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Experiential Marketing Metrics to Track In 2021

Experiential Marketing

In 2021, brands need experiential marketing data in real-time to know if their live events worked. And— if not— how to correct any mistakes for the future. But let’s face it, experiential marketing metrics are a tricky road to navigate.  

There are dozens of KPIs at a marketer’s disposal to measure. That’s a lot! Between planning and launching a campaign, who has the time to analyze all that data? Are they even the right ones?

Don’t be deterred. We’re breaking down the 5 experiential marketing metrics you need to know so you can be sure whether all your hard work paid off. 

How to Measure an Experiential Marketing Campaign

Experiential Marketing Metrics: First Things First

Before we jump into our “top 5,” it’s critical to start your journey at the beginning. You need to pinpoint the overall objectives of your campaign. So, whether it’s increasing Instagram followers or boosting brand awareness— carve out plenty of time to set your goals. Your experiential marketing metrics should also be SMART. What does that mean? Let’s take a closer look:

  • Specific: For planning that’s effective, make sure your goals are streamlined and precise. 
  • Measurable: What evidence will define whether your event was a success or not? 
  • Attainable: Your objectives should be reasonable and realistic.
  • Relevant:  Ask yourself whether your goals reflect your values. 
  • Time-based: Create practical yet ambitious timelines that will incentivize you to reach them.  

Whatever your campaign goals are, the bottom line is to ensure you have the right strategy in place well before you launch.

1. Call To Action Conversions

Whether email marketing, feedback surveys, or social media posts, you’ll probably utilize a call-to-action (CTA) to prompt an immediate response— like subscribing to your newsletter or visiting your website. But is your CTA relevant? Does it resonate with your audience? 

Measuring these experiential marketing metrics will help you determine if your call-to-action had a positive impact. Lucky for you, there are tons of examples to choose from that’ll help you plan the right CTA for your campaign.

2. Check-In Rates

Billions of people were stuck indoors for much of 2020, and that meant many were browsing online, perhaps mindlessly clicking on or signing up for events they couldn’t realistically attend. So for all those who registered for an event you hosted, how many showed up? 

There will always be a disparity, but diving deep into these experiential marketing metrics will help you determine if you missed an opportunity. One that kept people from attending your event.

Experiential Marketing Metrics
Source: Event Analytics

3. Social Media Impressions and Engagements

Tracking your experiential marketing campaign’s impact on social media is so much more than views and likes. They can paint an unrealistic picture of success. Why? Because it’s all about impressions and engagement. 

But there’s a difference between them. Impressions tell you how many times your content reached an audience. On the other hand, engagements measure direct and active interactions between a user and your content (i.e., shares and comments). When audiences frequently visit your social media profiles, are regular commenters, and share your content often, they’re more likely to become pro bono brand ambassadors.

4. Cost Per Attendee/Sale

It almost doesn’t matter if you hosted a spectacular event if you went over budget. Your campaign still needs to be paid for. Before you activate, keep in mind whether your campaign is cost-effective. 

And after your campaign, the best way to calculate this is with experiential marketing metrics that examine cost per attendee or sale. That means determining how much you spent versus how much revenue you secured as a result. This could mean how many tickets were purchased or how many attendees converted into customers or subscribers.

5. Post-Event Feedback

Your campaign is only as good as what your audience thought of it. Experiential marketing metrics that seek out feedback during and after your campaign is the best way to know what worked, what didn’t, and how you can improve in the future. 

Incentivizing feedback with prizes and swag will increase your chances of more people offering their thoughts. And quantitative and qualitative data help you analyze that feedback into two parts as quantitative data uses numbers, while qualitative data is emotionally based.

Experiential Marketing Metrics Will Help Your Campaign Find Success

In the past, getting a comprehensive analysis of experiential marketing metrics was a tall order. But in 2021, there’s no excuse to be in the dark. Thankfully, there are plenty of tools that enable organizers and marketers to plan campaigns and track KPIs with ease. Experiential marketing metrics allow you to measure your success and communicate those results with hard facts. And that’s half the battle won when using experiential marketing to take your business to new— and greater— heights.

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Comic-Con Brand Activations We Love and You Will Too

Experiential Marketing

Are you looking for a globally popular event to host your brand activation? An event filled with passionate fans that receive worldwide media coverage and social media attention? Comic-Con brand activations give companies the chance to interact with devotees of comic books, anime, video games, cosplay, and more. There are plenty of creative ways your brand can join in on the conversation.

