Experiential retail has matured rapidly over the past 10 years.
Despite the recent drive to create better in-store experiences for customers, experiential retail is still behind on one major marketing aspect: measurement. Most experiential marketing reporting has been culled from event attendees — questionnaires, redemption rates, email opt-ins, etc. It’s been very analog in a way. There is a growing need for increased immersive touchpoints as part of the user experience so marketers have more data points to collect and synthesize.
In addition, brands want to know how the experience impacts the buying cycle 30, 60, 90 days down the road. Marketers need to identify the best strategies and technologies (and what ultimately fits their brand) that can lift this data and apply it to the customer experience. That’s the only way that in-store experiences are going to get better.
Here are a few things to consider when crafting and measuring your experiential retail efforts:
VIPs vs. attendees
Marketers need to talk to someone who interacted with several experiential touchpoints in a different way than they talk to an event attendee. It’s like segmenting a guest list, in that they need to treat VIPs much differently than prospects. One communication might be geared towards upsell opportunities, and the other is simply still trying to generate awareness.
With post-event data segmentation, we start to develop rich insights about who was influenced by an event or activation and who wasn’t. From there, it helps us to build smarter experiential strategies.
When we have these useful data points, we can also craft better follow-up messaging after an event. This helps to create a more authentic relationship with the consumer over time, instead of just engaging them during one-off opportunities.
Creating the right touchpoints for VIPs
A branded experience can offer multiple touchpoints (e.g., testimonials, word-of-mouth, social media and community involvement) before the consumer moves from “before purchase” to “buy mode,” so identifying the “post-buy” touchpoints for VIPs is essential for experiential marketers.
Survey responses are still the standard for collecting VIP feedback, but not all surveys are created equal. The most effective surveys — whether conducted in-person, with iPad displays, or via follow-up emails — are quick, concise, and offer value in the form of incentives. An entry into a drawing or a small discount can go a long way in increasing survey completion rates. For example, if you use a marketing email as a “post-experience” touchpoint, your email lists should be segmented to engage VIPs with increased incentives or added value. Show them that you appreciate their time, and they will provide you with invaluable insights.
As experiential continues to siphon dollars from other marketing budgets, there is also an increased need to effectively measure ROI. The experiential space used to be a platform where creativity reigned, and if something was enough of a spectacle, it had the potential to go viral and capture views. Project expectations weren’t set with KPIs and success metrics; those were figured out post-mortem after the campaign had ended. That isn’t the case anymore and views (or impressions) aren’t enough to satisfy data-driven marketers.
The reality today is that upfront conversations that lead to a clear definition of success metrics are far more important than the creative execution. Once you have a vision for the client’s success metrics, you can start to integrate the appropriate technology (e.g., iPads for real-time data collection, license/id scanners) for the on-site experience. This enables you to grab more and more real-time data and formulate actionable insights, helping to quickly improve and personalize live experiences.
With all of the new technology that is available, brands have undergone a lot of change over the past few years and they’ve had to adapt their marketing efforts to keep up with their consumers. But technology can only go so far. Many consumers still appreciate the ability to try out products in-person, so the in-store experience is vital to attracting and retaining customers.
By creating measurable touchpoints for those consumers, brands can become savvier in their marketing and they can identify new ways to build loyalty. Consumers are going to respond to a well-executed experiential activation. Why not make the most of it?