How Can Experiential Marketing Help a Small Business?

Experiential Marketing

If you’re trying to grow your business, you have to keep up with evolving trends in marketing. And one of the most significant developments in modern marketing is the increased prevalence of experiential marketing.

Also known as “engagement marketing,” this approach to customer outreach leans on the idea that you can create a more profitable relationship with buyers when you share an experience and tap into their emotions, rather than simply convincing them that your product has value.

Whether you realize it or not, you’ve watched many major brands discover increased success with experiential marketing.

Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign encouraged consumers to search for their own names on coke bottles, pick up a bottle for a friend, or even connect with strangers. This messaging turned buying a coke into a meaningful, community-focused experience, and the result was a gain of 25 million Facebook followers and more than 500,000 photos hashtagged with #ShareaCoke in the first year.

Doritos went really big with their Crash the Super Bowl campaign, which invited buyers to create the company’s Super Bowl commercial for them . . . an initiative that was so successful Doritos kept it going for a full decade.

But, of course, these are major corporations. What about small businesses? Can your company participate in experiential marketing, too?

Absolutely. In fact, there may come a day soon when the survival of your business depends on experiential marketing.

Let’s get into what this unique approach to customer connection could mean for the growth of your company and how you can take advantage of the changing times . . . even with a limited budget.

What is Experiential Marketing?

Experiential marketing takes many forms, but the main idea is this:

You raise brand awareness and connect with buyers by offering them an experience rather than a sales pitch. This experience should align with your brand, message, and values. It should make consumers feel like they truly understand what you’re all about . . . and it should make them feel eager to get on board.

So, what are we considering an “experience?”

It’s really anything that creates an interaction between your brand and your customer… anything that makes the buyer a participant in your brand story rather than a spectator. You can do this through:

  • Interactive hashtag campaigns like Lean Cuisine’s #WeighThis
  • Novelty experiences like the IKEA BIG Sleepover
  • Pop-up stores and events
  • Games or other interactive features on your website
  • Inviting customers to vote on which charity you should support or which products to add to your inventory
  • Contests
  • Answering questions on Quora and similar platforms

Really, experiential marketing includes anything you do to treat marketing as a two-sided experience rather than simply making a pitch about your product or service.

What are the Benefits of Experiential Marketing?

The first and perhaps most obvious benefit of experiential marketing is that it taps into the buyer’s emotions.

As much as we all like to pretend we’re very grounded and rational, the truth is that most consumers make buying decisions based on their emotions rather than on facts and reason. And while you’ve likely already used that reality to inform your previous marketing efforts, experiential learning takes the emotional connection to the next level.

For example, Patagonia sells outdoor clothing and gear. Their brand is built around the values of adventure and environmental responsibility. But they don’t just tell their customers that. They host frequent workshops in their stores to teach outdoor skills, screen environmentalist documentaries and even demonstrate how their customers can maintain and repair their gear to make it last longer. As a result:

  • Their customers feel excited to participate in the activities for which they would need Patagonia products.
  • The company demonstrates that they mean what they say about valuing the environment and sustainability.
  • The event creates the feeling that there is an entire Patagonia community, connecting buyers not just with the brand, but with other loyal customers as well.

Those are the major benefits of experiential marketing. But let’s be clear: we’re reaching a point at which experiential marketing isn’t just about gaining an advantage. It’s actually about to become a necessity.

Why You Need an Experiential Marketing Campaign

Millennials now make up the largest generation, and they’re entering their prime spending years. Generation Z will follow. And both generations share one distinctive feature:

They prefer experiences over material goods. In fact, according to a study by Eventbrite, 78% of Millennials would choose to spend money on an experience rather than an object.

The point being, this generation will not buy your stuff on the basis of great quality or a good deal. If you want to reach Millennials, you need to offer them experiences and a sense of value.

