The convergence of social and digital media has been at the forefront of the marketing arena for many years. Now an integral marketing tool for brands of all shapes and sizes, reports suggest that social media marketing budgets will double by 2018 compared to two years ago.
However, in today’s crowded marketplace, brands who implement a cross-media focus create strategically driven campaigns and more powerful brand engagement than those just focusing on the digital element.
The combination of physical and digital presents key opportunities for marketers. Digital is able to extend a physical event/experience beyond the traditional boundaries through social, online and mobile communications, while the physical experience moves people to action through a sustained conversation that encourages brand loyalty in the most powerful way.
Escaping the switch-off
Much like traditional methods of brand promotion - the foremost example being television advertising - social and digital content will reach its saturation point as consumers begin switching off from businesses’ promoting their brand through this medium. As more social media sites appear, the most popular sites are experiencing a decline in growth. A Business Insider UK report from April revealed that Twitter’s monthly active users "have grown at a slowing pace almost every quarter".
Businesses shouldn’t put all their eggs in one basket with brand engagement. Ultimately, the biggest global brands would survive without social media due to countless years fostering strong, personal relationships founded on face-to-face communications. People are inherently social, and nothing can compete with brands bringing people together through immersive experiences.
Experiential (or ‘face-to-face’) marketing has undergone its own growth and is not just second fiddle to social and digital. Big brands find value in reaching out to their target audiences in a physical capacity.
Take the Premier League, for example – the richest football league in the world. With an estimated 1.2 billion fans it turns over more annual revenue than any other football league. Fans are continually provided with innovative digital content through the club’s social media strategies.
So why do these already highly profitable Premier League teams organise overseas tours during the off-season? Not only are they financially lucrative, but fans can engage with teams on a more physical level than through social and digital content. Premier League fans can form a deeper connection with a particular team through unforgettable experiences and create a greater ‘customer lifetime value’ (CLV) than traditional, digital marketing strategies. This boosts brand loyalty and help derive further commercial benefits for the club.
Brands who invest in creating immersive experiences for their target audiences are the ones that succeed. A study examining experiential marketing trends on more than 1,600 major organisations found 84% of people believe that experiential marketing activities are important, very important or critical to their organisations.
While many brands create their own content to distribute digitally in the hope it will go viral, very little of it actually does. As 78% of people only listen to peer recommendations, it becomes more important to boost brand experiences where customers are four more times likely to become advocates for your business. It's big business to get your customers on side and experiential activity gives them something to shout about.
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