Tech revolution

Finding a digital marketing companion can be the key to upscaling your event, both in terms of prospect and manageability, writes Antony Reeve-Crook

NetApp senior manager Kate Lechowicz says only events offering personalised experiences will emerge as clear winners in the years ahead. “We are living in a personalised world, and attendees expect that events will be designed to fulfil their individual needs,” she notes.

Many PCOs employ the talents of a digital event marketing agency to accommodate the needs of clients such as Lechowicz, and in doing so increase their ability to cope with not just more demanding clients bases, but larger and larger events. With large corporate events and conferences there is an expectation that the event will have a website, greater opportunity for sponsorship, interactive event tools and data analytics.

Organisers want a way to create a seamless and branded attendee flow, to manage all aspects of the event from a single place and most importantly, to have a way to track event data to better understand the success of their event.

According to Alon Alroy, co-founder and CMO of Israeli event technology Bizzabo, the event industry is no stranger to tools that don’t ‘talk’ to each other, keeping data in silos, which in turn makes it harder for organisers to analyse their event and see if they hit their goals.

“There is a dire need to modernise the tool set available to event professionals, so organisers are always looking out for a platform that can make them smarter and more efficient, without losing out on the experience for attendees,” says Alroy.

Being able to pick and choose which sessions or concurrent tracks you might attend, and then to be able to bookmark it, is one of the features that many digital event platforms now offer. But while functionality must be effective, appearances are equally important. The benefit of a good user interface must not be overlooked. Because while the technology driving the software is complicated, the interface must not be. There will, after all, be many users with varied skill sets.

Bizzabo places great stock in its revenue dashboard for example; a clear and simple interface for analysing the effectiveness of an event.

“The Bizzabo Events Cloud focuses on being extremely user friendly and intuitive,” says Alroy. “You don’t have to work to use the platform, Bizzabo works for you. It can be appealing to make sure that technology hits every feature check box, but we know that in order to make a product that fits the lives of those who plan events, it is crucial to make an experience that is clean, concise, and effective.”

The efficacy of a digital solution often increases with the number of people using it, and in the past the usefulness of such tools has been undermined by a low uptake. Alroy says, however, that by incentivising people to use the tech, you increase its success. “Our Events Cloud is not reliant on attendees downloading it, but the networking experience for attendees is much more effective when there’s a higher adoption rate. Since Bizzabo’s platform integrates everything – registration, networking, engagement, content – organisers have a full contact database without attendees having to download anything extra,” he says.

“As for ensuring that attendees are utilising the robust networking component of our platform, we supply organisers with marketing tools and strategies to help them promote the networking app and achieve a higher adoption rate. There are also social integration features so that when attendees are sharing about the event on social media, other attendees will also join the community, boosting the adoption rate organically.”

From digital to real

So how does an all-in-one platform look in practice? Formerly known as the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, SME is a non-profit, technology-
oriented, professional association supporting the manufacturing industry in the US and Canada. Counting more than 20,000 members, the association  has been a firmly established authority in the manufacturing industry for 80 years.

This year however it wanted to introduce a cost-effective digital strategy for its events. While it had used social media and SEO strategies in previous years, this year it was looking for a comprehensive tool to consolidate data and make the most from its digital efforts.

Enter Feathr, another company that offers digital marketing solutions for event organisers.

“We decided that investing in new technology was the best way to transition our audience toward digital. As we listened to the Feathr demo, bells started going off in our heads,” said senior digital marketing specialist Amanda Krigner. She proceeded to apply it to one of SME’s largest events, the US East Coast manufacturing event Eastec, opened this year by NASA rocket scientist keynote Jordan Evans.

Preliminary results were convincing. Feathr’s remarketing adverts performed by consistently driving new registrations to SME’s events and SME’s audience grew beyond expectations. Feathr brought in thousands of new prospects.

When the time came to use Feathr to promote Eastec, SME was ready to build a multifaceted campaign, with a primary goal of reaching new audience segments that had never attended Eastec.

And since the goal was to increase the reach, Feathr began its goal by establishing ‘lookalikes’. “First we used Feathr to build a lookalike audience – to try to find people exactly like our attendees who are not currently on our prospect list,” said Krigner.

SME then worked to engage this new audience. “We sent them relevant content based on their interest areas. Banner ads were used to showcase articles featuring the equipment and advanced technology on display at Eastec,” said SME senior marketing specialist Patti Miller.

SME then went on to target potential attendees in manufacturing industries with industry-specific ads. SME was able to personalise communications at scale, which appealed to new niches of potential attendees. “We created custom landing pages for exhibitors and speakers, and remarketed those landing pages to interested audiences,” said Miller.

SME also made successful use of the Feathr monetisation module, which allows customers to use the Feathr platform and data to sell ad retargeting to their own clients. Feathr’s monetisation alone brought in enough additional revenue to pay for Eastec’s use of the Feathr platform.

These are just two examples of companies that produces numerous solutions. As little as five years ago it would have been possible to select a company and explain its offering in a page of this magazine. However with the increasing demands being made of meeting industry tech companies, you’d be hard-pressed to cover all the software solutions offered by one such company within a single edition.

From expanding an event’s reach, to increasing registrations or monetising partnerships and all else in between, finding a good technology partner for events can – with careful consideration – be the natural evolution of your event.

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