A-Z of Experiential Marketing – E for Engagement

Our new series, the A-Z of Experiential Marketing explores different elements of the experiential mix and market.  This week, we look at engagement and exactly what it means to today’s marketer.

E for Engagement


Engagement has always been a word associated with relationships, but more recently it has slipped into the marketing lexicon. It has become synonymous with those sought-after touchpoints that brands share with consumers.  It can describe a moment but, in our view, is often better employed to describe the long-term courtship between a brand and a consumer.  And these days that is very much a two-way relationship.  From the consumer perspective it involves flirtation, dialogue, peer approval and finally commitment.

As with any courtship, it is a process steeped with emotional as well as rational decisions and there are many factors involved.  The brand, product, situation and peer pressure to name a few. But rather than simply focusing on one element, it is the all-round engagement experience that will successfully woo new consumers and keep existing consumers loyal.

We like to think of it as a 360° approach, bringing together different elements of the experiential mix in a long-term engagement strategy.

Emotional and rational brand engagement

According to behavioural psychologists, in a whitepaper released by the Circle Company, only 30% of human decisions are based on rational considerations.  It doesn’t then take a mathematician to work out that 70% of decisions boil down to emotional factors.  So we need to more than double our efforts when it comes to speaking to the hearts rather than the minds of consumers.  We need to get right under the skin of the intended audience – understand their motivations and aspirations, their buying habits and their social choices.  It also means looking at the factors that affect these emotional engagements – such as relevance, interaction and service experience.


Internal brand engagement

Interaction and service experience rely heavily on employees as brand ambassadors.  From the retail outlet to the call centre every 1:1 interaction speaks volumes about your brand.  The experience that staff will relay to customers is directly linked to their own job satisfaction and therefore relies on companies staying true to their brand promise as employers.  The second major driver here is the commitment of the employer to educate and train employees, ensuring that they understand not only what the brand they are representing is all about but also their part in conveying this to customers through their actions, attitude and behavior.


Live brand engagement

Creating live experiences can be an incredibly versatile and immersive engagement tool. Marketers can team product trial with a ‘brand experience’ and showcase the values, attributes and attitudes of the brand and non-retail brands can use it as a platform to get up close and personal with consumers.  As such, ‘live’ is a powerful tool within the marketing mix – an assault on the senses, an attack on the rational and emotional.  It can provide the perfect platform for targeting previously untapped audiences with a relevant message.

When Volvo wanted to introduce a younger, social-media hungry audience to the S60, we devised an experiential campaign that took the car out of its usual context and let them explore it within their own surroundings – nightclubs.  They were challenged to reconsider perceptions of Volvo as a safe brand and to see the new car as the ‘Naughtier Volvo’ with its impressive driving credentials.  The five-city tour also set out to expose the Naughtiest City in Europe and provoked a huge social media following.

Alongside talking to those who know, live experiences can be a fantastic way to reach new audiences.  If marketers create an engaging environment that speaks volumes about a brand there is a real chance that audiences who may have previously rejected a brand as ‘not for them’ can be encouraged to reappraise.

Online brand engagement

Consumers can really wield their power online either for or against a brand. ‘Push’ marketing is truly dead online where consumers choose their conversations and associations carefully.  Brands that are succeeding here are providing content that their target audience finds truly relevant and worthy of sharing and further conversation.  Successful brands will ensure that their on and off-line strategies are 100% aligned and that their presence online is serving their overall brand positioning.

Dove is a brand that has worked the digital arena to great success championing its core ‘real beauty’ message.  The brand’s latest viral spiraled to over 20 million views in a week with its thought-provoking and poignant look at how women often underestimate their own beauty.  It proves that  relevant consumer insight can make for an incredibly powerful engagement tool.  Further to this, it shows that online peer to peer sharing gives content a stamp of approval that can encourage a vast audience to invest time in watching branded content.

Peer endorsement and social media engagement

This fun film from The Toyota Knowledge Centre demonstrates the huge influence of social media and peer pressure in the purchase process.


And it’s not just big-ticket items that are subjected to this kind of online scrutiny.  Whilst only 14% of consumers claim to trust traditional advertisements, 78% trust peer endorsements and there is an increasing number of consumers who trust online recommendations from strangers. So creating content that can be shared online and leaving room for consumers to comment and for the brand to respond, nurturing a two-way conversation, is a great way to encourage brand engagement.

Consumer engagement that turns prospective customers into brand loyalists requires a long-term 360° strategy.  We’d like to hear your thoughts on the subject and on any exemplar campaigns that you’ve come across recently.

Want to read more of our A-Z of Experiential Marketing posts? You can now download and keep A-N as a PDF ebook.

Or select another of the posts from the series to view online:

Audience | Brief | Content | Digital | Engagement | Fun

Global | Hindsight | Insight Journey | Knowledge | Logistics

Mobile | New | Old | Product Launch | Q&A | ROI | Social Media

Target Market | User Experience | Venues | Word of Mouth | X for X Factor | Y for Youth | Z for Zeitgeist


a-zilineupebookDownload our ebook!
You can now download the first part of our A-Z of Experiential Marketing series as a ebook to keep for reference or read on the daily commute!
We are well on our way to Z, but in the meantime click here to get hold of the A-N ebook!

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