85% of consumers say they are more likely to buy from a brand or pay for its services after attending events and participating in the brand’s experiences.
Better still, 70% of these converted customers are more likely to become repeat customers. The stats show just how effective experiential marketing can be for any business.
These numbers also explain why more businesses and brands increasingly use experiential marketing as their core marketing strategies.
According to other studies, some marketers plan to allocate up to 50% of their marketing budgets to experiential marketing in the next few years.
But as effective as experiential marketing tends to be, marketers need to understand what it is all about and how best to leverage it to improve customer acquisition.
What is experiential marketing?
Experiential marketing is also what many marketers will refer to as engagement marketing, event marketing, or live marketing.
As the name suggests, this type of marketing focuses on more than just selling the services or products. It also aims to allow the customers to experience the brand firsthand using their senses.
Experiential marketing engages customers deeply and immerses them to create an emotional connection with the brand. The marketing strategy achieves the emotional connection by ensuring the customers get unique and memorable experiences.
A good example of experiential marketing is providing product samples and demos or holding business events and festivals to allow the customers to interact with your brand.
Why is experiential marketing becoming highly important to companies in 2022?
The business space is getting more competitive, and the competition will get even more challenging than it was pre-pandemic. Any business that wants to remain competitive in 2022 and increase sales by making more conversions needs to adapt engaging marketing strategies like experiential marketing.
Besides increased conversion rates, experiential marketing allows for genuine brand engagement, leading to more loyal customers, which is vital for companies to survive in an increasingly competitive space. Loyal customers buy more and are also likely to refer you to others. Moreover, it is always cheaper to maintain an existing customer than acquire a new one.
Experiential marketing can simultaneously target all five human senses, unlike traditional marketing strategies that only focus on a few senses.
Instead of just giving customers information about a product or service through advertising, experiential marketing will allow them to experience something more tangible.
The customers can engage with the brand through live interactions and other events such as exhibitions. This interaction creates a more personalized experience and emotional connection, leaving the customers more inclined to give the company’s products a try.
If your competitors are offering this level of engagement, you need to keep up with the trend to remain competitive.
Benefits of experiential marketing
The most significant benefit of experiential marketing, just like other highly successful marketing strategies, is that it can help increase sales by leading to a higher conversion rate. However, there are more specific benefits of using this marketing strategy. Here is an overview of 5 of the main ones.
1. Increases purchase intent
Customers will typically increase their purchase intent when they have a positive experience interacting with your brand. The increase in purchase intent applies to the moment and future purchases.
Experiential marketing has an emotional appeal, making it easier to convince people to buy your product. The emotional connection between the people and products developed through this marketing strategy often leads to impulsive buying, which is good for any business.
2. More personalized experience
Most customers value real human connections when engaging with any brand. Most of them are more likely to buy your products or services if you treat them as humans and not just numbers you want to convert.
Experiential marketing ensures customers get a more personalized experience by engaging with the brand and its products on a level that no other marketing strategy allows them. If the customers can get a firsthand experience of how your brand will elevate them and add value to their lives or businesses, they are more likely to buy from you.
3. Free peer recommendations
The majority of people are more likely to remember the experience they had at a business event or festival than they are likely to remember an ad, no matter how catchy.
There are many ads all around the internet, but many people are increasingly finding ways to avoid seeing them, such as using ad blockers. Hence, just bombarding customers with ads online will not be enough in 2022 and going into the future.
Experiential marketing is highly useful for driving word-of-mouth marketing as the customers are more likely to share the experience with their peers and recommend your brand.
Giving customers a fantastic and personalized experience will force them to do all the marketing for you as they will want those close to them to have a similar experience.
It is not just the customers that will give you free marketing here. A unique experiential marketing campaign also catches the attention of both traditional and digital media as it will be newsworthy. This media reporting is free marketing for you, allowing you to reach an even broader audience.
4. Increases brand loyalty when done right
When done right, experiential marketing can have the same effect as a loyalty program.
You do not need loyalty programs to create brand loyalty when using experiential marketing. All you need to do is show the customers what your brand has to offer and why they should give it a try.
Customers will be more comfortable doing business with you when they know what your brand stands for or believes in through engagement.
5. It is not intrusive
It seems like there are ads everywhere you go on the internet. With the more traditional marketing techniques, businesses force customers to consume their ads by making them appear in front of them forcefully.
For example, when playing your favorite games or going through social media handles, digital marketing ads will appear, while TV ads air every few minutes. The customer has zero say on when and how the ads appear, which often feels highly intrusive.
Experiential marketing cures this nuance by not being intrusive. With this form of marketing, the customers go to the brand by choosing to sign up and attend an engagement event.
How can experiential marketing help with customer acquisition?
The primary purpose of experiential marketing is to encourage people to experience your brand firsthand. By seeing the brand firsthand, the potential customers will feel more involved with the products you are selling or the services you intend to offer.
Most of these customers remember your brand and are more likely to buy from you, which increases your sales.
