Experiential conversion to sale

Camilla Felstead, client services director, GMR Marketing, discusses the shift to purchase

Countless research studies show that real world brand experiences, offering consumers the opportunity to get their hands on a product and try-before-they-buy, can shift purchase consideration by up to 85%.

As boardroom sales targets become more aggressive there is pressure on experiential activity to bridge the gap between purchase intent and sales.  As a result, brand managers often see the introduction of a ‘drive to sale’ element as an attractive option.

However an overt approach to driving sales will often jar with the overall brand experience meaning the messaging loses focus and ultimately risks turning consumers off.

So how do you bridge that gap between purchase intent and sales, bearing in mind the right place to make an experiential campaign message truly resonate with a target consumer is not always close to where they can actually buy the product? And for brands that don’t have their own stores, once you’ve invested in an effective brand experience away from point of purchase, how do you ensure the high quality customer experience remains consistent once consumers go in store and engage with retail staff?

The smart answer is to capitalise on the always-on lifestyle of mobile and emerging new technologies to engage with consumers on a more personal and tailored level after the event. These technologies can enhance physical brand experiences by enabling marketers to continue the conversation at exactly the right time with a contextualized & relevant message that does not devalue the brand, or risk disengaging the consumer.

New solutions on offer to brands and marketing agencies include technologies that know a consumers location, senses their motion or can interact with local content or services, but the key thing to remember is that great brand experiences start with a great idea. There remains a perception issue around the use of personal data for targeted activity and consumers will be more critical if a brand doesn’t approach or respond to them in an appropriate way. But if you get the idea right, and that’s where the smart thinking comes in, subsequent post-event communication will be well received by consumers and will become all the more impactful in driving sales.

And a crucial factor that brands need to consider during the planning process is how these new technologies will interact with their existing IT systems. It’s important that marketing teams (and their agencies) work alongside IT teams to ensure integration of data into existing CRM systems, so that once you’ve started a relationship with a customer, that relationship can be continued across the long term.

Brands that embrace these new technologies and move quickly to establish their approach will see the biggest increases in brand value in the future. Bridging the gap between experiential and sales through mobile and digital should be seen as the start, not the end, of a long term customer relationship.

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