Also referred to as engagement marketing, experiential marketing includes a variety of marketing strategies geared toward immersing customers within the product by engaging them in as many ways as possible. Ultimately, companies adopting this strategy want to help customers form memorable, emotional connections with a brand to foster customer loyalty and improve customer lifetime value (CLV).
Companies that succeed with this strategy go beyond giving consumers attractive offers and samples. True magic happens when brands put individual customers or groups of consumers in an immersive branded experience.
In an age where the majority of customers crave personalised experiences and desire meaningful interactions with a brand before making a purchase, experiential marketing is now essential to any modern marketing strategy.
But although numerous brands have been eager to jump on the experiential bandwagon, many are still struggling to understand the basics of experiential marketing, let alone how to successfully integrate it into their marketing strategy.
Some commonly cited challenges may include:
- Difficulty measuring success
- Poor reach
- Lack of creative ideas
- Poor targeting
- Lack of advocacy
- Poor payback/ROI
However, with the right approach, these challenges are easily overcome.
Why is experiential marketing a powerful tool?
At its core, experiential marketing is all about creating a meaningful connection between a brand and its customers. More than just promoting a certain product to a passive audience, experiential marketing is designed to have customers actively engage with a brand’s identity and its core values.
For customers, experiential marketing provides them with a chance to directly interact and build a meaningful relationship with a brand.
For brands, especially small businesses, experiential marketing is a golden opportunity to increase customer loyalty and direct sales. Successful experiential marketing campaigns don’t just introduce people to their brand, but serve as ways to activate new customers and introduce them into their sales funnel.
The real power of experience also sits in providing a way to increase brand awareness and exposure, turning your audience into brand ambassadors and encouraging participants to share their experience on social media.
Research by McKinsey found that experiential marketing is the powerful catalyst for word-of-mouth marketing, with branded experiences accounting for 50-80% of all word-of-mouth activity.
What elements does experiential marketing need in order to work?
The goal of experiential marketing is creating an authentic branded experience for your audience that can happen both offline and online.
In order to truly get what it is, we must first understand what makes a great branded experience. A great branded experience should always involve these three elements:
- Active participation and engagement from the audience
- Promotion of the brand’s message and values
- Provides long-lasting value
Unless you’re providing all three of these essential elements, you’re not doing experiential marketing.
How to drive more leads with experiential marketing
Here are some crucial ingredients behind every successful experiential marketing campaign.
Define your goals
Before engaging in any experiential marketing strategy, you have to be able to answer the question: Why does this need to exist in the first place? Are you looking to increase brand exposure and awareness? Increase the amount of leads? Move prospects further down the sales funnel?
As the entire point of employing experiential marketing is to generate an authentic relationship with your customer, it is paramount that whichever tactic you use is as true to your brand identity as possible.
Tell a story
Every successful experiential marketing campaign tells a compelling story and also invites people to be a part of that story. The best stories are the ones that either target your customer’s pain points with a solution or taps into a larger, more socially conscious story. With experiential marketing, a brand can both acknowledge a customer’s challenges while also demonstrating what their life could be like with that brand in their life.
As anyone in marketing and PR will tell you, it’s absolutely vital to keep the relationship alive through any means possible.
Keep building on the momentum you’ve created by following up via email, social media or even direct mail. Reinforce the message of your key campaign and create re-targeting campaigns so you can continue to nurture each lead and prospect on your warm list and remain top-of-mind.
Promote social sharing
One of the key benefits of experiential marketing is how it turns ordinary people into brand ambassadors by encouraging user-generated content. You can incorporate social sharing into your experiential marketing efforts, such as creating a branded hashtag or creating marketing collateral they can take pictures with, by providing opportunities for participants to let others know about their positive experiences.
But that doesn’t mean you should slack off on creating content yourself. Definitely look into creating your own high-quality video or photos that you can share yourself.
What to avoid in experiential marketing?
Many companies will attempt experiential marketing for the sake of it, knowing that it’s a trendy and high-engagement practice. However, without proper research and preparation, a campaign can very easily blow up in your face.
One of the biggest pitfalls in experiential marketing is to make the experience too salesy. If you make the experience too salesy, you’ll turn your audience off. Or even worse, they’ll share that they had a negative experience with your brand.
While the advertising world is most certainly moving toward a focus on experiential marketing, companies should think deeply before launching an engagement campaign. Is this right for your business? Can you devote the time, effort and money to doing it right? Do you have a clear goal in mind? Only after you have a clear answers to all these questions, can you start thinking about incorporating experiential marketing in your strategy.
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