If you need a case study on the impact of digital transformation on marketing, events are a great place to start.
Print magazines and billboards were once the joint champions of event promotion. A new data-driven era is now taking hold in the industry, with more emphasis on personalization, measurement and, of course, ROI.
If you are hosting your own events, there are many ways to learn from the best conferences, exhibitions, and private meetings. Let’s see how they cut the noise in 2019.
What happens to event marketing?
If there’s one driver of change we’re seeing in event marketing today, it’s data – more specifically, the information used to determine the success of our platforms and strategies.
Event marketers aren’t the only ones pursuing a more data-driven approach. Yet, according to information from Event Marketer, they seem to be growing faster than their branded counterparts.
Three-quarters (74%) of event marketers use data to inform their marketing strategy, compared to just over half (54%) of brand marketers. In total, 71% use it to track their brand awareness (vs. 52% of brands), 60% use it to track leads (vs. 35% of brands) and 47% use it to justify their marketing budget (vs. 28% of brands).
The same research attributes this to two different reasons, namely:
- Event marketers have a definitive starting point and ending point. This makes it easier to use data to quantify success.
- Events are a large channel for data and information, which means there is always information to act on.
The emergence of the data triggered a sea change in the types of technologies used to plan, manage and promote events.
Once considered a ‘good to have’, data integration between vendors is vital. This is no small feat, however, as events have a habit of using dozens of different platforms to promote themselves.
Multiple technologies also lead to the puzzle of multiple dashboards and, in turn, multiple definitions of metrics. This sparked a transition to platforms with built-in functions for CRM, analytics, email marketing software, and more.
The result of what we see is:
- Data is Vital to Demonstrating Success in Event Marketing
- Events need technologies that can integrate with their other platforms to create a framework for performance analysis
- All-in-one solutions offer a workaround, but very few have the required functionality
Either way, a more responsible, data-driven era for events has driven them out of three main marketing channels. They are:
1. Email Marketing / Marketing Automation
The events are among the biggest cheerleaders for messaging software. Their open rates stand at 20.41%, above gambling, telecommunications and retail. We heard that 40% of event planners cite email as the # 1 marketing channel in 2019 and we saw no reason for their enthusiasm to wane.
One of the most important updates concerns automation. Rather than spending hours sending out hundreds of thank you messages, you can now queue up and send them automatically, after the event, for quick and timely delivery.
Another automation task is the conversion of attendees who saw their details captured by CRM (e.g. web form for free content, newsletter signup) but couldn’t pay with a pass.
Cart abandonment for event tickets is at a relatively low rate of 30% – well below the 53% reported by fashion retailers, but still accounting for nearly one in three visitors. Retargeting messages rarely go beyond something too blunt, as this example from Race Roster shows.
Events tend to have bigger issues with a rolling churn rate. This is particularly the case with annual gatherings, attracting tens of thousands of people, which creates big mailing lists (one positive) and dozens of disengaged customers (one positive and one negative). Your re-engagement message should reflect the target audience. Find out how the Vans Warped Tour approaches the task of securing membership for its unauthorized users.
The channel is frequently used as a method of recovering unused sales and customers. And that can just as easily be called “marketing automation” for the role that technology has to play here.
2. The influencers
The Fyre Festival will not claim any price for its management and the experience of participants. However, thanks to his multi-million dollar viral marketing campaign, he produced one of the best case studies on using influencers to promote events.
After seeing Emily Ratajkowski being paid over $ 200,000 to promote a festival that barely took place, many analysts stressed the importance of being transparent about what is being promoted and of prioritizing long-term connections to campaigns. punctual.
Fortunately, this seems to have trickled down to the events themselves, which deploy influencers in tactical and resourceful ways.
Many of our users (B2B and B2C) have compensation models for the most important and respected personalities in their industry. They range from extremely basic options like:
- Free products / services
- Free tickets
- Speaking opportunities and sponsorship packages
The events also have influencers working on an affiliate marketing model, where commission is paid for sales. There are a few caveats, however. B2C events can use influencer networks to find good partners and payment structures without too much hassle. If you are a B2B pharmaceutical conference, you might be hard pressed to find the same.
For an example of influencer marketing in action, see how Philadelphia’s Made in America festival builds on Meek Mill’s following. Tracking on the artist code will reveal the number of sales they’ve generated, which could result in a commission.
The use of affiliate codes and templates is optional. Still, by getting to know your marketing analytics and attribution, you can start using influencers in a way that only charges you for results.
3. Paid social network
If emails are for B2B events, paid social media is definitely the weapon of choice for their B2C counterparts.
Whether you are looking for ultramarathon competitors or jazz music fanatics, they can often be found among the hundreds of millions of active users on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
After the decline in organic reach on Big Pages (42% reported only on Facebook), Events were almost forced to invest in paid social media. The good news is that social media promotion is cheap, effective, and comes with a list of ready-made targeting options.
If you’re using Facebook to promote a modern art festival in California, you can type:
- Location: California + 10km
- Age: 25-34
- Gender: All
- Interests: Art
Another option is to use tools like Audience Finder, Twitter for Business, and Google’s app install campaigns to find people who have certain apps on their smartphones. For example, if I know my audience has Shazam, Ticketmaster, and StubHub on their device, I can assume their interest in music and live events. We can then channel this data into paid social and mobile app campaigns.
In social media posts and creation in general, we find that there is always a focus on driving sales. Most events have a very short lifespan, which leaves little room for broad branding and branding missions. Take the example of Live technical event and his call for exhibitors on Twitter.
The same goes for generating interest around tickets. Although the Web Summit takes place in November 2019, the public is still encouraged to take action four months before it is hosted.
Good results can be achieved by retargeting site visitors with tools like Facebook Custom Audiences. And preferably through advertisements that urge the urgency of “tickets running out of tickets,” or something similar.
Is all of this a good thing?
Despite pioneering acts, many events remain true to traditional and offline ways of promoting themselves. Certainly, industry magazines still have a good reputation for driving sales and notoriety in these circles.
But the industry’s pursuit of all things data and digital is incredible progress. This is a sign that we not only want results, but that we are ready to take extra steps to achieve them.
Event marketing is entering a data-driven era. And if you really want to improve your audience targeting and ROI measurement, we recommend heading into this particular stream.
Jose Bort is the CEO and co-founder of all-in-one event management software, EventsCase. It can be found on Twitter .