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Increasing Customer Engagement Through Brand Experience

As anyone in the industry would leap to tell you, customer engagement is absolutely key when it comes to any successful marketing campaign. Gone are the days when event tickets or products could sell themselves on the back of a snappy slogan or a handful of ads featuring aspirational images; today’s market demands that your efforts go the extra mile, and you manage to insert yourself in both the consumer’s landscape and headspace.

By MCI Staff

Customer engagement is about more than selling - it’s about taking your audience on a journey, and making a lasting connection which leads to heightened brand awareness. It’s about showing your clientele that you see them, hear them, and connect to them, and - importantly - that you have the solutions they seek.

Here at MCI Experience, we constantly strive to stay on top of all the latest trends and movements in the industry, and love sharing our knowledge and expertise when it comes to experiential marketing and events. Want to find out more about what we do? We’d love to hear from you so don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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What Exactly is Customer Engagement?

Customer engagement is many things to many people. On the one hand, it’s based on what marketers have been doing for generations: making a connection with their customer base, and demonstrating that you’re on the same page as they are.

On the other, it introduces a level of interactivity which is very much of the 21st century; it’s about fostering a space in which meaningful interactions can take place, memorable and exciting experiences can be had, and thoughts and ideas can be shared.

Brands which decide to invest in and focus on customer engagement strategies are taking the route of value creation, rather than that of revenue extraction. They’re investing their time and effort into growing and developing their brand, and sowing the seeds of brand loyalty and recognition.

Customer engagement strategies make your marketing efforts more effective  and beneficial by all means:


customer engagement strategy

source - apogaeis

Such businesses seek to have the edge over their competitors, and to stand head and shoulders above the ever-growing crowd… and studies are showing that their efforts are more than paying off as a result. When it comes to the events industry, there’s no doubt whatsoever that customer engagement is one of the most vital KPI’s there is, simply because in the events business, the experience often is the product.

By demonstrating the value of the experience, the level of interactivity, and the power of the brand to connect directly with its target audience, you’re able to set up an organic buzz around your event which can make a huge difference when it comes to sales.

There are many, many ways in which you can increase customer engagement as an events organiser or business owner of any sort. Let’s take a brief look at some of the key methods below:

Experiential Marketing

When it comes to contemporary methods of increasing customer engagement, experiential marketing is really the big one. This approach is all about allowing your customers to gain an ‘experience’ connected to your event, brand, or business, and allowing them to create a positive connection with you as a company.

One of the most efficient features of experiential marketing is the visual connection to the customer.

It's all about building loyalty and brand advocates through engaging and personalised live experiences. From immersive and multisensory installations to interactive product activations and gamification, the experience economy is exponential and a key marketing strategy in building brand fans.

Humanising Your Brand

Have you noticed how nowadays, so many brands (both big and small) are running blogs, interacting with customers via social media, or filling their Instagram accounts with non brand-related content? This is all part of the push to humanise companies, and make them more approachable, friendly, and accessible. The concept is that by writing regular blogs and inviting comments and feedback, or by posting photos and thoughts etc., brands are focusing on content with the primary purpose to entertain and inform. Brand messaging then conveys personality and adds value rather than the emphasis self-referencing and on sales.

Social Media Savvy

Social media is, as we are by now all surely aware, a crucial platform for customer engagement strategies. With extended video capabilities, fun filters and interactive capabilities that can often be sponsored with brand takeovers, social media channels offer a rich resource for brand storytelling. Audiences are more empowered than ever with surface devices and through social media, they are active participants in sharing and upscaling engagement.  

Social media can be disruptive and when managed well has the potential to go viral.  Here is a place where even huge brands can poke fun at one another, give cheeky replies to comments, and even set up challenges for their consumers which break through into the realm of the experiential marketing mentioned earlier. Omni-channel campaigns enhance the brand messaging, keeps the brand tone of voice consistent and offers incredible targeting capabilities through demographic data insights.


Understanding The Brand Experience

Both the physical and digital worlds are packed full of activities and interactions which could comfortably sit under the umbrella of the ‘brand experience’. These could range from all-out publicity stunts and experiential marketing events, to something as simple as a chat with a brand ambassador or customer service rep, or a couple of minutes spent flicking through your app.

In order to better understand brand experience in all its forms, let’s step back for a moment, and try to see it in light of what the brand experience delivers, rather than by the specific form it takes.

