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Rethinking how we
measure experiential marketing

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How do you measure the impact of experiential marketing?

1st February 2019
By Ricky Knight / Managing Director

It’s a question with a thousand answers (or seemingly so). And I’ve heard some very interesting ones. Some people have gone as far as to say that social shares, event attendance and email sign-ups are redundant metrics.

The importance of using the right metrics in the right way

Now, this is a bold statement, and a wrong one in my opinion. Although we need to talk about how we interpret social shares, event attendance and email sign-ups, these metrics still have their place. Alone, they won’t give you the full picture or even the right one, but they are still a vital part of the measurement toolkit.

I can understand why it is easy to reach for these metrics for feedback on an event and stop there – it’s a fast-moving world and you want to see the impact of an experiential marketing campaign straight away. Shares on Instagram and Twitter, newsletter sign-ups and the number of people who engaged with an event give an immediate answer – a quick fix, if you like.

Redefining how we measure the impact of experiential marketing

But they’ll give you only part of the picture and tell you only part of the story. The real picture is broader, the real story is longer. This is why measuring experiential marketing sparks such debate.

I think the head-scratching over the impact of experiential marketing is perfectly valid. The momentum behind it is impressive and it’s becoming a defining part of more and more advertising strategies, not least because decision-makers are recognising the power that it wields (if done correctly). There is more to come from experiential marketing, but at the moment the picture isn’t totally clear and the market senses this. I think the key to unleashing its full potential lies in redefining how its impact is measured.

How do you measure experiential marketing?

So, how do you properly measure experiential marketing? I think “impact” is the word to focus on. With experiential (and other types of marketing for that matter), it’s easy to get wrapped up in the impact we can see online and forget that what happens offline (real world, face-to-face stuff) is just as important. Actions aren’t solely made online and decisions aren’t taken purely because of what happens in this space (although social shares, advertising, etc., can be crucial) – the offline element plays a huge role too. 

In addition, the role of offline elements in the action-taking/decision-making process is not always short or linear. For example, a person may take a few days or even weeks to act on a desire – the timing has to be right and there may be one or several real-world, physical triggers along the way before the button is pressed on the buying action. In this sense, in creating connections, strengthening engagement and increasing mindshare, experiential can play a critical role in and have a critical impact on the buying process, from stimulating the desire to triggering the end action. Furthermore, it can have a defining impact on how a person influences others around them.

Creating the measurement model of the future

So, how do we track the whole offline-online process that leads to a purchase and the role and impact of experiential marketing on it? It isn’t easy, which is why perhaps so many fall back on just referencing social shares, etc., and why there is potential in this type of marketing that is yet untapped. But we have the technology, not least in our pockets, and with sharing our lives being so popular, the information to focus it on. 

I think we are moving in a direction that is delivering more and more effective experiential marketing. The potential is being tapped because the thinking about how to measure experiential is evolving. 

For me, effectively measuring experiential depends on identifying its true role in the decision-making journey and indeed realising the true scale of the journey itself. So, let’s not throw away social shares, newsletter-sign-ups and headcounts – let’s make sure we use their value in building a model that measures the true impact of experiential marketing.