Balancing Authenticity with Experiential Marketing Benchmarks

Posted by Samantha Stallard on May 30, 2018
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Deciding that your brand is going to invest in an experiential marketing campaign is about as specific as saying that your family will be traveling abroad for Spring Break. What continent? What country? What city? We know you'll be flying over water at some point -- or in this case, hosting a live experience -- but, the details get fuzzy from there.

Experiential marketing can mean everything from a B2B trade show or national sales conference to a B2C sampling tour or sponsored music festival. With all of these various event types come an array of goals and success metrics. After your brand has decided to activate an experiential marketing campaign, the next questions you ask yourself need to be:

  • Will we measure event ROI?
  • Why or why not?
  • How will we measure our event performance?
  • What metrics will we use?

Successful experiential campaigns are executed with the target audience in mind -- no benchmark can exist that doesn't support the attendee experience while maintaining the authenticity of the brand. Here are three areas marketers must focus on when planning an event that will benefit both the attendee experience and success of the experiential campaign:

1. Social media implementation

Say, for example, an up-and-coming, direct-to-consumer clothing brand is hosting a custom T-shirt design station at Coachella. The brand's goals include daily T-shirt sales, community building, consumer loyalty, and social media engagement. While they can post event photos from their corporate Instagram all day long, the best social posts for increased ROI are authentic shares, straight from the attendees.

Not bribed. Not coerced. But, originally conceived from their poster for the pure joy of sharing. At a brand event, it can be difficult for the company behind-the-scenes to trust that attendees will say all the right things, share product photos, use the hashtag, and invoke positive messaging with every Instagram Story. Instead of filling Twitter feeds with an inauthentic "barter posts" (retweet to win a T-shirt!), put a plan in place in the weeks leading up to the event. 

For most organizers, revenue generated is the primary criteria by which event performance is judged. This could include revenue from event registrations, in addition to pipeline generated or sponsorship revenue. In any case, a revenue-based model of event success means having the right tools and technology to set revenue goals and measure event ROI are of paramount importance.

2. Email marketing communication

Event marketers will want to make sure that they are getting the right attendees in the room and not just the right number of attendees. In order to achieve this goal, event organizers will need to seize on innovative event promotion techniques.

The way an experiential marketing campaign is promoted has to authentically align with your attendees, too. If you're targeting consumers who have opted in to receive your brand's email newsletter, don't expect them to find your event event information on an Instagram Story. Across B2B and B2C companies, email marketing is the most effective channel to promote an event. Secondary channels, such as paid social media, organic social media, content marketing, and even good old fashioned direct mail, can work in conjunction with your email efforts. 

3. Identifying and understanding goals

Lead generation, sales, and community building lead the pack when it comes to the reason for holding events. Underlining these goals, increasing event registrations is still the largest obstacle for event marketers. In order to confront this challenge and rise above the rest, marketers will need to learn to embrace innovative approaches to event promotion and attendee engagement.

Event marketers need to be able to answer the following questions:

  • The two most popular event marketing goals are increasing event revenue and community building. Are either of these your primary marketing goals? What are you doing to accurately measure them?
  • Most event marketers struggle with increasing event registrations. What is the primary obstacle that is in the way of you achieving your event marketing goal? What can you do about it?
  • Most event marketers believe that email marketing is the best channel for promoting an event. Which marketing channel do you primarily utilize to promote event? Are there any tools that could help you do so better?

Want to implement these experiential tactics for your own brand event?

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Topics: experiential marketing, experiences, brand experiences

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