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6 ways to enhance your events in 2017

David Chalmers, marketing director of Cvent, Europe, reveals how to enhance your B2B events in 2017

Here are six top tips for ensuring the events you organise in 2017 will not only support your overall sales and marketing objectives, but enhance the attendee and prospect’s experience

1. A New Year – A new mindset

One of the big issues (and challenges) is that events are still positioned as a standalone tool in the marketing plan.  Given that events can account for as much as 25% of the marketing budget, make sure that any event you organise in 2017 is aligned with your marketing strategy and that you are leveraging the significant engagement, communications and sales opportunities, pre, during and post the event.

2. Listen to what your attendees want

Don’t second guess what you think your attendees and prospects want at the event. Research, research and do more research to accurately gauge their objectives and what content and format they’d prefer.  This can be done via online surveys, crowdsourcing, social media and using mobile apps to collect data at events. 

3. Realise formats are changing

With the availability of content online and through digital channels these days, it’s no longer enough to bring people into a darkened room to disseminate content via a PowerPoint presentation for two hours!  The audience can get whatever content they need easily now, so take advantage of that and do different things when we bring them together. 

For most B2B events, one of the primary goals attendees have in going to events is to network with their peers, so it’s imperative you give them that opportunity in a better way and facilitate it by understanding their profiles and interest areas and connecting people with organised activities. Not everyone is good at networking, so don’t leave it to chance – help them make the right connections.

4. Use social media to enhance the event experience

While there has been big surge of people starting to use Twitter and Facebook in recent years, many marketers are still struggling to reap all the potential benefits. The first of these is audience acquisition, particularly during the registration process of an event. Capabilities such as InGo allow attendees to check who else is coming along and also send personal invites to other contacts who they think could benefit. 

Encouraging the use of social media during the event has the dual benefit of promoting the event and allowing attendees to talk about it, engage with other delegates and also to share information with others outside the event. 

There is also a big opportunity to use social media to help amplify messages at an event –so you can broadcast everyone’s tweets about what’s going on at the event onto a big screen, or indeed any other surface. It’s a brilliant to way to bring the social conversation to live in the live event, ensure attendees are truly engaged and get real time views and debate going.

5. Use mobile apps for impact and longevity

There are have been some terrific advancements with mobile apps and we all have access to mobile space now, yet mobile technology is still not being used enough. 

Using an app will allow you interact with your audience in a far more dynamic way, whether it’s about presenting content, facilitating networking or allowing attendees to interact with speakers and to pose questions. It will also allow you to extend the life of an event and get people really engaged pre, during and post the event.  Research shows emails are read 10% of the time whereas push notifications on mobile apps are read 85%.

Since many attendees will not delete the app after the event, it means you can keep in touch and engage with potential leads by sending notifications and updated content weeks and months after the event has taken place.

6. Capture valuable data

Make sure you make the most of your data acquired from your event and that this is integrated into the broader sales and marketing strategy. As few as 20 per cent of those organising events have automated events management processes – and as many as half are failing to integrate their data into the CRM and marketing automation systems.

It’s crucial that the two are aligned for personalising email marketing campaigns and driving efficient lead follow up with rich information captured during the event on attendees’ preferences and interests. 

Now is the time, to shake up the old of 2016 and make the commitment to organise events which are going to robustly support your sales and marketing strategies in 2017 and beyond.

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