In light of the enormous disruption of the past year, event managers have been forced to take all their events online. For most of them, the sudden transition was anything but easy as they struggled to provide compelling attendee experiences that could compare to in-person events.
Today, as the pandemic subsidies in many countries, the focus is shifting again back towards in-person events. That said, for the foreseeable future, event planners will need to be prepared to continue providing virtual experiences. Eventually, however, in-person events will become popular as they once were, but that is not to suggest virtual events are going anywhere soon.
The future of event marketing and management is undoubtedly the hybrid approach. As such, event planners should be ready to present to both in-person and virtual attendees. After all, the unique benefits of virtual events, such as reduced costs and greater accessibility are things that will apply long after the pandemic.
What is Omnichannel Marketing?
The omnichannel marketing process aims to provide a consistent customer experience across the growing multitude of digital channels. The need for an omnichannel strategy framework is born of the fact that different customers prefer different modes of interaction. Take shopping for example, where some customers prefer to use their smartphones for browsing but use the desktop for making a purchase.
Applied in the context of event management, omnichannel marketing examples might include attendees first learning about your events on social media before subscribing to your mailing list to receive regular updates. To add a human touch to virtual and hybrid events, they may even join online communities leading up to and following the event to keep in touch with other attendees via instant messaging.
Why Adopt an Omnichannel Event Strategy?
People are more likely to buy a product or service after seeing it showcased at an event, which is why events are an important part of the overall approach to omnichannel marketing. Your main goal should be to reach potential customers wherever they are, and regardless of which device they are using. Here are some omnichannel marketing examples in the context of event management:
- Attendees can stream live events on either the big screen or on mobile devices when they are on the move.
- Attendees can use integrated digital communications channels like instant messaging, one-to-one video conferencing, or virtual event kiosks.
- Attendees of previous events can continue engaging with the event and the community around it long after the event itself is over by viewing recorded content and more.
A truly omnichannel event campaign will also take into consideration in-person events, which will inevitably make a comeback in the coming months and years. For example, they might use your mobile event app to navigate large events like trade fairs, receive notifications about upcoming activities, or simply keep track of what is going on around them. Another innovative approach is to use mobile apps to give attendees a way to send quick questions to presenters during live Q&A sessions. These are just some of the many opportunities of a fully integrated event platform that brings together virtual, hybrid, and in-person events.
Applying Omnichannel Marketing throughout the Buyer Lifecycle
The best way to adopt an omnichannel approach is to apply it to the entire sales and marketing strategy. For many businesses, particularly those that sell unique and/or high-value goods and services, integrating events into the overall process can also be an extremely effective way to build trust and nurture existing customers towards brand advocacy. Here is how the process can fit into the broader event marketing strategy:
Awareness is at the top of the marketing funnel. Potential customers might learn about your brand while browsing the web or by joining a public event or seeing a booth at a trade fair. To raise awareness, you can use social media, search engine marketing (SEM), and events themselves.
Events can offer a great way to raise brand awareness, especially when you are launching a major new product or service. These events are often open to the general public.
When potential customers start developing an interest in your product or service, they will start asking questions and delving deeper into your value proposition. This may involve browsing through your blog or chatting to your sales reps.
Events are ideal for raising interest, especially if you have something new and unique to offer that no one else has seen before. With an omnichannel approach, you can create virtual event booths, facilitate live chat, and even face-to-face video conferencing.
Now just a step away from becoming a paying customer, the consideration stage is when your potential customers start engaging more with your brand by subscribing to your newsletters, joining free trials, or trying out product demos.
Businesses often leverage events to demonstrate products or services to their most promising leads, especially in the B2B sector. After all, there are few better ways to convince a potential buyer of your value proposition than by demonstrating it to them, either in-person or remotely.
Finally, your potential customer decides to make a purchase. Now comes the time to onboard them with your product or service to ensure they are off to a good start. Onboarding can take place over email, during a phone consultation, or via an online portal.
Some events cater to direct selling, and this can be highly effective in certain industry sectors. However, if the purchase takes place after an event, you must have the right data to make the connection. That way, you will know your event marketing strategy is working!
Traditionally, businesses viewed the customer journey as ending as soon as a purchase was made. However, these days, customers view ongoing support and their long-term experience with a company as some of the biggest purchase drivers of all.
Events are perfect for nurturing existing customers, whether this involves giving them an inside look at your brand or letting them test products or services in development. Events themselves should also have a lasting impact, which is why you should work hard to develop a community around your event that allows people to stay in touch and continue engaging with your brand.
Aventri helps you maximize the value of your event marketing strategy with a fully integrated omnichannel solution that supports virtual, hybrid, and in-person events. Request a demo now to see how it works.