When it comes to retail marketing, the latest trend is experiential marketing. It combines fun and engaging activities with recent advances in technology. Virtual and augmented reality have become some of the most popular types of experiential marketing and are being used by big box stores. These are often difficult to implement and associated with high costs, but that’s not always the case. Small-to-midsized businesses can take a page out of the big box playbook. There are plenty of examples on how to create marketing activities that engage more with customers and improve their in-store experiences.
The key to experiential marketing is to build a positive emotional connection with the customer, because consumer purchasing decisions are influenced by their emotions. Having interactive videos can reduce anxiety about going to the store, while loyalty programs ensure future discounts and better service. These solve many of the unique challenges retailers face today.
The new retail experience has to be more than a product offering, because customers that have a poor experience will often spend less or simply move on to the competition. To capture more attention, retailers need to be considerate of their customers’ valuable time. Plus, they need to think about what customers enjoy doing.
Types of Experiential Marketing
What it comes down to is that customers are looking for the best experience possible. Large retailers have more resources to change the dynamic of their stores in order to incorporate more experiential marketing. This marketing strategy is geared more toward promoting their brand, rather than their product, and focuses on active engagement with the customers. Smaller businesses can do this while being budget conscious.
Events are often one of the best ways to directly engage with customers and get to know them. These are not “Sales” because the brand is what’s being sold. Small retailers can sell their brand as well as their products. But, events take a lot of planning to get the best ROI, so they need to be more creative. More importantly, customers will have a more authentic experience learning about the store and the people who work there.
Interactivity is another way retailers can expand their marketing, but developing a virtual experience can be expensive. However, Threshold 360, provides immersive content for a business’ website, which allows potential customers to virtually see what they are looking for before they go shopping—doubling their chances to get them to visit the store. Potential customers see this as a time saver, and they know what to expect before they step into the store.
Loyalty programs engage with customers in many different ways. These programs, such as SmartConnect, boast more than simply handing out rewards for purchases. They engage with customers inside the store through WiFi marketing, while keeping in constant contact with them outside the store through birthday clubs and mobile marketing. All of these features maintain brand awareness and positive, lasting impressions.
Making That Connection
We all know that first impressions matter, and where those occur has changed a lot in the past ten years. Websites are equally as important as storefront signage. Social media has broadened the range for positive first impressions, as well as online ratings services. And retail has more opportunity to engage with first-time customers, because possibilities continue to grow through innovations in technology.
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