You wouldn’t be friends with someone that never returned any of your phone calls, right? Or what about standing and talking to a mime that doesn’t respond to any of your questions? Boring! If you wouldn’t stand for this in your personal relationships, it’s no wonder consumers are beginning to lose interest in traditional outbound marketing techniques.

With the influx of demand generation and inbound marketing, you especially have to be at the top of your interactive game if you want your audience to engage with you. Out are the ways of one-way communication and largely blasted, non-unique campaigns. In is the more personalized marketing where you can truly have a conversation with your user.

Here are 5 interactive ways to make your business more engaging, and if done properly, your audience is sure not to ignore your metaphorical phone call.

1. Create a Dialogue

A dialogue is a 2-way exchange of information. A great opportunity for you to not only get out there and interact with your audience, but also to sit back and listen to what your customers have to say. Of course it’s great to have Twitter followers, and Facebook fans talking about your brand on social media, but these social ‘mentions’ don’t always equal more visits to your website.

In addition to your other social marketing engagement tactics, try out Spot.IM and turn your site into its own social network. This way, all of the dialogue between community members and your brand take place on your website, giving you more control of the flow, and increasing the time spent on your page.

2. Make your content speak to your audience (literally)

First impressions are everything when it comes to your brand’s reputation. Within the first 30 seconds of meeting someone we’ve already made up our mind on whether we like or trust them. The same goes for the content on your site, except in the case of your brand’s website you probably have around 5-8 seconds for your customers to make up their minds about you.

Although your site may be a machine and your users are interacting with your brand through the barrier of a physical device, the people behind all of this content are human. In order to remove this latency and humanize your brand, add video content.

Video content doesn’t have to require tons of labor and production teams, etc. Tools like Wideo allow anyone to customize professional looking video messages. This is the quickest and most efficient way to make a great first impression for your audience and get them connected and engaged on your site.

3. Let your audience have a say

If I’ve learned anything about the new age of modern marketing, it’s that our audience wants to have a voice too. With the rise of user generated content and social media, it’s easier than ever for them to voice their opinion.

One thing I always make sure of is that my audience has options. Now that everything is on demand, your users want to have the ability to choose how they wish to interact with your brand and feel as if they’re making an impact on the brands they love. This is why campaigns like the ‘Meet me at Starbucks’ are so successful, allowing people to tell their own personal stories and choose which ones they wish to watch.

This technique isn’t just reserved for the mega brands like Starbucks. Any small business can create an Interlude, an interactive ‘choose your own adventure’ video. Instead of your audience sitting passively to experience your video content, they’re engaged by choosing which way the story should go and ultimately putting the user in control of the content they’re viewing.

4. Give your content a makeover

With all of the innovative technologies and software solutions out there, it’s about time you start taking advantage of them. Innovators are constantly coming out with new ways to keep your audience engaged and excited about your brand.

After a while, I begin noticing my marketing techniques, and features on our website becoming redundant. So I set myself a reminder to review with the team every couple weeks, to see what new platforms we should be utilizing. I’ve noticed that users love interacting with new features and widgets, and that makes them all the more engaged.

I like to experiment with different tools and see which ones drive the greatest results. Vizrt software, for example is a management tool and a 3D animation graphic publisher used by many of the world’s leading broadcasters like CNN, Fox and BBC are utilizing this platform to engage their audiences in the most interactive way possible. They provide touch screen interactions; 3D maps, and integrates all social media channels to make the content highly shareable.

And with that I’d like to leave you with a quote that sums up the future of engagement and interactive marketing from Kevin Cain, the director of content strategy at OpenView. “We live in an age where we are all being bombarded with more content than we can possibly consume. As a result, if you want your content to stand out and have an impact, you have got to find ways to make it as engaging and interactive as possible. Content that you simply read is forgotten or, worse, completely overlooked.”