Today’s brands need to do more than stand out from the crowd — they need to celebrate their most loyal customers. To accomplish this, forward-thinking brands are becoming increasingly inventive with using experiential marketing to provide unforgettable, immersive, and relevant experiences that connect and deepen customer loyalty. 

According to AgencyEA’s 2018 Experiential Marketing Trend Report, 96 percent of consumers agree that “live events provide attendees with valuable opportunities to form in-person connections in an increasingly digital world.”  Yes, you read that correctly: Despite tons of tech, people still want face-to-face interactions with each other and the brands they admire.

Yet, according to Forrester’s Loyalty Playbook, less than half of loyalty marketers are actively using experiential benefits (or personalization) to tailor offers and interactions. That’s a big miss for brands.

Dozens of more data points indicate that experiences are the next step in pushing loyalty forward. The numbers don’t lie — 70 percent of users become regular customers after an experiential marketing event, according to EventTrack’s 2016 Experiential Marketing Content Benchmarking Report, and approximately 34 percent of consumers surveyed said they would post about an experience on their social media pages.  

For marketers interested in jumping on board, these brand interactions can come in different forms — pop-up events for the general public, everyday experiential opportunities, or invitation-only events for the most loyal followers. 

Take Advantage of Everyday Opportunities

You don’t have to make a big splash to connect to your consumers. More perennial “on-brand” experiences can go a long way to keeping your customers tuned in. For example, Williams Sonoma provides regular cooking classes. Vans encourages Vans Family members to share the story of their first pair of Vans sneakers in exchange for loyalty program points (no purchase required). Old Chicago Pizza taps into everyday opportunities for its customers by mixing up its World Beer Tour program with “Mini Tours,” which both allows those new to the program to test the waters and spices things up for those long-time advocates. These small everyday interactions can have a big impact in the long run.

Make Unexpected Splashes

Take Lean Cuisine’s 2015 #WeighThis campaign — just one of many creative experiential examples out there. The brand brilliantly curated a temporary gallery of “scales” in New York’s Grand Central Station, enticing curious female commuters to “weigh in.” Sound terrible?  The scales were actually small boards where women were encouraged to write down how they really wanted to be weighed —by their accomplishments or sacrifices (rather than their actual weight). What a great brand awareness and feel-good campaign!

Create Invitation-Only Experiences

Finally, it’s important to create exclusive experiences for true brand loyalists. Your most loyal customers want to feel rewarded by elite access to worthwhile activities that matter to them. Vans (in addition to nailing the everyday opportunities) does this with the inside-scoop on new designs, exclusive patterns for a personalized pair of shoes, and many of its features require no purchase at all, just engagement. This kind of advocate-building loyalty shows your biggest fans they are appreciated in a big way.

Of course, knowing what kind of interactions matter to your loyal customers requires sophisticated data collection and analytics.  Does your loyalty program’s architecture support the ability to consume millions of digital signals about your customers in real-time across all channels? If not, it should.

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