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August 1, 2018

5 Experience-Based Marketing Trends That Are Killing It in Customer Engagement

Even the most compelling words of marketing copy don’t typically have the same effect as getting the chance to try products or otherwise get immersed in what brands offer. 

That’s why experience-based marketing — also known as experiential marketing — is so successful. Particular trends are especially effective for engaging customers. 

1. Exclusive Events

People love the prospect of being among the first to experience new things. That’s why they post things on social media to tell friends they got tables at in-demand and recently opened restaurants, or talk about how they waited in line for hours to see a movie premiere or ride a new theme park attraction. 

Sephora capitalized on that characteristic with its House of Beauty-themed “SEPHORiA” events. They celebrated the brand’s 20-year anniversary in the U.S. with ticket-only gatherings that let attendees try beauty products, mingle with influencers and experiment by creating new looks. 

Why They Work: Brand devotees appreciate chances to show their loyalty and satisfy their curiosity. Exclusive events let people do both. By showing up, they demonstrate to brands that they’re steadfast followers and get to check out things that aren’t publicly available.

2. Live Help Sessions

E-commerce experts are familiar with cart abandonment issues that occur when people get frustrated and leave online stores without buying anything. 

Footwear brand Schuh aimed to minimize that issue by providing real-time help sessions to shoppers in the United Kingdom and Ireland who wanted to buy products through the Internet. 

For example, consumers can use video, text or voice chats to immediately communicate with salespeople and engage in co-browsing experiences with them. The brand’s team members also monitor social media feeds and encourage customers to reach out via the live help platform to get assistance with identified issues. 

According to a brand representative, 47 percent of interactions with the Schuh call center take place through the live help platform, and the conversions associated with online shoppers were equivalent to those in physical stores. 

Why They Work: Online shopping naturally takes out some of the elements that help people make evaluations of products in physical stores. They cannot feel the material of wearable products or determine how sturdy they feel in their hands. 

Plus, in a survey of shoppers who buy things both online and in stores, 84 percent responded the ability to ask questions is important for improving their shopping experiences. 

Live help sessions remove some of the guesswork from product browsing and connect people with store representatives. Therefore, it becomes less likely shoppers won’t get the answers they need before making purchases. 

3. Augmented Reality Campaigns

Augmented reality (AR) uses technology to combine virtual aspects with real-world environments. The exact ways people engage with AR vary depending on the setup. For example, experiential graphics can often transform spaces and capture interest. They could also encourage a person to scan a wall or a sign containing a QR code to launch their AR experiences. 

Visit Orlando, the official tourism brand for the Floridian destination, implemented AR in an app that enhanced the camera function on smartphones by giving location-specific information about places when people aimed their smartphones at buildings. 

Why They Work: Compared to virtual reality, which requires specialized equipment, many AR campaigns need only the smartphones or tablets consumers already own to work their magic. 

Plus, people are already accustomed to using those gadgets to find out information as they move around their worlds. AR increases the level of engagement that’s possible, giving brands ample opportunities to make connections with customers. 

4. Awareness-Raising Efforts

Sometimes, brands resonate most with their consumers by spotlighting notable causes and encouraging people to get behind them. Case in point? The Adidas “Run for the Oceans” campaign, which occurred in major cities around the world, including London and Los Angeles.

The campaign aimed to get people to collectively pay attention to the growing problem of global marine pollution and do something about it. Adidas pledged to donate one dollar per kilometer completed to the Parley Ocean Plastic Program, an initiative to reduce plastics ending up in the sea. The brand’s events also featured live music to get people excited after running the routes. 

Why They Work: Customers want to know their favorite brands have more than just company profits in mind. Research indicates 84 percent of consumers look for sustainable products whenever possible. 

Events like the one sponsored by Adidas urge people to unite for causes that matter to them and share collective experiences in the process. In turn, participants often share their stories on social media or tell others they’re impressed brands chose to use their influence to spur positive change. 

5. Lifestyle Campaigns

When deciding whether to buy things, people often consider whether doing so will improve their quality of life. That’s why brands focus on lifestyle-driven campaigns to get results as customers experience their products. 

To change longstanding perceptions that it was a “diet brand,” Lean Cuisine increased interest in its frozen meals through a #WeighThis campaign that involved hiring an artist to create an installation in Grand Central Station featuring women’s proudest accomplishments painted on miniature scale-shaped pieces. 

Then, as a new year started, Lean Cuisine offered web and TV tools that allowed people to block the word “diet” from the content they browsed or watched. The timing was crucial, since January is a time when people hear feedback about shedding their holiday pounds and getting ready for swimsuit season that’ll be upon everyone all too soon. 

The brand ultimately saw a 33 percent uptick in positive brand perception and a 428 percent jump in their social media mentions. 

Why They Work: People often look at the big picture while shopping. They ask themselves, “What impact will this have on my life?” and “What’s in it for me if I purchase this item?” Lifestyle campaigns answer those questions by emphasizing how products are natural fits for the ways people live. 

Experiential Marketing Makes Engagements Memorable

When people merely hear a television ad or read promotional content in a magazine, they’re likely to forget about it soon afterward. However, interactive experiences solidify unforgettable moments in consumers’ minds, increasing their desire to engage with brands and recommend them to friends.


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Kayla Matthews writes about digital tech and apps for MakeUseOf, VentureBeat and Lifewire, among others. To read more posts by Kayla, follow her blog Productivity Bytes.

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