We’re in the middle of a brand revolution – companies are realising the importance of building connection with their customers and marketers are having to re-think strategies that previously valued the hard metric of conversion above all else.
Now, the entire customer journey is under the microscope, with brands needing to think about how they can begin relationships with customers that don’t end at conversion. When the point of transaction was the sole focus of marketers, it was more a financial problem than a marketing problem – throwing money at a few strategies could measurably move people towards the decision to buy. But a combination of decreasing consumer trust and increasing competition have reduced the efficacy of that blunt force. A wave of start-ups and challenger brands —often with low cash-flow but high ingenuity— have managed to change the game by being competitive in terms of providing excellent, authentic, and meaningful offerings to customers, instead of immediately attempting to compete at scale (at least in the early days).
But how do you prove to customers that your offering is the best for them, personally, when every brand is claiming the same thing?
The answer lies in brand experience, because as we all know – actions speak louder than words.
This shift is provoking new questions about how to best invest in brand experience and how to measure this strategy, especially in comparison to strategies with straightforward quantitative metrics. Firstly, there are some easy metrics to collect – such as data on attendance, impressions and reach, although this doesn’t provide a great deal of insight beyond passive participation. Digging a little deeper, marketers can measure the number of customers who co-create brand stories through their experiences and share them with their network through social listening. (We shared further insights into how you can tap into powerful customer-driven content in our recent article about narrative.)
Yet those quantitative metrics only provide part of the picture, especially at events or experiences that aren’t directly tied to driving people to purchase (which can be off-putting – no one likes a hard sell). Therefore, it becomes equally important to measure how people are impacted through an experience. By considering the four dimensions of experience (sensory, affective, intellectual, and behavioural), you can begin to complete the picture with more qualitative insights. And when you begin analysing all of these factors, it becomes clear that return on investment (ROI) is much more nuanced than traditional metrics would have you believe.
In this sense, companies that invest in brand experience are pioneers in the qualitive space – as they think beyond a transaction, an impression, or an online interaction. In addition to quantitative metrics, they find ways to measure the return on experience (ROE), a qualitative method of measuring the direct impact of a brand experience on a person who has engaged with an experience. And if you’re serious about building a brand that customers feel an authentic connection with, then insights about what moves people —intellectually or emotionally— are gold.
Successful brand experiences consider word-of-mouth, time spent interacting with the brand during the live event, and shareability. Customer sentiment can be measured through social networks, via post event surveys, or real-time surveys that capture people in the moment. However, the most important step to successfully reporting on the 360º impact of a brand experience —encompassing both quantitative and qualitative data— is planning what’s important to measure, as well as capturing some baseline metrics.
With the price of audience attention continuously rising through traditional channels, a brand experience that is rich, meaningful and unique can reach a global audience when only a few hundred attendees directly participate in the primary event. Meanwhile, the future of ROE is only going to get more sophisticated and more accessible. Thinking beyond the current cross-media analytics such as attendance, likes, shares, views, and sentiment, there is potential for sensor technology to monitor consumer emotion – although there is an ethical minefield to navigate before we reach that horizon.
Designing experiences that will have a measurable impact on your audience is what we do best.