3 Top B2B Experience Marketing Trends for 2020
Experience marketing is fast becoming the rule, rather than the exception, for brands trying to connect with their B2C audiences.
And they’re going all in: retailers are creating museum-like interactive play spaces, sports brands are developing AI-enabled virtual reality experiences, and game companies are creating live-action immersive versions of their video games.
But it’s not just B2C companies that are embracing the power of experiences in creating lasting, enthusiastic customer relationships. B2B companies are jumping on this bandwagon too, as they’re realizing the importance of connecting with buyers in a more memorable, tactile, and impactful way.
As experience marketing continues to grow and evolve, there are a few standout trends that every brand—whether B2C or B2B—should be paying attention to.
Integrating corporate social responsibility (CSR)—everywhere
Brands know that CSR is important to consumers, and has been for years. Yet in 2019, a survey by Clutch found that social responsibility practices were more important to consumers than price—and they’re living that out through the choices they make around which brands to support.
Integrating your CSR into experience marketing offers a way to show customers that you’re truly living out the values you profess.
Take Salesforce’s partnership with (RED), the global organization that aims to end the AIDS epidemic. The cloud services company has not only made major donations of time, resources, and money to the organization, but they’ve integrated that partnership into their biggest event of the year and the world’s largest software conference, Dreamforce.
(RED) had a strong presence at their 2018 conference with the (RED) Experience, where customers could learn about the organization’s mission and buy (RED) and Salesforce products to help fund the group’s work in Africa.
In 2020, integrating your CSR efforts into everything your brand does, including experience marketing, is going to be more important than ever.
Getting serious about AI, augmented reality, and marketing automation
As AI, virtual and augmented reality, and martech become both more advanced and more accessible, brands looking to reach new audiences with their experience marketing will find these tools invaluable in 2020.
The Now/Next report by George P. Johnson Experience Marketing calls this “depersonalized personalization”—in other words, highly personalized experiences that are not delivered by people.
This could take the form of a chatbot or augmented reality guide that walks a user through a retail experience, or using marketing automation to deliver highly personalized content to a user based on their location within an event space.
Two prominent examples of this are Magic Leap’s AR headset and Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality headset. Both companies are going after the B2B customer with new enterprise-friendly features, like virtual meetings that make it look as though the people you’re meeting with are in the room with you.
In addition to opening up new and exciting options for experiential, these tech developments also allow brands to deliver experiences and content faster, more efficiently, and in a more targeted manner.
Incorporating sensory elements to heighten brand experience
Since experience marketing is all about immersing a customer in your brand, it stands to reason that adding sensory elements, which can play an important role in activating the memory centers of the brain, can help make that experience even more impactful.
Brands like the Museum of Ice Cream have played with these sensory elements to create unique, highly memorable—and highly shareable—experiences for visitors.
GE’s Healthymagination initiative, which develops and deploys health technology in the developing world, is another example. They created realistic walk-through models of hospital rooms and clinics throughout the countries they serve, showing how their technology makes a critical difference for patients in specific healthcare scenarios.
While brands may be well-versed in engaging sight and sound, branching out into smell, taste, and touch can offer new ways for your customers to interact with your brand, as well as make those experiences much more memorable.
Starbucks tapped into this with their partnership with Spotify, which gives customers the Starbucks audio experience anywhere through a curated Starbucks playlist—the same music customers hear in their favorite cafes.
In 2020, I expect to see this trend take on greater importance, with smart brands looking at how they can use a certain visual cue, smell, or—yes—sound in order to put their brands top of mind for customers, even when those customers aren’t interacting with those brands.
Experience marketing in 2020 is going to be even bigger and better than it was in 2019. By tapping into the senses, embracing what technology has to offer, and authentically committing to social responsibility, brands will be able to create long-term, meaningful relationships with their audiences—whether that’s a group of Gen Z urbanites, or a committee of B2B buyers.