Editor's note: This post is part the second issue of our B-to-B Marketplace Newsletter, a resource for marketing and events professionals from leading technology and services providers. Go here to learn more and subscribe.
Events give an organization a powerful opportunity to present its ideas, brand and culture. While this creates avenues for the organization to enhance its reputation among clients and prospects, it also serves a practical purpose in terms of demand creation: the generation and nurturing of leads. Here at SiriusDecisions, we’ve both observed and participated in the trends and changes that have affected events, and that includes some of the fascinating technologies in use on the show floor.
In recent years, our research team has noted an explosion in the breadth and quantity of event-related apps, all geared toward enhancing the attendee experience before, during and after an event. Comprehensive event management solutions are building out functionality to cover all of these stages, along with interfaces to marketing automation platforms and sales force automation systems. These solutions are aided by at-event apps, which allow marketers to provide better social outreach and interaction during events and to collect critical information to use for post-event nurture.
The SiriusDecisions events team has seen these shifts at our events and elsewhere. Organizations are now using event-specific mobile apps that provide push notifications to notify attendees about upcoming sessions, booths to visit and evening events – which is great for anyone working with sponsors. Audiences have become savvier as well, as most know to download the apps and use them to guide their experience. Since many of these apps direct attendees to fill out their profile information (e.g. name, company, title), this has created an enormous automation opportunity for event marketers. Many event attendees don’t even bother to bring business cards anymore!
Some organizations use app functionality that allows attendees to request on-demand meetings with members of the organization, thus providing more opportunities for useful interactions. Other key aspects include the ability to rate sessions immediately after they occur, while the thought is still fresh in the attendee’s mind (rather than an email survey sent weeks later).
Among the unique technologies used at events, Snapchat has a Geo Filter tool that provides users with overlays they can use for photos and videos. This allows the user to personalize his or her social interactions while also giving the organization some extra promotion. Speaking of interactions, some events utilize screen robots that wheel around the show floor and allow attendees to interact with people outside the event. Drones have come into use as well for taking aerial photos and video, giving the organization unique content to use for promoting future events.
The change in event marketing goes beyond the overhauled sensory experience – e.g. music, staging, lighting – though these are significant. Event tech support has become much more sophisticated, which enhances the event experience and allows for greater personalization – even at the largest b-to-b events. That last point is crucial, because the changes in events have come with wider changes in and outside of the business world. The use of mobile technology has created limitless opportunities for distraction, and that includes the audience at an event session. Everyone has a phone, tablet or laptop. Savvy b-to-b marketers know they cannot simply tell attendees to put their phones away and pay attention. Marketers need to be present in the technology people use – and event apps and other technologies are the essential adaptation in event management. By making appropriate use of the latest technology, events professionals and marketers can keep people engaged with the event and capture, analyze ad use attendee data like never before.
Drew Zalucky is an Editor at SiriusDecisions and has nearly 10 years of professional experience in editorial, publishing, management consulting roles and independent journalism.