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The Dawn of Interactive Marketing

The Dawn of Interactive Marketing

What do we mean by the term interactive marketing? Well, let’s first start with a definition:

*Definition – Interactive Marketing refers to the evolving trend in marketing whereby marketing has moved from a transaction-based effort to a conversation.

This area of marketing has grown significantly and rapidly over the last 10-15 years. In fact a new report by Forrester Research forecasts that U.S. interactive marketing spending will reach $76.6 billion by 2016, equal to TV spending this year and comprising 35% of all advertising. That’s a big jump considering that this year interactive will comprise 19% of all spending, according to Forrester.

Search and display will continue to be the biggest pieces of the interactive spending pie, comprising 44% and 36 %, respectively, in 2016, though search will have lost share from 55% in 2011. Mobile paid advertising and search will experience astronomic growth and are surpassing email and social this year, according to the report.

For the consumer, greater interaction offers convenience, a source of objective and comprehensive information about alternative products, and a relatively hassle free shopping environment. A great exponent of interactive marketing in the UK is English businessman Sir Terry Leahy, previously the CEO of Tesco.

Research within the last three years has pointed to the opinion that Tesco’s Clubcard is actually better known worldwide than the Tesco mother brand! This type of finding illustrates the powerful nature of interactive marketing where the company (Tesco) can deliver REAL benefits to the consumer whilst at the same time collecting invaluable BIG DATA on the habits and preferences of it’s customers. Delivering, you guessed it: REAL competitive advantage.

In fact it’s only of late that competitors such as Sainsbury’s have been able to achieve any real, and sustained traction in the war of the big supermarkets.  Note. Sir Terry Leahy stepped down from his role at Tesco as chief executive in March 2011. Coincidence? You decide. 

For companies, the power of interactive marketing lies in the ability to generate a direct and immediate response from consumers. Unlike other forms of direct marketing, there is no built-in delay (such as having to write a letter, telephone a response or shock horror – visit a shop).

It is however all too easy to see this current and predicted growth in interactive marketing as solely down to the enormous upsurge in the global use of the Internet and mobile. For me however, the term interactive marketing should be considered and employed more in the round, and not just as a narrow term to describe an exercise in customer data collection or a consumer promotion run via social media.

Down the years there have been some quite brilliant examples of customer communication and interaction. By the way, when I use the term ‘customer’ I am also referring to your internal customers – your employees!  Two notable examples are the marketing strategies pursued by J. W. Marriott, Jr of Marriott Hotels, and Gary Kelly at Southwest Airlines.

Both business leaders were masters of simple corporate wisdom and had the ability to inspire in others a passion for great quality and service. Southwest Airlines remains on Fortune magazine’s list of the most admired companies in the world, ranking seventh in 2013. You see, internal and external interactive marketing existed and was thriving long before the Internet took hold!

Don’t ever be afraid to embrace the two-way street that is smarter conversations with customers. A proactive one-to-one marketing process that will react and change based on the actions of individual customers and prospects. It’s learning about your customers and then recycling that information to deliver better customer experiences and competitive advantage that outstrips your competition day-in, day-out.

*Thank you Wikipedia

Paul Brewster, March 2014