The power of experience: proving effectiveness with measurement

Imagination’s Chief Strategy Officer Tom Gray discusses the theory and practice behind the debunked myth that you can’t measure the effectiveness of experience – and why experiential marketing is a “priceless” tool in a brand’s armour.

Experiential marketing is designed to engage consumers and make them feel a part of something. The objective is to allow your audience to actively participate in a campaign, which enables them to create a one-to-one connection with the brand.

This helps improve positive association with the brand's product, service and company. For example, during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, VISA created an LED football pitch for fans in the stadium to jump on and draw an NFT design with their feet, introducing a technology element that changed the way fans saw the brand.

Experience can be seen as a portal to participation for brands but while this method is used by many marketers to build brand reputation and increase engagement, some are apprehensive to make use of the tool. There are reasons for not using experiential marketing, including lack of experience or not enough budget, but the primary reason is an inability to persuade budget owners and decision makers of its effectiveness –an idea that has been debunked time and time again.

So, how can brands measure experience? And what part will experiential marketing play in the future success of businesses?

Having the ability and confidence to measure the effectiveness of experiential marketing is the number one barrier to adoption. Brands that have tried and tested experiential marketing and who know the value in it will have the confidence to lean on it as an effective marketing tool.

While digital marketing has spawned countless metrics over the years, the age-old problem of not knowing where half your ad spend goes persists and remains relevant to this day. Therefore, to measure success, you first need to be able to measure experience.

Measuring the success of an event, experience or live activation has historically never been a straightforward task, but the increase in data available today has meant that marketers can gather many more details about their activations, and can transform that data into deep insights that can drive growth.

Measuring experiential: The long and the short of it

Experiential marketing can seem challenging to measure because it often happens in a physical place and at a single moment in time.

Technology has fundamentally changed the ability to measure experience, making it easier to measure the effectiveness of activities, both for people who participate and those who are reached through indirect channels such as social media or the press.

By measuring the effects of long-term brand building and short-term conversion, using established standardised industry metrics, marketers can build a like-for-like picture of the effectiveness of experiential marketing against other channels.

The power of experience: a three-point plan

1. Measure depth – driving long-term brand value

Research shows a correlation between the time spent with the brand and favorability. By its nature, experiential marketing enjoys significantly higher levels of time spent with a brand over above-the-line or social media. By creating a standard metric of engaged minutes, marketers can compare time spent with brands across any marketing activity – from a few seconds in the case of out-of-home, to minutes and even hours in the case of experiential.

Additional qualitative measures such as surveys and Net Promoter Scores can be used to validate the impact amongst attendees. Measuring brand advocacy, brand funnel metrics and brand image are the most logical and cost-effective steps for measuring brand experience.

2. Measure behaviour – driving short-term conversion

While the depth of engagement offered by experiential marketing is a driver of long-term brand value, experiential marketing can be equally effective in driving short-term conversions.

Measuring this means focusing on the conversion metrics that are important to brands, and might include leads generated, product trialling or purchase.

3. Measure reach – the multiplier effect from media and social

Experiential marketing has traditionally focused on in-person experiences. Now there is significant additional value in designing experiences to be newsworthy and shareable, creating a multiplier effect on social and traditional media, measurable through social listening and media monitoring.

Tracking your metrics

There is no one size fits all for experiences, so brands need to set out a clear vision of what they want to achieve; whether it's brand awareness, customer engagement or sales.

Once a brand has set out its goals, it needs to choose metrics that align with them, and track them before, during and after the brand experience.

Comparing experiential marketing against other channels

By measuring the depth of engagement, as well as the reach of the story, marketers are able to look at experiential in contrast to other channels of marketing. This can help fine-tune activities and spending.

For businesses, this results in a more effective creative output, and brands are often able to provide something new, innovative and exclusive to their customers. Getting fans involved in this way will leave them with something memorable, an experience that will remind them of the brand's influence.

Not only will this offer brands higher engagement during the experience, but it will also help to improve brand endorsement in the future. This type of marketing stands out from the crowd and therefore is priceless.

For brands to fully make use of the experience economy, implementing a unified brand measurement framework that supports and complements their initiatives will be key. In 2023 businesses will be looking to deal with any market changes, as well as societal changes, during the recession. Brands must stay ahead of the curve and up to date with the latest trends and research to thrive in a time when many could fail.

Tom Gray

Chief Strategy Officer