For her latest piece in Forbes, Harnessing the Full Power of the Experience-First Revolution, Jessica Reznick addresses the common questions and hurdles surrounding the experiential space and explains why more marketers should be measuring success in terms of ROE: Return on Emotion. Check out the full article below.
Brand marketers have been told for years that the future is digital and mobile, and while this may hold some truth, the numbers don’t lie: More than 70% of consumers consider converting into customers after an experiential marketing event. Technology may have made it easier than ever to reach consumers, but companies are nonetheless finding out that in-person experiences remain a powerful way to engage consumers and ground the customer-brand relationship in an emotional connection.
This is why many of the great success stories of the digital age—Warby Parker, The Honest Company, Harry’s and more—still choose to harness the power of experiences when they want to engage their target audience.
Why aren’t more brands taking this approach, and why are some of the ones that don’t getting it right? To better understand, we need to take a closer look at the common questions and hurdles surrounding experiential marketing, so marketers will be better poised to leverage the full, influential magnitude of the experience-first revolution.
One of the biggest hurdles facing an experience-driven marketing plan is return on investment (ROI). For so long, the industry has relied on outdated measurement tools that can track views, clicks, shares and engagements, but can’t tell the right story. It’s difficult to measure the quality of engagements, emotional takeaways or whether the consumer feels like a brand advocate who is willing to let a brand make its case when it comes time to sell them something.
These are all things experiential marketing excels at, and it matters because research published in Harvard Business Review shows that the most effective way to maximize customer value is to move beyond mere satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level. In fact, the researchers found that emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers.
Experiential marketing can often be a step toward traditional ROI, making it tough for brands to justify the spend, but it’s important to put aside traditional measurements and make the investment in ROE: return on emotion.
Not All Experiences Are Created Equal
“Experiential” has grown into a marketing buzzword because the value consumers place on experiences is skyrocketing — but not all experiences are created equal. Just look at all of the “Instagram factory” events that have imitated Refinery 29’s 29 Rooms or the Museum of Ice Cream, but have fallen flat. Experiences are meant to be more than a cattle-call for snap-worthy social posts, and the modern consumer is wising up to these meaningless moments.
Millennials and Generation Z have grown up expecting experiences from brands. They are tuning out traditional ads and focusing instead on authentic storytelling in the form of mobile and digital content that is created by the people they trust the most: their social circle.
Remember, these are people who will spend their time waiting in line for immersive art exhibits by Yayoi Kusama and choose destinations like Coachella and Burning Man for self-expression.
Brands understand these consumers and take an experience-first approach which originates with them. Define who they are, where they are and what they want before throwing together an event that’s barely worthy of an Instagram post.
How To Harness The Experience
Moving forward, we will continue to see diverse industries, from retail to entertainment to tech, make major investments in creating more experiences. We know it’s on every marketer’s radar. So, here are two of the most important things brands can do to make sure they’re creating authentic experiences:
Choose the right experience partners. The focus on experiential marketing has led to more players in the space claiming to be experts in creating shareworthy events. But not all firms can curate an experience that serves the brand’s business goals, while also creating a story that allows consumers to feel a sense of co-creation, discovery and an ability to become an influencer on their own. This takes true expertise. You wouldn’t trust your dentist to give you LASIK just because they’re both in the medical profession, so why trust a traditional partner to craft an experience just because they’re in the field of marketing?
Create an experience-fueled plan for the consumer. Brands have to define a realistic target and learn about their consumer’s behavior in culture in order to decide if the best way to connect with them is by adding value to an experience they’re already taking part in (like going to a food festival) or providing them with a unique experience they’ve never had before. Once the consumer connection has been identified, they can work with their experiential partner to focus on the brand and its business goals and design an authentic, personalized experience. The experience itself can be used at the center of a 360-media campaign combining social, digital, film and more, all driving traffic, content creation and continuing the conversation long after the experience has ended. The experience-fueled plan simultaneously ensures spending efficiency, generates media and converts consumers into brand loyalists.
If done correctly, the brands that place experiences at the front of their marketing strategy and weave their content, digital and social plans from this core experience will be better poised to connect with consumers and achieve the ROI that matters most: a deep emotional connection that transcends time and platforms.