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Experiential Marketing + Digital Marketing = The Greatest ROI for Brands

The honeymoon phase for brands and experiential marketing is long over and experiential continues to be under ever more scrutiny to provide higher return on investment (ROI) and lower cost per (consumer) touch. The debate over how experiential marketing should be measured and how the measurement tools should include/account for interaction quality vs. traditional marketing is ongoing, but that is another post for another day. One way for brands to ensure that experiential marketing continues to increase its ROI and lower the cost per touch is to help events live past their execution time period through social sharing. Integrating social media into experiential marketing is not as simple as throwing a link, hashtag or QR code onto various signage elements.  The integration of social media needs to be true to what is at the heart of experiential and that is the brand experience. If an experiential program is done well the experience will motivate consumers to not only adopt the brand but to become brand advocates, encouraging others to adopt the brand as well. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Social Media Creating a social media hub for brand advocates provides them with tools to more effectively share their messages and become “louder” advocates for the brand and thus increasing the program’s ROI and decreasing cost per touch. Brands should also use social sites to kick off conversations with consumers and continue conversations with consumers after the experience.  Notice I use the word “with” when describing this consumer communication – not at, but with. Brands need to create a two-way dialog with consumers to help them feel heard and validated. This can be trickier than it seems with experiential marketing because flexibility needs to become the center point of all logistical planning. Adding the element of flexibility to experiential programs can certainly prove to be challenging but a few brands have done it very well. One brand that has mastered the integration of social media into experiential programming is Ben & Jerry’s.  Ben & Jerry’s took their traditional ice cream truck sampling tour and threw the tour schedule out the window, kinda… For the 2011 tour, consumers could tweet their desire for FREE Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and the sampling truck showed up at their location!  Certainly on-demand sampling requires a logistical plan and team that is set up to be agile and able to respond quickly.  It is also important to set parameters for the flexibility as well – surely the truck couldn’t make it from Manhattan to Los Angeles in the same day to deliver samples, but the sampling team could respond to Tweets that were generated from within a pre-defined area. The pressures on experiential marketing are not going away – In fact, the pressures on all marketing activities are not going anywhere.  The continued demand to increase ROI and decrease cost per touch needs to be addressed head-on and extending reach beyond the experiential execution is a great place to start.  When planning your next experiential program, integrate social media and be sure to:
  • Design your experience so that it integrates naturally with social media;
  • Encourage consumer engagement that allows consumers to be heard and feel as though they have some measure of control;
  • Set realistic parameters to protect the brand and make the logistics of the program (e.g. Ben & Jerry’s ice cream truck execution) possible and set-up your brand for success;
  • Last and most importantly, HAVE FUN!
Need help pulling this all off? wedü’s digital roots put us in a unique position in the industry. We are one of the select few agencies that really excel in both experiential and digital marketing. We have the in-house talent to concept, plan, build, execute and publicize your next activation across multiple channels seamlessly. Contact our team for more information about our experiential and digital capabilities.
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