Technique 3 minute read Toby Lewis, CEO, Live Group
Months of isolation, social distancing and closed venues have fundamentally changed the concept of audiences. Crowded auditoriums have been replaced by clusters of digital boxes on Zoom, and engagement success is now measured by data rather than rounds of applause.
Yet, this shift offers a landmark opportunity for event industry marketers to understand those with whom they engage. With blended approaches to events, consumers can be targeted with meaningful content via platforms that offer longer and more responsive engagement, positioning experiential marcomms strategies as a driving force in the evolution of the industry.
Before covid-19, audiences could essentially be divided into three tiers. Individuals who enjoyed the ‘traditional’ engagement of conferences and panel discussions would sit alongside others who were less comfortable with asking questions and would shy away from the thought of forced networking. Between them were attendees whose interest was swayed by the nature of what the event offered as it occurred.
A blended approach combines physical events with a digital companion, built around marcomms strategies that leverage data to ensure the output of flexible, impactful content over an extended period.
Such a structure places different audience types on an equal playing field, allowing members to navigate and engage with content in a way that suits them.
Flexibility of content
Throughout the pandemic, people have been consuming huge amounts of virtual media. Digital engagement software will be crucial in upholding this volume of content whilst maintaining exceptional quality, by offering versatile platforms that can be tailored to individual audiences.
This flexibility is crucial to high-impact engagement, as Live Group found in our work to transform the recruitment process of a Big Four client.
The establishment of a streamlined, centralised engagement platform provided communications tools like live chats, forums, Q&As and live-streamed events. Later, the hub hosted a digital competition where nationwide leader-boards were generated from group tasks.
Varied engagement like this creates meaningful connections that show how vital it is to put consumer experience at the heart of marcomms strategies. This stretches beyond a single webinar or day-long agenda; optimised communications recognise that engagement happens in multiple forms in the months either side of an event.
With an outpouring of content there comes an inpouring of data. Industry professionals may not be able to interact with their audiences in-person, due to covid-19, but they can understand them more via the medium of digital analytics.
These insights can optimise audience experience as events unfold.
For the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management in August and September 2020, interaction with the Live Group Hub clearly demonstrated the value of Q&A segments, which was reflected in amendments to the upcoming agenda. Elsewhere on the platform, forum discussions can highlight trending topics and relevant networking opportunities.
Blended approaches to engagement harness data throughout the lifetime of an event. Such insights should inform the very nature of marcomms strategies, as leveraging engagement data will encourage adaptations as the event progresses in real time
The change in audiences has coincided with a change in individual priorities. Understandably, many event attendees are anxious about the return of face-to-face engagement and enjoy the accessibility of content that can be streamed at home. Yet equally, people crave connected experience.
Marcomms strategies that are built from a blended approach to engagement will inherently evolve and develop in response to their audience. This ability to understand and react to insights will be vital to optimising consumer experience. Covid-19 has proven disruptive in so many ways; now, the opportunity must be taken to re-evaluate engagement, putting reactive experiential insights at the heart of the industry ethos.