In 2010 a group of researchers from Far East University in Taiwan conducted a scientific study that looked at the relationship between experiential marketing, consumer satisfaction and consumer loyalty. Their results came as no surprise to us. Experiential marketing, they found, has a significantly positive effect on both satisfaction and consumer loyalty. Even service quality didn’t correlate as closely as how people experienced a brand at a live event.

Studies in Malaysia, Turkey, Iran and other countries all garnered similar results. Why is the link between experiential marketing and consumer satisfaction so strong?

We’ve been helping top brands plan experiential marketing events for over 10 years now. Through our non-scientific observations and discussions, we’ve come up with our own set of reasons to explain the link. We also have a few recommendations for how to plan an activation or campaign that maximizes consumer satisfaction.

Why experiential marketing and consumer satisfaction are so closely linked

What creates satisfied consumers? According to several research studies, some of the top factors are the quality of the products and services a company is selling; how easy it is to find and buy those products and services; the quality of the service they receive from employees; and the efficacy with which companies respond to complaints and problems.

Knowing all of this, it isn’t hard to see why experiential marketing is effective. At an experiential marketing event, consumers can try out a company’s products (and in some cases, their services) to see how they like them. The ability to experience the product with their own eyes, ears, noses, skin and mouths is much more powerful than trying to sell products with print or digital ads. It makes an impression that lasts long after consumers have left your activation.

Though some experiential marketing events focus primarily on providing a quality, memorable experience for consumers, others are focused on sales. Those that are make it very easy for consumers to buy products right then and there. Sometimes they can walk away with the products they want; other times, they can quickly and easily order them online.

Regarding the quality of service consumers receive: There’s nothing quite like looking a person in the eye when you interact with them. When you can see the sincerity on their face, shake their hand or give them a hug, it appeals to an old-fashioned sensibility that tells us this person would not betray us. That kind of person-to-person interaction (not person-to-computer screen or person-to-phone tree) is a very powerful part of the consumer experience.

Hopefully you won’t have consumers returning to your activation to complain about the goods they’ve just purchased from you. But if people have complaints or problems they haven’t been able to resolve, they can attend an experiential marketing event and interact with a real person who may be able to address their issue. When problems can be solved quickly and by a real, live person, consumers are certain to be very impressed with the company.

As we discussed in a recent blog post, consumers are much more likely to feel loyal to a brand if both parties have shared values. Good experiential marketing events convey key messages for brands, but they also convey companies’ values. Those values may be related to business dealings – things like a 100 percent consumer satisfaction guarantee or always completing projects on time and under budget. Or they may be broader values such as honoring the service of veterans and reversing climate change. Either way, using experiential marketing to draw attention to those values can increase feelings of consumer satisfaction.

There are a few other reasons experiential marketing and consumer satisfaction are so closely connected. By their very nature, experiential marketing events allow consumers to do something fun, interesting, unusual and/or memorable. A high-quality activation is designed to offer them something of value and create an experience they won’t soon forget.

Good event marketing activations also generate a positive emotional response. By tying consumers’ thoughts about a brand to something that makes them happy, you generate a real feeling of satisfaction.

What should brands do to maximize consumer satisfaction at/after events?

So what can brands do to maximize consumer satisfaction during and after experiential marketing events? We have a few tips.

First of all, make sure you’re hitting the high points mentioned above. Experiential marketing events should always offer consumers something of value; provide outstanding consumer service; share a brand’s messages AND values; and provide a unique and memorable experience.

Make sure your experiential marketing activation is created with your target population in mind. Once you’ve identified a target market, research them closely to understand what appeals to them. Then design the event that’s mostly likely to draw their attention and keep them captivated.

Use well-trained brand ambassadors (instead of your own staff members) to provide outstanding customer service. There are several reasons for this. Your staff likely has plenty of other things to do. Planning and attending an experiential marketing event can be a big distraction.

If you’re planning a big activation, you might not have enough people to staff it. If it’s a multi-city event, you might not have any people in certain locations. The people you can pull from sales, marketing or production might not have the knowledge needed to answer questions, and they might not be part of (or able to appeal to) the population you’re trying to target. These are just a few of the reasons Factory 360 supplies and trains high-quality brand ambassadors to the vast majority of our clients.

Here’s our final tip for wringing the most consumer satisfaction possible out of experiential marketing events: Follow up with consumers. Whether it’s reaching out on social media, sending a thank you after the event, or seeing how they like products they purchased, do something that lets them know you haven’t forgotten them. This type of good consumer service means consumers won’t soon forget about you.

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