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Julia Manoukian


November 17, 2017

How To Measure Experiential Campaigns Along The Consumer Journey

Julia Manoukian

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Experiential marketing has been around since 1979, when Gary M. Reynolds founded GMR Marketing on the concept of cross-promoting music brands. But since then, little has been done to measure the ROI of experiences. With traditional marketing being less effective and the rise of social and digital, all that is changing.

In this interview, Limelight Platform’s CEO and Founder Jonah Midanik explains why brands are doing more experiential marketing and where to start measuring ROI.

Jonah Midanik has worked with brands such as Molson Coors, BMW and Allstate Insurance to prove improve the ROI of their live marketing efforts. Previously, he served as Director of Marketing at Ultimate Gaming from February 2012 to July 2013. Before that, he Co-Founded boutique advertising agency Immersion Media in 2001. He has also served as Vice President of Marketing and Operations at Virgin Gaming from April 2011 to February 2012 and Co-Founded Casino Media Group in 2000. Statistic: Companies that put data at the center of their marketing and sales decisions experience 15-20% ROI on events, but only 11% of marketers use their own data to make important decisions. (The Event Measurement and Data University, Ben Grossman, Steve Boyce, Experiential Marketing Summit, 2017)When it comes to experiential marketing, what are the major moments along a customer journey?

Jonah Midanik: Experiential is the single fastest way to move someone from no awareness to affinity. A lot of marketers don’t think about it that way. But that’s what experiential is doing—trying to move someone to brand affinity.

I’m not going to go from ‘I never heard of you’ to ‘I love you’ via a banner ad, or a piece of content. But I might go to the best party that Mercedes-Benz invited me to where my favorite DJ is playing, and I’ll think, I love you Mercedes-Benz. That’s a real thing that happens all the time.

Let’s say we’ve got a sampling program at Coachella. I can literally go from having zero experience with your wine, gin, vodka, or tequila to trying it, enjoying it, becoming aware of the product, trialing it, experiencing it and having affinity with it and its brand.

No matter if you’re at a loyalty event or an awareness one, you’re doing the same thing: trying to develop brand affinity, brand loyalty, brand fans, brand ambassadors.

So it hyper-qualifies consumers.

JM: Yeah, it’s the funnel on steroids. It’s the only way left to do that. With experiential you can try, be a fan of, amplify and promote the product all in one experience.

That makes a lot of sense. How have marketers been measuring this traditionally?

JM: There’s a couple of different buckets. The first bucket is more impression-based metrics. How many people did I come across? How many people experienced this? How many people showed up? How many people interacted with the product? How many trials did they have?

That’s one bucket. But it doesn’t really tell you much about how successful you were in that affinity journey.

The second bucket people are measuring (or should be measuring) is, what’s the digital footprint that your in-person experience is creating? How many digital touchpoints did you create? What’s the social spread afterwards? How much engagement did you really get? As a percentage of people who interacted, how many people did you sent to trial?

In a perfect world, you want to think about this as a bowtie. The middle piece is where you spend all the money. That’s the actual point of engagement, the point of experience.

To get maximum bang for your buck, you want to measure digital efforts funneling in one end, and you want that to amplify over the back end through social and in-person networks.

So, traditionally, marketers have been measuring just the middle?

JM: They have been trying to, but some brands don’t at all. For example, I run a sampling program and I hand out 10,000 samples. What social spread did that create? If you create an event that didn’t happen on Instagram, did it really make a sound?

So, in terms of this shift that needs to happen, we talked about the metrics, but what about the organizational structure or the tech?

JM: The bowtie mentality is what needs to happen. We need to understand that there needs to be digital before, during and after an event or activation. And that we need to amplify the affinity we’re creating. Statistic: People who undergo a live brand experience are likely to tell around 17 other people about that positive experience. (Experiential Marketing: a practical guide to interactive brand experience, S. Smilansky, 2009)If I have a great experience with my tequila brand at Coachella, but afterwards I don’t know where to buy it, then you messed up, right?

So, how do you do that? How do brands create this bowtie mentality?

Well, personalization is a big one.

Here’s the other thing: if you follow up in a way that doesn’t deliver on the brand promise consumers had during that experience, you also messed up. Brands need to deliver an experience that’s as premium as they are.

How do you do that?

For one, deliver the right stuff to the right person at the right time so they can action that affinity.

Say a brand knows they know they need to personalize their communications. What’s preventing them from doing this?

JM: It’s really hard to personalize on such a small scale. Let’s pretend you go to an event across the street for 200 people. I’m with Scotiabank. What am I going personalize for 200 people? How do you personalize at scale? What most companies do is provide a generic “thanks for coming” email.

If a brand wants to personalize that scale, are there certain roles that they need within the organization to be able to do that?

JM: First off, you’ll need to be collecting enough data. Personalization is really data collection plus execution on the back end.

In order to personalize, I need to know something about you. If I don’t know anything about you, I can’t by definition be personal. But you were at an event, you were physically in front of me, I should know about you. You were there!

Statistic: 77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience (Digital Experience Trends, Forrester)

And are there other departments that marketing needs to collaborate with to ensure the cleanliness and centralization of data?

JM: In the past, that was the big problem. Marketers know intrinsically that they need to do this, but they weren’t doing it, not because they didn’t know, it was because they couldn’t.

What would you tell the VP of marketing who’s hitting their numbers, someone who’s been measuring experiential the way they’ve always done it? Why do they need to change?

Jonah Midanik: Tech is coming, whether you like it or not. And technology can deliver infinitely better results. So if you don’t want to hear about infinitely better results, that’s fine. But if you do…

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