Getting Started With Interactive Marketing: 4 Common Misconceptions
I’m Shep Bryan, co-founder and Chief Strategist at Beaumonde Interactive Marketing & Creative Studio. I write insightful articles that explain how innovators, disruptors and experiential brands can use interactive philosophies to create new success with marketing & brand storytelling.
True game-changers are rare and only come along every once in a blue moon. In the 2010s a game-changer for marketing & storytelling was video. In the 2020s (and beyond) that game-changer is interactive.
In addition to my strategy role at Beaumonde, part of my job is helping clients imagine how their brands will come to life in completely new ways through interactive & experiential mediums. We’re at the beginning of a renaissance in storytelling right now. This is thanks to more than a few factors, some of which include:
emerging technologies and platforms (especially WebXR)
the Internet of Things (IoT)
creative teams like Beaumonde who take tools invented by technologists and use them to reimagine the status quo for brand communications.
I know I’ve done my job well when the person I’m talking to starts to share their own ideas for interactive marketing with me. At that point I know our new philosophy is here to stay, and this decision maker (who may be responsible for marketing, branding, innovation, or digital strategy at their organization) is ready to start exploring what it means to tell their story in higher-fidelity.
[Author's note: High-fidelity storytelling is a new media philosophy I frequently cover in my writing, and I encourage all storytellers to learn how they can add dimensionality to their messaging.]
In a nutshell, my goal is to empower clients to think in terms of interactive storytelling for their own brand.
In the process of doing this I find myself addressing the following misconceptions pretty regularly. They are:
1. Interactive marketing projects are too expensive.
2. Interactive marketing projects take too long to launch
3. Interactive marketing projects aren't accessible to audiences / can't be scaled
4. You need all new creative assets for an interactive project.
Today I’m going to briefly break down each of these misconceptions and explain how you can feel empowered to choose interactive over passive storytelling for your projects today.
MYTH 1: Interactive projects are too expensive.
Here's the truth I can share with you after launching interactive marketing projects in a variety of industries: You don't need a huge budget for interactive marketing when you have the right partner.
While this misconception is often true for enterprise-level projects and development-heavy concepts, (and it certainly was the case 3-5 years ago for almost any interactive project), it's not a problem that decision makers should worry as much about today.
If you're seeking an effective way to make a story or campaign stand out online that doesn't blow your budget apart, look no further than a lean strategic partner who specializes in interactive marketing.
At Beaumonde, we offer clients interactive & experiential media solutions that are just as accessible as traditional content, and arguably more strategic.
I believe this misconception exists thanks to the relationships that decision makers have with large agencies. Adding more layers to the process of creating innovative media & marketing strategies will have your project costs skyrocketing quickly.
We feel like budgeting for interactive marketing is much like budgeting for professional video production. It is a flexible process that is driven by who you choose to work with and the scope of the concept.
As a final note on this misconception, decision makers are always concerned about ROI, especially when it comes to innovative projects. Today’s advances in storytelling & marketing technology make it possible to see huge ROI from interactive marketing investments. Thanks to the power of WebXR Beaumonde can launch campaigns on Instagram that give users a memorable web-based interactive experience using only their in-app browser. That creates ROI that also includes major lift in brand perception in addition to bottom line dollars.
MYTH 2: Interactive projects take too long to launch.
Here's the truth: Amazing interactive projects can go live on short notice when you have the right partner.
Once you bring big agencies into the equation then yes the scope and scale rapidly expands due to inefficiencies of scale that are present in that relationship. Adding layers to the decision making and creative processes means endless hoops to jump through… which means if you go this route then yes your project will take a long time to get out the door, and it probably won’t meet deadlines for time-sensitive projects. Especially in the music industry with a revolving door of releases with shifting requirements, that kind of relationship just doesn’t get the work done in the right way.
Beaumonde has turned around creative and impactful projects in as little as two weeks.
I’m sure there’s also a college student out there right now who is chugging cold brew and launching an inconceivably cool augmented reality project on Spark AR that he or she has slapped together in a three day development binge. The only difference is that they don't deeply understand the media strategy & user psychology aspects that Beaumonde brings to the table on projects like these.
Part of the secret is understanding the basics and fundamentals of good interactive storytelling. As the saying goes about MVPs / MVOs (minimum viable products / minimum viable offerings), don’t build a sports car when you can do it with a skateboard.
Research on these best practices is only just now emerging in a codified form thanks to intense study from PhD media psychologists, (like Dr. Christian Roth, a thought leader in Interactive Narrative Design whose work we admire).
Beaumonde has independently explored and defined a number of best practices in this field, and this means our first party insights can be the difference when it comes to launching a project that is streamlined and effective. Our creations and strategies combine our insights with the work of researchers like Dr. Roth who are refining and organizing insights at the very frontier of human storytelling.
