The landscape of events has changed forever as a result of a global pandemic. However, the industry’s transition has spurred innovation, brought planning teams and marketers together, and as a result transformed a traditional channel into a dynamic force.
Maximizing the impact of this NextGen event channel requires a holistic strategy and marketers need to resist the return to 2019 norms. This means breaking siled thinking in event strategy, teams and technology and taking proactive measures to optimize results.
This new strategy encompasses many event formats, including virtual/webinar, in-person, and hybrid event types: conferences, trade shows, roadshows, and client groups. For marketers, this presents an incredible opportunity to take engagement to new levels.
Virtual should always be part of your event mix
According to a new report produced by the CMO Council in association with Cvent, “Aligning strategy, people and technology to succeed in a new era of events,” in regards to 64% of respondents are “moderately effective” or “not effective” at running virtual events that add value. The study also revealed that 36% of merchants are experiencing severe virtual event registration fatigue and a loss of connection with customers. Again, the impetus for marketers may be to focus all of their budget efforts on in-person experiences.
The value problem is likely the result of mismanaged expectations. When the pandemic forced events online, marketers wanted virtual events to produce the same results as in-person events. But virtual and in-person events play different roles. Do not confuse virtual fatigue with loss of virtual event value. Virtual events can help you reach large groups of people in many places, the breadth of reach for marketers here is unmatched.
Hybrid events: the rewards outweigh the risk
The return of in-person meetings means combining two experiences into one event for many marketers who seek the “best of both worlds” – the benefits of customer intimacy and reach. massive brand.
The potential value of a hybrid event is exponentially greater than that of pre-pandemic events, making “hybrid” the new buzzword for the NextGen event channel. While reluctance to travel or other concerns mean many people are still unable or unwilling to attend an event in person, a hybrid event opens up the opportunity for them to register.
Still, running a successful hybrid event isn’t easy. And many marketers surveyed feel they haven’t reached the point where their hybrid approach has been perfected. Only 36% of marketers rate their ability to execute hybrid events to “effective” or “very effective”.
The learning curve can be steep, as the scale of hybrid events has reached a new level of size and complexity. However, there is a “sweet spot” for marketers. As long as you carefully scope the event to achieve your goals and carefully plan what should go live and what shouldn’t, you can successfully run hybrid events that deliver a strong ROI.
Reinvent your events in the new landscape
If marketers can infuse in-person events with digital elements, they can create a more immersive experience for attendees. According to our investigation, the three main digital components that marketers plan to add to in-person events are online platforms (both web and mobile), on-demand content, and connecting digital and in-person audiences.
Digital components also lead to richer participant profiling and ROI measurement, better delivery of digital content, deeper engagement, and better results. An “always on” approach to events means that marketing reach can be significantly extended, long after the actual event has ended. A CMO interviewed for the report said his organization plans to have its video editing team produce high-quality videos of presentations at in-person events for this very purpose. “Reruns can be really loud,” he says.
Additionally, NextGen in-person events tend to be smaller, more numerous, and more specialized. When we asked how in-person/hybrid events would compare to pre-pandemic in-person events, the majority of marketers (60%) said they would be smaller in size.
Marketing in the NextGen
Marketers will need to invest more resources in events, manage more events, and better orchestrate events as part of an enterprise-wide strategy. This means breaking down traditional silos and turning digital and demand generation teams into true partners. If organized correctly, NextGen events will generate deeper engagement, better content and richer profiling of attendees.
Simply returning to 2019’s in-person events is not an option. Two years of virtual events have heightened attendee expectations. NextGen in-person events now require digital components even if they are not full-fledged hybrid events. Overall, it seems marketers get the message, with 71% say that they “experiment with new event formats”.
Learn more by downloading your free copy of the new CMO Council report, “Aligning strategy, people and technology to succeed in a new era of events.”