You may think of digital marketing and experiential marketing as two separate entities. You probably silo out the marketing campaigns by department or agency. The truth is, digital marketing and experiential marketing should go hand-in-hand. We’ve seen greater successes when marketing is integrated. We recommend a digital strategy for every experiential marketing plan. So, let me lay out some ways these two marketing disciplines can work together to maximize your results.
Leverage digital data insights for the physical world.
Your digital marketing team has likely run some A/B tests across email, display and social. They have learned which messaging, imagery and calls-to-action perform best. These details can help inform your experiential marketing team’s work offline, too. What designs might resonate? What messages should you activate? Which audiences are most engaged with your content? These insights gathered from your digital marketing team are important. Translate them across your other marketing channels – including experiential.
Any feedback or deeper understanding you glean from your digital efforts should be shared. Leverage your data insights to build a better brand experience at every touch point online and off.
Create an online hub for your offline experience.
People turn to their screens to find more information or engage further. When planning an offline event or experience, you should still give people an online hub. This could be in the form of a landing page, a micro site, an event listing on a ticketing service or simply a Facebook event page.
When building your online presence, consider including things like:
- Invitation or ticket details, even if it’s a free event
- Where, when, how details to make it easy for people to attend or participate
- Hashtag feed to broadcast the brand experience’s social mentions
- Upload options to collect user-generated content
- Share buttons to make it easy for people to invite their friends
With Google Analytics, your digital marketing team can glean audience insights from the webpage visitors. These visitor insights can help shape more of the offline experience, too.
Promote your brand experience digitally.
Digital marketing gives you ample ways to promote your brand experience. Some cost-effective tactics include:
- Email marketing – invite your customers and fans by delivering interactive content directly to their inbox
- Display advertising – serve ads to key segments within geofences near your event to boost attendance
- Influencer marketing – leverage your brand’s influencers to help promote the experience
- Social ads – promote your brand experience across social channels
For example, Experience Olympia & Beyond served display ads in conjunction with their brand activation. The ads were served to females, 31+, nearby the event activation, who like handmade products, craft beer, wine and/or coffee. This promoted the mobile barista experience and increased excitement for Olympia.
Developing a digital strategy to promote your experiential marketing campaign can be an effective way to create buzz, give people a teaser of what’s to come and draw the crowds in real life.
Do it for the ‘gram.
Experiential marketing is often linked to social media integration. But today’s audiences are looking for authentic, personal moments to share. When you design your event for Instagram, think beyond a gimmicky selfie frame or contest. Social sharers are looking for original content, so social media integration must be organic instead of forced. When you work in the right dose of exclusivity in a natural way, social media at your experiential marketing event will soar.
While all that social activity is taking place, get involved in the online conversation. Your social channel managers should follow the hashtag and respond to posters in real-time. Digital replies from the brand will improve an attendee’s overall excitement for your brand.
Additionally, social media increases the experience’s longevity with post-event activity. This buzz can earn you extra media mentions after the brand experience comes to an end. Or make the social media strategy part of your larger experiential marketing plan. Social can feature interactive moments in the long-term, not just after events or one-off campaigns.
Leverage interactive digital media at the experience.
Bring your digital marketing and experiential marketing teams together during the ideation phase. At the physical brand experience, is there digital content you want your audience to interact with? Some ideas include:
- Virtual reality, augmented reality or mixed reality experiences
- QR codes, mobile tags or NFC chips that transport users to interactive content
- Gamification or gaming consoles to ignite playtime or friendly competitions among attendees
- Digital screens or kiosks that could provide on-site shopping, videos or personalized swag creation
Brand experiences can grow social followers, app downloads and website traffic. These may be primary or secondary goals to the experience. Involve your digital marketing decision makers when designing the event to achieve these goals.
Gather data insights at the experience to use afterward.
Registraion or a way to collect attendee data at the event is another factor to consider. You’ll be able to re-market attendees digitally after the experience. You can also design the data for marketing research insights. Face-to-face opportunities allow you to learn more about your audience, their passions and what motivates them. You’ll hear direct feedback which is incredibly valuable for future marketing decisions.
Of course, email addresses can be added to your mail list or used to follow up after the event. Consider a survey to attendees that would allow you to gather more data. You may want to email out a thank you in the form of a special offer or exclusive content. You may want to invite attendees to a second experience or VIP event. Include interactive calls-to-action or ways for your audience to continue to engage with you in two-way communication digitally even after the offline experience has ended.
Post-event digital marketing efforts may additionally include display ads. These can be served to a matched audience or similar audience based on the insights you collected.
The digital marketing and experiential marketing teams need to have a give-and-take-and-give-back-again working relationship. Online and offline data need to be fluid across both for a successful marketing integration.
Reuse content from the experience online.
Speaking of sharing, data isn’t the only thing you should give your digital marketing team after an experience. What does every digital marketer want more of? Content! One brand experience can provide content for an entire year when planned appropriately.
Digital marketing can repurpose photos, videos, testimonials, soundbites and even user-generated content for a myriad of placements, such as:
- Social media posts and ads
- Video content, or a video series shot from the brand experience
- Email content, including both sales and promotional outreach
- Digital ad content, using the experience as brand imagery for future promotions
The content generated for your brand at an activation can carry a lot of value for your digital marketing team. This goes beyond the initial boost in social sharing. With the proper digital strategy in place for your experiential marketing, you’ll be able to feed two fish with one worm…all year long.
Aim for seamless integration.
Depending on your brand’s unique strategy, your digital marketing and experiential marketing efforts can fuel each other in multiple ways. Regardless, the integration must feel natural. Your audience must have a cohesive experience with your brand across all touch points. The live events must evoke the same emotional positioning as the digital content, and vice versa. Both online and offline interactions are building upon the same brand. Messaging and imagery need to be cohesive and make sense to the audience along the way. Your digital strategy extends the story in which your audience participates in the real world.
You’re one brand. Both the digital marketing and experiential marketing show off your full brand personality. Your audience doesn’t see the silos – they see the brand across all channels and at each touch point. Integrative approaches help make sure the emotional characteristics of the brand stay intact.
To learn more about the integration of digital marketing and experiential marketing, connect with our turnkey marketing team. We have a full suite of digital marketing tools to make the integration seamless. Plus, we are experienced at advising on digital strategy for your experiential marketing plan.