With experiential marketing, you can explain to customers why your products and service are a good fit for them and the value they can add. In many cases, you get to do this face to face through events, festivals, or sampling. Here you will have a better opportunity of convincing the customers to buy from you and clarify their queries more quickly than when using traditional ads.
Besides helping you create new business opportunities, experiential marketing makes it easier to get loyal, long-term customers. Loyal, long-term customers are instrumental in acquiring new customers through word-of-mouth marketing and peer recommendations.
Creating experiential marketing campaigns that fit in with your overall marketing strategy
There are some basic requirements for creating an experiential marketing campaign that will fit into your overall marketing strategy and be more successful. Without these basic elements, the strategy will not deliver the expected outcomes.
Participation by consumers
The ability to interact with a brand in a way that other marketing methods will not allow for is what sets experiential marketing apart from other strategies. The interaction at a personalized level makes the consumers feel a part of the product-building process.
As you tailor your engagement marketing strategy, you need to pay more attention to how consumers will participate in the engagement. Participation makes the customers feel important and valued.
Also, by allowing the targeted audience to interact with your brand inclusively, you will enhance understanding and help build customer trust.
Immersive customer experience
A good experiential marketing campaign should allow the customers to see and feel what it is like to use your products or services. It should be designed to create an immersive customer experience by immersing them in a particular environment.
This form of marketing is always crafted to increase engagement levels, and it should entice the customers to try out your products or services with a sensory appeal. Depending on what you are selling, you can appeal to various senses to create a truly immersive experience.
For example, you can use decorative lights to appeal to their sight, samples for tasting, or a novel scent for taste and smell senses, respectively. Appealing to these sensory elements ensures consumers appreciate the experience more.
Another form of interactive experience you can give your customers is with QR codes. Brands globally are using QR codes to deliver beyond the regular. Whether it be discount codes or a glimpse of behind-the-scenes of your product making, QR codes make the experience more immersive and create a sense of curiosity amongst customers. And the good news is that they are easy to create with QR code generators.
Personal touch and relatability
Personal touch and relatability help create stronger customer relationships. People want to feel like they are interacting with a real person when consuming any marketing material and not just getting some generic and robotic stuff.
Presenting your brand as more relatable and approachable makes customers more comfortable and hence more willing to interact with your brand.
For example, if you plan to advertise through your brand’s social media handles, keeping the posts casual and with a personal touch is much better. It will have a more emotional appeal, and the customers feel like they are dealing with a real person, which increases the likelihood of buying from you.
Best practices for creating experiential marketing campaigns
Experiential marketing aims to create a connection between the consumer and the product. However, success in making that connection depends on several best practices, such as understanding your audience through research and coming up with a clear message for the consumers.
1. Understand your audience deeply
The key to successful experiential marketing is a deep understanding of the target audience. As a marketer, you need to understand the consumers’ emotional, social, and physical needs.
A clear understanding of your audience allows you to tailor an experience that best fulfills their needs and help you establish a meaningful connection.
Remember that experiential marketing aims to create a long-term connection with the target audience, and so it is vital to know your audience intimately.
Researching the target market takes a lot of time and resources, but if you do it well, it will pay off in the long run as you get better customer responses.
2. Come up with the end goals
Like all other marketing strategies, experiential marketing should have some end goals. End goals make it easy to establish KPIs that will help keep track of your marketing campaign to know if it is working as expected.
The specific end goals will vary from one business to another, but the KPIs are often common. For example, you can use the number of people that participate in an engagement activity as one of your main KPIs.
3. Create a clear message
Your marketing message is your brand’s voice, and you need to communicate it clearly regardless of the marketing strategy you are using.
A clear message is essential for your customers to feel connected with your brand. Additionally, the message needs to be consistent as a contradictory one will make your customers feel disconnected instead of engaging them.
As you create your experiential marketing message, be careful not to go too far from what the customers already know about your brand, as this can cause disconnection as well.
4. Choose an appropriate platform for the campaign
Once you know the target audience and have a clear message, the next step is to decide the best platform to use when engaging them. You can use many platforms, but the right one depends on whether the engagement is online or offline.
If you plan for an offline engagement event, you can use business events, sampling or demos, tradeshow kiosks, and retreats. However, you will need more staff for offline experiential marketing events, and getting the promotional material like flyers or posters to the target audience takes more time.
Online experiential marketing still gives you plenty of options. You can use digital tours to give customers a more immersive interaction with your brand or even interactive demos videos, depending on the products/services you are marketing.
Furthermore, you can combine your offline and online marketing strategies with QR codes to create a seamless experience for your customers by driving more engagement and sales.
5. Decide the senses to engage
Experiential marketing is all about engaging different senses simultaneously. Although you do not have to target all five senses, you should try to engage at least 2. For example, you can target to engage smell and taste by allowing your customers to sample your new chocolate line.
Experiential marketing allows you to break away from the more traditional marketing strategies that only focus on showing customers the futures your products have to offer. Instead, it will enable you to show them what your products/services can do for them.
This makes the marketing strategy more effective at capturing customer attention and connecting with their feelings, increasing the likelihood of a conversion. Moreover, you will give customers something tangible they can share with others, giving you an extra marketing channel for free.