So, let’s take a closer look at a few examples that captured the spirit of this pop culture destination.

Taco Bell 2032

Inside the experiential marketing world, Taco Bell reigns supreme with creative and innovative events. There’s “The Bell,” Taco Bell’s hotel and resort in Palm Springs, Calif. Or the QSR chain’s “#BajaBlessed” mobile hair salon. But at San Diego Comic-Con in 2018 provided attendees a glimpse of the future with “Taco Bell 2032.” Inspired by the 25th anniversary of the Sylvester Stallone film “Demolition Man,” where Taco Bell is the lone survivor of the “fast-food wars,” the brand imagined what the Taco Bell of the future would look like.

The three-day Comic-Con brand activation featured an out-of-this-world exterior and dynamic LED neon art inside. Of course, the food got a galactic makeover, like “Bubbly with Baja Bursts” and futuristic “Crunchwrap Supreme,” served by actual robots!

Shake Shack and “Bob’s Burgers”

Another popular San Diego Comic-Con brand activation featured a delicious partnership between Fox’s “Bob’s Burgers” and Shake Shack. For an exclusive event celebrating the 150th episode of the hit show, fans were picked up in a branded bus and taken to a nearby Shake Shack decorated with artwork and props from “Bob’s Burgers.” 

From a replica of the cartoon’s iconic dining counter, you could order Shake Shack’s “Burger of the Day,” called the “Can I have your slaw-tograph.” This decked-out cheeseburger was topped with BBQ pulled pork, jalapeños, pickles, and scallion coleslaw.

SpongeBob Appreciation Day

In 2019, Nickelodeon celebrated the 20th anniversary of– arguably– its most popular show. Of course, we’re talking about “SpongeBob SquarePants.” And, the network went big for the milestone occasion. At New York Comic-Con, Nickelodeon erected a larger-than-life Comic-Con brand activation experience with a replica of SpongeBob’s hometown of Bikini Bottom.

Inside, fans could hang out in life-sized replicas of “The Krusty Krab,” “The Chum Bucket,” and “Mrs. Puff’s Boating School.” But that wasn’t all. Attendees built their own “Krabby Patties” and snag branded merchandise like T-shirts, socks, toys, and a ‘90s-style fanny pack.

NYCC 2019 SpongeBob Appreciation Day

HBO’s AR “Watchmen” Experience

“Watchmen” is based on the 1959 graphic novel about a nuclear physicist who transforms into superhero Doctor Manhattan. When HBO announced “Watchmen” as a limited series in 2019, the network gave fans the chance to become Doctor Manhattan themselves through augmented reality. 

At that year’s San Diego Comic-Con, private booths were set up to give participants a two-minute AR experience. After a brief narration of Doctor Manhattan’s origin story, a countdown to their AR transformation appeared. And at the end of the experience, fans saw the results via email.

Watchmen Comic Con Activation

Starz Takes “Outlander” Fans Back to the 18th Century

In the weeks leading up to its season four premiere, Starz’s hit show “Outlander” transported fans back in time to the 1700s– when the show takes place– at New York Comic-Con in 2018. Visitors could step into an authentic recreation of Claire and Jaime’s cabin and peruse props from the show. Fans also received branded swag from the Comic-Con brand activation, from custom leather luggage tags to specially-made fragrances.

Comic-Con Brand Activations Create Memorable Moments To Win Over Fans

Avid fans come to Comic-Con to get exclusive scoops from their favorite brands, preview new releases, and meet the actors who play their favorite characters. This fandom has inspired companies to get in on the action, but it takes more than just renting a booth. The most successful Comic-Con brand activations go above-and-beyond, launching interactive, multi-sensory experiences. When attendees can immerse themselves, brands allow themselves to stand out and be the star of the show.

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How to Win Over Anti-Advertising Audiences in 2021

Experiential Marketing

Let’s start with a bold statement: people don’t like ads. Or rather: people don’t like ads that over-promise or are disingenuous. If you haven’t noticed, there’s a barrage of advertising that’s dramatic, shameless, or both. In 2021, consumers are marketing-aware and anti-advertising. “What’s anti-advertising,” you ask? Well, let’s take a look and find out what tactics you can use to win over media-conscious audiences.

Why Is Anti-Advertising Effective?

