What is experiential marketing?
Experiential marketing involves using memorable and interactive events to create an emotional connection between customers and your brand. It can contribute to brand awareness and help increase your profits. But to pull off experiential marketing in a way that justifies the costs and effort involved, you’ll need to know exactly what your goals and metrics are.
- What’s the definition of experiential marketing?
- Why is experiential marketing so effective?
- What are some examples of experience marketing?
- How to plan an experiential marketing campaign
- What should you avoid when it comes to experiential marketing?
- Summary: Use experiential marketing to achieve success
What’s the definition of experiential marketing?¶
Experiential marketing is a marketing strategy that directly engages customers through memorable and unique experiences, such as hands-on activities at events. Much like emotional branding, the goal is to create an emotional connection between customers and a brand or product. Experiential marketing aims to improve customer loyalty and boost brand awareness in order to increase profits.
In contrast to traditional marketing, experiential marketing isn’t so much about selling products or advertising a brand. Similar to social selling, experiential marketing aims to get customers to associate positive feelings with a product or company. And so the more creative, entertaining and unique an experience marketing event is, the more likely it is that customers will use a product or want to know more about a brand.
Experiential marketing is closely connected with the customer journey, which also centers positive customer experiences, with the goal of increasing trust in a brand and winning repeat customers. That’s why customer journey mapping is an important tool for planning your experiential marketing strategy.
Why is experiential marketing so effective?¶
Traditional marketing methods that treat customers like passive recipients of a brand’s message are becoming less and less effective due to ad blockers and ad-free streaming services. Experience marketing, on the other hand, makes it possible for brands to directly involve their customers in campaigns and create closer connections with them.
Experiential marketing is effective because humans are emotional beings: Emotions form an important part of our experiences and influence our behavior and decisions. If a brand speaks to us on an emotional level, we’re much more likely to buy their products and become loyal customers.
Experiential marketing is nothing new, it’s been around for years. That being said, it’s seen a lot of change and development recently, in part due to global events such as the corona pandemic. Additionally, the rise of virtual reality and augmented reality has created new opportunities for experiential marketing. Now users can participate in virtual experience marketing events from home. This can lead to an increase in your brand’s reach if users choose to share their experiences on social media. Much like referral marketing, this can automatically lead to higher customer acquisition. Some additional benefits of experiential marketing include:
- Increase in brand awareness
- Better customer retention
- Increase in engagement
- Increase in virality on social media channels
- Generating searches
- Increase in sales conversions
What are some examples of experience marketing?¶
There are various forms of experiential marketing campaigns. They can take place offline or online in the form of brand events, pop-up stores, workshops, webinars or curated experiences in virtual reality/augmented reality. While some campaigns are best suited to specific kinds of products, others can work for almost any company. Aside from how suitable a campaign is for your brand or product, the experiential marketing techniques you choose will likely be determined by your budget, goals and target group. Below we’ll introduce some of the most popular forms of experiential marketing.
Event marketing aims to build an emotional connection between a product or brand and a customer via events like product launches, festivals and workshops. This form of experiential marketing helps with customer acquisition and long-term customer retention. A unique marketing event can also help increase brand awareness. To make an event successful, you should ensure that as many people as possible hear about it and that they know what it’s all about (for example, who can participate and what they can expect if they go).
Guerrilla marketing campaigns¶
Guerrilla marketing is another effective experiential marketing technique for creating an emotional connection with customers. The goal of this type of campaign is to surprise customers by using unconventional means to grab their attention. Their resulting curiosity will lead them to engage more closely with the product or brand.
The key to success for this kind of event lies in determining the best time and place so you can be sure that your target audience is present. A guerrilla marketing strategy should concentrate on the people that are most likely to be interested in your product or brand and are most likely to make a purchase.
