There is no substitute for the value of personal events in lead acquisition and doing business. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, meetings and events accounted for 25-30% of the B2B marketing budget, according to research by Frost and Sullivan.
Today, after months of widespread closings in the global economy, companies have switched to virtual formats to keep their events alive. But the landscape is beginning to change: occasionally, small and manageable live gatherings have taken place between the waves of shutdown and reopening.
Although face-to-face meetings will come into effect again at some point, new formats and trends will set the course for event marketing in the years to come. This article describes three of these trends and explains ways you can take advantage of them while keeping attendees safe.
1. Hybrid is the future of event marketing
According to a global survey by Aventri, 89% of event organizers say that virtual elements are critical to their post-pandemic strategy even when resuming face-to-face meetings.
As the name suggests, hybrid events combine both personal and remote or virtual speakers and participants. For example, you can host 100 people at one venue and share the content with 1,000 virtual attendees worldwide. Virtual components also provide a great backup plan for holding an event in the event of an emergency and attendees unable to travel.
Beyond the virtual format and the ability to reduce risk, hybrid events serve unique purposes in order to expand the audience, build dynamic experiences and create differentiated sponsorship opportunities.
How to successfully run your future hybrid events:
- Realize that hybrid gatherings attract two different audiences. The on-site guests are busy between meetings, from meetings to dining to entertainment. However, this is not the case for remote participants who cannot tolerate an eight-hour conference day.
- Do not try to duplicate a personal event experience in the digital world. it will inevitably fall short. Keep any audience in suspense, but use technology to do it in a different virtual way.
- Short, quick sessions are best for remote participants. Pick your best sessions and keep them for an hour or less. Remember to shorten your conference day to four instead of eight hours. The concise design of content – without leaving out important information – promotes engagement and loyalty of the audience.
- Draw digital participants into the conversation with interactive tools. B. Live Q&A, chat, video conversations, polls and social sharing. Instant voting and voting help speakers tailor their sessions to meet the needs of the audience. Increase engagement in creative ways. For example, some marketers offer 15-minute music breaks with DJs and music requests via chat.
- Make it easy for on-site and online guests to network with one another. Why not let them filter the attendee list based on common interests? Give them tools to schedule one-on-one video calls during and after meetings.
- Create new revenue streams. There are many options for hybrid events: you can put sponsors in the spotlight on your virtual welcome page, or offer sponsored digital meetings, exhibition halls, networking lounges and playful challenges.
- Create a digital library of recorded content. Savvy marketers encourage different levels of access through individual and group packages. Digital libraries offer a crucial way forward: Even after the restrictions are lifted, many companies remain skeptical about personal contact. Conference recordings also extend your event reach to people who cannot travel for health reasons or due to budget cuts.
2. Data and analysis play a crucial role
In the current situation, getting a return on event investments is important.
A big advantage of hybrid and virtual events is that engagement data is easier to collect. When participants register, every action can be followed. This includes page views from exhibitors, scheduled meetings, generated leads, check-in of sessions, dwell times, submitting questions, polls, polls, languages, downloads, likes on social media and much more.
The data provide insight into the preferences and weaknesses of the participants. Successful companies use this information to enrich the customer experience.
To get started, you can recommend sessions, exhibitors, and other attendees to clients to connect with based on common interests. Continue these conversations after the event and share white papers and articles that reflect attendees’ priorities.
In the long run, analytics provides a better toolbox to quantify the ROI of events and improve marketing. Modern event management software solutions combine with marketing automation and CRM platforms, creating a more complete picture of buyer behavior over time. Using a multi-touch attribution model, you can track the participant path throughout the buying journey. They show how your events generate income and contribute to the company’s bottom line.
However, the benefits of event data go beyond measuring ROI. New insights about buyers can help educate everything from list development to lead generation to sales priorities and content strategies. Use this business intelligence to improve sales and marketing performance across the board.
3. Contactless check-in and attendance are becoming the new standard
The pandemic has forced organizations to get creative and introduce new technical solutions to meet the stringent requirements for in-person events that require contactless, socially distant procedures for guest safety.
For this purpose, modern badges and bracelets have near field communication (NFC). It’s the same technology as Apple Pay. No need to exchange business cards or deal with money: NFC wearables enable contactless payment, retrieval of leads, access control, session tracking, material distribution and more.
Event check-in provides another example of how meetings are touchless. Between shipping and filling, traditional badges go through a lot of processing before they arrive at the registration desk. Additionally, manual check-in often means long waiting times while people stand in crowded lines.
With modern check-in solutions, participants print their own ID cards at home or on site. Self-scanning stations at the venue enable fast and contactless entry to the event.
When large trade fairs are restarted, the facial recognition software can create a personalized and contactless reception on a large scale. The latest systems check the registration, greet each participant by name and print out a personalized ID in a few seconds. A must for face recognition success is great cameras, lighting, computing power, and face recognition engine.
It is also important to comply with data protection regulations. Make photo posts optional for attendees. Do not save pictures. Instead, use them to create digital signatures for just one event.
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The pandemic has created unprecedented challenges, but event marketers are known for their resilience and innovation. The industry will recover, driven by pent-up demand and new opportunities. After all, professionals crave business development and education, and nothing beats the ability to meet in person.
I am confident that event marketing will stay intact if we work together on solutions that will drive customer safety and business growth.