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How to evolve your event marketing business without the in-person spectacle

All-remote conferences differ greatly than in-person conferences. You’ll need to go beyond eye-catching displays, while still building meaningful connections with your attendees.”

How to evolve your event marketing business without the in-person spectacle
[Photo: chuttersnap/Unsplash]

The face of event marketing is primed for irrevocable change. As our company like many others entered into the events season in the beginning of 2020, there were many indications the landscape would not look the same. However, none of us could have predicted the sheer amount of upheaval the industry has undergone since then.

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Events and conferences have traditionally served an incredibly important purpose for businesses. Attendees use them as an opportunity to grow their skill sets and network with customers, client prospects, and partners. Marketers in turn deploy events strategically to help expand their brand’s reach, increase engagement, and drive business results. Despite the monumental changes we have seen, one imperative remains constant, which is marketers must seek out new opportunities to drive the business forward.

Now, as people look to overhaul traditional ways of communication or adopt new forms, digital interactions are becoming the new events. Marketers are using digital events to correct previous limitations. Ultimately, their goal is to foster connections, create personalized experiences, and drive engagement. And cultivating this new sense of community is a complex task. We’ve seen some digital events have spectacular impact, while others have struggled to find success.

Today, marketers who lean into the digital transformation will be the individuals who make the most of a new opportunity. Here are a few tips to get you started on embracing opportunity.

Continue prioritizing in-person connections

In today’s landscape, successful marketers are those who appeal to executives in senior roles as well as capture the attention of buyers within a competitive space. Now, in the second half of 2020, the pressure has increased to set forth a clear strategy for the future of events.

As a given, agility and innovation are a key part of translating in-person experiences to digital. From a technical standpoint, parties must take on new efficiencies and use new technologies to produce a profitable high-quality event.

But those firms and marketers who keep the primary goal for in-person events in mind and incorporate these into new digital experiences will thrive. The facets of an effective event remain the same: creating a seamless, personalized experience where attendees walk away convinced they made a worthwhile time investment.

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Ultimately, building relationships with attendees is what drives business results. So to form an effective digital event strategy, focus on a foundation of human engagement and connection.

Make compelling content

Events, regardless of the format, have always challenged marketers to cut through the noise to gather attendee insights. Today, the new digital space is even noisier. However, despite this shift, it is critical to remember that content is still the foundation on which engagement and experience is built.

In-person events have always relied on compelling content to drive the attendee experience. Now, as many events are taking place virtually, it is easy for attendees to lose interest or simply close a browser window to disengage. Without the registration fees required to attend and access content, attendees feel less invested and obligated to tune in. Therefore, the importance of strong, relevant content is especially great.

That being said, content alone is not enough. It must captivate attendees—drawing them in and setting up tangible interaction. This includes strategies such as leveraging video, utilizing event mobile-engagement apps, and creating bespoke, highly personalized experiences.

We’ve seen examples of the latter via digital breakout rooms, and offering a more tailored experience where attendees can create their own schedules and choose to view content on their own terms, rather than being held to a strict agenda.

Understanding the value and role that data plays in driving engagement is vital. Even leading into 2020, there was an industry-wide charge to provide more personalized experiences, with a recent Gartner survey reporting brands “risk losing 38% of customers because of poor marketing personalization efforts.” Under today’s circumstances, it is critical to recognize both the power of personalization and the fundamental role that engagement data plays in delivering the type of personalized experience that ultimately helps build relationships with attendees.

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Foster and maintain a community

A key measure of a successful events program is returning attendees who you can welcome into your events community.

By shifting the focus to smaller, more personalized events (or perhaps an event series), marketers can make a greater impact. Utilizing data intelligence across the entire spectrum of events is essential to crafting the kind of hyper-personalized experiences that will ultimately offer an advantage in an overcrowded market.

While the current environment is rapidly changing, the demands have only gotten more pronounced. Event stakeholders who are well versed in a variety of formats and tactics will succeed in delivering the kind of event experience that meets heightened expectations. Using real-time data provides the opportunity to remain agile and create or modify attendee experience as marketers carve out and define our new event landscape.

Quick and agile marketing teams embrace turmoil and use it to their competitive advantage. This way, they can create engaging experiences for attendees, regardless of time or place.


Peter Micciche has served as Certain’s CEO for 10 years. He has extensive executive management and board-level experience within several public and private software companies, including president of Cognos Corp, CEO of NativeMinds, and CEO of Kinecta Corp.

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