This article first appeared in Research Live by Christophe Castagnera, Head of strategy for the UK, Europe and the Middle East at Imagination.
In these trying times, all elements of the marketing mix must work harder and more effectively as marketers weigh up the relative merits of where to invest their precious budgets, as Imagination’s Christophe Castagnera explains.
With more platforms, more fragmented customer groups and more clutter to cut through, budget allocation is an increasingly complex science. So, any element that offers the potential to punch above its weight, to deliver on multiple metrics to provide richer and more impactful marketing, is going to be favourable.
Add to this the ever-growing need for customer data and the difficulty for brands in accessing and collecting it. With increased privacy regulations, GDPR and cookie-less futures, brands are looking for permissible ways to gather first-party data to gain better understanding and access to consumers.
And so it is that within this landscape that brand experiences have an increased strategic importance. These are places where people have natural conversations with a brand, where there’s an automatic level of trust in the contact and opt-in element – people actively engage with experiences. Whatever that brand experience – be it a curated event, pop-up, festival, or game – there is an inherent understanding that it involves a value exchange.
But knowing when and how to ask for data, to integrate it into the experience and at what touch points is complex. It requires forethought – so brands need to design data capture into the experience and the customer journey with care.
Using targeted experiences and incorporating data capture with intelligence
Below are four integrated ways brands can use targeted experiences and incorporate data capture with intelligence. There is the opportunity for brands to raise their game – to think more strategically than sweets or pens for a business card, or representatives wandering an event with a data-capture tablet in their hands.
Create a personalised, end-to-end experience
If the brand makes its guests and visitors part of the experience narrative – with personalised messaging, content and soundtracks for example – a much more valuable connection is created. The offer of personalisation creates a value exchange meaning people are happy to offer details, preferences and additional information if, in return, they receive more tailored experiences.
Create a gradual data exchange through immersion
Take things incrementally – allow your guests to move deeper into an immersive experience in steps. For example, this could work by them firstly entering and playing ‘anonymously’ from a data point of view. But then, to unlock an additional activation, they need to provide a little information such as their name. In a later step, they gain access to a full-on experience which they can personalise, in exchange for the final elements of data the brand needs. Ultimately, the brand can wrap-up its experience in a tailored CRM piece, sent to them when they have finished.
Co-create user-generated content
If the experience is designed as an activation that involves co-creation around elements such as sound, colour or taste, then there is scope for personalised content that can be shared on social media. Again, this sets up an exchange and people are more willing to exchange information for this crafted content; they are happy to provide their contact data, as well as their inputs, to create this type of content.
Capture data as the ticket
Some brand experiences are of a high enough quality that brands can charge money for them. Think fast-laps in a sports car, a musical virtual reality performance or an exclusive VIP space to see a new product. With higher value experiences like this, brands can ask guests to provide their data as a condition of entry, like a ticket. It’s a clear win-win for customers and brands. It’s also a fully transparent message for customers.
So, while brands have long recognised the role for experiences as part of their marketing, there is a clear strategic function here for them to not only work as promotional vehicles, or as extravaganzas that bring a brand, product or specific area of the business to life, but as more sophisticated means for data capture. People now understand that their data is valuable, and they are willing to part with it when they feel that they are gaining something of worth in return.
Going forward there will be more integration between CRM teams, data teams and events and experiences to ensure there is a focus on the audience and data acquisition when designing the experience.
Head of Strategy, EMEA
Christophe is a Strategist with 23 years experience for clients and agencies, specialising in experiences, communications and technology. Through working with leading global brands including Pernod Ricard, Rolls-Royce, Expo 2020 Dubai, Vodafone and Jaguar Land Rover he brings breadth and depth to his work. Christophe is also a member of the IPA Effectiveness Council, a judge for WARC and has been featured in publications including the Wall Street Journal and Campaign Magazine. As Head of Connected Experiences he is broadening our Strategic offer through business insights, research studies, creative strategy, analytics and customer experience design. Ensuring that Imagination continues to create world class moments that blend brand experience and customer experience.