The Intersection: Mobile meets Experiential to drive higher engagement, ROI

Sometimes we come across two things that are amazing by themselves, but powerful when paired together: peanut butter and jelly, shoes and socks, Simon and Garfunkel and of course experiential and mobile marketing. In 2007 Apple launched the first iPhone and ignited a worldwide revolution for those smart little devices that we simply can’t live without today. In just a few short years, smartphones have reshaped and changed the way we connect, communicate, navigate, learn, shop and so much more. 

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Our newfound ability allows us to instantly extend and amplify our physical experiences online, in real time. We can no longer think in terms live AND digital; today it is live WITH digital. We have officially arrived at the convergence of Social, Local and Mobile, or “SoMoLo” as current buzzwords would have it. 

As an example, consider the incredibly common practice of “showrooming.” A consumer visits a local brick and mortar retail store to look at a product in person, but meanwhile they are comparison shopping that same product online. They can uncover more information, read reviews and even make a purchase right from their phone. This is forcing complex challenges for retailers, but for the consumer, it’s as easy as taking a picture of a barcode. Ready or not, the live brand experience is already intertwined with the mobile revolution. So consider the importance of owning and amplifying those live experiential moments with simultaneous online engagement, and vice versa. There are a wide variety of ways to do this and, not surprisingly, new techniques, technologies and ideas debut nearly every day. Shiny new gadgets, custom apps and a wide variety of social media channels can help bridge the physical and digital gap. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the possibilities.

Creating the ultimate experiential + mobile mashup can be as exciting as it is challenging. The secret to success lies in careful planning and solid execution. Some initial planning pointers to consider:

  • Keep it simple – The golden rule. Consumer interest deteriorates when they become frustrated with technology, have to jump through hoops or simply don’t understand the effort. While there may be a lot of back-end magic taking place, make sure the consumer enjoys a simple, user friendly experience.

  • Pick a channel – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, YouTube, Foursquare, etc. are all excellent social media platforms, but each has certain advantages over the other. Incorporate multiple channels, but see rule #1. Consider what will appeal most to the audience, is relevant to the activity and how the channel is integrated.

  • Plan your ROI – Identify value metrics up front and plan against them. Keep in mind that “Likes” and view counts are easy to quantify, but consumers who actively create and share content may hold a qualitative value.

  • Empower the consumer – Give them the power to celebrate and share their experiences in their own way. Inspire the natural inclination to “Like,” #hashtag, take pics, create posts, etc… through branded activities that are fun and compelling.

  • Reward participation – Offer consumers a “thank you” in exchange for participating. It doesn’t need to be a big prize, but a little appreciation goes a long way. Especially when asking consumers to shareexcitement across their own social networks.

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With the right planning mindset in place, it’s time to put things into action. Creative inspiration from cutting edge technologies will certainly spark the next great experiential + mobile campaign. In the meantime, here are a few actionable thought starters to blend live and digital engagements:

  • Photos and videos – People love taking fun pictures or short videos and sharing those captured moments online. Keep the activity modest, and the file easy to access and share across their personal networks.

  • Things that tweet – Introduce inanimate objects that tweet, or need to be tweeted at. Vending machines that dispense treats in exchange for a tweet are hot right now. The more compelling the #experience, the bigger the attraction.

  • Check-ins & #hashtags – Encourage event goers to virtually “check-in” or use branded #hashtags in exchange for special freebies or to enter a contest.

  • Thumbs up - Help event goers “Like” the experience on Facebook with simple signage requesting the action or with digital gadgets like mobile kiosks. Or get techie with RFID wristbands (or other enabled objects) that allow them to automatically “Like” things when swiped against special receivers in the event space.

  • Beacons – Geotargeting at its best, transmit content directly to consumer’s phones when they enter predetermined physical spaces. Use this to share coupons or brand messages when consumers are close by, or create a virtual scavenger hunt or other game.

  • Gamification – Everyone loves a challenge, and it’s easy to get caught up in a fun game. The sky is the limit from creating virtual rewards for participation (i.e., Foursquare badges) to branded strategy and action gaming apps and even 3D augmented reality games.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. New and exciting ideas that combine experiential and mobile efforts are popping daily. Rapidly advancing technologies will continue to keep things interesting. Wearable tech like Fitbit, Pebble, and Google Glass may be in their infancy now, but are already opening doors to entirely new ways to create a singular engagement across both digital and physical. 

Paul Soseman