Today, market competition and customer acceptance are centered around experience. Brands have started to offer thrilling digital experiences to their customers to ensure that they stand out from the crowd. However, waning traditional marketing efforts are falling short of customer expectations. Organizations are now turning towards experiential marketing to build brand awareness, connect with customers and be memorable. An experiential marketing strategy is becoming a core touchpoint, with 91% of customers stating that they are more likely to buy a product after they participate in a brand activation or experience.
It’s hardly surprising that brands are going big with their experiential marketing plans after the pandemic. In the pre-pandemic world, the experienced-based customer reaches out was limited to in-person events. But with the influx of creativity and technological advancements, businesses are making large strides in this space with virtual reality. Brands are engaging customers across different channels by relying on pre-produced video, live streaming content, and virtual experiences.
In this article, we’ll walk through what exactly is experiential marketing, its benefits, and how you can plan and launch your own strategy.
Experiential marketing is a marketing strategy that encourages and engages consumers directly, giving them a real-time experience of your brand. It fosters a connection between the consumer and your brand through an innovative and unique customer experience. In short, experiential marketing engages consumers through all five of their five senses and leaves a lasting and memorable impact.
The purpose of this marketing approach isn’t just compelling them to buy your product but to build brand loyalty. While the traditional marketing efforts target transactional value, this inventive method focuses on developing trust through unreal experiences. These measures also give you invaluable insights into customer behavior and your brand perception.
Although it is being adopted widely, experiential marketing has undergone a massive transition in the last two years. Before the pandemic, they included conferences, events, product launches, and promotional retail installations. Now, it has spanned across channels and universes (metaverse).
Experiential marketing is quickly becoming a de facto marketing tactic for brands that really value customer experience. It is all about connecting with your customers in an immersive and emotional way.
What values does experiential marketing add?
Unlike other marketing strategies, experiential marketing is about forming a connection with the consumer and delighting them even before they become your clients. It cultivates trust and loyalty as they spread the word about your product.
Below are some of its benefits:
Better connection with customers
With experiential marketing, you interact face-to-face with your consumers. Taking their feedback directly instead of an automated email tells them that you value their opinion. It is an opportunity to understand your brand perception firsthand.
This marketing approach is rarely about sales. By trying to build a personal connection with your customer, you humanize your brand. This goes a long way in winning customer loyalty.
Immediate value creation
Unlike other marketing strategies, experiential campaigns are aimed at creating immediate value for your consumers. Through free trials or product samples, demos, and welcome offers, you can attract consumers faster than other exercises.
People tend to share their experiences more than anything. Even if your campaign leaves a lasting impression on just one consumer, it will multiply quickly through social media and other channels.
How can you get started?
Although quite understandable, experiential marketing isn’t simple. It requires quite a bit of work to plan, execute, and measure a successful campaign. As a precursor to the first step, you can do basic research on what other brands are doing. Ask around about the most memorable experiential campaigns. This will not just give you good ideas but also help you understand what kinds of campaigns stick in people’s memories and why.
Know your customers
You might be aware of the general demographics of your target audience – age, location, gender, and so on. But these factors alone won’t help you in planning your ideal campaign. Look for other aspects of your consumers’ profile – what social media platforms are they on? Are they tech-savvy? Are they emotional, or what emotions do they associate with? What outdoor activities do they enjoy? Such insights into their personalities will help you design an experiential campaign that they’ll connect with.
Define your goal
Defining the purpose of your activity in the early stages will help you set the tone and tenor of the campaign. Solidifying a goal like brand awareness, customer acquisition, or loyalty program is also important to measure the success of the campaign by monitoring the right metrics. Answer questions like, what tangible results are you expecting? What consumer action will you rate as a success? What is the ultimate outcome that you desire?
Determine the value you’ll add
As discussed earlier, the focus of experiential marketing is on providing value, either tangible or intangible. While some brands offer emotional gratification, others indulge consumers with a more materialistic experience of the product. You can decide if you want to give out complimentary or promotional samples of your product. Offering a free trial in return for free registration, giving credit points on app downloads, or offering free tickets for participating in a contest are some of the options to get them engaged.
You can also conduct an awareness session related to a challenge or issue that is social or industry-specific – like food companies running a campaign against food wastage.
