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Interactive marketing refers to the advancing trend in a communication–based rather than a transaction-based marketing approach (Gronroos, 2012). It depends on customers expressing their preferences in order for marketers to respond to their needs in an appropriate way and produce applicable marketing measures (Marketing schools, 2012). The capability to address a consumer and the ability to collect and retain their response are the two fundamental features of interactive marketing communications. Interactivity is therefore seen as a tool that allows good marketing to result in good communication (Sorrell et al., 1996).
Interactive marketing is not synonymous with "online marketing", although interactive marketing processes are facilitated by Internet technology. The ability to remember what the customer has said is made easier when it is possible to collect customer information online and to communicate with customers more easily via the Internet. Amazon.com is an example of the use of interactive marketing, as customers record their preferences and are shown book selections that match not only their preferences but recent purchases.
Customer involvement in interactive marketing
Interactive marketing is heavily dependent on the buyer-seller interactions during service encounters, this is known as service quality. This consists of both delivery of service and quality of delivery; service marketers therefore need to master interactive marketing skills. Corporations must know how to deliver interactive marketing at both high touch and high tech levels (Kotler et al., 2013). Companies use technology interaction to build high-touch marketing. This involves gaining continuous trust and attention of customers; transactions and sales are based heavily on trust (Horne, 2016).
The ultimate goal of the value delivery system is to serve the target market and form strong long-term relationships with customers (Kotler et al., 2013). Building relationships is a valuable process that takes time; high-touch marketing businesses understand this and put in effort to get to know their customers. Surveys, listening, personas and other methods of communications can be used to show care and compassion towards consumers (Horne, 2016). Managing good customer relationships leads to customer satisfactions and loyalty; therefore customers more likely to repeatedly purchase and recommend the companies goods and/or services. Gaining one customer can result in more than one sale; a ‘stream’ is then created consisting of predicted purchases the customer is expected to make over a lifetime. This is known as customer lifetime value (Kotler et al., 2013).
New interactive tools such as developments in data storage and transmission hold out the prospect of successful management of consumer relations. It also connects and interacts corporations to its channels, media platforms and collaborations (Sorrell et al., 1996). Interactive communications have exceled throughout the digital era. This allows customers to participate and be involved with creating a brands image directed at its target audience. With exceptional access to information, consumers have the power to influence brand communications (Vilivong, n.d.). The progression of social media, search engines and mobile applications has given consumers more power over influencing and shaping brands to their desires (Business Brain Base, 2016). High tech marketing-the use of online platforms- is another effective interactive method over traditional marketing. Online activities trail behind a sizeable amount of demographic information relating to the individuals personal preferences. This tracked online behaviour allows companies to store information regarding their target market and their behavioural patterns (Glanert, 2012).
High-touch marketing focuses on the wants and emotions of consumers going beyond their narrow satisfactions and desires. Digital techniques and software’s have facilitated marketers to build practices and communicate to worldwide consumers who care about their products and services (Horne, 2016). Organisations are using Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter to post mirco-blogs, promoting their company, products or general business developments. Corporations are embracing this social media culture as the return on investment is getting stronger (Society for Human Resource Management, 2012). A study conducted by Towers Watson in 2010 indicates organisations with more effective communication strategies, including the use of social media, posted higher return for shareholders than organisations with less effective communications (Society for Human Resource Management, 2012). High-touch, high-tech marketing is a fundamental tool to gain more attention, build and enhance deeper relationships with consumers and prospects (Horne, 2016).
For corporations to succeed in today competitive marketplace, they must be customer-centred. It is this high-touch, high tech interactive approach that is allowing marketers to build long-term profitable relationships with consumers (Kolter et al., 2013).
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