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Few brands know how to prove the success of their experiential and brand experience campaigns. The ones that do better manage their marketing spend. They make more powerful campaign decisions. They target their audience with laser focus.
In a recent Limelight webinar, our senior consultant John Stocks and president of brand experience agency Momentum Worldwide Matt Lewis discussed how the industry's most progressive brands approach ROI measurement.
CMOs expect better stats from their experiential marketing teams — and they're not getting them. Why? Experiential ROI is difficult to quantify. That's what most marketers think, anyway.
Only 6 percent of marketers say they are extremely confident in measuring offline and experiential marketing. The other 94 percent struggle to measure the success of their campaigns.
Perhaps the problem lies with alignment. Forty-eight percent of marketers find it difficult to align their offline campaigns with their online campaigns.
"These activations are highly disconnected from existing business systems," says Stocks. "It's difficult to look under the hood or inside the box to see what's working and what isn't."
Others think that XM measurement is just too tough. Data issues, data inaccuracy, inefficient and manual workflows — all of these components make measurement a chore.
Experiential isn't like other mediums where the focus is on a transaction. Brands need to tell stories to engage their audience at an offline event like a trade show or store opening.
"Wherever possible, brands should make the consumer the hero. They should give consumers the opportunity to shine," says Lewis. "Let's give consumers a mic. Let's give them a platform."
Personalization is important, too.
"Don't act like a robocaller," says Stocks. "You get to actually meet people, so why would you waste an opportunity to be incredibly useful?"
Just 23 percent of companies say they can track ROI on event investments, according to research from Harvard Business Review.
"Only a quarter of people can actually measure or track the ROI of their events, and there are people out there struggling to figure out whether their campaigns made sense for them or not," says Stocks.
"One of the biggest frustrations we see is that everyone is growing their XM budgets, and CMOs are hungry for XM data, but no one can bridge that gap yet."
The world's most progressive brands all have one thing in common. They create data ecosystems — a suite of data measurement tools that provide them with personalized, real-time insights at various touchpoints in the XM lifecycle. These tools are scalable, automate workflows, reduce lead times, and improve the customer experience.
"Brands still think of experiential marketing as transactional," says Lewis. "But if you think of it an ecosystem, you would start to see a whole lot more lifetime value in a consumer."
A data ecosystem can only grow with the right metrics, however.
"I would be looking at a creative metric to make sure everything's connected," adds Lewis. "Digital, experiences, conversations — all of these need to have the same message."
Other metrics like exit surveys and questionnaires can also optimize measurement.
"Capturing someone as soon as they leave an event is the most contextually relevant way to get an accurate response."
These metrics prove lucrative for brands who lack a huge measurement budget. Marketers can discover what consumers thought of their event, use this data to fuel their future campaigns, and create long-term value.
Then there's social media sentiment, which lets marketers gauge perceptions of their brands on Facebook and Twitter.
"A lot of the metrics we have right now are in the public domain," says Lewis.
"If someone has a positive experience and broadcasts it on their own channels, that's a metric we can use."
Brands shouldn't compromise good experiential experiences for hard numbers, though. Experiential marketers need to strike a balance between data collection and resonating with consumers on an emotional level.
"An amazing experience shouldn't be opposition to measurement," says Lewis. "Is your event personalized? Are you telling a story? Is it relevant? That's all critical. We use data to provide us with insights because we need them, but it's not the sole indicator of a successful experience."
Consumers are willing to hand over their data if they receive a good experience, however.
"The emotion needs to be there," says Stocks. "You need to give consumers a compelling reason to hand over their data."
Brands need to identify the main objective of their experiential campaign, whether it's data capture, conversions, or revenue lift. Then they should define KPIs, configure their CRM, and invest in XM technology to measure engagement at their offline event. Syncing experiential tech with CRM software and tagging sales, leads, and consumers to their original event source will improve measurement effectiveness.
Many brands are unable to measure event ROI because they think it's too complicated or difficult to quantify. However, using the right metrics and tech can optimize measurement and provide marketers with in-depth insights into their XM campaigns.