This may seem like a pain, but there’s a little something in it for you. Generations Y and Z don’t just love to have experienced; they also love to share experiences. This means if you create meaningful moments for your buyers, you can count on those moments turning into photos, videos, and hashtags all across social media. In other words, free advertising and social proof.

Experiential Marketing on a Limited Budget

As you’ve learned by now, your ability to create an experience for your customers does not depend on having a massive marketing budget. You don’t have to host a contest that offers Super-Bowl-sized rewards. You can:

  • Host an open house at your brick & mortar location.
  • Invite social media followers to vote on products or submit ideas for product names.
  • Set up a photo booth or interactive game at a community event.
  • Create a hashtag campaign that focuses on your company values and your buyers’ personal stories.

The possibilities are endless. You just have to get creative . . .

 . . . and have a killer strategy for an effective experiential marketing campaign.

What Makes an Experiential Marketing Campaign Effective?

In order for your experiential marketing efforts to be successful, you need a carefully considered plan. Just like all marketing strategies, a successful experiential campaign begins with a scheme built around your objectives, your resources, your customer, and your market.

And in order to create a truly memorable and effective experience for your buyers, be sure to:

  • Know your customer. What are their values? What aspect of your brand or messaging has resonated with them in the past? What do they consider fun, meaningful, or helpful?
  • Align the experience with your company culture. Experiential marketing tells your buyers who your company is. How can you create an experience that makes a statement about what’s important to you?
  • Make it shareable. Is there a hashtag? How can you make a physical environment or moment “Instaworthy?” Can you supplement an experience with video, photos, or any other type of social media content?
  • Integrate digital marketing. Even if you create an experience that happens offline, find a way to make people feel like they can still participate through social media or other digital channels. You can do this with live video, polls, hashtag campaigns . . . just get creative.

When you reach out to consumers in a personal way, you not only raise awareness of your brand, but you make a deeper connection with your buyers. You give them a heightened sense that they know you and they know what you’re about. And when your customers feel that way, they often turn into brand advocates.

If there’s anything we can do to help get you started in experiential marketing, let us know. We love helping brilliant small businesses thrive.

Conversation Rate

How To Improve Your Conversion Rate With SEO

For years, business owners have struggled with one major question regarding their website:

Should they tailor their site design to satisfy the humans who visit it, or should they tailor it to satisfy the search engines that lead visitors there in the first place?

It’s not an easy choice to make. You need the search engines to love you in order for people to find your site. But you need humans to have an excellent experience on your website if you want those visits to turn into conversions.

Fortunately, there’s no longer much need to choose between SEO (search engine optimization) and CRO ( conversion rate optimization). In fact, the more sophisticated search engines become, the more SEO and CRO go hand-in-hand.

After all, search engines have one objective: to identify the web pages that will be most useful to the human beings searching for them. With advancements in technology, the bots are increasingly sensitive to the nuances of the user experience. They’re no longer just trolling for keywords (though keywords are still important!). Now search engines collect hundreds of clues to determine how informative, intuitive, and engaging your site is.

This means search engine optimization is also a stellar guideline for improving your conversion rate.

If you’re still just keyword-stuffing in an attempt to get more eyeballs, you’re a couple steps behind. The good news is that there are countless moves you can make that will boost your search engine rankings and inspire more conversion rate at the same time.

Here are some game-changers to start with.

Add Video Content

If you’ve been following our blog regularly, you know we love video. It’s such an incredible tool for raising brand awareness, inspiring a more personal brand-customer connection, educating users about your product or service, and ultimately boosting conversion rate.

Another great benefit of video is that search engines love it. They love it because they know people love it. Plus, video increases the duration of visits to your site. Generally speaking, you’re doing fairly well if people spend 30 seconds to 2 minutes on your site. If you can get above 2 minutes, you’re really rocking it, and the search engines notice.

And what’s one reliable way to get visitors to stick around that long? Providing something that will keep them engaged so they don’t go anywhere. It could be a longer video that’s deeply compelling, or it could be multiple short videos on the same page. It could even be a combination of video, infographics, and really killer content.

