Events have always been high-impact marketing opportunities, but in-person events historically happened just a few times a year, were short lived, and success was notoriously hard to measure. As in-person events come roaring back, they look different—and more “digital” than ever before. This article will include digital marketing tips to help you look at live event marketing in a new way.
- We’ve all become more digital in our day-to-day lives, and in-person events are no
different. Now marketers must adapt to maximize these events for all their worth.
- Many of the principles that made virtual events flourish can and should be applied to
conferences, trade shows, and other meetings. Digital marketing has blown up.
- Watch this on-demand webinar, featuring speakers from Forrester and Cvent:
“Events: Digital Marketing’s Next Frontier,” for tips you can put into action right now
for 2023 success.
In the past few years, a profound change occurred in the world of events—they were forced to
go digital. We all know the reason for the virtual technology boom, but that digital “giant leap”
has had a ripple effect of sorts, and a profound effect on in-person gatherings overall. That’s
right, live events are digital as well.
Today, this newly digitized channel gives marketers and their organizations new ways to extend
audience engagement before, during, and after an event—as well as between events. Why is
this good news you might ask? Simply, more digitized experiences mean more measurable
ones, and digital marketers are increasingly capturing in-person audience insights to get a
clearer, more actionable view of attendee interests.
How We Got Here and Where Do We Go?
Events are not offline, they’re online. They’re not qualitative, they’re quantitative. They’re
essentially digital marketing tactics now. So, returning to the 2019 template as marketer is out
of the question.
Attendees expect more from events in 2022 (2023 will be no different, trust us). This is the era
of next generation events. This means the need for digital components on-site…and we don’t
mean hybrid events. Purely in-person meetings, trade shows, conferences etc. can be
fundamentally transformed with the right tools in place.
If marketers can infuse in-person events with digital elements, they can create a more
immersive attendee experience. The requirements include online platforms (both web and
mobile), on-demand content, and connecting digital and in-person audiences.
This is to the benefit of marketers. These digital components are also a pathway to better
attendee profiling and ROI measurement, improved digital content delivery, deeper
engagement and in the end, improved outcomes.
Digital Event Marketing: Learning Virtual Lessons for 2023 In-person Events
At the outset of 2022, 74% of marketers polled agreed that events were their most important
demand generation tactic. In-person events are returning in rapid fashion, and that speaks to
the sheer power that live events hold.
The digital transformation of events has had a profound effect and delivered broad benefits for
marketers in 2022.
According to Forrester research*:
- 76% of respondents report increased reach and attendance
- 59% note the ability to repurpose/support events across different locations
- 57% cite a better ability to collect data about attendees’ interests and content
- 57% point out the ability to extend event duration beyond original dates
This is now finding its way into in-person events. Incorporating more digital interactions is key
to capturing the data and interactions you need faster and more effectively than ever before.
Whether it’s an afternoon meeting, or a four-day conference, you can gather an astounding
amount of information in a short period of time. All this means, shrinking sales cycles and
winning business that much faster.
Tech that Takes Engagement to the Next Level
So, how does event technology help meet the changing expectations of your audience? It can
potentially happen before, during, after, and in-between events.
- Pre-Event: Instead of happening *right* before an event, it can now happen pre-event.
Tech can help you graduate beyond “know before you go” emails and other pre-event
comms by performing a livestream. Taking a page out of the virtual book, a quick 15-
minute presentation on everything you need to know before you get to your event.
From connecting with other attendees to interacting with content and sponsors. Then,
pivot to the on-site experience you’ve put in place when attendees arrive.
- During the Event: data collection opportunities abound. Every interaction can be
digitized, whether it’s happening in a mobile event app, on a website, or in the “real
world.” And now, event attendees are embracing new technology more than ever
before. QR codes, Near Field Communications (NFC), and unlocking new ways to cross
the digital chasm between in-person experiences, and digital ones.
- After the Event: this experience used to be pretty simple. Maybe a link to a feedback
survey, and we’re done! The planning teams have now moved on to the next event and
the marketing team is waiting on results of the survey. Now, we’re thinking more about
the data, the next steps of action. And attendees are thinking about your content. In
fact, they want access to full session access to their favorite presentations-or the
sessions that they missed because they were attending something else at the same
time. So, think about how you can make your content available on-demand. This goes
for on the web and in the app.
“It’s not over ‘til it’s over.” Not just a song title. A fact of life now for next-gen event marketers.
With technology, just because the event is “over,” doesn’t’ mean it’s really over. Engagement
continues and extends with the right strategies between events.
Here a few you can take advantage of with tech:
These tactics can help you build an engaged audience that is primed to attend your next event,
and the evet after that.
Takeaways and More Learning
This just represents the tip of the iceberg. Digital has transformed the buyer’s journey, and the
mixing of virtual elements into your in-person experiences can have myriad positive effects on
your marketing efforts.
Expanding engagement, before, during and after your events. Re-imagining your events as non-
siloed, stand-alone experience. Tactically thinking about your events as more than one-and-
done and more a part of an entire program. Holistically thinking, what, in fact, is your
“customer journey?” It can change as now your touchpoints can be multiplied exponentially.
We’d like to share more about this subject with you. Check out Cvent’s on-demand panel discussion “Events: Digital Marketing’s Next Frontier,” and you’ll hear the perspectives of Cvent’s CMO, Patrick Smith, and our special guest from Forrester, Principal Analyst, Conrad Mills.
*Source: Forrester’s Q3 2021 B2B Enterprise Marketing Events Trends Survey