Technology has transformed the marketing world, and some of the most basic elements of traditional event marketing are now obsolete. For example, mass marketing is less likely than ever to attract the attention of new clients. Your audience is looking for targeted messaging specific to their interests and needs.
Perhaps more important, today’s consumers are particularly attuned to authenticity. Inauthentic messages like “space is limited” and “the biggest event of the year” no longer have the intended effect. Instead, they influence customers to disengage with your brand.
Staying on top of these changes in your event marketing is key to pulling ahead of your competitors. These are the seven trends that defined event marketing in 2018:
The Best Event Marketing is Focused on Experience
The event marketing mantra has always been “show, don’t tell.” In 2018, that principle was amplified. The most successful events were experiential, offering consumers the opportunity to make real, personal connections with products. Event marketers engaged their audience through a variety of methods, including interactive booths, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR).
One of the most memorable examples of 2018 was Cisco’s AR catalog. During Cisco Live events, attendees participated in product demonstrations and explored features through the virtual catalog. In many cases, the actual products weren’t even on-site.
Live Events Correlate to Better Business Performance
The research is compelling. Businesses that invest resources into live events enjoy improved performance. In fact, in 2018, a full 91 percent of the industry-leading organizations surveyed by Bizzabo reported that they emphasize live events over other marketing techniques like content marketing and e-mail marketing. This includes major players like Salesforce, Wells Fargo, Google, Apple, and Microsoft.
In-Person Connections Are More Important Than Ever
An increasingly digital world means opportunities for face-to-face interactions are rare. Live events offer a much-needed chance to make personal connections through interactive demonstrations, workshops, and old-fashioned conversation. Companies that provide this level of engagement enjoy greater brand loyalty than their less committed peers. This is key to persuading new customers to commit, and it is critical for earning repeat business.
Sophisticated Event-Planning Software Offers Impressive ROI
Technology isn’t just for creating unique, branded experiences. New platforms specifically designed for event planning have dramatically reduced the man-hours required for a successful event. Researchers indicate that businesses who incorporate this software into their event marketing model save an average of 223 hours per year.
Examples of popular platforms include Eventsquid, Aventri, Bizzabo, and Gather. More than half of the organizations that currently use this type of technology plan to expand use to additional staff members in the coming year.
Star Power: The Impact of Social Media Influencers
Any company can post about an event, but that doesn’t mean the message will reach its intended audience. That’s where social media influencers come in. These individuals have a large following on one or more platforms, and their fans tend to engage with many – if not all – of their posts. Companies that connect with a social media influencer to gain some extra exposure are far more likely to enjoy robust attendance at live events.
Customized E-Mail Still Works for Promoting Events
Though some event marketers believe that e-mail has lost its effectiveness, 2018 event marketing trends demonstrated that it is too soon to abandon e-mail. More than 90 percent of those with email accounts check them every day and an average of 26 percent of recipients open event emails. Nearly 5 percent click the links in their event emails, and less than 1 percent choose the unsubscribe option. The key is targeting each message to users’ personal interests and priorities, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach.
Impulse Purchases and Instant Gratification
Once upon a time, getting tickets to events was a complex process of phone calls and mail-order forms. Web-based ticketing changed all of that, and people can now seek out and purchase tickets online. However, new technology is taking this a step further. Instead of waiting for the intended audience to learn of and seek out tickets, advanced platforms are notifying potential new attendees of your event and making it possible for them to purchase tickets and register instantly – all without searching for your site. That means less of a chance that you will lose interested participants along the way.
The bottom line is that technology has re-written the playbook when it comes to event marketing. Staying on top of these trends is crucial to keeping up with the competition.