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Why you need to open up the experiential marketing black box

John Stocks

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It’s surprising that so many brands and agencies are hesitant at the idea of measuring experiential marketing beyond passive metrics such as foot traffic, impressions and dwell time.

But it’s easy to understand why: what do you do if you start looking at more meaningful data (like lead conversion or sales uplift) and it turns out your marketing efforts aren't as successful as you thought? It's a scary prospect. But while this might be a tough pill to swallow, it’s a crucial component of true business growth and maintaining a competitive edge.

To some, experiential marketing is the last 'Wild West' channel of the marketing mix, with little to no understanding of attribution. But that view is quickly coming to an end. The time has come to open up your experiential black box and start pushing for metrics and KPIs that clearly tie back to business objectives. This way, you can realistically judge whether an event or sponsorship is worth it and maintain the trust of your partners - not to mention the people in charge of your marketing budget.

Do what works. Stop what doesn’t.

You can gain trust from your clients or C-suite by helping them trim budgets from events that aren't working and double down on events or strategies that are. For example, major OEMs are pulling out of auto shows because they know they’re not necessarily driving car sales. This allows them to put millions of dollars into more effective channels instead. When you pull your head out of the sand, you can get a better view of what’s really working for your marketing strategy and move ahead with more effective methods that actually impact your bottom line.

Dodo vs. coelacanth.

It’s easy to play it safe and stick with what works (throw up a big logo and give away some swag!) but if you’d prefer to get ahead of the curve, you need to start paying attention to the metrics that really matter. Comfort is the enemy of progress in just about every endeavour imaginable, and this is no different. If you can’t answer some basic questions around how your activations impact business objectives, then it’s time to swallow your pride and look under the hood.

In the world of experiential marketing, engagement doesn’t always mean success. The proof is in the conversions. If an awesome activation happened in the woods but sales numbers didn’t budge, did it really happen? In a world filled with countless marketing opportunities, results are what matter. And if your experiential campaigns aren’t delivering a tangible impact, wouldn’t you want to know?

Define it or don’t do it.

Of course, it isn’t possible to know if your experiential analytics are positive or negative if you haven’t defined what a conversion means to you. In some cases, you may be after hot leads to drop into your funnel. In others, improving purchase consideration might be the Holy Grail. Either way: define it early. Otherwise you’re blindly throwing darts at a wall.

Hi I’m {customer}, nice to meet you.

Opening up your experiential marketing black box to reveal the truth about your campaigns will help you learn more about your customers, which can provide benefits on all levels. When you measure experiential, you’ll tap into:

  • what actions people take after interacting with your brand
  • what they said about their experience
  • how they felt about your brand before, during, and after the event

When you have this type of information about your customers and prospects, you’ll know whether you were engaging with the right people, and if your XM tactics were effective in convincing them that your brand is worth their time.

Convincing important players in the company that you can’t deliver a meaningful experience to customers without opening up your experiential black box can be a challenge. However, if you take the time to connect your experiential marketing ROI to the business bottom line and future revenue and profits, you’ll find that everyone is much more receptive.

If you would like to learn more about experiential marketing KPIs that really make a difference, speak to one of our experiential marketing experts today!

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