February 09, 2022
Let’s step back and recall the days before the pandemic, when companies either hosted or participated in live events regularly, when weekly webinars rode the digital airwaves, when salespeople and customer prospects chatted over wine and entertainment.
Did those events deliver on the very best customer engagement? Did events, virtual or otherwise, work together like a symphony? Were they really good times? Or did inefficiencies run amok, mar the attendee experience, and minimize the opportunity? In other words, did many events fail to perform to expectations?
I’m guessing it’s the latter.
Stop me if this sounds familiar. Before the pandemic, different parts of the business ran events without any coordination or oversight, an all-too-common phenomenon known as event sprawl. Content wasn’t optimize, rather re-created for every event. The best and most proven content wasn’t being reused. Quality of events ranged from exhilarating to exhausting. Metrics and learnings fell by the wayside. Getting attendees was a re-occurring nightmare.
As brands prepare for a return to in-person and hybrid events, marketers have a chance to get it right. They can learn the lessons from the pandemic, particularly around virtual events and event orchestration, in order to fix problems that led to poor attendance and haphazard outcomes. It’s an opportunity to reimagine the event channel and formulate a better event strategy.
“We know events are going to be a massive channel for not only lead generation but brand building and retention, and that’s why I’ve restructured my team and put into place a much more strategic play,” says CMO Roni Millard of Equifax Australia, in a new report from the CMO Council.
One of the report’s key findings: 65% of marketing leaders say learnings over the last two years will lead to a holistic view of events that are better aligned to marketing outcomes. CMOs should be crafting a clear and comprehensive strategy matching different events with the right goals to deliver a satisfying and immersive attendee experience. This necessitates breaking down siloed thinking in event strategy, teams and technology and taking measures to optimize outcomes.
“Because we’re all virtual now, communication has gotten so much better,” says Sonia Sahney, CMO of MI and CT at GE Healthcare, in the report. “I can let global colleagues, different businesses and regional teams know I’m doing an event on a specific date and see if anyone else is doing something similar. There was a kind of reset button, in terms of how much more we share.”
Millard and Sahney aren’t alone in re-imaging the event channel. More than 70% of marketers are experimenting with different event formats. Smart marketers are adding digital components to in-person events, such as online event platforms, on-demand content, and connecting digital and in-person audiences. They’re focusing on metrics, such as attendee satisfaction, lead volume and conversion, and engagement.
The goal is to ensure engagement remains top-of-mind, event ROI to be more accurate, and teams to know how to deliver compelling events regardless of format or type. Want more specifics? You’ll have to download the report to learn what the NextGen event will look like and how it will compare with pre-pandemic events. Check it out here.
Tom Kaneshige is the Chief Content Officer at the CMO Council. He creates all forms of digital thought leadership content that helps growth and revenue officers, line of business leaders, and chief marketers succeed in their rapidly evolving roles. You can reach him at email@example.com.
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