Hard metrics are by their nature difficult to dispute, especially in digital marketing, where campaigns might not always be successful, but they are measurable in black and white.
However, this simply isn’t a plausible expectation for a great deal of experiential marketing, particularly when businesses aren’t anticipating on-the-day sales. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of people could be exposed to an experience and while many will interact, it can be a challenge to trace individual sales back to one experience.
That’s not to imply there’s a lack of value in experience based marketing simply because it’s more difficult to establish clear revenue. On the contrary, more companies are putting resources aside to increase their focus on experience marketing as their ability to quantify the soft metrics increases.
While traditional marketing avenues wither, the public is increasingly putting greater emphasis on sharing what they’ve done over what they have, and experiential marketing forms a vital primer for a brand’s next interaction with their audience. The difference between a letter from an old friend and raw junk mail.
As such, businesses need to look beyond just return on investment to determine the value of their experiential marketing efforts. While sales can be quantified, the value of your experiential efforts will often be qualitative and businesses have to accept a certain fuzziness in what counts as success.
Measuring the outcome of experiential marketing depends heavily on the ability to gauge how effectively a campaign generated positive sentiment towards a brand in the minds of the audience over being able to document one number being larger than another.
Soft metrics to consider for experiential marketing
Social media reach:
Social media continues to be a wholesale game changer and its effects are felt in experiential marketing as strongly as anywhere else. With the desire to document more and more of daily life, it’s imperative for businesses to not just get a grasp of how many people were reached on social media through the sharing of an experience, but the attitude reflected by those statements as well.
Ideally something which can be used to measure engagement would be built into an experiential campaign from the ground up. If an experience can’t be designed to capture engagement data, or it’s too late to change your plans, measure samples taken, leads and enquiries generated, convention passes scanned, or number of visitors. Even just having your brand ambassador jot down all their significant interactions on the day can be helpful when trying to reflect on your efforts.
Even though it might seem like trite wisdom, there’s value in just looking at the audience interacting with an event. Their facial expressions, who they’re talking to, if they’re taking pictures, and how long they spend interacting are all key indicators of the effect an experience is having on their sentiment which are hard to put on a spreadsheet.
While monitoring sales patterns will be a priority for any business, surges in consumer behaviour after your events is a strong indicator you generated positive brand sentiment among your audience. Tracking promotion codes handed out on the day helps, but it can’t give businesses conclusive figures on how their audience feels about their brand beyond a discounted sale.
A boost in web traffic during and after a campaign of experiential marketing is a solid indicator of increased positive brand sentiment, particularly when you can track visitors to your site back to search terms which are likely to be have been informed by your experiential campaign.
If you’ve got the manpower, grab a few people after their experience with your brand and ask them how they’ve been influenced, how they feel about your brand, and if they feel any more likely to purchase from you in the future.
How many people engage with your follow-up emails is a sign of how they’ve been affected by your brand. Emails opened, clicks and responses are all signs you’ve established a positive relationship.
While it might be difficult for some businesses to step outside the warm reassurance of cold, hard ROI, the value of experiential marketing is mounting and new ways to measure its effects being introduced are making it an ever more valuable avenue for marketing.
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