Marketing is more challenging than ever. The average consumer is constantly bombarded with ads as they browse the web and even as they drive down to the store.
Online marketing is undoubtedly still effective. But consumers are increasingly becoming ad blind — a phenomenon where users ignore digital ads on websites like banners.
So how can you stand out in a competitive landscape? Most importantly, how can you engage with your audience in a meaningful way?
One way is with experiential marketing.
In this article, we’ll look at what experiential marketing is as well as the exact steps to launching your own campaign.
What is Experiential Marketing?
Experiential marketing is a type of marketing that aims to deliver more immersive experiences. It involves inviting people to interact directly with a brand.
Traditional forms of marketing tend to be more active — you pay to display ads in the hopes of reaching your audience and driving sales. It’s a one-way street.
In contrast, experiential marketing is all about creating memorable experiences that your audience engages with. The goal is to forge authentic connections.
Benefits of Experiential Marketing
Successfully executing an experiential marketing campaign is by no means easy. But they can pay off big time for companies willing to invest in them.
85% of consumers are likely to purchase and 91% have more positive feelings about a brand after participating in experiential events.
The findings show that experiential marketing can boost your bottom line. Consumers who have a positive experience are more likely to buy something.
There’s another benefit of experiential marketing — social impact.
42% of users on social media turn to platforms like Facebook and Twitter to stay in touch with what their friends are doing.
Creating a memorable experiential event raises brand awareness whenever someone shares their experience on social media. That kind of word-of-mouth marketing is priceless.
Let’s look at a few examples of experiential marketing to get your creative juices flowing.
Examples of Experiential Marketing Campaigns
You can learn a lot by observing how companies have created memorable experiences to increase their reach.
Here are a few examples of how companies used experiential marketing to do this:
Google Home Mini Doughnut Shops
Google set up a series of pop-up doughnut shops to promote the launch of its Home Mini, a voice-controlled speaker that just so happens to be about the size of a doughnut.
Visitors could walk into one of the stores and ask a Home Mini a question, which then triggered a box to slide down a chute containing either a doughnut or a Home Mini.
The pop-up stores offered a fun and interactive way for participants to interact with one of Google’s products and even gave them a chance to take one home.
Ikea In-Store Sleepover
Ikea announced a sleepover event where shoppers could get a chance to spend the night at either the Ikea Brooklyn or Ikea Costa Mesa stores.
The event wasn’t just about letting shoppers get some shut-eye. The company even offered workshops that covered topics like sleep and work performance as well others related to sleep.
Experiential events don’t necessarily have to be held in-person. You can also turn to social media to create a more meaningful brand experience.
Zappos, the largest online shoe retailer, launched the #ImNotABox campaign. Customers were challenged to make their own creations with shoe boxes and show them off on social media.
The #ImNotABox campaign is proof that you can use social media to get your followers involved with your brand. You can even offer a giveaway to one lucky winner to encourage participation.
How to Launch an Experiential Marketing Campaign
Just 1% of start-ups get valued at more than a billion dollars in any funding round.
The good news is you don’t need to have a massive budget to pull off a successful experiential marketing campaign. But you also shouldn’t just rush head-on without a plan.
Follow these steps to launch an experiential campaign for your business.
Consider Your Business Goals
What exactly are you trying to achieve?
The experiential marketing campaign you create should tie into one of your business goals whether it’s to raise brand awareness or capture more market share.
Use SMART goal setting — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely — to help you clarify your ideas and bring more structure to them.
Research Your Audience and Market
The next step is to identify your target audience. Understanding who your audience is will enable you to craft a more memorable experiential event.
Use tools like Google Analytics and Facebook to gather basic demographic information about your customers. What are their interests? What kind of challenges are they currently facing?
Beyond surface-level metrics, you’ll need to understand your customers’ bottom line. What price are they willing to pay, and how can you tailor the experience towards their budget?
The more you know about your audience, the better you’ll be able to design appropriate experiences.
Choose a Venue
Choosing a venue is an important step in launching an experiential event. Ideally, you should choose a location that’s accessible to your audience to improve attendance levels.
Something else to consider is the kind of experience you want to deliver. For example, a company like GILI Sports would probably want to set up an event at a beach where visitors can try out their paddleboards:
Build a list of potential venues that fit your needs and check them out in person before you book a place. If your budget allows, consider booking multiple venues to attract more visitors.
At the heart of every experiential event is the experience itself. Try to find a way to tie your products or services to your event in a way that visitors can experience them first hand.
Doughnuts aren’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when people think of Google. Yet the search giant found a way to create a memorable event with its Home Mini event.
As you start planning your event, think about the kind of experience you want visitors to have. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
Produce Video Content
Your visual assets should all work together to create a cohesive brand experience. Consider investing in marketing materials for your event if you don’t have them already.
Video content is exploding right now, and it’s currently the most popular form of media.
You can embed it directly on your experiential marketing landing page like this:
Or even directly code it into your landing page for a seamless, auto-play experience:
Create an Event Landing Page
Even with all that work planning your experiential event, your job isn’t over yet. The next step is to promote your event and spread the word.
Create a dedicated landing page that provides more details about your upcoming event.
Include everything that visitors would want to know. Where is it going to be held? What time will it be held? What can they expect? Do they need to pay an entry fee?
Be mindful of loading times as consumers today expect fast browsing experiences. Bounce rates increase by 32% as load times go from 1 second to 3 seconds.
You can promote your new landing page across different channels or work with a PPC management team to free up more time to plan your event.
PPC expert Adam at Loganix said: “Landing page campaigns and experiential marketing go hand-in-hand. Try running them at scale on AdWords and you will be able to drive tons of both direct sales and local interest, too.”
Don’t forget to add Share Buttons to drive more traffic to your event page.
Promote on Social Media
Posting on social media is an effective way to spread the word about your upcoming experiential marketing event.
With over 3.8 billion social media users, there’s a good chance your target audience is using social media to discover events near them. But which social media platform should you market on?
While there are hundreds of social networks, marketing on every single one will only dilute your efforts. Start with the most popular ones instead.
Be sure to include images in your social media posts to increase engagement. Use photo editing software to edit and resize your images to the correct sizes for each network.
Alternatively, consider working with a motion graphics company to create eye-catching media for your campaign, like this:
Do a Test Run
Things may not always work out how you envisioned.
Consider doing a test run of your experiential event. Send out invitations to a small group of people and invite them to participate in a test run of your event.
Observe how they react to your event and ask them directly to write down their thoughts. That kind of feedback is invaluable.
Experiential marketing campaigns aren’t like your typical advertising campaign. They’re not easy to set up, but they give your audience a unique opportunity to engage with your brand.
Brands that understand how to incorporate experiential marketing in their overall strategy stand to gain a major competitive advantage. Implement the steps outlined here to take on the competition.
Jeremy Moser is co-founder of uSERP, a digital brand-building agency. His work has been featured on HubSpot, Foundr, G2 Crowd, Drift, SEJ, Codeless, Shopify Enterprise, BigCommerce, Nimble, Keap, and many more.