Interactive marketing is one on one marketing that is done through fastest growing communication channels (electronic). One on one marketing refers to directly interacting with customers without intermediaries. Electronic channels such as the Internet provides many opportunities for customers and marketers to interact on one to one basis. Also known as the event- driven marketing or trigger based marketing because marketers react to customers’ actions and change accordingly. Interactive marketing is more effective than traditional marketing which lags one on one interaction between marketers and customers.
Forms of Interactive Marketing:
There are many types of interactive marketing, companies will select the ones which would help them to achieve their sales and communication objectives. The main categories I will be discussing are websites, display ads, search ads and emails
- Websites: Companies must design their websites (one of the most important forms of interactive marketing) which can attract customers on their first visit and also interesting enough for repeat visits. Websites should include their history, purpose, vision etc as these things attract customers. Jeffrey Rayport and Bernard Jaworski propose 7Cs (design elements for effective websites). Companies should pay attention to all the Cs in the model and also add one more “C”-constant change. Customers judge the website’s performance on the basis of how easy is it to work it and how attractive it is. How easy it is to operate a website is based on the following factors: downloading speed of a site, the first page is how much easily understood by them and how much easily other pages can be navigated. Physical attractiveness is measured by these factors: website pages are clean are not stuffed with over content, the font size is readable and colors are used properly in the text and also sound effects if any. In addition to websites, companies have started building microsites: individual pages or group of website pages which work as a supplement to the primary website of a company. Microsites are used by the companies who sell low-interest products like insurance sites. People usually do not visit these insurance websites so companies create microsites on used vehicles websites that offers advice to customers in selecting a vehicle and also a good insurance offer.
- Search Ads: Roughly half of online ad spending is on paid search or pay per click ads (PPC) in interactive marketing. Out of the total searches about products/services are 35% searched. In Paid search, marketers bid on search terms which can serve a proxy for customers’ products or consumption interests. When a user searches for any of these terms in search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing), marketers ads may appear above or next to results. The position of the results depends on how much a company spends on this and also on Google’s algorithm that any search engines uses to find out the relevance of an ad to a particular search by customers. Advertisers only pay when users click on these ads. Average click-through rate (CTR) is 2% for these ads. How high an ad is ranked and also the popularity of the keyword determines the cost per click. Marketers are nowadays spending a lot on searches, therefore Search Engine optimization (SEO) has become an important part of marketing. Various guidelines have been issued for effective search ads. As an example, for brand building broader search terms are used and for generation and conversion of sales leads specific terms that specify a particular service/ model are used.
- Display Ads: These ads also known as Banner Ads are part of interactive marketing communication options -small rectangular shape boxes containing text and/or images, companies pay to place these ads on several relevant websites. If customers on a website are large, then companies have to pay a higher cost. In earlier days the Click through rate on these ads were 2-3% and it suddenly got down to 0.25% due to which advertisers started using different forms of interactive marketing communication. These ads if want a greater click through rate needs to be attractive, influential, better targeted to particular audience etc. Interstitials Ads: These are ads one of the forms of interactive marketing options which have video or animation that pop up between the changes on the website. For example, there was an interstitial ad of Tylenol headache tablet which would pop up on Brokers’ sites as and when the stock market goes down by 100 points or more. Many users find these ads to be irritating and intrusive so they download some software to block these ads.
- E-mail: Email one of the interactive marketing communication form allows marketers to communicate with users at a very low cost as compared to the direct mail. Customers receive many emails so they employ spam filters, therefore firms are nowadays asking customers when they would like to receive emails. Emails should be timely sent, relevant and targeted to customers. How marketers maximize the value of emails:
- Marketers should give customers a reason to react
- Content of the emails should be personalized
- They should try to offer something that customers can not get through direct mail
- Marketers should try to make it easy for users to Unsubscribe the unwanted mailers
- They must try to combine other interactive marketing communication means such as social media with the emails
- Mobile Marketing: Everyone nowadays has a mobile phone and moreover marketers can personalize the messages based on users’ behavior and demographics, so mobile marketing is becoming an obvious interactive marketing communication tool today. Mobile phones have become an opportunity for marketers to reach their customers on the third screen, first being the television and second computer. Companies are moving very fast into the mobile space (m-space). Mobile Marketing Options: In 2009 ads spending on mobile phones was around $1 billion worldwide most of them were used in text messages or simple display ads. With the introduction of smartphones, the mobile phones have become more than a display medium for static billboards. Recent interests are nowadays in the applications (apps) that can be downloaded on the smartphones. Smartphones allow customers to track visits and their shopping at a retailer and get rewards. Retailers can send their customers (who opt to receive communications) location specific promotions by tracking their location through mobile phones. Coupon redemption rates at retail stores are decreasing since many years and relevant and timely offers to customers by tracking their location has increased the interest of marketers. How marketers can develop mobile marketing programs: Even with the introduction of smartphones marketers are concerned with the small size of mobile screens, lack of some software applications (Adobe flash player on I-phones) and longer downloads. Marketers are paying attention in creating simple, clean and clear websites as one of the interactive marketing communication options.
The above all explained points are interactive marketing/online marketing communication types that companies are using nowadays to target a large number of customers. These all above points can also be termed as examples of online marketing communication strategies.