Monday, February 20, 2006

The Constituent parts of the Interactive Mix

I've talked quite a lot today about the need for The Interactive Mix and why it is good for both clients and agencies, but I haven't talked about how it works.

Interactive Media is different from traditional media in that it can be the means whereby a relationship begins with a customer, but it also can comprise the method whereby a decision to purchase is made and also the method of purchase itself. Interactive Media therefore can exactly follow the model where a prospect becomes a customer, and this is the basis of The Interactive Mix which then packages Interactive Media Services in a highly strategic way to clients, in order to meet their needs and requirements. It consists of:

Drivers
Acquirers
Converter
Retainers

Drivers
Drivers, promote interest from non customers to begin a dialogue with them focussed on the brand or product and its benefits.

An interactive driver can be:

An email
An interactive ad
A search result
A text message
A viral game
A viral campaign
A Bluejack
A Podcast
A corporate Blog or blogging activity
An offline communication

The purpose of a Driver is to drive traffic to an Acquirer or a Converter.

Acquirers
An acquirer is a method of initiating a relationship with a customer

It requires the customer to give up information in return for an experience of the brand or company

It further requests from the user whether the relationship can be carried on beyond this transaction. It therefore carries on the relationship beyond the first transaction.

An interactive acquirer can be:

A website
An initiated email
A mobile short code
An MMS request
A WAP site
An interactive TV site
A landing page
A viral response
An offline campaign such as Direct Response

The purpose of an acquirer is to provide a cost effective acquisition of prospects to Convert to customers, but more importantly, to initiate maintain and extend a relationship with a prospect and therefore build awareness of your company and brand with your audience.

Converters
A converter is the place where the customer makes a decision to purchase, but can also provide the opportunity to purchase if required. This distinction is important because consumers will purchase in the ways that they feel comfortable not the ways that they are told to. Customers of Amazon may therefore be surprised that some people in this world still do not like buying online, however their research and decision to purchase may very well be conducted online and Converters provide a highly cost effective way of reaching that audience.

It appreciates that different customers wish to purchase in different ways, and is flexible enough to accommodate this

A converter can be:

A website
A WAP site
An MMS or 3G service
An iTV site
An affiliate program
An offline point of sale

Converters therefore control the decision to purchase but can just as easily drive the customer to another Converter method for the purchase to actually take place

They can influence this choice by presenting the customer with the advantages of each purchase method.

If necessary/required these can provide incentives to preferred converter methods.

Retainers
A retainer continues the relationship with a customer to provide them with the maximum opportunity to remain a customer.

This can include repeat purchase, cross purchase and up sell.

A retainer can be one or a combination of the following:
A Customer Relationship Management program
An Affiliate program
A Web,/mobile, or interactive TV site activity analysis
A permission email program
A permission text program
A permission MMS campaign
A referral program
A viral campaign
An offline CRM program
An incentive, loyalty or rewards program

The role of retainers is to help customers return to Acquirers and Converters in order to continue the relationship and maximise the sales potential of each customer.
It also provides opportunities to enlist existing customer’s help to acquire new prospects.

Adaptable and measurable

The Interactive Mix’s strength lays within its measurability and adaptability
It works on a cause and effect basis where each cause creates a response from a customer or prospect
This means that as long as the effect remains within the Interactive Mix, then it can be accurately measured immediately
Immediate results enable immediate assessment
Interactive Media is the cheapest method to make changes to.
Those changes can be instant
If results are therefore not in line with expectation they can be analysed and (if necessary) changed
To ensure that results are optimum


The Interactive Mix can include any aspect of the traditional Marketing Mix at any point

The Interactive Mix is not isolated from traditional media

It enables any offline component to be included in its framework at any point.

It is therefore complimentary to offline media and provides choice to clients.


I see this point as being key as it therefore enables offline agencies to adopt the model in their offering, which makes it applicable to both offline and online agencies.

The Interactive Mix Mantra


We work with our clients to define what they want to achieve
We plan how to achieve this using the elements of the Interactive Mix
We manage the implementation of this plan either alone or with chosen partners
We accommodate traditional media activity
We measure the plan’s effectiveness
We analyse, adapt and change in response to unforeseen or unexpected results
We deliver results to our client’s business

These points sound to me like the kind of things that an agency should be offering to its clients, and also the kind of things that clients have been longing to hear from their agencies.

If I can, I would like to persuade people out there to adopt this model and work with me to refine it based on their experiences. Maybe then we can create the standard for Interactive media that i think our clients and the industry deserves, but why would you want to do that? Well here are the reasons I came up with:


Advantages

The Interactive Mix as an offer places the focus on results for clients
It therefore encourages clients to think about bottom lines
It places our decision maker at board level, not a junior manager or a marketing assistant
This speeds up the sales process and encourages buy-in from the client
It ensures that our solutions are strategic decisions for clients which makes budget approval easier for them
Our offer is more accountable and more measurable than offline and more strategic than most online offers
We can make a hard ROI business case to board level prospects
It places us as managers and experts, at the top of the food chain of suppliers

Obviously I would love to hear from anybody interested.

Just one other thing, I know that some people might just want to take this model and run with it themselves, which is fine, but if you do that I would ask that you give me credit as the creator and would also request that you give me feedback on how it works for you. The more people who do adopt the Interactive Mix as a process the better the feedback will be and so therefore the better we can make it. This needs to be a live project, as Interactive Media itself is live and constantly evolving, that's the main reason why I have opened up the copyright of the idea. It needs to become a freely available meme to move throughout the industry. So, if you like this approach please link to it in your own Blog. Go forth and propagate!

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