While conventional marketing still has its place, other emerging marketing methods shouldn’t be overlooked when planning campaigns. Experiential marketing is one of these strategies.

Effective as a standalone marketing campaign or in association with a traditional print, TV, web or radio campaign, experiential marketing has become more popular over the past several years as brands look to connect deeper with consumers. In this post, we’ll explore strategies for engaging virtual audiences through experiential marketing. Read on to learn more:

Experiential Marketing: What to Know

As the name implies, experiential marketing is a strategy that’s designed to create a memorable experience when such campaigns reach your current customers or prospective customers. Unlike conventional marketing methods, experiential campaigns invite and encourage the consumer to interact with the brand to make a more personal connection through active participation. Some common types of experiential marketing include pop-up stores, live events, interactive displays, tours and demonstrations, free samples and more.

When done correctly, the main benefit of experiential marketing is creating a positive brand perception for any consumers who interact with your campaign. This can increase sales and help create new customers. And according to studies, experiential marketing can be highly effective. More than 90 percent of consumers report being more apt to purchase a brand’s product or service after experiencing it. About 40 percent of consumers report feeling more loyal to a brand after experiencing it.

Virtual Experiential Marketing

While experiential marketing is a newer type of strategy, virtual experiential marketing specifically is something that became more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. Also known as “digital experience marketing,” virtual experience marketing invites the consumer to experience your brand in a virtual environment.

One of the key benefits of virtual experiential marketing – and one of the reasons why it became so popular during the COVID-19 pandemic – is that the consumer and brand don’t have to meet face-to-face for it to be effective. Virtual experiential marketing can engage the consumer on their own time from anywhere in the world. All that you need is an internet connection.

Virtual Experiential Marketing Strategies

Are you looking for some inspiration for your next virtual experiential marketing campaign? Here’s a look at some strategies that have become increasingly popular and will likely continue to define this space:

Augmented and Virtual Reality

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are all the buzz these days. They essentially allow people to experience your brand similarly to how they experience the world. From a smartphone camera filter to a special VR headset, a real-life environment can be replaced with a simulated one – creating a unique experience for the consumer. While many think of AR and VR as in-person experiences, they’re becoming easier and more convenient to experience virtually from anywhere in the world with apps, filters and other technology. The Starbucks “holiyay” filter from back in 2019 is a great example of an AR experience.

Virtual Events and Trade Shows

Another strategy that became popular during the COVID-19 pandemic when most in-person events were canceled or postponed, virtual events and trade shows can help offer everything that an in-person trade show would – keynote speakers, a trade show floor, live demonstrations – except in a fully virtual environment. An additional benefit to hosting a virtual trade show is that you’re not limited to attendees being in person at one location. Existing customers and prospects can join your trade show from anywhere in the world.

On a similar note, virtual stores are also making waves in the experiential marketing space. One great example is the furniture brand Wayfair, which uses augmented reality to offer a “view in room” feature when consumers shop online to get a better feel for how a piece will look and feel in any room of their home.

Mobile Games

Mobile games are a great way to make your brand fun while promoting your services or products. Gamifying your brand is more than just fun – it’s also engaging. And when done right, it can make for a highly effective experiential marketing campaign. Another nice thing about this strategy is that the opportunities are unlimited. Brands can be as creative as they’d like when creating games, whether it’s on their website or their mobile app. Peer-to-peer sharing of game status or achievements can also help further drive awareness and engagement to the specific game.

How to Engage Virtual Audiences

Engaging virtual audiences all starts with developing a robust experiential marketing strategy. If you can do that, the rest should take care of itself. Some strategies for doing this include:

  • Setting clear goals for the campaign, a part of which includes identifying the target audience that you want to reach.
  • Creating compelling messaging around the campaign that also aligns with the brand.
  • Creating a memorable, positive experience associated with the brand and the service or product that it offers.
  • Identifying ways to maximize engagement and earned media to create further awareness.

If you need an extra little oomph behind your campaign to engage the target demographic that you’re striving for, you might consider some additional options. This might include engaging an influencer for an online campaign or game, incentivizing participation with discounts or coupons, or the promise of a sneak peek at a new product or service at the end of a campaign or checkpoint during a campaign.

The Value of Working with an Experiential Marketing Agency

To be effective, any experiential marketing campaign has to be meticulously planned and executed. Oftentimes, this stretches the ability and capacity of an in-house marketing team. That’s where it can make sense to work with an experiential marketing agency on any campaign or initiative you’re planning.

A good experiential marketing partner knows the ins and outs of what makes for a good campaign, and it knows how to manage it and all the intangibles to deliver results. As an extension of your in-house marketing team, they’ll work with you hand-in-hand to understand your goals to deliver the most effective campaign possible.

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