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Make 2024 the Year of Engagement Marketing

24 January 2024
Make 2024 the Year of Engagement Marketing

What is Engagement Marketing and why is it helpful?

Engagement Marketing strategies focus on actively involving audiences and creating positive brand sentiment, engaging in two-way communication to build unique relationships with consumers. Engagement marketing includes tactics such as experiential activations, influencer partnerships, social engagement + giveaways, loyalty programs, branded content, and PR events. Using Engagement Marketing humanizes your brand through various kinds of interpersonal interaction and helps your audience to relate to your messaging.

Because we all see marketing tactics so regularly, we often have our guards up when seeing ads. It’s important to realize that, because of this hesitancy towards traditional interruption ads, unwarranted promotion can lead to a damaged brand perception.

average of 650% ROI on influencer spending

In response to these recent trends in consumer’s reactions, start exploring engagement marketing content that shares your brand values and combats ad fatigue.

Why are experiences important for consumers?

Now more than ever, we are constantly looking for new experiences and adventures that will bring excitement to our everyday lives. This trend informs 2024’s best marketing practices, as the average consumer feels the same way about the branded content they consume. Instead of simply viewing an ad, when a customer interacts with your brand’s content via social media or in-person, your level of brand awareness and brand recall skyrockets. Your audience wants to feel like they’re choosing you as a brand that they believe in because your product/service solves their problems, aligns with their views and makes a difference. They can’t truly believe that, or become brand evangelists, until they interact with you face to face and have a positive experience.

Expected Growth in 2024

Influencer marketing spending is expected to grow to more than $7 billion next year in the U.S. alone—a 146% increase since 2020.

In order to ensure we are creating engaging concepts and content that will generate both leads and sales, we ask ourselves the following questions:

  • What are our goals?
  • What’s the roadmap to achieve those goals?
  • Most importantly, how can we make sure that we’re investing in the right social platforms, brand initiatives, and influencer strategies?

Designsensory Case Studies

Here are some opportunities Designsensory found to create engagement marketing campaigns for clients, making a lasting impression on their audiences.

Gatlinburg Convention and Visitor Bureau: Influencer Partnerships

Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) understands the impact of social media on its brand, having recently surpassed 1,000,000 Facebook followers. With that level of engagement, we knew implementing a larger influencer campaign made sense.

The CVB was ready to become more involved based on positive survey results. Forty percent of survey respondents said they discovered a new travel destination through an influencer; more than 50 percent made travel plans based on influencer recommendations.

Thinking outside of traditional, one-off influencer activations, our Engagement Marketing team created a campaign framework for quarterly influencer visits. We featured authentic, like-minded content creators aligned with the brand’s target audience. This methodology allowed for quick bursts of content from 22 different creators, from micro to macro, each with a unique voice from a different background. “Passion Points” made their weekend getaways specific to
them and their audiences, highlighting a variety of attractions and seasonal activities.

Video reels from Gatlinburg influencers

Our unique approach used marketing pros as managers, bridging the gap between brand and creator. The results were staggering, with more than 20 million total impressions (compared to a KPI of 10 million), more than 19 million total views and 929 pieces of original content from 18 niche influencers and four hero influencers. One influencer went viral, with almost 13 million views. An influencer “reunion” event at year end further solidified relationships and garnered additional content and reach.

Conservation Clarissa – Zoo Knoxville: An Experiential Activation

Designsensory has been AOR for Zoo Knoxville for many years, and has experimented with various marketing strategies in order to create buzz around membership deals, new habitats and animals, and more.

To drive membership purchases, we decided to use Zoo Knoxville’s new membership mascot, Conservation Clarissa, as the centerpiece for our mall activation—aimed at garnering engagement to sell memberships during the holiday season.

Since membership is branded as a “passport to adventure,” the activation design began with the idea of an immersive habitat setup where visitors can come in, explore the habitat and get a life-sized look at Clarissa with the animals in their natural habitats made of 2D cutouts, specially printed for the activation.

With Clarissa at the helm of the illustrated creative, we transported passersby to Asia or Africa, told them about the animals of those habitats that live at the zoo, talked about the mission of saving animals, and sold memberships to those who want to buy in.

We also planned a scavenger hunt for guests to find hidden animal stickers and (if they got them all) win a red panda stuffed animal. The activation drove countless membership and ticket sales alongside thousands of impressions.

Regal Mario Bros Activation: Social Engagement and Giveaways

We partnered with Universal Pictures before the release of their new film, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” to create more buzz around the movie and fill their theaters. We aimed to generate national engagement in the months leading up to the April premiere.

We executed our activation with the support of Universal Pictures on March 10, 2023— written “Mar10” (Mario). To celebrate the movie’s anticipation from coast to coast, we created our “Mario Day” event with three celebrations occurring simultaneously in New York, Los Angeles, and Houston.

With a focus on influencer marketing and Regal Cinemas customer participation, we developed a large amount of materials including signage, red carpets, Mario plushies, miniature golf courses, and more. By taking over three theaters across the country, we were able to offer moviegoers a carnival-like experience centered around Mario while publicizing the movie release, with influencers dressed up as Mario and posted widely to social media. We also gave away free popcorn and drinks.

Influencers dressed in Mario-themed clothes posing in a group

The three-city footprint brought Mario Day and the movie’s upcoming release to many different markets across the country. Partnering directly with Universal Pictures and influencers allowed us to expand the scope of engagement and increase the awareness of and excitement for the movie. This partnership garnered 1.7M+ impressions and 740K+ engagements.

Creating Your Engagement Marketing Strategy

So, what steps can you take to make Engagement Marketing more central to your ad strategy?

First, as always, it’s essential to understand and know how to connect with your audience. The most important facet of an effective engagement marketing strategy is truly knowing who you’re advertising to. Gathering intelligence on your audience is crucial in crafting strategies and tactics that will engage them effectively. Their emotional drivers, media preferences, interests, and awareness / perception of your brand are all things to know inside and out before undertaking your engagement marketing planning.

Then, put your social channels to work. You should provide real value on your social channels. Content that resonates with your follower isn’t a sales pitch; it’s entertaining, helpful, informative and worth engaging with. Activations can be a huge source of UGC (user-generated content) for any brand. Influencers and social platforms provide the tools for both partner and brand success through collab posts, benefiting both parties through added reach—or TikTok, where partner content can be sponsored easily. Giveaways and contests, on the other hand, are a great way to rapidly boost your follower count and garner massive engagement in a shortened time frame.

Influencers making videos of themselves

Finally, build an influencer network that works for you—a web of like-minded content creators who are authentic to your destination experience. These creators have a built-in, hyper-targeted platform of followers who are already aware of your segment of the market. Each influencer is ready and willing to promote their travels and experiences in a variety of destinations and attractions to aid in your promotional efforts. This Network methodology allows for quick bursts of content from a variety of creators (unique voices from different backgrounds & verticals) and provides an opportunity for long-term, ongoing partnerships.

2024 Is Engagement Marketing Year, Don’t Miss Out

In 2024, getting involved in Engagement Marketing is going to be easier than ever. Whether you decide to try out any of these strategies for your brand, or come up with an entirely new, never been done before, tactic, Engagement Marketing will be worth your while!

3x increase in word-of-mouth after experiential activations

Give your consumers something to interact with. Create an experience for your audiences. Humanize your brand and connect with your customers. Take advantage of the new year to grow your marketing strategies to the next level!

Want to chat about how to get started? Reach out to us with any comments, questions or ideas.

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January Agency News: New Year, New Experiences