Let’s talk data, measurement, and experiential marketing for a moment.
When most brands think experiential, the first thing that probably comes to mind is an impactful event that imbues the brand in the hearts and minds of consumers (in the most cost-effective way, of course). But experiential is more than just event marketing. As a marketing discipline it provides marketers the opportunity to make real-time connections with consumers, converting each moment into a quantifiable action.
However, quantifying the value of experiential has been a long-standing challenge; and proving that Return on Experience (ROE) is comparable to Return on Investment (ROI) is still something most marketers (and agencies) are still trying to wrap their heads around.
Today, every media channel is driven by data. Experiential is no exception. Although measurement within experiential may present new levels of complexity, it is certainly doable.
Calculating ROE is something that has to be planned for and integrated into every aspect of an experiential campaign. This means that measurement can no longer be an afterthought in the planning process. Identifying the right measurement and data collection strategy must run parallel to the ideation and creative process.
So how can brands, marketers, and agencies leverage data to create a more substantive approach to experiential measurement? Well, it starts at recruitment. Measuring the impact of an experiential event starts with making sure it reaches the right audience. Whether it’s a local event, a pop-up experience, or a sampling event, drawing the right people into the desired footprint is critical and should no longer be left to chance. Instead, marketers should consider finding ways to use retailer and digital data sources to guide event recruitment.
Let me put this into context.
We have to be more targeted in how we define the audience. We know Millennials crave experiences that are both interesting and instagrammable, but investing in a program designed to engage every Millennial in the market is not strategic. Contrary to popular belief, audience targeting within experiential can happen and should be embedded in the pre-event/recruitment planning. This is where leveraging customer data becomes incredibly important.
For CPG brands, that means working with retail partners to leverage loyalty card data to identify the right audience segment you want to bring into the experience. Is it loyal brand purchasers or non-loyal brand switchers? Determining who to recruit and invite should align to the brand’s goals and objectives.
Leveraging customer/retailer loyalty card data to find and recruit the right Millennial consumers just ensures the activation is engaging the most valuable individuals. The other bonus of leveraging retail/loyalty card data for audience selection and recruitment is that it allows brands to tie experiential outcomes to something tangible, like post-event sales or coupon redemption, closing the loop on ROE in a more precise way.
In the absence of retailer or loyalty card data, working with digital partners and leveraging media dollars to find, target, and invite the right consumers via online channels, can also lead to more effective measurement outcomes. Digital segmentation strategies, like contextual, behavioral, or programmatic targeting, may not tie neatly back to sales, but it does offer the opportunity to drive event awareness with the right audience. Collaborating with media partners means turning an event invite into digital ad copy that engages the audience leading up to the event, and drives them to registration. It's also an effective way of pulling them into a communication loop with the brand early on.
Measurement is the foundation of all marketing. It is what makes breakthrough campaigns not just memorable, but also impactful to the bottom-line. Relying solely on the collection of onsite metrics and earned social traction as the key to success cripples the potential and limits the impact of experiential as a channel. Experiential measurement requires the same amount of upfront vigor as other channels, and that vigor starts with defining and targeting the right audience. As experiential continues to grow, the need for quantifiable results must become a priority.