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How Amazon Web Services worked with Adobe to deliver virtual events during the pandemic

From startups and multinational corporations to government agencies and nonprofits, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is helping millions of customers unlock the potential of the cloud

How Amazon Web Services worked with Adobe to deliver virtual events during the pandemic
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From startups and multinational corporations to government agencies and nonprofits, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is helping millions of customers unlock the potential of the cloud. AWS services help organizations build applications at a speed that can meet changing consumer needs and market dynamics. And over the last fifteen years, AWS has launched more than 200 services and solutions across compute, storage, databases, networking, analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), mobile, security, and more.

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In the midst of COVID-19, AWS played an important role when customers across industries had to make sudden pivots: Consider the Los Angeles Unified School District, which leaned on AWS to quickly activate remote and virtual learning. Or take University of North Carolina Health and the State of Rhode Island, organizations that worked with AWS to deliver new channels for communities to navigate healthcare and employment issues. AWS also helped the National Football League (NFL) run its first-ever virtual NFL Draft, helping ensure that more than 100 live feeds ran successfully and creating a seamless experience for everyone watching.

While helping customers navigate this new environment, AWS also had to re-think how their own teams engaged with customers. Virtually overnight, face-to-face business meetings and in-person conferences were put on pause. For a company that held thousands of events globally each year, AWS quickly embraced virtual events as part of their broader marketing strategy.

AWS used Adobe Experience Cloud to deliver a polished customer journey online with analytics, personalization, and marketing automation tools. AWS, working with Adobe, was building in real-time the future of B2B marketing and the role of hybrid events.

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A Quick Pivot

It is no surprise that events are a primary component of any B2B marketing strategy. With customer needs that can be multifaceted, complex use cases that require specific product functionality and multiple stakeholders, high-touch experiences are necessary to connect with, educate, and inspire customers about how products and solutions can work for them.

Across the thousands of events worldwide that AWS holds each year, from large conferences to more intimate customer roundtables, the biggest one is re:Invent. Held annually in Las Vegas, it brings together tens of thousands of attendees for keynotes, breakout sessions, training sessions, and more. AWS re:Invent is, at its core, an education and sharing conference for customers that brings together the AWS community to learn from and inspire each other.

In 2020, when COVID-19 brought in-person events to a halt, the AWS marketing team re-imagined re:Invent as a virtual event spread out over three weeks, with more than 650 education sessions, five keynotes, and 20 leadership sessions. AWS was able to draw an online audience of more than 300,000 attendees.

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Virtual re:Invent was very popular with customers, with many giving feedback that it should happen every year alongside the in-person event. For AWS, it was a signal that their approach in creating a connected and personalized customer experience paid off.

From the start, the event drew inspiration from an in-person experience. For example, live attendees are accustomed to seamless transitions when they arrive at the conference, from shuttle transportation to signage that guides them through sessions and breakouts. With Adobe Analytics, Adobe Target, and Marketo Engage, AWS was able to orchestrate this digitally, as well, and create a personalized digital journey during the conference, targeting customers with content and suggesting sessions.

Insights on how attendees were navigating and consuming content online were used to deliver and then optimize an integrated journey that spanned channels such as the re:Invent website, paid media, email, and sales. Prior to the conference, AWS used Adobe Target, Adobe Analytics, and Marketo Engage to create registration journeys for different types of customers, from new prospects to highly engaged accounts.

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Going forward, AWS plans to leverage Adobe Experience Cloud to deliver even greater personalization at scale. The goal is to ensure that the AWS customer journey includes customized paths, allowing for scenarios where customers are given an option to connect with a specific expert tailored to the content that most interests them.

In other instances, AWS will be able to easily identify low performing assets online and swap them out with something more relevant for a particular segment of customers. Insights would then be passed regularly to the AWS sales team, so that if someone needed more help, an AWS representative could contact them personally.

“This year marks our 10th annual AWS re:Invent, and if the pandemic has taught us one thing it’s that blending in-person and virtual experiences will become a new reality for marketers moving forward,” said Rachel Thornton, vice president of global marketing, Amazon Web Services (AWS). “The key is in building a cohesive customer journey online, which we were able to deliver with Adobe Experience Cloud. It allowed us to reach more customers globally while enhancing the overall experience that in-person attendees could have at virtual and, in the future, hybrid events.”