Julia Manoukian

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April 5, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Activating Sponsorships for Experiential Marketing

Julia Manoukian

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How much does event marketing cost, really? Well, it isn't cheap. You need to hire sales reps, signage, screens. You need to pay photographers and promoters. You need to organize and manage and promote your event.

Events make up a sizeable chunk of marketing budgets. But, more importantly, it's difficult to measure the return on your investment.

The whole event could set you back thousands -- or even tens of thousands -- of dollars. And you might never know if it was worth the bother.

Don't worry. There's a solution.

The latest software and other methods will measure the ROI on your campaigns so you can find out the true impact of your sponsorship event. Much better, right?

This guide will outline the best ways to activate and evaluate sponsorships for live marketing. What are the best ways to optimize sponsorships? And how do you actually measure them? All of this information and more, below.

With a lack of actionable data from sponsorships and experiential activations,  financial service marketing leaders struggle to measure ROI from their efforts.  Watch our latest webinar, "How To Boost & Measure Sponsorship Results In  Finserv: Two Case Studies," and learn how senior marketing executives from  GEICO and ATB Financial use data to improve sponsorship results across all  channels.

Why is It So Difficult to Measure Sponsorship Activations?

Sometimes, marketers spend so much time planning a sponsorship event, measuring ROI takes a back seat. It shouldn't be this way. Evaluating sponsorship event ROI is just as important as event prep.

"Sponsorship marketing typically feels good, but it frequently delivers less than optimal results for the marketer," says the Harvard Business Review. "The reasons are myriad, but more often than not, they can be traced back to treating the sponsorship as an end in itself, rather than as an enabler of marketers' broader strategies and objectives."

If you don't measure your sponsorships properly, you're not alone. Only 35 percent of marketers consistently measure the effectiveness and impact of their sponsorship activities, while 25 percent don't gather, analyze or use data at all when it comes to sponsorship decision-making.

If you're one of these marketers, it's time to make some changes.

Active Data Capture Is the No.1 Sponsorship Activation Strategy

It doesn't matter what sponsorship activations you use. It's all about collecting the right information and measuring your campaigns properly.

Passive data capture -- where consumers volunteer information with little input from your company -- might provide you with insights, but active data capture proves much more effective over time.

This approach to data capture lets you interact with customers and ask them questions about their behaviors, thoughts and feelings.

These are plenty of opportunities for active data capture:

At these events, you can collect information from attendees via active data capture methods like feedback forms, contests and surveys and questionnaires. Before, during and after your event, you can carry out social media research.

How to Optimize and Measure Your Sponsorships

You will, of course, want to measure the effectiveness of your sponsorship, just like you would with any other aspect of your experiential campaign. Determine which key performance indicators (KPIs) you want to measure, for example. Customer acquisition costs, customer retention rates, footfall -- discover whether your sponsor had a direct impact on these experiential metrics.

How do you do this? Software is one option.

The latest programs let you manage your sponsorship campaigns from the planning stage through to the end of your event and beyond. Eighty percent of marketers say that the need to validate sponsorship results has increased significantly, but only 35 percent of them measure their campaigns' effectiveness and impact. Don't be one of the 35 percent -- track your sponsorship campaigns for more valuable insights.

Sponsors will also measure your campaigns, providing you with even more data about event attendees. You can use this valuable data from your partners to measure the ROI for your experiential marketing project. Ninety-eight percent of sponsors use social media to leverage sponsorships, according to a 2017 report from ESP Properties. Moreover, 86 percent use on-site integration, 84 percent use public relations and 79 percent use internal communications.

Technology optimizes sponsorship ROI by letting you know where to double down and pull back. You can discover which marketing channels provide you with the most leads and highest customer acquisition rates, for example. You can also find out whether customers appreciate the involvement of a sponsor at your event.

Some software allows brands to measure the sponsorship effectiveness of partners like Bank of America and American Express through media impressions and social media mentions.

Use this technology to build brand momentum long after your event has finished, too. By focusing on each part of the activation, from pre-event to post-event, you ingrain yourself within the atmosphere and become almost as invested as the people with those activations. The post-event follow-up and marketing drip is where you will convert consumers to purchase.

Aside from software, build custom solutions in-house and consult with your agency on a regular basis. This will cover all bases and ensure you get more insights from your live marketing.

Only 4 percent of marketers are completely satisfied with their ability to measure sponsorship ROI, according to the Association of National Advertisers. The latest technology, however, makes it easy to manage sponsors during experiential campaigns. Optimizing data collection with software -- and using other methods like agency collaboration -- improves data integrity, tracks pre and post-event engagement and just makes your life that little bit easier.

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