People are used to being sold to. Advertising follows the average person on their train commute, splashed across billboards on their walk through the city, on the television set when they’re relaxing at home, and nowadays – in bed, in the bathroom and anywhere else they happen to be at any given moment. That’s because marketing now has 24/7 access via mobile devices, and the internet.

This means that the average person is being forced into a more discerning role; they are aware that brands are vying for their attention, so they have to pick and choose which brands they engage with. In essence that means brands they value and trust.

Building a relationship between your brand and your audience is the best way to nurture trust over time. But relationships are a two person tango; not one person on a soapbox and the other assuming the role of passive audience. Online marketing channels tend to be utilised in a one-way communication type of way; a promotional email blasted to 1,000 contacts, for example – or banner ads on websites that simply ask onlookers to convert on the spot.

One way promotional campaigns which are ‘batched and blasted’ (created with generalised copy and published to anyone who will listen) are no longer cutting it in a world where most people are advert-saturated.

We’ve talked a little bit about the marketing automation trends we’re watching in the lead up to (and now the continuation of) 2019. One of the most exciting trends is the move towards high value, relevant, interactive marketing campaigns.

Interaction is the exact opposite of one-way promotion, and is a sort of cure-all for the marketing oversaturation your audience is most likely dealing with. Making your automated emails more interactive, for example, will increase your emails’ engagement rates; and help to build contact-brand loyalty and trust.

By acknowledging the recipient as an individual with valuable, unique input to share, you are immediately recognising the brand-contact relationship as just that: an actual relationship. You’re no longer just saying that you value your contacts, you’re showing them that you value them by offering plenty of opportunities for them to give feedback, share an opinion, and communicate with your brand.

How do we make our Marketing Automation campaigns interactive experiences?

Embedded polls

Some Marketing Automation platforms enable the embedding of live polls in email campaigns. This is a straightforward way of making your email campaigns interactive experiences.

Make sure your polls offer something of value to the recipients, whether they perceive the poll as fun, useful, or a chance to improve their experience with your brand – there has to be some sort of incentive.

Need ideas for what your polls should be about?

  • Feedback poll on a comms journey (e.g. “How do you think we could improve these eNewsletters?”)
  • Fun polls related to your brand’s niche
  • Asking for ideas for next product/event/service improvement
  • Polling contacts on their favourite product/event/email campaign of the year
  • Fun quiz questions (related to your brand) where the correct answer will be revealed next edition/email

Feedback/opinion surveys

A valuable interactive experience for both parties involved is feedback collection. As the company conducting the feedback survey, you get to collect useful data directly from your target audience; helping to inform your strategy in the future. For your contacts, they’ll feel more valued as unique participants in the brand-customer relationship, and will feel engaged in helping to shape your company’s trajectory.

Feedback and opinion surveys should be conducted in a timely and relevant way. That is, don’t send out feedback survey requests to your entire database ‘just because’. Instead, send feedback surveys to collect feedback from specific interactions. For example, send an event feedback form to all contacts who attended your event. Have it to auto-send to ‘event attendee’s’ the day after your event finishes. This feedback survey is therefore on time, relevant, and sent to the people who most expect to receive it.

If you’re looking to further incentivise feedback form submissions, consider offering rewards that are only unlocked after completing the survey. For example, tell event attendees that after they submit their feedback, they’ll receive an email with product vouchers, or downloadable whitepapers. This requires that you set up your automated survey confirmation email with attachments, and other goodies.

Depending on the type of feedback and opinions you’re asking for, it is important that you consider whether your survey should be anonymous or not. An internal staff feedback form, for example, may garner more honest responses if carried out anonymously.

‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ style campaigns

What’s more fun than a CYOA experience? Grab attention with a unique campaign sequence which is unique to each recipient. Sound impossible? You haven’t considered trigger based emails.

By using Marketing Automation tools such as trigger based emails, you’re able to create an email journey which branches off, and is unique to each individual contact.

What’s in it for you? You collect data, and find out more about what engages your audience. Whilst your contacts increase their engagement with your brand, simply by perceiving the interactive campaigns as valuable and enjoyable.

How do trigger based emails work? Trigger based email campaigns are emails that are created in advance, and setup to publish when specific behavioural data is met.

For example, let’s say your CYOA style campaign starts off with a welcome email sent to everyone, but for the second email in the sequence – there’s two choices. One of these emails is ‘triggered’ to send when a contact clicks the red button in the first welcome email. The other email is ‘triggered’ to send when a contact clicks the blue button in the first welcome email. That means contacts are essentially choosing which email they next receive; forging their own unique email campaign journeys.

The possibilities are endless with a CYOA style campaign; and although it involves a bit of prep and a lot of content creativity, interactive email experiences don’t come more interactive than this!

Preference Centers instead of Subscription Forms

If there exists any point in your contact journey and experience with your brand that is one way and passive, then it’s well worth considering ways in which to make that touch point interactive and engaging. So, why not start off on the right foot?

Often the first touchpoint undertaken between a contact and a brand (in the case of email marketing) is subscription. Depending on the Marketing Automation platform you’re using, and what you’ve requested, you may have a standard subscription form set up on default.

A standard subscription form asks for the necessary details, and once subscription is confirmed, the contact is added to a general ‘everybody’ mailing list of some kind.

Some marketing automation platforms give you another option for subscription: the Preference Center. A Preference Center replaces the standard subscription form, and is far more interactive an experience. Essentially, you’re giving would be subscribers the chance to customise their subscription; tell you what topics they like and don’t like, whether they want to receive email invites, or just company updates. Preference Centers ask for the usual personal data, but they also give contacts the chance to make clear their communication and content preferences.

Preference Centers represent the core value behind combining interactive experiences with your marketing automation strategy: it gives autonomy to your contacts. As we’ve already made clear, the average person is marketed to and sold to day in, day out. We improve contact engagement when we acknowledge that they are, indeed, in the driver’s seat. When we start off our brand-contact relationships with a Preference Center, we are making it clear that we will use the contact’s data to send them content relevant and valuable specifically to them. A Preference Center, in lieu of a traditional subscription form, says, “we see you as an individual and will treat you as one”.

Want to explore ways of making your marketing strategy more interactive? Talk to our experts at Swift Digital about the Marketing Automation tools that can make your campaigns interactive, and engagement worthy. Call us on 02 9929 7001.