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The Offline Buyer’s Journey Part 1: What’s Missing?

Steven Yellen |

Aventri W.I.N. (What I Need) Series - What's missing?Welcome to the new Aventri W.I.N. (What I Need) Series. These multi-part posts will tackle specific topics in-depth and give you the information you need to reinvent your experiential marketing. For our maiden topic, you’re going to be taken through a four-part series that walks you through the offline buyer’s journey. You will learn how this affects your experiential marketing, plus actionable tips that can be implemented for your next event.

You probably know the diagram below like the back of your hand:

Buyer's journey diagramSource

It’s the buyer’s journey and it has been the backbone of many sales and marketing strategies. Defined by HubSpot as “the process buyers go through to become aware of, consider and evaluate, and decide to purchase a new product or service,” every marketer/business owner has his/her own version of a roadmap of how their customers evolve from prospects to marketable leads to actual paying buyers.

However, a very important component is missing.

A Master Online, But Clueless Offline

While the buyer’s journey is a relatively new catchphrase that boomed with the rise of online marketing, the overall strategy behind it is an age-old concept that precedes the internet by decades. Therefore, it is quite ironic how many businesses don’t have the same savviness when it comes to their offline buyer’s journey compared to their relative mastery of their online buyer’s journey.

It is even more ironic considering that marketers still spend the majority of their budget on offline advertising and events compared to online advertising. 56% of the total ad spend globally still goes to offline channels. While this is expected to become an equal 50-50 advertising spend allocation by 2020, it still doesn’t explain why marketers would be masters in terms of tracking their online buyer’s journey KPIs and not with their offline marketing campaigns.

This includes the growing spend on experiential marketing initiatives. According to the Freeman Global Brand Experience Study, CMOs plan to allocate between 21% to 50% of their budget to experiential marketing. Apart from the financial investment, mounting experiential events take hundreds of hours of planning, preparation, and execution.

Neglected Yet Effective

Nobody is arguing against the effectiveness of online marketing. However, it’s high time to give the offline buyer’s journey the same amount of thought and attention when it comes to planning, tracking, measuring, and optimizing.

Doing so should be a key priority because offline experiential events have long been established as a powerful channel to engage an audience, underlining the value of a personal touch. As explained by one experiential marketing guru: “well-executed experiential activations turn consumers from passive viewers to active participants.” Take for example this great experiential campaign from Sensodyne called the ‘The Great Sensitivity Test’:

Example of experiential campaign from Sensodyne called the ‘The Great Sensitivity TestSource

You can read more details about the event, but experts agree that this is one of the best examples of how experiential marketing can generate great brand awareness — the first step in the buyer’s journey.

Yet, there’s very little thought that goes into knowing and measuring how the offline buyer’s journey progresses from these experiential marketing events. Quantitative and qualitative data that paint the picture of how consumers move into the different stages of the offline buyer’s journey are severely lacking. This is echoed by the results of a survey which revealed that 1 in 3 marketers find it hard to demonstrate positive ROI, therefore making it difficult to request funds for their experiential marketing campaigns.

Testing this Theory: Time for Pop Quiz

Here’s a quick test to confirm this theory. Ready?

Think of any evergreen online marketing campaign that you currently have running or a campaign that recently concluded. Top of mind, do you have an approximation of the following metrics from your campaign?

  • The number of views your paid ads received
  • The amount of traffic your website received
  • The number of leads you were able to get
  • The number of sales you generated
  • The time it took from the moment they saw your ad to the time they purchased something

If you were able to answer most, if not all, of these questions, great job! Although, to be perfectly honest, this is quite expected. Most business owners would have dashboards that are updated regularly to reflect their most recent online marketing KPIs.

Now, think of the last event or any offline experiential campaign you did. Do you know the following?

  • The number of registrants for your event
  • The number of attendees
  • The different and specific actions that attendees took during your event
  • The specific types of engagements during your event that resulted in marketable leads
  • The specific engagements or activities during your event that brought in sales a few days/weeks later

If you were only able to answer items 1 and 2, that’s okay. You’re not alone. This demonstrates how much room you have to track, measure, and optimize your offline buyer’s journey. By tracking and measuring the offline buyer’s journey, you should be able to accomplish the following:

  1. Deliver targeted content and personalized event experience based on your attendees’ individual profiles and where they are in the buyer’s journey.
  2. Create a full behavior profile of event participants. This includes specific actions they did during your event, what content appealed to them the most, and how far they’ve progressed in your offline buyer’s journey or offline sales funnel.
  3. Capture these offline behaviors and actions in a marketing and sales automation system so the necessary follow-up and nurture sequence can be executed.

These topics will be discussed in the succeeding posts of this Aventri Knowledge Series.

Key Takeaway: What’s Missing?

Given the amount of money and time invested in offline events and the overwhelming consensus on how they generate positive ROI, here’s what’s missing:

A conscious, proactive, and strategic approach to track, measure, and analyze the different micro-conversions that happen in the offline buyer’s journey. Data that can be used to generate optimization insights, calculate the most truthful ROI, and justify the spend for these experiential offline events.

For the next post, you will learn all about tracking and measuring — the what, when, where, why, and how. Plus, the different tools that can help you accomplish this effectively and as accurately as possible. Read part 2 here.

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This Post was Written by Steven Yellen

Steve Yellen is the vice president of product strategy at Aventri.

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