Now that we’re running virtual events, are we part of digital marketing? This is a question that has come up a lot recently.
Traditionally, demand and digital marketing teams have been responsible for the pre-event promotional and post-event follow-up activities. Events teams manage the high-impact experiences to attendees, speakers, and exhibitors—from registration to tear down.
Due to unprecedented circumstances this spring, events have gone fully virtual creating a powerful convergence of events and marketing—more so than ever before. And based on early indicators that won’t be changing anytime soon. Events have undergone a digital transformation, which has ushered in a new era for event marketing. Gone are the days of session scans and manual csv file handoffs to marketing for nurture campaigns. Organizations have begun blending physical and digital mechanisms with the ability to view audience insights in real-time, and this will emerge as the new way to do events.
The Value of Events
The recent pivot from physical to virtual event delivery has highlighted the need to demonstrate impact now more than ever. Events represent the largest spend within marketing budgets (averaging 24% for major enterprises) and are universally touted as the most effective marketing channel, yet they also represent the least measured and quantifiable marketing effort. Years of siloed event data remain unaggregated and not actionable leaving organizations to act on instinct or at best, on last year’s results. Further adding to the challenge, events and marketing professionals lack a consistent way to compare events or know what is considered a leading indicator of success.
Even so, events provide an unrivaled platform for building brand awareness, launching new products, driving sales leads, building pipeline, and engaging existing customers. Unlike digital marketing campaigns, which interrupt a person’s day with emails or pop-up ads that they may or may not click on, events create a captive environment and, in turn, a captive audience. People agree to commit their time and money—some of their most valuable assets—in exchange for targeted content, networking opportunities, and insights that advance their professional and personal development.
Powerful Engagement Data
Based on recent learnings and successes from some of the largest virtual events over the past few months with 750k attendees and counting, we have seen a 4-6x uptick in registered attendance and the ability to reach audiences that were previously unknown. Organizations have access to more data on their audiences than ever before with this broader reach. This shift to virtual has enabled teams to aggregate both physical and virtual event data and behaviors to deliver more personalized and curated content experiences to their target audiences. After all, that personalization and relevance is what keeps attendance returning year after year.
Through the collection of this real-time data, event and marketing teams are also empowered to adapt quickly and energize event performance by supporting a wide variety of decisions––from delivery strategy to increasing audience engagement to conversion rate optimization. Events and marketing teams can drive strategic and tactical changes informed by these real-time insights into audience engagement (e.g., which session types were of interest, topics, exhibitors, etc.).
RainFocus clients have access to historical data from physical and virtual events in the RainFocus Platform and are easily able to compare performance. In addition to realizing a 4-6x increase in audience size, they can append content consumption, data, and preferences to the global attendee record to drive continued personalization and increased engagement.
The New Power Couple
When it comes to the future of physical and hybrid, events and marketing are the new power couple for success. Companies that used this year as an opportunity to learn will be in the driver’s seat for event success going forward. The opportunity to understand engagement in any setting (virtual, physical, and both) and the ability to design your event marketing strategy to that engagement will greatly accelerate the merger of events with digital marketing teams.