Understanding what anti-advertising is isn’t rocket science; it’s what it sounds like. They’re self-deprecating or poke fun at the concept of marketing and ads themselves. Some even tell consumers specifically not to buy a brand’s product.

Sounds counter-productive, no? For many people, however, anti-advertising is like a breath of fresh air in an oversaturated environment. When brands are self-aware and acknowledge what they’re trying to do (i.e., sell their products, increases sales, gain new followers on social media, etc.), consumers appreciate their frankness. 

So, this counter-message is a powerful message in itself. And it works, especially with savvy Millennials and Gen Zers. 

But, why is anti-advertising effective? The bottom line is consumers value trust in a brand above all else. Anti-advertising is a novel strategy to building trust between brands and their customers by being honest. And that honesty is refreshing. Anti-advertising allows brands to cut through the noise that makes audiences want to take notice.

Three Brands That Did Anti-Advertising Right

1. Volkswagen Sets the Anti-Ad Trend

It may seem quaint by today’s standards, but Volkswagen’s 1959 “Think Small” campaign redefined how automakers advertise cars to the public. Sixty years ago, ads were flashy and full-color, depicting the perfect driver, living the perfect life, in the perfect car. 

So, what did Volkswagen do? They focused on black-and-white simplicity, with anti-advertising featuring a single image of the VW Beetle with self-deprecating taglines like “Lemon,” “And if you run out of gas, it’s easy to push,” and “Heard any Volkswagen jokes lately?”

The campaign was so successful, it cemented the VW Beetle as the quintessential car of the 1960s and is widely regarded today as the ad that changed advertising.

Volkswagen Anti-Advertising Campaign

2. Patagonia Tells Holiday Shoppers Not To Buy Its Products

If you’re a marketer and pitched a concept where you tell your customers not to buy your products… on Black Friday… you’d probably be looking for a new job. But, outdoor apparel company Patagonia did just that. 

In 2011, they took out an ad in the New York Times titled “Don’t Buy This Jacket.” But they weren’t trying to commit brand suicide. Patagonia’s goal was to address a more significant issue: society’s increasing environmental footprint. And the message of their anti-advertising was simple: consume less, but only the best. It was a call-to-action for holiday shoppers to think twice before buying gifts and only purchase high-quality products built to last.

Patagonia Anti-Advertising Don't Buy This Jacket

3. Doritos Nixes Its Logo

Have you ever heard of a brand ditching its logo and replacing it with… nothing? Neither had we until 2019, when Doritos created the ultimate anti-advertising campaign. In its anti-advertising commercial, titled “Another Level,” various shots of abstract triangles are shown as Gen Zers hold up blank bags of Doritos. You’re probably wondering why Doritos would do that? It was a bold move for a brand that felt its product is so iconic; it needed no introduction. Or logo.


Three Things You Should Know About Anti-Advertising

We’ve talked about what anti-advertising is, what it isn’t, why it works, and brands that found success. But, there are three golden rules you should follow if you want to create an anti-advertising campaign:

  1. Live IRL: If your audience can’t imagine themselves using your product in real-world situations, you’re already losing the ad game. So, be upfront with your customers, break the fourth wall, and allow the mundane frustrations of life to sell your product that offers tangible solutions. 
  2. Why so serious?: When your anti-advertising gives a wink and a nod to its audience, it lets them in on the secret… or joke. You don’t always have to take yourself so seriously. Have fun, be playful, and endear your brand to consumers. 
  3. The “No B.S.” rule: Say what you mean, and mean what you say with less filler. In 2018, protein bar company RxBar tapped Ice-T to tell it like it is in a spot that kicked off with the rapper/actor saying, “I’m famous, and this is a commercial.” Like the brand’s use of labeling its simple, all-natural ingredients on the front of its packaging, it made its message clear: “Real Delicious. No B.S.” 

Be the Disruptor With Anti-Advertising

The most important thing to remember about anti-advertising is that it takes acute awareness about what’s going on in consumers’ minds. Think about your own experiences as a customer. Which ads worked? Which didn’t? And why? When you understand marketing from the other end of the funnel, you’re more likely to prove you know what people want. 

So, be self-aware, be cheeky, and be bold. But always make sure you’re genuine. When your brand can strike the perfect balance, your anti-advertising message is sure to disrupt and influence audiences in all the right ways. 

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