Keep in Touch: Experiential Marketing Best Practices

Omnichannel marketing uses the latest technology to reach the right consumers on devices they already utilize to look things up and make purchases. If eyes are glued to mobile screens or work computers most of the day, what does in real life (IRL) mean?

Today, experiential marketing supplies any IRL effort with plenty of digital support. The strategy is hybrid and thriving, based on the enthusiasm and insight of events tech outfits like New York- and Israel-based Bizzabo.

Their findings make logical sense. With so much content consumed digitally, there becomes a greater need to cut through the buzz by using experiential methods. Last year’s numbers indicated a near consensus among marketers: 95 percent of them agree that live events are needed to form person-to-person connections, which is a vital part of marketing down-funnel when people get ready to purchase. In terms of the powers of persuasion, consumers also agree – 93 percent say that live events are more influential to them than TV ads.

Alon Alroy, Bizzabo co-founder and chief of marketing, told DMN, “IRL marketing is an opportunity for consumers to connect with a brand via innovative, immersive experiences. The power of social interaction is universal to human beings, which has secured IRL marketing a spot at the top of the marketing food chain.”

While visitors are at an event, they must be engaged, or they’ll leave. Or worse, they might start watching an episode of a show they missed on their phones. Alroy insists that attendees at an IRL event much be actively engaged throughout the experience.

“We define engagement as the degree to which attendees are fully participating in, and are captivated by, your event,” said Alroy. “For example, with Bizzabo, engagement can be measured in sessions attended, meetings held, connections made, poll participation, social media activity or event app adoption — among other metrics. Generally speaking, an engaged attendee or customer is a satisfied one.”

But will all the hard work in planning and managing a successful event pay off? IRL marketers must also make sure to have a post-event strategy in place to handle such results as driving revenue, retention, membership, or a community.

“The most effective IRL experiences are the ones that build relationships (between attendees and brands, attendees and other attendees, and attendees and sponsors) that last long after the actual event or experience has ended. Keeping in touch through multiple channels like email marketing, social media, and future events can all help cultivate a long-lasting community,” Alroy explained.

He added, “Of recent, we see the most forward-thinking companies combining the power of IRL experiences with digital to gather more data on their customers and drive their brand’s presence far beyond that of traditional marketing.”

This year, Alroy and his team zeroed in on a particular sector, B2B tech, to see if these traditional experiential techniques – which date as far back as the World’s Fair, and earlier – apply to business marketing. What Bizzabo found is that 83 percent of tech leadership is supportive of live events, and that 41.2 percent agree that in-person events are the single most effective channel for achieving business outcomes. To manage events, these enterprises depend on savvy software, which saves, on average, 205 hours per year, according to the study. And 83 percent use a one-stop software solution instead of multiple software solutions for events technology.

“A specific technology which has played a large role in the evolution of IRL experiences is event management software,” Alroy stated. “The growing demand for event automation and increasing focus on gaining actionable business insights from events have been major factors driving the growth of this space.”

Events software itself is expected by some to grow as an industry above $14.4 billion by 2022.

“Though social media and other tech continue to influence the marketing industry,” Alroy said, “it’s important to keep in mind that at its core, marketing is a person-to-person exchange. Event marketing significantly influences brand equity and the perception people have of a company. In-person events can engage consumers in an immediate way, and they help build a positive brand association.”

In B2B tech, as well as in consumer branding and traditional advertising, there is an increased pressure to tie in ROI, which is another good reason marketers look to software solutions to analyze and manage data from events, according to Alroy.

“The bottom line is that the more companies realize the power of IRL events, and invest more in them, the more marketing is becoming crowded,” Alroy said. “So, to stand out, clients are always looking for ways to provide better experiences and to move the needle in ways that their competitors are not.”

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