels and modes of interaction necessitates an Integrated Marketing Communication strategy be in place for effective Interactive Marketing Communication. The sheer number of ways and means of reaching out to and doing business with customers, as well as the number of different "players" in today's marketplace means that your marketing activities should be coordinated for maximum effect and synergy.

The goal is not to do everything and be everything for everyone which is impossible. Rather, seek to find and continually redefine your best Marketing Communication Mix and the strategies that work best in engaging and interacting with your target audience.


Conversion Marketing




Creating a dynamic Marketing Communication Plan with the right mix of Marketing Communication tools will require a Marketing Strategy that combines Interactive Marketing Communication with Integrated Marketing Communication. What are the goals of your marketing program though? As you go through the process of creating and maintaining successful marketing programs and initiatives, it is useful to keep in mind the following stages of customer engagement as defined by Conversion Marketing.


Contact

What is the medium and message through which you first contact customers? What image and what information are you going to promote? Focus on content.


Interact

What channels are available for an interactive dialog to take places between yourself and the customer? What is your "Marketing Personality" that imbues the tone of the conversation? Focus on communication.


Transact

How do you and your customer do business? Are you taking advantage of the best means available for your customer to purchase from you? Focus on commerce.


Relate

Sales does not end with a sale. How is your Marketing Communication Program designed around facilitating an ongoing relationship with customers? Focus on community.


Get help with Interactive Marketing Communication!

GO TO:
Marketing Communication MixMarketing Communication PlanMarketing Communication StrategyIntegrated Marketing CommunicationMarketing Communication Process"You" MessagingEmail Marketing StrategyMass Email Marketing Basics35 Email List Marketing TipsEmail Marketing ListsChoosing an Email Marketing SystemBusiness Email TipsInteractive Marketing Communication Consultant




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