What is the ROI of a Brand Experience?

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Today’s consumers are looking for strong personal connections with the brands they support. As a result, one-way print and media advertising cannot produce the meaningful results they once did.

The most successful brands rely on interactive experiences that engage consumers in a way that is authentic and memorable, creating long-term brand loyalty. Often times, that’s by way of an event or activation—a brand experience. And after a successful experience or event, there are measurable changes in participants’ impressions of a brand.

Individuals who have a positive experience are likely to discuss them with up to 17 other people, and 93 percent of consumers feel more connected to a brand after participation in such an event. A full 98 percent of participants are more inclined to make a purchase than those who have not had such an experience, and 65 percent of marketers notice a direct sales boost from experiential marketing.

Pinpointing the specific brand experiences that will make an impression on your target audience is a challenge, and determining the return on your investment in a particular event is even more difficult. However, both steps are critical to the long-term success of your brand strategy.

Building Community Through Brand Experiences

When it comes to creating an authentic, memorable brand experience, what you choose to do is less important than how you do it.

It is possible to transform basic sales meetings, user conferences, leadership summits, and trade shows into an extraordinary experience that creates strong community ties.

Alternatively, you can choose to innovate, bringing people together for a more unusual type of event. Two examples of highly effective and unusually innovative brand experiences include the following:

  • Lean Cuisine’s #WeighThis – There is constant pressure to achieve standards of appearance that are simply not attainable for most people. In an effort to move the focus from physical perfection to the things that truly matter, Lean Cuisine set up a display in Grand Central Station. Passers-by were encouraged to share what they most want to be weighed by – their love for friends and family or their work ethic, for example – and the campaign was a massive success. Lean Cuisine’s #WeighThis generated more than 204 million social media impressions. Though it wasn’t a traditional event, it created a memorable, personal connection with current and prospective customers.
  • IKEA’s Big Sleepover – Some of the best ideas come from consumers themselves. When brand enthusiasts expressed their heartfelt desire to have a sleepover in an IKEA store, the IKEA UK took notice. More than 100,000 joined a Facebook group called “I wanna have a sleepover in IKEA”, and 100 members actually got the chance to do just that. The store hosted an overnight experience called The Big Sleepover, which included massages and a bedtime story.

There are opportunities to increase engagement at more traditional events, as well. A simple trade show display can be made memorable with an activation that draws people in. Many brands are turning to virtual and augmented reality to engage audiences in exciting ways.

Measuring the Total Value of Your Event

The ROI of a given event is much more than associated revenues minus event expenses. When properly planned and executed, the best brand experiences offer on-going returns, whether or not the event itself sees a profit.

Some of the costs associated with event marketing initiatives include travel expenses, product giveaways, time and labor for event staff, keynote speakers, catering, event videos, graphics, and environmental design, and the venue itself. However, even if you don’t sell out the new product launch or signup 100 new customers, the intangible returns can more than make up for this investment.

In addition to any profits generated at the time of the event, you’ll be generating new leads, prospects enter the sales pipeline, and your brand may gain press mentions, sponsorships, and partnerships.

Measuring the value of these factors can be accomplished through a review of certain key performance indicators and metrics. The specific KPIs that you measure depends on your objectives going into the project. These are some of the most common:

Building Brand Awareness

  • Measure increases in social media presence through analysis of related social media impressions
  • Measure increases in media coverage through analysis of related media placements
  • Measure increases in website traffic through web analytics tools showing the number of site visits through the event page

Building Sales Revenue

  • Measure the number of leads generated by the number of prospects and/or accounts added to your customer relationship management tool
  • Measure the number of accounts closed during the relevant period through the CRM tool

Increase Customer Engagement

  • Measure the number of demonstrations given and/or samples distributed
  • Measure increases in the number of active users for your product/service
  • Examine audience feedback through pre-event, mid-event, and post-event surveys
  • Specifically analyze the Net Promoter Score (NPS) for your brand before and after the event, as well as for the event itself
  • Analyze the number of questions asked by participants during the event and/or the number of live poll responses
  • Measure the number of event app downloads and event community check-ins
  • Analyze the number of company mentions and event hashtag mentions on social media
  • Note the number of attendees versus the number of registrations, with particular attention to the number of returning attendees

The Age of Return on Experience (RoX)

Marketing Mag divides return on experience into a three-part model.

“Return on Experience (RoX) shows how businesses create value across connected experiences and how that value can be followed and measured down into individual moments themselves.”

Once you have completed your analysis of your event’s RoX and compared that to the cost of the event, you have the data you need to determine your true ROI.

The beautiful thing about brand experiences is that there really is no ceiling on how far you can push the experiential bar in pursuit of deepening relationships with your target audience. And ultimately, anything you can do to move the RoX needle will boost your bottom line.

This piece originally appeared on the Cramer blog