Spotlight on Meetings and Conventions
2017 digital marketing trends for the event industry
Digital marketing can play a huge role in an event planner’s overall marketing and attendee engagement strategy for 2017. While some event industry pundits focus on upcoming trends (think virtual and augmented reality, robots, big data and the like), we’ve put together a list of our digital marketing trends that you can actually implement today to maximize the results of your event.
A well-thought-out and well-executed content marketing plan can be a particularly credibility-boosting way to garner interest and engagement in your event—way before it starts until way after it ends. Your strategy should be based on your attendee personas, the type of relevant and shareable content surrounding your event that they are looking for, and the overall event journey. For example, if you are an event planner organizing a scientific conference, you may want to consider a series of pre-event webinars, videos or blog posts to address topics that your event will cover. Why not curate content from sponsors and third-party providers to share on social media?
There are three important aspects to content marketing.
First, it has to be consistent. In other words, don’t rely on a blog post here or there and expect great results. Develop a comprehensive editorial calendar for before, during and after your event.
Second, you cannot simply “build it and they will come”.
Content marketing is only as good as how well you promote it. Make sure your content gets found via social media, your event website or app, and email marketing campaigns.
Third, measure, measure and measure some more. Define your KPIs before you embark on your content marketing strategy to ensure that it’s generating the most results for the buck. If not, you’ll have the time to readjust your actions to better cater to your attendee clientele.
Social media marketing
What goes hand in hand with your event’s content marketing strategy? It’s social media strategy. Social media can attract delegates and create a buzz around your event.
However, before you determine your goals and specific strategy, keep in mind your attendee persona. The reason? The last thing you want to do is invest in a social media platform that your attendees rarely use. Where your event attendees are using a specific network, that’s where you need to be. Are your target attendees more the LinkedIn types as they work in a B2B environment? Or do they rely on Facebook to engage with their professional community? Do delegates relentlessly check their Twitter feeds or can’t be bothered with Twitter’s onslaught of information?
One caveat: just because attendees are not on a specific platform does not mean you can’t leverage it for your event. For example, Live videos are taking the event world up by storm by allowing organizers and attendees to capture key moments at a convention or conference. Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram all offer easy and affordable ways to make your events come alive (pun intended) and stand out from all the other content being shared on social media.
“My smartphone is not my life.” Said. No. Event. Attendee. Ever. With smartphone and tablet use attaining all-time highs in attendees’ professional lives, many event planners may be deploying a mobile-first strategy. By creating a dedicated event app and carrying out an opt-in messaging campaign, planners are taking event marketing to an entirely new level.
With an app, you can provide up-to-date information on your event to attendees, create contests to encourage attendees to visit table tops, booths or specific talks, and carry out surveys for instant feedback. In fact, event mobile apps could eliminate the need for print handbooks and guides. Think of your event’s mobile app as an event concierge that personalizes attendees’ event experience. The more personalized the experience, the more engaged they will be.
Furthermore, mobile apps open the gateways to providing better real estate for event sponsors. Sponsored promotions and content become much more interesting and customizable depending on attendee profiles, which, in turn, increases sponsors’ relevance and investment ROI.
Marketing automation can help event planners maximize the use of their attendee, exhibitor, sponsor and speaker databases. As the name implies, marketing automation leverages the power of technology tools that provide a conduit between your CRM or email lists, content and targeted audiences. Simply put, marketing automation streamlines, automates and measures many of your digital marketing tasks, saving you lots of time, manual labour and costs.
For example, you can use a marketing automation solution to send out different email marketing messages about events to different audiences; one email could be crafted for delegates who attended last year’s event and another email for people who requested more information about your event—but never registered. In turn, these emails can feature links to different landing pages or sections on your event website with strong, personalized messaging and calls to action that are more likely to interest your targets.
Other examples? Marketing automation can facilitate multi-step campaigns whereby registrant onboarding and reminders are set up once and deployed automatically. If potential attendees start the registration process but abandon it before following through, you can use retargeting programs that will display social ads and win them back over to your website.