In an age where consumers have become all too good at tuning out traditional forms of marketing - television spots go unwatched, radio ads muted, adblockers spring to action in the blink of an eye - it’s no surprise that marketers are turning to digitally supported experiential marketing as a way to cut through the clutter, and engage with their customers.
So how do you go about integrating digital with experiential marketing in a way that feels seamless, authentic, tells a story and drives results? And more importantly, how do you go about measuring its effectiveness?
Whether you want to increase sales for a product, grow brand awareness amongst a certain demographic, promote a new product, or become a brand leader - you have to know what you want to achieve. Once you have a goal, you can then set KPIs for tracking customer engagement, such as purchases, email newsletter sign ups, or an increased social media following.
Experiential marketing is a great way to fuel brand and branded content, primarily image based, to cost effectively expand their reach and cut-through saturated markets.
A recent example is WWF (UK) that needed to create a campaign to standout in the crowded fundraising market, whilst also bringing the impact of their conservation work (which happens a long way from the UK) to potential new UK supporters.
Shoppers at two centres in London were invited to explore a pop-up forest combining educational elements, social media sharing opportunities and a fully immersive VR experience where they came face to face with tigers.
Approximately 5,000 shoppers experienced the tiger exhibit and 12,000 participant photos were taken. Even more impressively, the WWF Tiger Experience achieved a 50 per cent increase in supporter sign-ups compared to typical shopping centre campaigns.
Research has shown 74% of consumers say engaging with branded event marketing experiences makes them more likely to buy the products being promoted.
Athletics brand Lululemon has used this to its advantage by offering free in-store yoga classes and encouraging attendees to hashtag, snap or insta-story their experience. This has led to an abundance of shareable social media content, an increase in user data, increases in sales, and a lasting positive relationship with the brand.
Lululemon are now taking experiential campaigns to the next level by hosting large-scale fitness and wellness festivals.
Equilibrium’s Digital Marketing Director, David O’Donnell believes the best executed campaigns are where the audience gets to experience and explore the brand voluntarily, without being bombarded by advertising.
“Creating a more natural and positive brand experience will always translate into better results in engagement, sharing, and activation,” he said.
O’Donnell says its no longer good enough to simply hope people organically post about a campaign or event on social media, instead marketers need to plan for this engagement.
“It is critical to add data points such as custom hashtags, geofilters, and landing pages in your campaign strategy, and invite customers to continue the relationship online by following you on social media, signing up to a email newsletter, using a promo code or entering a competition,” he said.
In a world where a positive brand experience builds lasting customer loyalty it’s only natural to see more and more focus towards experiential marketing to connect with consumers who have grown weary of traditional marketing strategies, as well as a way to reconnect with existing customers.
When used together digital and experiential is a formidable way to increase brand awareness, customer retention, drive sales and increase reach by creating a memorable, and importantly, a measurable experience.