By MATT SCHULER, Digital Architect, Marx Layne

If you want to reach out and drive the conversation, there are four pillars of interactive marketing according to Ryan Warren, the Senior Director of Studio Orange at ExactTarget.

You can reach your targeted audiences on a broad range of platforms, but if you connect on email, mobile, social and sites, you’re doing really well.  How we communicate with subscribers, fans and followers is fundamentally changing.  There will be a crossover between the groups as your email subscribers will fan you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter, visit your website and vice versa.

How do we differentiate ourselves from the crowd?  Warren compared our growing digital world to the changing stock on the shelves of supermarkets.  Where supermarkets once carried 20,000 items, now they’re stocking more than 50,000.

“It’s becoming more and more challenging for marketers to reach the right people at the right time,” Warren said.  There will be 3,000 messages delivered in various forms throughout a person’s day and at most they can only recognize 100.

So how do you fit inside that small scope of remembrance? You have to be in the right place at the right time with the right message.  One of the main things ExactTarget does is email marketing. Warren cited statistics about the first place people turn to in the morning to start catching up. The destination? People turn to email.  This is personally relevant for me, because it’s what I do. I wake up and check in on any messages that were sent overnight.

After that, it’s social media time. I turn to Facebook and Twitter. Was there anything that happened that needs my attention?  Do I need to read up on anything?  After that I head to the web. I turn to news aggregators like Techmeme and gather in as many headlines as I can. It’s almost like panning for gold and I’m looking for nuggets.  If you want to drive the conversation, you have to know what people are talking about and plan where it’s headed.

Coordinating the message across channels is important, because it will allow people to connect messages together. If they see something in their email, an update on social media, a link on a news site or another message, it has a good chance of being recognized.

“Real-time data is the new black,” Warren said.  Right now, we’re only on the tip of the iceberg when it comes to interaction management.  We can implement better operations, technology and strategy to manage the conversations more effectively.

“Data is the key. How do you have more real-time conversations with your customers?” Warren asked. It comes back to monitoring.  Do we have the right tools to do the job? They’re out there; we just need to use them.

We don’t need a time machine to drive the conversation—we just need the right tools and we need to use them.

This is the last of a seven-part series taking a look at how we can be a force of change for those around us.

Introduction: Back to the Future Midwest

Part 1: We don’t need a time machine…to predict the weather.

Part 2: We don’t need a time machine…to stay relevant.

Part 3: We don’t need a time machine…to know where we’re going.

Part 4: We don’t need a time machine…to tell the future.

Part 5: We don’t need a time machine…to live in the clouds.

Part 6: We don’t need a time machine…to bridge the digital divide.

Part 7: We don’t need a time machine…to drive the conversation.