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How To Achieve Experience Marketing Success Through Emotional Engagement

  • April 13, 2023

In the modern digital age, viral reach is both accessible and elusive. Experience marketing–a niche designed for engagement strikes a delicate balance between the two. When done well, almost nothing can stop an activation campaign from achieving viral reach and brand engagement. But when it misses the mark, almost everyone will remember the flop.

It all comes down to one thing: feelings. The root cause of experience marketing success lies in creating a moment that elicits strong, positive emotions from the audience.

At NVE, we specialize in delivering high-impact experience marketing campaigns. Here, we’ll break down exactly what makes an event successful.

The Connection Between Human Emotions & Memory

Neuroscientists have studied the relationship between memory and emotion for decades. We know that there is a link between how we feel when we receive information and how that information is encoded in our memory.

This connection between memory and emotion is evolutionary. Intense fear and distress, paired with the ability to accurately remember the cause of those feelings, keep us safe from danger. Emotions, both negative and positive, seem to signal the brain to pay more attention to stimuli.

It is this bond between memories and feelings associated with it that paves the way for the success of experience marketing. When brands focus on curating moments that elicit positive emotions, they tap into the potential of creating memorable engagements that their audience becomes eager to share, keen to relive, and motivated to remember.

It’s exactly the type of experience that is considered marketing gold.

How to Leverage Emotions for Experience Marketing Success

Experience marketing uses the power of emotionally-driven memory to connect with potential customers. These feelings are the foundation of cultivating relationships that will turn into loyal sales.

When we partnered with Netflix and Xbox to create an activation that would fit the larger “rift” campaign launching Stranger Things Season 4, leveraging feelings to connect with the audience led to its viral reach. A total of 345 participants inspired a media reach of 355+ million to stand out from the crowd as a notable moment that drew buzzworthy attention for the season 4 premiere.

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Know Your Audience

The first step in making an emotional connection is to understand what moves your audience. In marketing, you need to know your audience on an intimate level. This goes beyond demographics, or psychographics–or any other marketing industry lingo that takes a shallow stab at profiling an audience.

You need to know (not assume to know) what they find riveting, how they feel about your brand, and what opportunities you might have to intersect with their lives. The best way to uncover these intimate details is to go straight to the source.

Hold focus groups composed of actual customers and past event attendees and ask them the big questions–the stuff you really want to know. Build complex profiles that will provide the information that you need to connect with your audience, using a feelings-first approach to authentic engagement.

Build a Community

Once you know your audience well enough to get them excited, you can begin testing out your theories as you build a community using smaller engagements. While the end goal might be a single event or experience, this type of marketing has waves of reach that extend far beyond the initial opportunity to engage your audience.

In fact, when people have strong, emotionally-charged experiences, they’re eager to share. The virality of your marketing engagement is almost natural if you’ve successfully tapped into positive emotions. Since feelings pave the way for building relationships, and on a larger scale–a community, planning for the long-term value of your engagement is a step you can’t afford to miss.

Our team at NVE leaned in on the community element, planning an immersive brand takeover for Lincoln at the 2020 Grammys. The success of this experience relied on positioning Lincoln’s 2020 Corsair model release in an atmosphere surrounded by stunning LA views and iconic luxury; leading guests to associate the Lincoln brand with the feeling of glam luxe at the Grammys.

Make it Worthwhile

We’re all waterlogged in media consumption. We scroll through endless streams of social content, spend hours watching mindless videos, and on some level, base our self-worth on social clout. In the midst of overconsumption, the only option to gain attention is to be uncompromising in quality.

Successful marketing engagements are–above all else, worth the time investment for the intended audience. There is certainly subjectivity in measuring whether or not something is worthwhile. For our experienced curators at NVE, there’s a formula to it. We invest time into studying the mechanics, the behind-the-scenes nuts and bolts that add to or detract from the overall experience. For example, when we designed an engagement for the upcoming release of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, we logged hours studying how theme parks manage efficient throughput. We understood that the overall experience, and ultimately the ‘feelings’ that we would leave the audience with, relied on details far beyond the creative displays and 4D immersion elements.

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Think Beyond Design Elements

Leveraging feelings to create connections and achieve success in engagement marketing requires a ‘big-picture’ approach. It takes more than a great idea, it takes a flawless execution. While many of our campaigns have featured immersive 4D activations that are designed to transport participants to different realms, designing sets and animatronics are only a small part of what we do.

We engineer experiences beginning with brand strategy and powerful data analytics based on consumer trends, insights, and research that deliver impressive results. Our creative process is repeatable because we understand one fundamental concept–feelings inspire action. 

From product launches to branded marketing campaigns, NVE can help you plan every detail. Our strategy covers shock value with high-impact placement and professional, custom builds. It covers attraction value with careful research and planning to ensure we’re well-prepared for unique circumstances. And it covers viral value by identifying key touchpoints and incorporating influencer activations to spread the share of the positive experience.

If you want to unlock the potential in experience marketing, find a way to connect with your audience’s feelings and let those emotions move them to action.

The Takeaway

The root cause of success in experiential marketing engagements is feelings. The ability to connect with people is the same as the ability to conjure up emotions. Feelings, especially positive ones, inspire loyalty, build engagement, and encourage action. Cultivating positive emotions through engaging experiences might be exactly what your brand needs.