How Experiential Marketing Can Increase Customer Loyalty

happy customer shopping

As we ease more into post pandemic life, consumers are craving experiences more than ever. Experiential marketing can bring your business to life and further engage your customers in ways they're seeking the most.

As consumer behavior continues to shift related to COVID-19 concerns, there is a growing demand for real-world moments and a market for in-person experiences. A study by UTA IQ found that one in three consumers say that live events are more important to them post-pandemic, and the same amount are now inclined to go to as many events as possible. 

This shift in consumer habits presents an opportunity for businesses to get creative with their experiential marketing plans. Inviting customers to interact with your brand in a real-life situation fosters a sense of connection with your brand, which makes them more likely to spend. According to an EvenTrack study, 91% of consumers say that participating in brand events and experiences makes them more inclined to purchase. This same study also found that 40% of consumers feel they become more loyal to brands after attending their events and experiences, which can have a significant impact on your loyalty programs in the future.

Using experiential marketing to meet your customers’ needs and encourage repeat business can look a few different ways depending on your business, product, or service type. Tailoring it to your audience is always the most important factor. Explore what works best for you and your customers in order to continue building the relationship in a long-lasting way. Depending on the size of your business, your experiences don’t have to be large-scale to be impactful. Creating a memorable and enjoyable experience that keeps the customer in mind is always the ultimate goal.

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Different ways to maximize experiential marketing

There are several ways to curate experiences and boost customer loyalty, and one way might work better for your business than others. But regardless, there are plenty of ways to make your brand more experiential. 

Give your customers more.

Giving your customers exclusive access to your brand can easily deepen a connection with them. For a clothing brand this could range from introductory design classes to a pop-up shop where they can design exclusive, custom-made merchandise. For beauty brands it could be DIY makeup classes or one-on-one classes with a makeup maven, depending on the size of your brand. 

If you notice that exclusive experiences have a significant impact on your business, you can easily make them (or variations of them) a part of a tiered loyalty program in the future. Tiered programs are a great way to offer exclusivity because the perks or discounts are in direct relation to a customer’s spending levels. This gives you the opportunity to explore all your brand has to offer at varying levels while simultaneously exploring your customers’ interests.

With multiple loyalty tiers you’re able to give something back to customers, regardless of how much they spend, and keep them engaged in your brand.

Gamify the experience.

Turn your brand experience into a game. One of the best examples of this is Victoria’s Secret Pink Nation. Customers can play daily trivia games for points on the Victoria’s Secret app, with one of the rewards being tickets to exclusive events such as fashion shows.

Gamified experiences can include elements such as augmented or virtual reality to ensure that audiences stay connected to the digital world. Benefit Cosmetics created a Virtual Reality Platform that lets users use their phones to find tokens in the space through augmented reality. The tokens could then be exchanged for discounts or beauty consultations.

If gamified experiences give your business a spike, game-based loyalty programs can help maintain the momentum. These are ideal because they encourage customers to engage with your brand even when they aren’t actively buying. Time spent engaging with your brand can easily become money spent, which can be especially appealing to customers in times of economic uncertainty

For your business, game-based loyalty could be as simple as branded games or as complex as the infamous Pokemon Go era. Think about what could work best for your brand and offer the rewards to match. 

Join forces with other businesses.

When two or more unrelated businesses come together to use experiential marketing as a co-branded opportunity, it can have profound impacts on your business and your customers.

To promote its new photo app, Google joined forces with Zappos for the “Google Cupcake Ambush.” Google hit the streets and gave every person who took a photo with the new photo app a free cupcake. Zappos came along with a little playful competition and set up a box right next to Google that gave away free goodies whenever it was fed a cupcake. Since the two brands are not in direct competition, the experience created a feel-good moment for customers and provided plenty of exposure for both brands.

If you own an athletic brand, you could host a pop-up event with a bakery brand and promote self-care or body positivity. Depending on your angle, you could host an experience that complements or playfully competes with the other brand. However, ideally the brands should never be in direct competition. Successful co-branded opportunities could also benefit from a coalition loyalty program in the future.

If you’re still unsure how your brand can tap into more experiential offerings, use your customer data as a guide. The Square Customer Directory makes it easy to analyze your customer’s habits and to identify trends that help make your customer relationships more meaningful. 

If candles are your most popular item year round, make them more meaningful in your experiential marketing by offering candle-making classes. If you’re a local business and you notice a spike around a specific time period (i.e., festivals, holidays, etc.), introduce related gaming opportunities to tie the experiences into your brand.