Pop-up stores are one of the most well-known and popular forms of experience marketing. A pop-up store happens when a brand takes over a physical space for a limited time to present or sell their product. They can be in restaurants, bars, galleries, classic storefronts in shopping districts or in malls or unique spaces like house boats or empty industrial buildings. Pop-up stores give you the chance to get creative and experiment with how you present your brand or product. They’re also a great opportunity to increase brand awareness and give potential customers a fun way to get to know your company.
You can also create memorable and unique experiential marketing campaigns with augmented reality. With AR technology, customers can immerse themselves in a virtual world where they can, for example, test new products or even try on clothes. Augmented reality can also be used to create games and interactive apps.
One successful example is Nike’s game Nikeland, where customers can create their own avatar, buy clothing and accessories, and take part in community events.
With co-branding, two or more brands come together to create an experiential marketing event that each brand will benefit from. The goal of this strategy is to increase the brand awareness of each brand and get in contact with new target groups. Co-branding in the context of experiential marketing can take the form of a shared pop-up store, in which a collaborative product line is sold. In order for a co-branding campaign to be successful, you need a strong brand and comprehensive marketing.
In a product demonstration, products are presented in a way that makes customers feel spoken to, creating a positive connection with the brand. Product demonstrations can happen in pop-up stores, at workshops or in virtual spaces (with the help of augmented reality). Having a person test out a product themself will allow them to better understand its qualities and benefits. This makes the strategy particularly well suited to marketing for online stores or for brands that sell products online. It enables customers to get a better sense of your product and brings them closer to making a purchase.
Apple uses this kind of experiential marketing with their offline Genius Bars, where customers can get detailed introductions to Apple products.
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How to plan an experiential marketing campaign¶
There are a number of things you should take into account when planning an experiential marketing campaign.
Identify your target audience: Before you start planning your campaign, it’s important that you define your target audience. You won’t be able to decide which kind of experiential marketing is best for your brand until you know your target group and what sort of events they will react to best.
Set goals: What do you want to achieve with your experiential marketing strategy? The type of campaign you should use will vary depending on whether you want to find new customers, advertise a product or enter a new market. It’s also important to define which values and experiences you want to convey with your brand.
Identify your USP: You’ll need to know your unique selling proposition in order to stand out from the competition and create a unique campaign for your brand or product. Your USP will also help you make important decisions about the design and nature of your campaign.
Plan a budget: You’ll need to set a budget for your experiential marketing campaign to ensure that you get a return on your investment (ROI). This is especially important when it comes to experience marketing campaigns because they often involve an elaborate and cost-intensive marketing mix.
Create a cross-channel marketing plan: If your experiential marketing event is taking place offline, think about how you can market it online as well. For example, you can create posts and live streams on social media. That way you’ll be able to increase your reach to customers that can’t be there in person.
What should you avoid when it comes to experiential marketing?¶
An experiential marketing campaign can easily fall flat without the right strategy and preparation. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to make an event too sales oriented. As mentioned above, experiential marketing is first and foremost about creating unique, positive experiences. If your customers get the feeling that you’re just trying to sell as much as possible, that can give them a negative feeling about your brand that they may then share on social media. That’s why you should concentrate on making your event as branded as possible.
Experiential marketing might be slowly replacing the AIDA model, but you should still think carefully before launching your campaign. Specifically, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the campaign fit your brand?
- Do you have the time and budget to successfully execute an experiential marketing campaign?
- Can an experience-oriented marketing campaign help you to achieve your goals?
- Is your campaign relevant for your target group?
Before you plan your experiential marketing campaign, you should thoroughly analyze each of these points to ensure that the effort and costs involved will pay off for your brand.
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Summary: Use experiential marketing to achieve success¶
Experiential marketing enables brands to connect more closely with customers through interactive events and unique experiences. This can help boost brand awareness and increase profits. What’s more, in many cases, these events can also be implemented online with a low budget.
However, successful experiential marketing requires you to be willing to take risks and have the courage to explore new and unconventional paths. In many cases, these risks pay off. The foundation for success comes from carefully planning a unique campaign that’s perfectly tailored to your brand or product.