Other larger agencies will try to convince you that you need a sports car, even if you’re JUST getting started with interactive. I’m going to tell you that you need a skateboard when you need a skateboard, and eventually together we’ll reach the point where you feel like investing in a sports car is a justified and intelligent decision.
With a lean & agile strategic partner like Beaumonde you can launch projects that are innovative and impactful.
Myth 3: Interactive projects are too hard for audiences to access.
Here’s the truth: Interactive projects are easier than ever to share with audiences without ANY extra technology, apps, or hardware.
Here's an example how we bring Instagram users directly into our interactive 360° microsites with a swipe-able Story post.
The new paradigm of high-fidelity storytelling is at your fingertips, and all it will take is your imagination to come up with incredible experiences and stories that engage your audience in unprecedented ways.
I understand why people worry about accessibility, but I today this is NO LONGER a problem. Just a few years ago if you wanted to share an augmented reality experience with anyone they had to download a whole app to make it possible. That created major friction in the adoption and use of emerging media formats.
However thanks to resources like webXR, ARkit, and more, we are able to access almost any kind of new media format quickly and seamlessly from our phones using only our web browsers. WebXR encompasses a variety of technologies that basically means: you can do some genuinely insane things from inside a web browser. Just let that sink in for a moment. Accessing an AR concept in 2019? Easy - let them scan a QR code on their phone and tap into the web-based experience with a single click. OR follow a link on Instagram to access a mind-boggling camera filter that is gamified and responds to things like gaze-tracking, your physical environment, and your facial expressions. So many options, all seamlessly integrated into normal user behaviors.
Additionally, the platforms you’re already using today offer varying levels of native support for immersive and interactive media. Facebook has created a lot of amazing ways to create and share new kinds of content on their platform. This is important to note, because between native support for interactive media and web-based support (through WebXR tech), clients who work with Beaumonde can use the power of the full internet and our unlimited creativity to craft and launch concepts that live on or off social media, and can be smash hits in terms of campaigns no matter the option you choose.
Myth 4: You need all new creative assets for an interactive project.
This is the last common misconception I’ll address here. The truth is that you can also create interactive projects using creative assets you’ve already invested in.
Just because it’s a new medium for telling your story doesn’t mean you need crazily abstract concepts. We’ve found that including interactive media as an integrated piece of your marketing mix works very well. Interactive content can be the proverbial bedrock of your storytelling experiences, where audiences who want a depth of experience with your story will finally be able to go as deeply as they desire.
To execute smart and effective campaigns using these advanced media formats, you should work with a partner who understands how to creatively direct innovative concepts that are built for a variety of budgets and KPIs.
If you’ve got a creative brief already laid out and you’ve got assets on deck then you can absolutely add interactivity to your marketing campaigns with the right partner. Just as an example, we often follow one of two paths on projects.
One path involves developing original creative from scratch and it results in launching something special and unique that is complementary to a marketing campaign but is distinct in terms of creative direction. Example: we developed an artistic immersive world for Trill Sammy’s album release campaign. Then using that creation as the centerpiece, we built out a handful of other traditional flat creative assets for social media & marketing purposes.
The other path utilizes creative assets that have already been invested in. Using these existing assets we create an interactive experience that fits the brief and can be more cost effective to produce. For our project with Reptaliens, we transformed the finished painting that would become their album cover into a gamified 360° website where fans could interact with a scavenger hunt to find music videos, memes, and secrets from the band. Captured Tracks (Reptalien’s label) had already invested in the album art and wanted a creative & cost-effective way for the release to stand out. We helped them launch a project that has dramatically outperformed typical marketing projects in terms of engagement, (sustaining a 14% engagement rate).
Interactive marketing projects are powerful.
And they can be the right choice for a huge range of budgets, timelines, and goals. However, it takes the right team to capitalize on these opportunities.
Choose a smart, lean partner who can support you both creatively and strategically.
I think interactive marketing is powerful for a lot of industries, but most importantly I think it’s powerful for disruptors. The disruptors in any market can use a new user experience to be symbolically representative of the actual disruption that a product or service is bringing to a market. I believe that interactive philosophies empower brands that have an experiential story to stand out and get traction with crucial audiences. If you’re steering away from interactive concepts because you think they’re too expensive, too lengthy to produce, or too complicated for users, it’s time for you to reconsider your stance.
I encourage all of you to develop brand & marketing strategies that leverage interactive and experiential resources. The future is upon you thanks to companies like mine (Beaumonde) and other brilliant ones as well. Let me know if this piece activates any ideas for you. I want to make interactive marketing an effective part of your system, and I want to do it today.
Shep Bryan, Chief Strategist at Beaumonde Interactive Marketing & Creative Studio.
Feel free to email me and start a conversation.