For example, if your brand experience is designed and conceived as a way of boosting awareness of what your brand offers or promises (which would account for the majority of brand experiences out there), then we can only claim a brand experience to be successful if the customer or potential client comes away from it with an understanding and enthusiasm for the capabilities of your brand.

Consumers are exposed to nearly 5,000 advertisements every day. Brands are all around us, yet a mere 11% of them are actually noticed and only 3% are likable. 82% of American audiences ignore online ads.

Brand experiences work best when they are focused, purposeful, personalised, specific, and create the kind of interactions which offer real value and a lasting positive impression.

When effective, and managed with a deft hand and a clear understanding of what your customer base is looking for, brand experiences can be enormously positive. They establish connections, create a sense of belonging among your fans, followers, attendees, or customers, and form communities which people go on to recommend to others. You build a legion of brand fans!

Experiential Marketing to Increase Customer Engagement 

When it comes to the kinds of brand experiences which really make audiences sit up, take notice, and start spreading the news about your brand, experiential marketing takes some beating. This is the all-singing, all-dancing side of brand experiences and consumer engagement, and brands in recent years have really started to take it upon themselves to push the boat out when making their events, products, or services shine brightly and connect with customers.

Experiential marketing is disruptive, innovative, and constantly seeking out ways to amaze, shock, and get people talking. It’s about reaching out beyond your core followers to the general public, reclaiming real and digital spaces to use as marketing opportunities, and aiming to go viral both in the online sense, and via the age-old wonder of word-of-mouth promotion.

The Experiential Marketing Continuum chart clearly shows which advertisement channels are welcomed or desired and what methods smart marketers will use to engage consumers.

The best of these takes the concept of the ‘experience’ - something memorable, out-of-the-ordinary, and personalised with the aim of conveying authentic and resonating brand messages with phenomenal impact. The result? Social media catching alight with retweets, posts, blogs, and photos, and a level of engagement which traditional marketing efforts couldn’t dream of reaching.

We can split the world of experiential marketing into roughly two key categories; events, and ‘experiential activations’, both of which can be utilised to great effect by brands wishing to extend their reach, create a buzz, and connect with their audience in a deeper, more meaningful way. Let’s take a look at these two categories in a little more detail, and explore their differences and defining points.

Events 

Events can be defined as brand experiences which target quite specific or somewhat captive audiences. They tend to provide more prolonged experiences, which involve those who share common interests, professions, or other key criteria. Simple examples would include conferences, expos, or trade shows of some kind: in such events, the participants or event attendees are there in part because they want to explore a brand or service to a deeper level, or because they are looking for the opportunities offered by particular brands, or due to networking needs.

The vast majority of events will offer attendees the chance to get to know brands on a more intimate level, either through stands or presentations, or through interaction with brand ambassadors or spokespeople. The scope of possibility at such events is fairly vast; most conferences will allow brands plenty of flexibility in how they set up their stands or formulate their presentations, with innovation and customer engagement highly appreciated by events managers and organisers.

Experiential Activations 

Often at the more surprising, ephemeral, and inventive side of the scale, we find the curious realm of experiential activations. These tend to be one-off moments of deeply memorable customer interaction and engagement, and unlike events, are usually aimed at the general public, not least due to the fact that they most successfully take place in public spaces.

The Mummy VR Experience is a perfect example for an experiential activation. It was an opportunity to experience and see how they shot one of the most spectacular scenes of the movie and actually physically feel like you are there.

Experiential activations are increasingly popular with marketers and brand managers, due to the fact that they have a tendency to spread like wildfire across social media and lend themselves more to those shareable “FOMO” moments. By hosting stunts, pranks, activities, games, or live entertainment in public places, the brand has a fantastic opportunity to connect on a deep and positive level with both existing and potential customers.


Customer Engagement Through Experiential Marketing: The Key To Deeper Connections

As we’ve seen, there’s little doubt that customer engagement is by and away one of the most vital KPI’s when it comes to your marketing efforts and planning. By getting your customer base (and their extended networks) excited and anticipating your event, products, or services, you can harness a remarkable wealth of potential and create the kind of genuine buzz which really makes a massive difference. Whether you are a B2B or B2C brand – we are all consumers and creating brand experiences is a powerful way to engage meaningfully with your target audiences.

Here at MCI Experience, we constantly strive to stay on top of all the latest trends and movements in the industry, and love sharing our knowledge and expertise when it comes to experiential marketing and events. Want to find out more about what we do? We’d love to hear from you so don’t hesitate to get in touch!