how to measure experiential marketing
Every marketer knows the importance of calculating ROI. It’s the data foundation we prove our jobs and our successes on. It’s what we use to let us know what’s working – and what’s not. And it’s how we plan our future campaigns. A really crazy cool, creative campaign is only successful when it produces results and makes an effective, powerful impact on buyers. We get asked a lot, “How do you measure experiential marketing?”

First, we work with our clients to identify key performance indicators that we can measure against their specific marketing objectives before each campaign. Our ideations, executions and measurements are all based on the goals which remain in the center of the campaign, always. We ask our clients, “What’s most important to you?” If a campaign element is not adding value toward reaching an objective in a measurable way, it’s just not something worth doing. The mix of elements we employ for any campaign must be strategic…and measurable.

These three measurements are a few we often track and report on for our clients.

1. Direct brand-to-consumer engagements.

Because experiential marketing creates unique, personalized experiences often in the physical world, it’s usually easy to count the number of individuals who actually touch, see or feel the engagement we activate in a physical location. Of course, there are some circumstances where this gets tricky (e.g., how many people really saw that car dangling from the cliff?), but for the most part, we can provide a pretty accurate number of direct brand-to-consumer interactions.

The number of physical impressions will greatly vary from campaign-to-campaign. For example, Time Warner drew 25,000 consumers to their Super Bowl 2014 tour that gave participants a look at the “inside” of a cable box (source: AdAge). Other experiences may be limited to the first 100 visitors or be held at an invitation-only gala.

Qualitative research is also a part of this measurement. Brand ambassadors, event managers and others on the field marketing team offer first-hand observances of how the experience is being perceived and enjoyed. Daily reports are accessible by the client during the campaign, and if something isn’t working, parts of an experiential campaign are often easy to tweak on the fly. Photos capture smiles (or other reactions) of the consumers. Video testimonials may be recorded. Survey questions may be asked. Experiential lends itself so well for collecting consumer feedback, as well as for collecting personal data, such as an email address or social media handle that can be used for retargeting after the campaign.

2. Estimated impressions from campaign-generated media buzz.

Another measurement of experiential marketing is the PR a campaign garners. The beauty of producing experiences is that we’re also producing buzz-worthy news stories. With 455 PR placements, another 1.5 billion impressions were generated from that same Time Warner campaign mentioned previously. A recent Orbit experiential campaign in NYC got mentions in several blogs, including U.S. Magazine. And everyone’s still talking about the Red Bull stratos jump, which was as much a breaking news story as a PR stunt.

Where ad reach used to be a deterrent against experiential marketing, in today’s ever-connected world, reach is actually the benefit for marketers who create share-worthy experiences. A personalized – but branded – story can quickly spread across social media networks in an organic, authentic way. And social media conversations are very traceable – and measurable.

3. Immediate lift in sales or brand awareness.

Red Bull saw a 7% uptick in sales in the six months following that famous jump, according to IRI. If you can isolate a campaign enough to measure the change in brand awareness or market sales, attribution can be achieved in this way with experiential, just like any other advertising form.

Measurements make every CMO happy.

Within 7 to 10 days after a campaign ends, we send our experiential marketing clients a metric-packed one-page proof-of-performance that reports on those pre-determined KPIs. The data is wrapped up nicely, so it’s easy to share with the CMO, brand manager and advertising teams at your brand.