By now, you’ve probably seen (or engaged with) some form of interactive advertising. The Internet is filled with it. A banner ad that invites you to mouse over it to see a video or animation is one early example. But, that’s still mostly a one-way communication. Scanning a QR code, “liking” a company on Facebook or “following” that organization on Twitter are also forms of interactive advertising. What these examples all have in common is the goal not only to gain brand awareness for the advertiser, but to employ a much more powerful concept: engagement.
At its core, the goal of any advertising campaign is to sell something. Whether that product is a soft drink, a car or a political agenda, the ultimate goal is to get people talking about—and eventually buying (or buying into)—what is being advertised.
However, it also can be said that the real purpose of most advertising is to invite interaction with a particular product beyond simply viewing a picture or hearing a pitch. Following this logic, advertisements have begun to interact directly with consumers and even to offer them the opportunity to interact with those advertisements. This provides much greater incentive for people to engage further with that brand or product or organization.
Done effectively, interactive advertising has very little downside, as your target customers or members choose to make the connection. The challenge for you is to give them something compelling enough with which to engage. For example, if someone takes the time to “like” you on Facebook, what’s in it for them? Is it just a “thanks for liking us” message? If so, it is unlikely that they will feel satisfied or truly engaged.
Instead, provide them with something they can’t get anywhere else. Make them feel like they are getting something others aren’t. Maybe it’s a sneak peek at a new publication. Maybe it is a discount on something from your store or an event. Or maybe it is unique access to a “community” of people that have the same interests. Whatever it is, make respondents feel as though it was worth the effort and that they are getting something that is special.
Savvy associations can use these same concepts to drive participation at events and increase membership. A member (or potential member) who feels included or special in some way is far more likely to attend your events and buy your publications.
Technology has opened the door to this two-way marketing, and it is typically very inexpensive to implement. It undoubtedly takes more effort to come up with these interactive marketing campaigns, but the payoff can be huge for you and your members.
Marcus Underwood is vice president and general manager of NaylorNet, the online media solutions division of Naylor, LLC.