Time to Switch On? How Activations and Events Can Propel the Omnichannel Experience
By design, an effective omnichannel experience allows consumers to seamlessly navigate familiar avenues such as online, social and in-store on their way to checkout. But is this truly enough to create an impact with customers, convey your brand message and build sales momentum?
At a time when traditional ad spending is in decline and consumers’ desires for more engaging ways to interact with brands are on the rise, a more potent marketing channel has emerged to enhance the omnichannel adventure: the brand experience.
A well-executed brand experience can be powerful across all digital and physical stages of the omnichannel journey. For now, however, let’s focus on what we call the "Activation Cycle," which can take shape in multiple formats — from a one-day pop-up brand activation to a three-day mega festival — and serve a variety of purposes. From launching new products and services to experiential efforts showcasing unexpected sides of, say, a financial brand, or a campaign platform that sets the stage for the creation of advertising content, activations and events within the cycle provide consumers with more meaningful experiences in which they can immerse themselves in your brand. This, in turn, can help accelerate growth and increase the rate of conversion from consideration to intent.
With their modern approach to achieving marketing effectiveness, it’s no surprise that branded activations and events have compelled a significant amount of top chief marketing officers to allocate up to 50 percent of their budget towards experiences over the next three years to five years.
Initiating the Activation Cycle
For those who have yet to dip their toes into building experiences but consider it an attractive marketing channel that can captivate consumers, the most ideal approach to set you on your path is to engage the three-step Activation Cycle process.
- Pre-activation engagement: This first step sets the foundation for a brand’s event success by building awareness online through intriguing, playful announcements and mini-games across its owned and brand advocates’ digital and social platforms. By defining your positioning and catching audience’s attention online, pre-activation engagement can ultimately result in higher attendance in a physical space.
- The cultural activation: This second, most crucial step is the physical brand experience that brings together like-minded people, triggering human interactions, shaping consumer preferences, and letting attendees capture their shareable experiences online. A well-crafted and curated activation can amplify existing consumer behaviors, align with the mind-set of the local community to create likability and relevance, be highly tactile — which can’t be achieved through digital — and provide an unmatched level of brand-to-consumer connection.
- Maintaining the conversation: A brand’s cultural activation cannot only reach global audiences through shared content and live streams during the event, but can serve as the springboard for continued conversation throughout its digital channels long after. From video and microsite experiences that let viewers re-live the event, online rewards programs and email and texts with announcements for upcoming experiences and promotions across etail and retail, brands can create higher digital engagement, drive e-commerce sales and potentially increase traffic to physical retail along the omnichannel journey.
Experience Breeds Relevance
Whether large-scale or localized, experiences such as activations and events create one-to-one connections, engage all senses, spark emotions that form long-lasting memories and promote brand loyalty. While they’re not necessarily vital to complete an omnichannel journey, experiences can make your brand more relevant, familiar, liked and preferred while serving as an excellent way to expose your customers to your brand and product ecosystem in a physical world.
Stefan Tauber is strategist of retail experience agency SET, developing brand strategies for the likes of Spotify, Ford, BMW, New Balance and Verizon. Along with his client work, Stefan recently wrote a guide to help brands navigate the omnichannel experience.