Eran Ben-Shushan is the co-founder and CEO of bizzabothe Event Experience operating system that enables personal, virtual and hybrid event experiences.
Events contribute to the top and bottom lines of organizations by empowering marketers to gain data insights, increase brand awareness, personalize reach, and ultimately increase engagement.
Not only is there the excitement of getting together in person again, but the rise of in-person events also signals the return of an important pipeline resource. In response to data collected by my company from more than 200 event organizers, over 70% agree that in-person events are critical to their company’s overall marketing strategy.
We also found that nearly all event organizers plan to host at least one in-person event by 2022, and many organizers have at least three in-person events planned. And while economic uncertainty remains a challenge across all industries, seven in ten event organizers said their marketing budget has remained the same or increased over the past year.
As in-person events peak again, event professionals will have the opportunity to showcase the value of all events — in-person, hybrid, and virtual — to generate revenue and accelerate pipeline speed.
Here are three areas to focus on as your organization refines the role of events in your broader marketing strategy.
1. Re-evaluate your definition of event success.
Event success metrics have evolved over the past two years. The pandemic revolved around virtual events and changed the relationship between events and data, and organizers are leveraging new data collection strategies for in-person and hybrid events. The current definition of event success has evolved to focus more on quality versus quantity.
This shift in the definition of success is critical because how your organization defines event success will shape your event marketing strategy. In the past, organizations used registration and attendance to measure the success of an event.
But now we see that traditional attendance stats were vanity stats. They may sound good, but they’re not as indicative of revenue success as attention or engagement metrics.
Announcing that 1,000 people attended your event may sound impressive in the short term, but how did those 1,000 attendees boost and accelerate the pipeline? How does retention differ between customers who attend your events and customers who don’t? When you collect those insights, which go well beyond the number of attendees, you can start proving the value of your events and their impact on business.
2. Use technology to trigger event data.
To maximize your visibility of the impact of events on revenue goals, I recommend implementing technology that makes it easier for your teams to surface and act on event data. The past two years have shown that an ever-changing world demands flexible technological solutions. Instead of asking teams to navigate through a handful of tools to prove the value of your event programming, find ways to consolidate event orchestration and data insights. Consolidation isn’t just a cost-saving measure, it’s a smarter way to prove the impact on your business.
Organizing your data can turn meaningful engagement and persuasive conversations into lead retention. Using a data-driven approach ultimately translates into more resources and more informed strategies for executing future events. By using an event experience platform that is seamlessly integrated into your customer relationship management and marketing, you can gain better insights to prove the impact of events on revenue.
3. Leverage event data to accelerate the pipeline.
Personal events have a superpower: qualitative data. No other marketing effort offers your team a front-row seat to your prospects’ discussions, responses, and perspectives. An on-site presence has the potential to give your team an unparalleled vantage point to understand your prospects’ points of view, pain points, and prospects.
Evolving solutions, including things like wearable technology, provide a personal equivalent to the robust behavioral data surfaced through virtual events. Use this data to inform sales strategy development, attendee follow-up, and future event content.
In general, I recommend integrating event programming into your organization’s other marketing tactics to help drive value. In other words, use events to nurture new leads and contacts for a marketing team’s customer relationship management. Localized programming for specific industries or accounts, either as individual events or as “events within events,” can enhance account-based marketing efforts and deepen connections with key prospects.
The data you use to personalize visitor experiences also has huge potential to accelerate your sales pipeline. Attendee activity data—from the sessions people attend to the polls they answer—allows sales teams to segment attendees based on engagement level and custom reach after the event. During outreach, teams can determine whether high engagement levels translate into a sales-qualified lead, maximize conversion success, and inform future sales strategies. Make sure your sales team can respond to data seamlessly with the tools you use, so they can focus their time and efforts on highly engaged leads.
Personal events are back.
Personal events, which are not displacing hybrid and virtual events, are back in business and provide more opportunities to connect event experiences and revenue goals. By redefining the meaning of event success, implementing technology to bring actionable insights, and leveraging better data activation across your organization, you can show the current and future value of your event programming.