Back in 2016, a Nielson study revealed that Americans were spending nearly 11 hours online – thanks in part to the permeation of smartphones in modern society and the huge boom in streaming popularity. This increase in screen-use time has meant more opportunities for brands to reach consumers directly on their personal devices through digital media buying platforms like Adwords. Though showing a display ad on your target audience’s favorite websites, or showing a video ad just before they watch a YouTube video, may be effective in a lot of cases, it still doesn’t work in all cases or for all brands. This is especially true when these advertising methods are executed on their own, without being paired with a more hands-on marketing or advertising strategy.
This is because most of us ultimately need a break from technology every now and again (and yes, that includes millennials), even if it is just to satisfy the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) that social media feeds can create. In fact, 78% of American adults said they attended an event in the last 12 months according to this Eventbrite survey. Millennials made up the largest group that claimed to have attended an event, with 89% saying they attended an event over the same period. This is evidence that even with an increasing addiction to the digital world, people still have an innate desire to get out of the house and indulge in a more interactive, real-world experience.
Events, unlike digital, provide a whole sleuth of experiential opportunities that give attendees the chance to meet a brand face-to-face, as well as interact with that brand. They allow businesses to deliver entire sensory experiences that create deep ties with their audiences. According to the article “Top 10 Benefits of Experiential Marketing” on Factory, 57% of brands that used experiential marketing said they “developed deeper consumer involvement,” while 81% of brands said they either created or increased brand awareness.
Through experiential marketing, brands can deliver creative in-person experiences that reach the senses of attendees in a way that digital (currently) cannot. For example, an attendee can try a sample of a dish from a local restaurant, or taste-test a new locally brewed beer. They can pick up and test a new product, taking in the sight, smell, and feel of the product. This direct interaction is extremely valuable – with 98% of respondents to an EventTrak survey saying that “seeing a product or service marketed through an experiential marketing campaign” would make them more likely to purchase that product.
Aside from demoing products, experiential marketing also allows brands to “strut their stuff” through elaborate and creative displays. By spreading their wings in the form of a tradeshow booth, for example, companies can bust onto the scene in their industries and show customers and competitors that they are a formidable business. Established brands, on the other hand, can interface directly with customers with powerful, interactive set-ups, reinforcing strong positions in their respective industries.
Regardless of a brand’s prowess, businesses that participate in successful experiential marketing campaigns create local associations when making appearances at events hosted in customers’ communities. This is especially powerful for companies that have highly regional markets – like snowboarding companies who see high sales numbers in mountain regions (i.e. Denver). These regional connections may not be made, or certainly not made as strongly, through a digital campaign targeting internet users.
Ultimately, reaping all the benefits of an experiential marketing campaign requires executing a well-developed strategy. This includes choosing the right events to attend, selecting the right event displays for your booth, and creating experiences that your audiences will remember through multiple senses. According to Event Marketer, 87% of consumer make a purchase after attending an event, and 98% of consumers say they are more likely to purchase from a brand after having an experience with that brand.
Having a digital presence is important in many aspects, but experiential marketing creates affinities and memorable experiences that drive real purchases and make your brand unforgettable.