Be highly engaging
One of the core tenets of experiential marketing is engagement. It is important that consumers buy into the value of your brand and connect with you on a deeper level. This can only happen if your campaign contains all five elements – sensory (tangible feeling of your product), emotional (feelings consumers will associate with your brand), relational (relating your customers with a goal or purpose), cognitive (perception you want them to form) and behavioral (action you want them to take).
Be where your audience is
Due to its targeted nature, you need to plan your experiential campaign where your customers will be. Find out about the locations or activities that your target audience is familiar with. Do they watch a lot of movies? Are they sports enthusiasts? Are they avid readers or gamers? For digital campaigns, learn which social media channel they spend the most time on. What communication platform do they most use? Once you have this information, it will streamline your campaign.
Measure & improve
Planning and executing are just one-half of the task. You should also measure, analyze, and improve your strategy. First, you should define your KPIs (key performance indicators) to understand what a successful campaign will look like. The measurable data could be your registrations, app downloads, hashtags, social media mentions, or website visits. Drawing insights from this data can prepare you for future campaigns.
Some of the experiential marketing examples include
Example 1️⃣: POP Installations
Point of Purchase (POP) installations are temporary and small product outlets that can be planted at a variety of places like malls, supermarkets, and movie theaters. These installations can be used to make sales, gather customer reviews, or promote a new product.
Example 2️⃣: Workshops
By offering workshops, certifications, and courses, you don’t just establish your expertise but also offer lasting value to your customers. It is also a great way to build a community and a band of loyal consumers. One great advantage of this is that it can be held in person, online, or in hybrid models.
Example 3️⃣: Product Expos
Product launches or expos are a great way to create buzz about a new product. Today, almost every electronics brand like Apple, Samsung, and Google plan mega-events to launch new products, showcase their product roadmap, and so on. It is a massive PR opportunity, and you get to define the narrative.
Example 4️⃣: Contests
Inviting your audience to participate in free-to-enter contests is one of the most popular experiential campaigns. Although it is usually conducted via social media channels, you can combine this idea with a POP tactic. With a definite prize promise, you can attract a lot of takers for such events, which can be translated into potential leads.
Example 5️⃣: Digital Events
Digital events like webinars, audience Q&As, expert interviews, and roundtable discussions have gained significant prominence during the lockdown. However, they’ve not lost their importance even after the world opened up. Brands are recognizing the benefits of conducting such digital events to reach out to customers across locations.
Example 6️⃣: Internal Events
One experiential campaign that many brands ignore or overlook is internal events. Consumers like businesses that value their employees. Hosting annual events like founding day and sales kickoffs or quarterly meetups like townhalls can be another great branding opportunity. It engages your employees and builds a deep connection with them.
Example 7️⃣: The Digital Approach
Brands should streamline technology to enhance their customer experience. Real-time social listening enables you to monitor consumer perceptions of your brand. You’ll be able to tell right away whether there is a material change in how frequently people mention you or if their attitude towards your brand changes.
You may use social listening insights to develop content that your consumers will find interesting, get suggestions on how to improve customer service, and modify your marketing plan to suit the demands of the market.
The advantages of the digital approach
The benefits of social listening include understanding current conversations surrounding your business, such as what your target audience expects from you. Here are a few strategies for how social listening might help your brand.
✅ Stay ahead of the competition
Social listening provides you an advantage over your competitors by assisting you in understanding what your customers want.
✅ Strengthening relationships with customers
In order to address concerns like declining customer satisfaction scores and market share loss, your company may use social listening to identify customers at different phases of the decision-making process.
✅ Secure your brand
Monitoring real-time responses, identifying irregularities in online activity, discovering brand threats early on, and notifying your team of the situation allows you to take proactive action.
✅ Make business decisions backed by data
Through social listening, you may learn about target audiences and industry trends your company can take advantage of, as well as useful consumer feedback on goods and services.
With experiential marketing, you create value not just for your consumers but also for your business. It is an effective, engaging, and emotional way to connect with your customers and build a strong connection. Ensure that your campaign delivers an impressive experience.
For that, you must segment your audience efficiently, define the right KPIs, and measure data accurately. Remember that experiential marketing isn’t just about selling your product but offering customers value and experience so that they become your brand advocates and promote brand loyalty.Tags: customer experience, Customer Experience Management, cx, CXM, ORM, Social Listening, social media monitoring