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More brands are shifting their digital marketing, media and broadcast spend to experiential. Why? A major reason is that today, customers crave unique experiences over traditional marketing messages. And, when done right, offline marketing (events, experiential, auto shows, branch openings, etc.) provides you with more bang for your buck. Don't believe us? Keep reading to learn some key benefits some of the world's top brands are gaining from experiential and other forms of offline marketing.
Brands use experiential to develop relationships with consumers beyond social or digital marketing. Companies in verticals like auto, finance, and consumer packed goods can create unique, interactive, immersive experiences that move prospects through their marketing funnels. Conventional marketing methods — email, direct mail, paid-for ads, etc. — just don't offer the same value, especially for younger demographics like millennials and gen Z.
"Experiential is more important now than it has ever been because the other channels are so crowded," says Jon Schulz, former Ford executive and CMO of Viant Technology.
This might explain why 61 percent of dealers have reported a rise in the conversion rate of store visitors in the last five years, according to McKinsey & Co. Brands can capitalize on consumers’ attention and get their message across in a creative, interactive way without interruption.
Experiences like pop-up bars with digital displays, automotive trade shows with interactive wheel stands, and exhibitions with product demos let companies engage with consumers on a sensory level. Consumers can see, touch, smell, hear, and taste products. New technologies like artificial intelligence enhance these sensory experiences.
Take the auto sector, for example. Ninety-six percent of millennials want to test drive a vehicle before making a purchase, according to the Edmunds.com Millennial Mobile Car Shopping Report. These consumers want a physical experience rather than a digital one. They want to sit in a car and experience its features instead of reading product specs on an iPhone screen.
"You can’t replicate the feeling of driving a BMW M Series vehicle in an advertisement," says Marianne MacNeil, Event Marketing Manager at BMW in a Limelight webinar.
"I’ve seen someone’s opinion of our brand change completely onsite at one of our events. It would be pretty difficult to do that with a billboard or TV ad. Events engage all senses onsite. They’ve been shown to create lasting memories, and those memories can drive brand loyalty."
To many, experiential is the ultimate marketing engine. It's the fastest way to take consumers from awareness to purchase and advocacy. It's no wonder, then, that 70 percent of visitors become regular customers after an experiential marketing event. Unlike other channels, experiential demands sensory engagement, a critical factor for creating lasting memories and long-term customer loyalty.
“[Experiential is] the only place you can have a physical interaction with the product directly from the corporation, and it’s also one of the few places where you can have an open-ended dialogue," writes Kristina Monllos, Senior Editor, Adweek. "In experiential, we’re able to talk to consumers, understand what’s most important to them and have a dialogue back-and-forth.”
Nothing generates buzz like experiential. Ninety-eight percent of consumers create digital or social content at events and experiences, and 100 percent of these consumers share the content, according to EventTrack.
With experiential, brands can increase their visibility across various platforms and expose their products to new audiences. Lean Cuisine, for example, created an experiential campaign where they set up weighing scales in New York City's Grand Central Station. Instead of weighing themselves, people could write down how they really wanted to be measured and share it on Twitter with a branded hashtag. The campaign got social media buzzing.
"Sure, we make stuff that fits into a healthy lifestyle. But don't forget about your accomplishments. That matters more than the number on the scale," says Lean Cuisine.
By nature, all events generate excitement — both through earned media and organic, or user-generated content. But experiential enhances this excitement. Consumers are the stars of the show. They are part of the experience. They can sample new products and interact with the latest technology.
The days of experiential marketing being the wild west of marketing are quickly fading away. The most forward-thinking companies are using this channel to gather more data from their consumers across multiple channels—just be sure all your data collection processes are GDPR compliant.
Marketers are already seeing a positive impact from integrating online and offline data into a single view of the customers. This improves engagement and fuels future marketing campaigns.
“I can expose 10 million people to a TV ad, but half of them won’t even see it because they’re looking at their phones. The others won’t really act on it because they’re sitting in their living rooms, or their recall won’t be strong enough," says Jon Schulz.
"With experiential, maybe only 200 people will interact with my display, but 50 of them will buy a car. So, it just depends on how that interaction ultimately converts and how I can measure that.”
Brands are investing heavily in experiential. CMOs say they will allocate up to 50 percent of their marketing budgets to experiential over the next three to five years.
“We have shifted a huge chunk of our [marketing] spends to experiential marketing. The idea is to create experiences for consumers to make an impact on them," says Raja Rajamannar, CMO at MasterCard.
"For a brand, it is always more credible for someone else to talk about the brand than for you talking about it yourself. In that situation, experiential marketing has a humongous opportunity,”
Experiential marketing just makes sense. Given heightened consumer expectations and the ineffectiveness of traditional marketing, more companies are shifting budgets to experiential. Brand owners now view experiential as a key part of their marketing strategy, according to CMO.
Here are some statistics that will convince you to invest in experiential: