A Revolution is Occurring in the Events Industry
Emerging technologies have unleashed a never-before-seen level of insight and data to inform the work we do. Finally, event marketers have the power to measure the impact of every facet of their events, including audience engagement, sponsor engagement, and overall brand sentiment. Yet, many marketers haven’t adopted the tools that will enable them to showcase the value of their events — and it’s time for them to evolve.
These are the eight steps in the evolution of the Live Engagement Marketer:
The first step in this journey is all about the practicalities. At this stage we’re asking the basic questions: How big does our event need to be? How many break-out rooms do we need? Events with a tactical focus are absolute bare-bones affairs, and not much attention is paid to the experience of attendees. But this is the starting point and where most of us begin.
In step two, we let the creative juices flow. We’re honing in on the details that will really make the attendees remember the experience. Perhaps we’ve booked acrobats to fly in on trapezes during the opening party. Or we’ve enlisted the creative powers of visual artists to design striking installations. This stage in the evolution is about creating a moment that attendees will remember forever. But despite the memorability, the event still largely remains a one-way conversation. The organizers are speaking to the attendees, rather than with them. Aside from smiles and rounds of applause, we have no way of tapping into what the audience is really thinking in real-time.
The third, “digitized” step is where many event organizers find themselves today. Event organizers now use apps to house their up-to-date schedules, incorporating directions to the event and other helpful information for attendees. Behind the scenes, state-of-the-art event technology is being utilized to hone and refine the event in real-time, making the proceedings feel smooth and seamless for attendees. Is a panel discussion fast becoming over-booked? Use the app to swiftly change the location to a larger room and update the schedule and all attendees with a mere click. In this digitized phase, you’re working with the element of change inherent in all events, but now you’re using it to your advantage to improve the flow of the day.
Step four is the engagement to social spheres. You’re now using existing social platforms to raise awareness of the event. You’ve created an event hashtag and are encouraging attendees to share their photos and videos on Facebook and Twitter. You’ve made the essential transition in the evolution of the live engagement marketer: you‘re starting to think about two-way communication. You want to hear the feedback in real-time and chart social responses. The only issue at this stage is that to analyze this valuable data across various social platforms, you’ll need to bring on board expensive social media analytics tools to sift and aggregate the key messages. You’re moving into a balanced relationship with your attendees, hearing their voices loud and clear, but you don’t yet have control of the channel—so it’s hard to roll this out at scale.
Now the event organizer can fuse her social strategy with a focused, digital mobile experience. A two-way channel has been born. While walking through the event, sitting in a session, or grabbing a coffee, attendees are able to scroll through an event app on their smartphone to engage with content. There is a live feed that features posts by other attendees and speakers, there are bios of the people presenting and the other attendees walking around them in real time. Suddenly, all the power and potential of social media connectivity has fused directly with your event. People can directly message the captivating speakers they hear, rate their talks, take photos of their favorite sights at the event and share them with the rest of the community. And as people comment, ask questions and bookmark their way through the event, you’re capturing crucial data.
Within this captive online environment, you’re also communicating with your audience directly. You’re sending them real-time messages and using the application to speak to them. Take, for example, our roadshow events for DoubleDutch, where our team has been constantly monitoring the app and responding to questions and comments. We’ve been bringing the comments onstage into our discussions—showing that we are co-creating the event experience with our attendees, and not just standing up there talking to them. From here, your next step is to learn what to do with your data.
Finally, you’re moving into the revolutionary, new frontiers of Live Engagement Marketing. You have a live engagement channel—and in this “proactive” stage, you’re actively using it. Your team is watching the platform closely, sending highly relevant messages to attendees based on their event bookmarks and content engagement. You’re able to respond in an agile way throughout the event. If you see that a session is getting overbooked, move it instantly to a bigger room and communicate that news effortlessly to everyone via the app. You can create assisted serendipity, connecting attendees with the right employees as soon as questions are asked. Is someone asking for more information on a product? Deploy a member of the product marketing team in an instant for a face-to-face conversation.
The wealth of data from the app is now making your role highly valuable to the entire business. Event owners on this side of the spectrum are able to analyze a huge rush of data, spotting the wins and failures in real-time and making sure that the next event is improving on its ROI in a direct, palpable way. They’re also engaging with the audience long after the event has finished, following up with survey questions and extending the scope of the event, so that it continues to live, breathe and function long after the event’s physical doors have closed.
In the “enlightened” final stage of the journey to Live Engagement Marketing, you’ve now measured up to your full potential. You’re using data to amplify and monetize your entire marketing strategy. The app is informing your content strategy in significant ways. Take, for example, our recent Live Engagement Tour. As we analyzed post-event data it was pointing to a need among attendees to get more information about the nuts and bolts of live engagement marketing in addition to higher level discussions. So when we moved onto the next stop of our tour in Toronto, we incorporated a new panel discussion: How DoubleDutch Uses DoubleDutch. We saw a lot more questions about the product and functionality start to appear, and our NPS increased by 33% from our initial event in New York City.
The simple fact is that at this stage you have at your fingertips data that can improve the ROI of every other sales and marketing channel in the organization, insights from session bookmarks, surveys and polls that can inform your account-based and email marketing—and the ability to create highly segmented, personalized follow ups for every attendee. It’s no longer just an ability to make a great event, your role has now become a pivotal one in your company’s entire marketing strategy.
In making the journey to enlightened live engagement marketing, it’s crucial to have the right tools at your disposal. This is a new discipline that is revolutionizing the entire events field, and it just requires you to learn how to use and flourish with these tools. Now is the time to expand your capabilities, to embrace the technology and start to build exceptional events where the attendees are at the very center of the conversation. By using a Live Engagement Marketing App you have a capability to capture, analyze, and react to real-time and aggregated data enabling you to reach peak performance—and move from primate stage to fully evolved faster than you ever thought possible.