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The Story Goes On: A Strategy for Measuring Brand Experience

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Chris Cavanaugh
Chris Cavanaugh

Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer

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New thoughts on ROI and the value of events

It seems everything in our industry is evolving, from experience design to measurement, and ROI. For as long as most of us can remember, measurement tools such as surveys, mobile apps, and registration numbers have been our tried-and-true method for gathering information, and with good reason. These tools provide us with lots of rich, useful data, and we rely on that data to help us shape our strategy.

But times are changing, and so are our attendees. We can now reach them in more places, and at different times. As audiences have become more sophisticated and fragmented, so have the systems we use to measure their behaviors. Technology has given us some terrific new ways to augment our measurement strategies and get a more holistic view of our evolving audiences and their behaviors–pre, during, and post-experience. 

So, while our tried-and-true methods will always be the workhorses of any robust measurement system, it’s a good time to infuse some new thinking into the mix.

Adopt a year-round approach

I’ve previously discussed the benefits of a 365-day marketing strategy, including the ability to use digital and live events to track an audience on their journey online, offline, and back again. By using additional measurement touchpoints made available to us through digital and social media, and spacing them out throughout the year, traditional methods don’t have to do all the heavy lifting on their own, and we can be a bit more selective about how and when we use them.  

Go live

A brand experience setting is ripe with data opportunities that add to our big picture perspective of an audience. A good measurement strategy provides as many channels as possible for attendees to provide feedback and input. 

Once we’ve effectively used digital marketing to create external touchpoints, we can then focus our energy on augmenting the live experience, and observe attendees “in the moment.” Beacons and heat maps help us visualize traffic patterns. Mobile apps can collect input via live polling. Facial recognition, body language, and wireless biometric screening are telling us more about attendee emotions than we’ve known before. When it comes to live data collection, a brand experience has something for everyone. 


There’s no arguing that digital fragmentation has created shorter attention spans, so perhaps we can take a cue from the consumer model and make it easier for our audiences to provide feedback. Uber’s feedback system uses a quick five-star rating system followed by a short multiple-choice question (“Give a compliment?” or “What didn’t work?”) and the whole process takes two or three seconds to complete.

During a live experience, we should be making the process easy enough that the attendee can provide feedback without feeling interrupted or taken out of the experience. For instance, using a touchpad at your booth is a quick, nonintrusive way of encouraging interaction. These little nuances may seem minor, but they help us fit a robust measurement system into an event seamlessly, without affecting the overall experience. 


The biggest challenge we face as marketers today is connecting all the data coming in from disparate touchpoints and weaving them into one cohesive story. Collecting data alone isn’t enough — you need to figure out what you’re measuring and why.

The best way to deal with this hurdle is to create an ongoing, long-term plan into which your strategy team can adapt and evolve. The goal is to develop a foundation of rich trending data that you can use to make improvements and adjust the dial. 

The benefit to this approach is twofold: not only does it give you an idea of how to improve the overall quality and effectiveness of your live experiences, but it can also help you make minor adjustments and move the needle in small ways. It’s just as important to know that the little things are working, as is the overall experience and what keeps attendees engaged, satisfied, and brand loyal.

Where we’re headed

With all the personalization and the digital channels available to us, we know more about our audiences than ever before. The flipside is that people already expect us to know what they want. So when we do request feedback, we should keep this expectation in mind and be very strategic about what we’re asking for.

Ultimately, I think we can describe the future of event measurement in three words: make it simpler. Audiences today are more sophisticated and more likely to participate in the feedback process. By making that process easier, we are encouraging a dialogue that can pay serious dividends down the road. 

Our audiences might be much more willing to tell us what we want to know if we meet them where they are. And as we’ve learned, that feedback can be invaluable.

Ready to simplify your measurement approach? Learn how we can help you find the best strategic path forward.


What you need to know to stay ahead of the ever-changing experiential marketing curve.

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