While there’s a lot of room for creativity, most events follow a specific, basic model. A slate of educational programming, a trade show floor featuring everything new in the industry and opportunities to network. Mix in a slew of pre-event marketing emails to tell people about it and you have the standard trade show framework. Fortunately, events are increasingly using technology to break out of the mold and create a unique experience for their attendees, starting with the marketing.
Over the past several months, I’ve worked with and interviewed a number of event professionals—from marketers to planners to technology developers and I’ve gleaned a lot of great ideas from the interactions. Here are four ways you can quickly bring your event marketing into the present!
Use chatbots to enhance customer service and communication. I’ll admit I knew little about chatbots and how they operate outside of Alexa, let alone how to build one for an event until recently. But, after spending a few hours interviewing chatbot experts like Larry Kim of Mobile Monkey, for the TSNN article, “Chatbots Signal the Arrival of the 24/7 Workforce” it became clear there’s a lot to love. Now I can say I’m an advocate for adding this tool to your communication channels.
Not necessarily a major pre-event marketing tool, a chatbot is ideal for engagement. It helps your event team communicate with attendees more efficiently and much more quickly. Chatbots basically answer all of the FAQs attendees have around the clock; handling multiple questions at a time, something no human can do. (Having a chatbot means, among other things, that you can forget being asked about the wi-fi for the zillionth time.) So they are good for customer service, but they also offer opportunities for chatblasting and their engagement rates far exceed email and social.
Plus, there are platforms that make building them easy (similar to MailChimp for email or WordPress for websites, they don’t require coding) and the cost can be reasonable.
Influencer marketing campaigns. Influencer marketing is sort of a reworked for the modern day PR campaign. I think this tactic needs to be a piece of your marketing strategy because it can yield big results—mainly increasing your reach and adding vital credibility. BUT, it does come with a few risks, so don’t put all of your eggs in one basket on this—definitely don’t let other marketing strategies go just to use it.
With influencer marketing, event organizers find the leading voices in their industry and build relationships with them in order to gain the influencer’s promotion of the event to their audiences. Both macro (widely known) and micro (niche audiences) influencers can be a benefit to event marketing campaigns.
My biggest caution here is that once you start an influencer campaign, you don’t want to stop because you lose the connection with and interest of your influencers. It’s also does require a large commitment of time and attention to get it right. You really have to put in the due diligence to make it work and avoid major pitfalls.
Get creative with email. Most pre-event email follows a predictable pattern—I should know having written, no exaggeration, thousands of emails for dozens of events over the years. A flurry of pre-event emails let prospective attendees know about the education sessions, the big exhibit floor, the new technology or all of the opportunities to network. And while these messages are important, it’s time to wake up a sleepy email campaign by adding in a few creative strategies.
Technology makes it so easy to personalize these messages—whether it’s literally with the first name in the subject line or by sending content that speaks to the individual’s personal interests.
Also, make email more interactive, include a two-question poll or quiz that qualifies them for attendance, for example.
Monitor and update your paid social. Hopefully by now, you are running ads on social media. With the recent events related to data privacy, paid advertising is changing rapidly. At the moment, Facebook has removed potentially useful third-party targeting data, limiting marketers’ ability to precisely target users, but more changes are sure to come. Twitter and LinkedIn are sure to evolve their targeting as well.
This fluctuation in targeting ability demands that advertisers maintain a close eye on paid campaigns to ensure that the ads can perform at the best rates possible.
Have questions about any of these ideas? Contact glee to learn more about how you can add them to your event marketing and attendee engagement strategies.