We’ve all heard the old expression, “Talking to a brick wall.” Well, when you consider the route that legacy marketing efforts traditionally take, this kind of image might come to mind:

After all, in the past, it was all about getting your name out there and providing lots of information for customers: Basically, it’s been a one-way street, without much actual back and forth.

Today, however, customers have all kinds of tools and channels available to them, and they expect more responsiveness than ever from the brands from which they buy. In response, the marketing game has changed: One-way communication is soooo out. The days of just publishing blogs and social posts and calling it a day are long behind us. And the brands that do succeed in the current landscape are those that understand that marketing is now a two-way street.

Wait a minute. What does that mean???

What we’re talking about here is interactive marketing, which takes a different, more responsive and influential approach to make connections with customers.

What, exactly, is interactive marketing?

Chances are good that you may already be familiar with this strategy. It goes by several names, including trigger- or event-based marketing. Whatever name you know it by, the basis of interactive marketing lies in the ability to provide available actions to customers, and then building out marketing strategies based on those actions. In other words, an action taken by a consumer will trigger a certain marketing initiative on the part of the brand.

You can think of it like Newton’s third law, but for marketing: For every action on the part of the customer, there is a marketing reaction from the brand. See what we’re getting at here?

During my research for this piece, I really appreciated the explanation provided by The Balance’s Mindy Lilyquist:

“For example, ‘Do you want fries with that?’ is a form of interactive marketing. It’s usually asked if you order a hamburger, but not if you order a shake. The act of ordering a hamburger triggers the push toward adding another product.”

Interactive marketing comes as a departure from traditional campaign marketing. In other words, we’re breaking down that brick wall and supporting two-way interactions between the brand and its target audience.

Digging deeper: Interactive marketing examples

Let’s take a look at the kinds of content and activities that can help support an interactive marketing campaign:

Interactive content

Beginning with the broad strokes, interactive content is exactly as it sounds: Content that enables prospects and customers to take certain actions and interact with the brand. This can encompass a few different things, but some great examples of interactive content include:

Interactive storytelling

Okay, think back to the days of Choose your Adventure books. You’re cruising right along, reading a story about an undersea adventure, when your main character discovers an underwater cave. Readers have two choices – check out the cave or continue swimming. You choose the page depending on how you want the storyline to continue.

In essence, this is how interactive storytelling works. It’s content that gives readers a choice and allows them to select the next step based on their own preferences.

A fantastic example of interactive storytelling comes from Tully Luxury Travel, where an interactive microsite lets visitors explore according to different destinations, or by the company’s travel agent team. It’s an interesting take on interactive storytelling, helping to show just how versatile this approach can be.

Interactive infographics

^ Say that five times fast (interactiveinfographicsinteractiveinfographicsinteractiveintergraphicsinteractivegraphicgraphics).

This is usually a top example of interactive marketing that many brands are familiar with – a traditional infographic but with a twist. These graphics include all of the recognizable elements – less text supported with more design elements – but put users in the driver’s seat.

A really fun example from Marriott helps families plan their trip to Scottsdale, Arizona, based on their answers to a few questions. Even if you aren’t charting a trip to the Southwest anytime soon, this interactive graphic is still engaging and fun.

Another great example comes from our own Brafton team. Our gifographic, if you will, explores  posting on different social platforms and incorporates movement in the form of gifs to take a traditional, static infographic a step further.

Interactive video

Even videos can provide a way for brands to interact with customers and prospects. Take, for instance, this video from Maybelline New York fashion designer Kelly Framel and Rapt Media. After offering an overview of trends, viewers can choose to watch makeup tutorials for daytime or nighttime looks, making their selections by clicking on buttons within the video.

This example also offers a bonus lesson: The use of a brand influencer to support content. By combining Maybelline’s audience with that of a well-known designer and blogger in the fashion world, the cosmetics brand was able to target, engage and educate its own audience. The end result here revolved around the ability to garner even more attention thanks to Framel’s followers.

Quizzes

There’s just no denying the popularity of quizzes. People love them, especially when they reveal something about themselves (Am I a Rachel or a Monica? Am I more of a Carrie or a Samantha?). Herein lies another opportunity to engage and spur an interaction between customers and the brand.

