It's a time of growth in the events industry at the moment, as every week I read about a new acquisition, particularly in the event technology landscape.
It is interesting to see many marketing disciplines trying to adapt to change, as new business models, go-to-market strategies, and generations of thick-skinned consumers are challenging traditional marketing methods. The result is that seasoned and once ‘proven’ disciplines are experiencing less traction. Though change is a constant, and as marketers, creativity should always be welcomed to keep things real, we are seeing a fastened state of evolution, where everything is being questioned and everything needs to be proven. Fun times, indeed.
This means the modern marketer is turning away from other traditional marketing methods, such as advertising or direct marketing, and instead spending more of their money on events and exhibitions.
There are some elements of exhibitions and events that speak to the human experience and unarm the cynical discerner. Events are face-to-face and can offer a genuine connection with people, brands, experiences, and education. They tap into all five senses and when executed well, are one of the most immersive forms of communication.
There is, of course, something else happening here. Being an #eventprof, as well as a #marketingpro, I am not surprised by the headlines of mergers in industry media. Why? Because the digital products and services that enable the events industry are maturing. Registration and engagement technology is coming of age, not just as a service, but as a data center of behaviour-based insights that feed into wider marketing and strategic functions.
Forward-thinking organisers and marketers are seeing that exhibitions and events are not only opportunities to drive sales and build brand awareness, but also offer a way to learn from their consumer base across markets and demographics. For example, the next time you are attending an event, take a look at who is walking through the doors. The event floor can offer a relevant cross-section of any given market making it a data gold mine.
So what has changed? Why can we do this now and not before? In short, the tools used to gain such insights have become more robust, more accurate, and most importantly, they are working together. Previously it required too many resources to pool event tech altogether, and clients championed or dismissed it, purely upon how it benefited the ‘event’ itself. Now, new technologies offering value to a variety of event stakeholders are coming together to create complementary experiences, as well as feeding a platform of data points.
There are a lot of suppliers doing wonderful things in event technology and have been doing so for years. Many start-ups have blossomed into healthy, self-sustaining companies. Now we are seeing many of them working together or expanding their traditional product and service suites. With more connections between users of event technologies on the show floor, there is much more information available. Could this be the grand epoch of event technology?
Let’s take a just few technologies on offer, that would not be unfamiliar in many events.
To name a few: online registration, social media referral marketing, exhibitor lead capture apps, visitor event apps and smart devices, such as smart badges and NFC readers. With a platform of technologies pooling information together, it is possible to gain insight into:
Visitor profiles and demographic information relevant to region and interests
Industry trends and topics
Traction of a specific company or product information sets
Traction of key messages
Onsite visitor behaviour
Visitor purchase behaviour
Through visitor apps and smart devices, digital surveys and session check-in, we can see what the event visitor has interacted with, and correlate with interest. Organisers will be able to see what featured products, companies and seminar topics are generating the most interest based upon how the visitor has interacted with the technology available to them (think trend reports).
Exhibitors equipped with booth readers (or Touchpoints that enable exhibitors to share digital content for visitors) can be defined by products, services or specific interests. Visitors tap the readers with a smart device to collect digital content. This interaction clearly shows visitor intent or interest in the content saved on the reader. Furthermore, when the visitor taps the reader, they also leave their information for the exhibitor. This bi-directional transaction is gold for salespeople as well as marketers, as it not only shows intent but also leaves a visitor profile for sales follow-up. This is complemented by lead capture apps used by sales teams on the floor, to take detailed notes and qualify further through lead surveys.
Post-event, we have the ability to track leads and cater outreach towards what they are specifically interested in, based upon their behaviour on site.
To zoom the lens out somewhat, it is possible to compare event-obtained data across markets. Just like qualified data from social media or online spheres, events can become a source of understanding. The proactive marketer can gain insight into; what products and services are resonating in specific regions, what demographics make up those regions, which key messages are gaining traction, all of which is based upon actual interactions at events. While the possibilities are expansive, the result is measured with relevant information and strategic weight.
With traditional marketing methods being put to the screws, it is easy to understand why clever marketers and organisers may be looking to put their events to better use. And as more companies come together to create new value for clients, we will see more insights coming to light and being used for greater marketing effect. This is only the beginning of an expansive change in event tech.
This article first appeared in Exhibition World UK, Issue 4, 2018.
About the AuthorFollow on Twitter Follow on Linkedin More Content by Matt Coyne