Ever walk out of a 3D movie or an interactive exhibit like the Van Gogh experience feeling like you’ve just been transported back from another time, place, or even galaxy? Immersive experiences are like that.
By engaging all of our senses and creating real, virtual, or augmented environments, brands are leveraging in-person immersive experiences to leave a lasting impression on consumers. Immersive experiences – whether they are location-based entertainment venues, temporary brand pop-ups, in-store retail activations, or virtual experiences – bring value to the customer experience, cultivate connection, and communicate a brand’s story in profound and lasting ways.
While brands employ immersive experiences to deepen relationships with existing customers, these in-person encounters are also immensely beneficial to building brand awareness and reaching new prospects both for new brands and established brands looking to reach new customer segments. Below, find out how to create immersive experiences that elevate brand awareness, win the attention of new customers, and leave a lasting impression on participants.
How do Immersive Experiences Benefit Brands?
Immersive experiences foster not only a physical but also an emotional connection with customers. By engaging the senses and eliciting an emotional response, immersive marketing is simply more memorable than other marketing and advertising approaches.
By showing up at events, destinations, and other locations where their target audiences tend to congregate, immersive experiences help companies build relationships with customers and convey their brand story and values in a much more direct manner. These event activations allow brands to show customers who they are as a brand in a much more tangible, and again, memorable way than simply advertising at them in magazines, online, and on TV.
Immersive experiences draw customers into the brand story, attracting existing fans as well as new audiences. Collaborative experiences further amplify brand awareness and engagement by gaining exposure to a partner brand’s audience and by giving them access to yours. Collaboration can also be a great way to stretch your brand experience budget.
6 Tips for Creating a Successful Immersive Experience
1. Define your purpose
It’s always best to start with a clear understanding of your goals for the experience. Do you want to generate sales? Reach a new audience? Deepen the loyalty of your existing customers? Knowing what you are trying to achieve will help steer your efforts toward successful outcomes.
2. Tell a Story
Humans crave good stories. We are also wired to remember them. So tell a story with your experience, and make sure it includes all the hallmarks of memorable storytelling. It should have a beginning, middle, and end. It should elicit emotion. It should also align with the interests and goals of your target audience. Show them you understand them.
3. Engage all the senses
Immersive experiences are all about the senses. They are also about surprise and delight. Use light, color, sound, scent, and texture to draw customers in and create a sense of wonder.
4. Integrate technology
Take advantage of audio and visual technology, as well as digital connectivity through QR codes. Utilize VR and AR to amplify customers’ in-person experiences and allow them to have a concurrent virtual experience.
5. Invite Participation
Involve guests in the story, invite their interaction with the physical structure, or utilize responsive technology so that sensory elements like lighting or sound shift as they move through the experience. Direct participation ensures that customers will spend more time with your experience and that it will linger in their memories.
6. Remember the 3 H’s
Head. Heart. Hands. Give people something to think about, something to feel, and something to do. You’ll connect with audiences in a meaningful way.
How to Leverage Immersive Experiences for Brand Awareness
There’s no denying that immersive experiences like brand activations and retail pop-ups are fantastic ways to build brand awareness. But how do you maximize the reach of your campaign?
One tactic is to invite social media use and sharing by creating custom hashtags for the event. Another is to encourage photo-taking and sharing by fabricating irresistible photo booths or selfie stations. Another technique? Offer branded freebies like keychains, stickers, koozies, or t-shirts for customers to take with them when they leave. Not only does this promote your brand when they wear or use the item, but it also reminds them of the great experience they had with your brand.
Social media is your best partner in leveraging brand awareness before, during, and after an immersive event. Capitalize on our love of these ubiquitous platforms by live-streaming the event on Facebook, Instagram, or wherever your audience spends the most time. In doing so, the event can reach well beyond the local market where it is taking place. Build up and continue the buzz by reposting and re-sharing any user-generated content made by customers during or after the event.
Generate earned media opportunities by creating press releases to distribute to relevant media outlets. Winning press coverage prior to the event will help ensure more people are aware of it, while coverage afterward continues to build brand awareness at no additional cost to you.
Worried about turnout? Offer a unique in-person incentive or opportunity that’s only available to event attendees like a book signing, free ice cream, or a product discount coupon to entice them to show up. However, be careful that the incentive isn’t going to draw the wrong kind of crowd and thwart your objectives for the experience in the first place.
Ultimately, the best draw is creating a stellar, one-of-a-kind experience. Great immersive experiences offer a takeaway that’s impossible to physically construct. For the most successful experiences, the experience IS the takeaway.
Although there are countless textbook reasons why immersive experiences have become a key component of modern marketing strategy, perhaps the most overlooked reason is that they are just plain fun. Immersive experiences allow us to drop in and experience something new, some even temporarily taking us out of our everyday routines and into new worlds. Brands are compelled by them because they leave a lasting impression – something that is increasingly difficult to achieve in a stimuli-saturated world.
When done well, an immersive experience can engage and delight existing customers while also generating brand awareness among new audiences. To succeed, it helps to have an established partner with expertise in strategy, design, and production. At Bridgewater Studio, we specialize in immersive experiences, helping brands tell their stories, and surprise and delight their customers in unexpected ways. Our full-service studio streamlines your entire project from concept to completion, providing a single point of contact throughout the process. Schedule a free introduction to Bridgewater today and take your next immersive experience to the next level.