So video engages your visitors and gives you more credibility with search engines. But what about conversion rate? Well, here’s a fun fact:

77% of buyers say they’ve decided to purchase a product or service after watching an explainer video.

Video is an essential part of the strategy. And don’t feel intimidated if you’ve never tried video before. There are now tons of beginner-friendly video content tools like Animoto and Biteable to get you started.

Create Content with Real Value

On that note, it helps to make sure all your content has value to a human audience. Use a combination of written content, images, infographics, and video. Provide information that’s useful or ideas that are entertaining. Not only does this help increase your average duration of visits, but it’s also important to write for humans because the search engines scan for things like relevance and readability. Search engines love blog posts that are around 1,000 words or more. They prefer short, simple, easy to read sentences.

Frequent paragraph breaks are great, too.

Another idea worth considering is whether there is a way to create dynamic content for your website. Dynamic content is content that adapts depending on the locations, needs, and behaviors of the individual visitor. An example of dynamic content would be an ecommerce store featuring a banner advertising free shipping to the visitor’s specific state. Dynamic content also includes purchase suggestions we see so often on sites like Amazon.

Dynamic content is AI at its best. It helps search engines connect your site with people looking for the very specific goods and services you provide. And once those people find you thanks to stellar search engine rankings, they’ll see the specific answer to their specific pain point laid out in black and white. Boom. Conversion.

Focus on Long-Tail Keywords

While we’re on the topic of providing very specific solutions, let’s dig into long-tail keywords.

Long-tail keywords are those specific phrases Internet users search for. Rarely does a human being type “used cars” into the search box. They’re much more likely to search for “used cars in San Jose,” “pre-owned BMW in San Jose,” “how do you know you’re getting a good deal on a used car” . . . you get the idea.

People search for specific solutions, not a general theme. Which means the more you can tailor your content and keyword strategies to resolve a specific search request, the better your chances at getting on the first page of the search results. And, in turn, the likelier you are to get visitors who are actually looking for the very services you provide.

There are many keyword tools that can help you figure out what your prospective customers are looking for and which words they’re using to search. We recommend Google Keyword Planner and KW Finder.

Increase Site Speed

Nobody likes a draggy site. Human beings don’t have patience for it, and neither do the bots.

Optimizing your loading time is one of the simplest things you can do to boost your SEO and your CRO in one step. It’s one thing business owners all-too-frequently underestimate. But we’re willing to bet you’ve abandoned a website before because you just weren’t willing to wait for a sluggish page to load. You can assume your target audience would do the same.

If you’re not sure how well your site performs, speed-wise, run it through Google PageSpeed Insights. This should give you some idea of whether it’s time to look into kicking your speed up a notch.

Optimize for Mobile

How does your website perform on mobile devices? If it looks sloppy or is confusing to navigate, you’re losing yet another opportunity to tell the search engines your site has value.

You’re also losing customers. A lot of them. In fact, nearly 40% of all online purchases made during the 2018 holiday season were made on a mobile device.

If you’re not sure if your page is mobile friendly, run it through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. When you run this test, you get one of three results. Your site may deemed mobile friendly, end of story. You may learn that it’s mobile friendly, but there are some issues with loading a specific page or two. Or you’ll learn that you have some major issues to address. Fortunately, Google tells you exactly what they are so you can resolve them without too much guesswork.

This is by no means a comprehensive list. Modern search engines look at literally hundreds of details when weighing the value of your website. But the bottom line is that SEO is absolutely essential for your business . . . not just because it helps buyers find you, but because it shows you how to give buyers the best experience possible.

You should care what the search engines want, because the search engines want what humans want.

That said, we know improving your website’s SEO can be a sizeable and confusing undertaking. If there’s anything we can do to help, we’re always here and happy to talk to you. Drop us a line.

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