As consumers yearn for more hands-on experience, marketing professionals are answering with more examples of experiential marketing. By inviting people to interact with our businesses and brands, we can offer them more than just sales pitches.
This type of engagement marketing allows potential customers to connect with us in new and more "hands-on" ways. At first, this type of marketing seemed to be reserved for large brands with the budgets to experiment with no promise of returns. However, now that experiential marketing is becoming a more mainstream option in the marketer's toolbox, marketers need to be able to demonstrate return on investment. Where in the past, a general sense of the amount of "buzz" generated or press attention garnered might have been enough, now companies want to know precisely what they are getting out of their investment. After all, experiential marketing isn't often cheap. It can take a lot of time, money, and effort to catch peoples' attention. So, how do you go about measuring experiential marketing ROI? These four steps will provide an outline for creating a clear assessment of your next campaign.
As with any marketing campaign, it is difficult to know you have succeeded if you never decide what the goal is. Marketers already understand that it is nearly impossible to measure ROI with unclear goals and expectations. So, before we even begin, we need clarity on the expected outcomes. There are as many possible outcomes of an experiential marketing campaign as there are possible experiences to share. Some businesses may do it to raise brand awareness. Brand awareness is measurable, especially if there is clarity regarding the demographic or specific market. While raising brand awareness, in general, is important, most organizations have a more specific target in mind.
In other examples, the goal may be as clear as increased sales. As long as there is a precise number in mind and an amount of time that will be measured post-event, this can easily be quantified. One of the most straightforward goals to measure is lead generation. An experiential marketing campaign that is designed simply to collect names, emails, social media information, and other lead information has a clearly defined potential outcome.
While the broad goals of success are an essential first step, to get a clear and accurate experiential marketing ROI, these overarching goals need to be focused further into KPIs. These KPIs will get to a more specific understanding of what you will be measuring and how you will be measuring it. For instance, if brand awareness is your mark of success, you will, of course, need to measure it. And, how you measure it will be just as critical, and will need to be determined as part of KPI development. Whether you intend to conduct brand awareness surveys, monitor media outlets, measure organic web traffic, or assess social media impact, these metrics need to be determined in advance.
If the goal is, instead, sales-related, defining the correct KPIs is just as critical. Likely, you won't be measuring overall sales, but rather sales of a specific product or product line. Then questions will remain, like, whether these sales will be measured against a previous quarter, a previous year, or just in relation to a preset target. Even lead generation needs to be developed into a true KPI. Will the measurement simply be the total number of raw leads? Or, will those need to be qualified or measured in terms of conversion rate?
Keep in mind that other performance indicators may be less critical but also important in telling the overall story. If your organization has set an objective of increasing sales, that measurement is essential. However, it will also be helpful to know the total number of people who took part in the experience to understand the conversion rate.
With so much to plan for in an experiential marketing campaign, it is vital to intentionally include measurement in the plan. Even if it seems that KPIs will be measured by later outcomes, it will still likely be essential to capture raw numbers during the campaign. These will be based on the already assigned KPIs but may include data about the total number of participants, engagement numbers related to individual parts of the experience, contacts with individual representatives, etc. A careful review of all KPIs and targets will be required to ensure that all necessary measurement data is collected.
After the campaign, there will be additional legwork to complete to measure the remaining KPIs. Again, this process will be improved if you have already developed a clear plan of measurement.
The final step pulls everything together and will help you get a definitive measure of your experiential marketing ROI. Keep in mind that, like with all marketing campaigns, not all KPIs are created equal. They all may be useful in telling the overall story, but some will have a more significant impact on measuring success as initially determined.
At this point, performance indicators can serve two functions. They can determine if objectives were reached. And they can also tell why or why not. As with the earlier example, if, for instance, goals regarding the increase in sales were not met, it would be helpful to see how the total sales related to total overall attendance.
The Final Measurement
A well run experiential marketing campaign may be a hit with the audience, it may create buzz, it might raise brand awareness, and it may even increase sales numbers. But, when it is over, you will be left with the question, "Was it worth it?" Engagement marketing can be expensive. The only way you will prove the value of that investment is by a clear report on ROI.
Each industry is different, and every campaign will be different. However, following these steps and adapting to fit the needs of your specific campaign and organization will give you the right start to accurate measurement and reporting for your next experiential marketing campaign.