Forrester (news, site) says interactive marketing is the future of marketing. But you don't need, nor should you have, a separate team solely responsible for it. If you are considering how interactivity fits into your marketing strategy, heed some of Forrester's advice.

Focus on the CORE

Marketing has changed a lot, and the accessibility of the internet and the desire by many to be more social has helped drive that change. As Forrester says, interactive marketing is about enabling collaborative customer relationships. There's no time like the present to look at your current marketing practices and figure out what needs to change to improve how you interact with your customers.

For some organizations, there are already interactive marketing teams in place. But Forrester points out that most of these aren't able to truly be interactive because:

  • They have limited staff and budget
  • They are working in silos from the rest of the organization
  • They have to be tactical in addition to trying/learning new innovated approaches

So what to do about it? How do you create a true interactive marketing strategy? By focusing on the CORE.

CORE is not a technology, nor is it an ideal organizational model. It's more of a framework to help you build your organization's interactive marketing roadmap. Forrester calls it a set of directives, which include:

  • Customize marketing experiences.
  • Optimize decisions and processes.
  • Respond to changing marketing conditions.
  • Empower staff and customers to advocate for you.

... the future for interactive marketers is to determine how to advance on all four at once -- that is how, when, and to what degree to apply each of the directives to achieve a lucrative balance."

Some Advice to Advance your CORE

Forrester offer some advice to help you get focused on CORE in their report: The Future of Interactive Marketing. Some of this advice includes the following:

Balance User and Business Goals

Don't give users free reign to do whatever they want. That will either freak them out because there are too many options to choose from, or hurt your business because you don't maintain control over what could be done. Also, customize only to the point that you are still getting more value for the money you are spending. Going overboard is not going to help. Finally, for those where product customization doesn't fit, customize the online user experience to build relevancy.

Optimization is not a Technology

Forrester says it's a discipline, so you need to treat it as one. Which means figure out what you need to tune and prioritize, then select the technology and put in place the processes that will help you help you meet your objectives.

...optimization deserves special attention because it influences how you customize and respond, plus it can require significant incremental budget."

Respond, But Don't Go Crazy

Everyone and their dog typically has an opinion and there's always something happening in your market that you need to be aware of, but you can't respond to it all. You do need, however, to have tools and processes in place that allow you to respond quickly when you need to. Interactive channels are also a great place to test new things.

Empower your Influencers, But Don't Go Overboard

Identify your HEROes and provide them the tools and the training to be innovative. But don't force them to go outside of their areas of expertise or knowledge just to get you information.

How to Strengthen the CORE

Forrester provides some advice to help you strengthen the focus on CORE directives. These include bridging the gap between the customer and the business, relating across the different constituents in the organization (typically interactive marketers are both business and IT savvy) and promote new tools that support goals and processes, whether they wind up being used within marketing or another part of the organization.

If you have access to the report, there is a form that helps you determine your organization's maturity in CORE model. Once you determine that, then you can follow Forrester's recommended roadmap for your maturity level. Of course if you don't have access to the report, then you can't do that.

But you can learn a bit more about CORE by watching this Forrester video.