Inner Circle

Digital Marketing  

Tackling the Digital Transformation for Event Marketers

by Jacob Antrican

When it comes to managing digital resources for trade shows and events, there is no one size fits all solution. That was one of the recurring themes from a pre-ECEF panel discussion focusing on common issues arising from the digital transformation. The ever-changing media landscape, including digital tools, teams, and processes, was discussed by …

Jason Brown, Chief Digital Officer, Informa Global Exhibitions
Jean Foster, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, CTA
Kristen Ferrer, Director of Digital, mdg
Aiden Augustin, Co-Founder, CEO, Feathr
Leana Salamah, Vice President, mdg

A few highlights:

1. The lines between marketing and IT roles are beginning to blur
It’s no longer enough to be an expert in a single platform. Today’s campaigns demand a holistic approach to problem solving and that requires a base-knowledge in technical skills for marketers, and marketing skills for IT professionals. For teams to communicate effectively, understanding the capabilities of the tools everyone is working with is key to meeting deadlines and improving campaign performance.

2. Collect and use data that informs product development
While gathering data for promotional purposes is usually top of mind, you should step back and think about what else you should collect to learn about how your audience behaves in addition to how to reach them. The way your attendees move through and interact with your event reveals valuable insights into what they think is important and where they are finding value. While you can learn a lot from survey feedback, building experiences informed by actual behavior is often more reliable since it doesn’t rely upon individual recall.

3. There is a stark generational divide when it comes to data collection and utilization
Privacy is at the top of everyone’s mind and it’s imperative to understand the expectations of your audience when you collect and use their data. Highly personalized messaging can come off as focused and convenient for one person, but creepy and intrusive to someone else receiving the same thing. This dilemma isn’t going away any time soon, but trends suggest that people are becoming more comfortable than ever with their data being collected and used if it means a more personalized experienced. When in doubt, remember that your competitors are doing the same thing and shying away from personalization can be a huge missed opportunity.

4. Deliver the right content to the right person at the right time
Campaign funnels cannot be treated as a linear process for your entire audience. People on your lists will be at different points in the cycle at different times. Nothing can kill a recipient’s confidence in your campaign like receiving an untimely, irrelevant message (e.g. asking someone to register who’s already registered). While other platforms are gaining importance, email is still the main form of timely communication and needs to be treated with flexibility. There’s often no way to speak effectively to your entire audience at once and careful segmentation planning is key to successful messaging.

5. GDPR is forcing us to change and that’s not necessarily a bad thing
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has gone into effect and it’s having a big impact on how marketers interact with their audiences. Many teams have been preparing for years to comply with its complex requirements but there is a silver lining. Complying means that you have to be very careful about who’s on your list and who actually wants your messages. This gives you a chance to re-evaluate who’s really important to talk to. We can move forward from boasting about list size and other “vanity metrics” to hone in on what counts, reaching the people that matter!

6. Test a new segment every year
Trying new things through trial and errors is one of the best ways to grow and accurately measure what makes a difference. On your next campaign, try out a new way of segmenting your audience and measure your results against last year. It’s not realistic to expect to have the perfect segments and perfect content from the get-go. Constant testing, measuring and learning will take a significant commitment but will ultimately be worth it. You may not see immediate monetization from your new approach, but over time this has the effect of letting the most effective segments rise to the top and guide your decisions for years to come.