Julia Manoukian


November 15, 2017

The Experts Speak: Core Competencies XM Agencies Need To Stand Out Today

Julia Manoukian

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The experiential agency space today is more competitive than ever. Regardless of whether your agency has taken the leap into digitally-integrated activations or not, the experiential landscape has evolved dramatically over the past five years.

Activations are no longer about the most eye-catching displays or the who can give out the most free merchandise. Digital has revolutionized engagements, consumer data capture and activation performance tracking. To gain a competitive advantage today, agencies need forward thinking at every activation touchpoint.  

Here are the top ways experiential agencies can win clients, prove their worth in the digital age and keep clients coming back for more.

Provide A Seamless Experience

The most important part of any activation is the consumer experience (CX). The consumer experience, simply put, is “How consumers perceive their interactions with your company” (Forrester).

The more seamless the consumer experience is, the better perception consumers will have of your brand, which in turn will increase their willingness to buy.Statistic: Maximizing satisfaction with customer journeys has the potential not only to increase customer satisfaction by 20% but also to lift revenue by up to 15% while lowering the cost of serving customers by as much as 20%. (Customer satisfaction survey: Who’s up and who’s down, McKinsey)The goal is to make every digital touchpoint along your strategy seamless. For instance, RSVPs from a website should flow directly into an on-site app. Consumer interactions at an event should instantly trigger special offers or content depending on specific consumer profiles.

This integration helps consumers jump to their greatest point of interest with ease. It also keeps consumers engaged longer because they don’t need to search for other elements of the experience at multiple touchpoints.

Personalize Every Touchpoint

Consumers you engage with on behalf of your client are inherently unique. Some may be existing consumers, while others may be engaging with your client’s brand for the first time. Leverage your digital activation points to not only capture consumer data, but to use this data to personalize the experience to their individual profile.Statistic: 52% of consumers are likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t make an effort to personalize communications to them. (2016 State of Connected Customer Report, Salesforce)Using behavioural data and interactions with your on-site digital, it is possible to create unique consumer journeys for different persona types that attend your activation. The result allows you to filter out content that's not important to the consumer, as well as ensure everything they see fits their interests.

Example of a customer journeyExample of a experiential customer journeyThese consumer journeys should be anchored with strong calls-to-actions (CTAs) that are just as personalized as your experience. In every case, the CTA should promote continued interaction with your client’s brand even after your activation is over.

For example:

  1. Samples and contests for consumers who are new to the brand.
  2. Brochures and product information to guide consumers through the consideration phase.
  3. Special loyalty rewards and purchase-related offers for consumers or highly-engaged, quality leads.
  4. Purchase offers and discounts to consumers who show higher interest in future purchases.

Show Vs. Tell In Pitches

Whether your agency is a seasoned digital veteran or just starting to pitch digital for experiential, it's now possible to walk into pitches with a massive competitive advantage. But to do that, you’ll need to understand the brand you’re pitching to, their goals and how you fit into that vision.Brands expecting more from agencies than ever before.According to Kim Myhre, Senior Vice President of FreemanXP, "This insight is crafted into an experience that is designed to achieve the brand’s objectives. The new breed of experience marketing agencies recognize that there is more to a winning brand experience than event logistics, but will instead look to all relevant touch points both live and online and across the entire portfolio to create client success."

What if you could wow clients by creating a digital experience that showcases your vision for every pitch? As an example, prepare a sample website, application, and email that your prospective client can interact with during the pitch. These mockups will eliminate the chance of a creative disconnect.

Let your potential client interact with your vision like one of their own consumers, to show them just how personalized and unique the experience can be. To add emphasis and close the deal, demonstrate all the reporting power behind the experience. Show engagements that happen across the customer lifecycle appearing in the database in real-time.

Use Digital To Test and Improve In Real-Time

Aside from promoting upcoming products, a key aspect of activations is to gain insight from your attendees. Capturing attendee insights in a standardized and easily accessible format ensures your ambassadors can follow-up and convert qualified leads with more effectiveness and efficiency. Whether you're taking on activations from a previous client or activating again for a consecutive year, it's important to always improve on previous performance.Statistic: Event technology can help increase event attendance by 20%, increase productivity by 27%, and decrease costs by 20-30%. (Enterprise Event Marketing)One powerful way to increase your results is to add integrated digital to your existing activation. Adding more opportunities for engagement, such as event check-in, contests, samples and social sharing, will improve your data insights and let your clients filter the results into their customer relationship management (CRM) tools.

Instant Data Directly to Clients

At the end of the day, your clients want results. They want to see proven metrics to understand activation performance and justify marketing spend. These metrics should offer a comprehensive view for your clients:

  1. Total Engagements
  2. Engagements / Brand Ambassador
  3. Cost Per Engagement
  4. Conversion Ratio
  5. Client-Specific KPIs

As an agency, your success is defined by your ability to deliver better than your competitors. You're constantly under pressure to discover new ways to keep your clients happy and push the envelope in terms of cutting-edge activations while keeping your internal costs low.

The strategies outlined above—understanding the specific goals of your clients, personalizing their customer journey and capturing and delivering data in real-time—will help you prove your worth as a leader in the experiential agency space.

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