As the veritable king of quizzes, I first looked to BuzzFeed. Did y’all know that a whopping 96 percent of people who started BuzzFeed-sponsored quizzes in 2014 finished them? Unsurprisingly, quizzes are still some of the top-shared content across social media.

Quizzes offer something a little different and are absolutely perfect for an interactive marketing campaign. People take a quiz, share their results and encourage others to do the same – and the cycle continues.

A fun example comes to us from Orbitz. The travel company’s Vacation Matchmaker Quiz helps you decide which destination is your “true love.” Mine was London, in case you were wondering.  😉

Calculators

Calculators work especially well for service providers who may struggle to demonstrate the kind of return on investment or level of savings their services could support. These graphical elements are particularly ideal examples of interactive marketing, as they’re more customizable and invite users to input their own numbers to get their answers.

Savings calculators are pretty popular these days – after all, who doesn’t like to daydream about what they’ll do with all that extra money??

Here’s a great example of a savings calculator from Cengage, a provider of student course materials, helping students understand how much they’ll save by packaging their course materials together versus buying them individually. Yay beer money!

Interactive emails

American companies just loooove email marketing. According to a report from Mailjet, we do it better and more frequently than most. Overall, U.S. companies send about 1.47 million emails each and every month, just a smidge more than global average of 1.38 million.

However, as most marketers know, it takes a special *something* to grab readers’ attention and then even more thought and planning to actually encourage them to open emails. Using interactive content in this context can be just what your brand needs to spice up its email campaign.

Interactive content gives readers something to do once they’ve opened the email, a nice surprise and departure from the run-of-the-mill marketing emails most prospects are used to. Take, for instance, this interactive email gem from organic food and coffee company Pret, showcasing their summer drink menu. I’m usually a berry blast kinda girl, but that coconut crush looks deeeelish.

User-generated content

Inviting users to share their own content is one of the best examples of leveraging interactive content. This approach usually works best on social media, often accompanied by a hashtag, and is a fantastic way to shine a spotlight on the brand’s target audience and allow customers and prospects to see themselves represented.

Jimmy Fallon provides a perfect case study on user-generated content. A normal segment in his show includes him reading viewers’ social media posts according to a certain hashtag prompt.

This campaign is a few years old now, but back in 2014, Tourism Australia noticed users were using #SeeAustralia to share content online, so they leveraged this to the brand’s advantage. Administrators would select a handful of the best shots from that day and feature them on Instagram. As a result of this and other interactive campaigns, Tourism Australia garnered a 30 percent boost in overall website engagement and a 66 percent increase in time spent on site.

Experiential and viral marketing

Digital interactive marketing is one thing – offering a quiz or clickable button that returns a customer’s action with a result of some kind is a great way to engage with your audience.

Brands have taken this a bit further with experiential and viral marketing. Some organizations shy away from this type of marketing, seeing it as just a PR stunt. However, when done right, experiential marketing can provide an immersive and memorable experience framed by relevant branding and offerings.

Most often, experiential marketing includes a live event that closely ties in with the brand and its image. A famous example comes from Red Bull.

The brand was already well-known but achieved worldwide news coverage with its Stratos Jump, when Felix Baumgartner broke a world record for the highest parachute jump. This event had all the earmarks of a beautifully executed experiential campaign: a developed story that connected with the brand image, relevant supporting content in the way of a microsite and other coverage, shareable content including photos and videos from the Stratos event, plus an overall impact on the brand’s target audience. I mean, look at us, we’re still talking about this campaign.

Interactive marketing is a great way to shake up traditional marketing campaigns and provide something memorable and fun for your audience. It can be as simple as offering a QR code for more information or as in depth and complex as an experiential event that immerses prospects in your brand. The bottom line here is the ability to break down the brick wall barriers that separate you from your customers and prospects.

Has your brand had success with interactive marketing campaigns? Tell us about what worked well for you below!

Jessica Wells is a senior writer and editor at Brafton, working remotely from Hawaii. When she's not writing, Jessica enjoys paddle boarding, snorkeling and enjoying the view (and a cocktail) from her beach chair.