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The 3 D's of B2B Interactive Marketing: How to Practice Digital Empathy

By Eileen Page, Manager, Digital Solutions, InVision Communications

B2B interactive marketing is a level up on traditional content marketing. It's a marketing and communications strategy that responds to the way audiences absorb and generate content by putting the premium on audience input. This allows brands to tell relevant stories that truly engage their audiences.

Brands can no longer talk at their audiences in a self-serving monologue. Instead, they need to understand what consumers are interested in, what moves them, where they live, and what they do. Marketers need to engage their audiences across channels with storytelling that's customized to each one and that opens up a two-way conversation: an interactive experience between business and audience.

Content alone is no longer king. Concept has overthrown it for the top spot, which means that only brands telling authentic, strategically consistent stories will appear (and appear favorably) in front of their target audiences.

Why Do We Need B2B Interactive Marketing?

Right now, audiences are experiencing “content shock” from sheer oversupply. They're barraged by content, and only a tiny portion of it is actually relevant and worthwhile for them. While marketers aim to engage and inspire, the “shocked” consumers become numb to the stories and products they see. Marketers' challenge is to rise above the shock and the noise.

What’s more, audiences' attention spans, which have predictably waned over the digital age, have narrowed to below goldfish levels. We can now focus for a mere 8 seconds before we’re likely to switch our attention, according to research by Microsoft Corp. For marketers, that means only the signal will be followed and the noise will be ignored. To pull audiences, marketing communications need to be more than just informative; they also need to be engaging and interactive.

The rise of artificial intelligence means marketers have a wealth of data to draw from in order to continually hone their strategies to ensure they reach the right people — and hit the right emotional notes when they do. And B2B interactive content is an opportunity to tell a story that sparks an emotional connection that sings even when the noise of the online world is deafening.

The 3 D's: Your Core Interactive Marketing Strategies

When deciding how and when to deploy B2B interactive marketing at your company, there are a simple set of guidelines for turning the noise into action. The essentials for a B2B interactive marketing strategy can be summarized by the three D's: data, design, and delivery. Here's how each plays into interactive marketing strategies:

• Data. The staple ingredient of interactive marketing is data. Interrogate all the data you have on your audience, analyze it, and let it feed your campaigns with meaningful insights. Once you’re really listening to data as your guiding voice, you can start crafting story concepts that speak to your audience most acutely. On top of that, data will give you the power to measure and adjust your strategy to gain more precision over your voice and find stories that resonate.

• Design. Design follows hot on the heels of data because it uses insights to position and shape content into the perfect form to impress your audience. That means choosing content formats that complement your concept so that the whole package tells a meaningful story and drives conversion.

• Delivery. Once you’re designing on the basis of data insights, you can focus on giving content the best chance of finding its audience. Direct content into the world through appropriate channels: visual stories on Instagram but more professional thought pieces on LinkedIn, for example. A scattershot approach will only find you random interest. But by deliberately aiming content into channels you know your audience loves, your story will come to life.

By using the three D's to guide your strategy, you can find the types of interactive marketing that make sense for your company and your unique audience. It’s all about how you learn to marry the human and digital elements of your strategy, leveraging technology to tell stories that resonate with the audience's humanity. When you practice this digital empathy, you can leverage the speed and capacity of the digital space with the emotional meaning that makes people tune in and pay attention.