Inner Circle

Digital Marketing  

Why a year-round, global approach to digital is the new norm

by Wilson Tang

With the marketing technology landscape in flux and new digital tools and tactics appearing seemingly every day, keeping up with the latest trends can seem like a full-time job for event marketers. Whether it’s connecting with emerging markets, or learning how to maximize the data you capture from attendees, it has never been more important to stay ahead of the curve.

Wilson Tang, VP of Digital Experience with Freeman, breaks down exactly what we need to know.

Think beyond email marketing

Email marketing doesn’t have a monopoly on digital communication. Social messaging apps and built-in texting on mobile devices have joined the mix, and short-form social communication is constantly on the rise. But just because email isn’t the newest form of digital contact doesn’t mean that you can’t use it; it just means you must evolve past spamming your mailing list to grow your show.

Grow your social marketing presence by leveraging social connections to get more eyes on your event. Attendees from a particular industry will know many other potential attendees from that same industry—let them be your multipliers. Using social also gives you new channels to communicate with younger audiences who get more information from Instagram and Snapchat than they do from Gmail.

Hit the bullseye
At today’s events, everything is generating data, from registration to social interaction to movement around the show floor. Even before an event your audiences are generating tremendous amounts of data when they visit your websites and hashtag or mention your social channels. All of this can be used to create more targeted communications and a more personalized event experience.

More critically, by tracking and consolidating your marketing data, you create effective conversations and campaigns that last all year long. This isn’t just a marketing cliché. When you need to drive registrations, there are brand-enhancing tactics that can’t be completed weeks before your event. You must be tracking your potential audiences throughout the year to activate well-performing campaigns. Monitoring your campaign performance early on gives you the ability to retarget audiences gently through paid media and other less intrusive digital marketing tactics.

Nurture your connections
Keeping attendees interested in your event isn’t just about capturing their attention in the moment. In today’s world of always-on devices and 24/7 social feeds, you must engage your audience throughout the year—on their terms.

You must create a constant stream of compelling content that positions your event as essential. More shows are creating content that furthers repetitive behaviors, like checking a website every day for new information, listening to industry updates on Alexa, looking for a weekly newsletter to hit the inbox, or closely following social feeds. Keeping your event top of mind through these connection points is vital.

Raise your voice
Optimizing for voice search in the world of Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant and Siri is a unique challenge. The typical SEO approach to drive rank is too broad for the needs of a voice UI, because if a user is using voice search, they only want to hear one result—and your brand or event needs to be that result.

Right now, being first to market with Skills in Amazon’s Alexa marketplace or Google Assistant Actions is key to making sure that you hit the top of the search. Omnichannel chatbots are a great way to get into this nascent channel.

Start at your event and use a virtual assistant like Alexa to answer common questions, then use it to launch your literal all-year conversation. Think about the questions and natural language that your audience would use, then test and refine your approach. For example, an association for legal professionals can get industry updates on their Alexa devices, rather than shifting through the hundreds of emails to find your newsletter. Soon enough, when marketers talk about their brand voice, they will literally mean the brand’s voice.

By staying on top of emerging trends and developing a robust digital marketing strategy you can ensure your brand and your event stay visible, current and, most importantly, connected to your target audience.

Think globally
Shows can grow fast, especially when they become known for consistently providing great experiences. But with increased attendance comes challenges, such as outgrowing the local attendee market and venues. That’s why it’s important to think on a bigger scale for your event. Globalization is fast becoming the norm as more organizations compete for attendees and idea sharing on an international scale.

Smaller locations and developing countries are hungry for events that bring in tourism dollars and hold opportunities for tremendous growth. We know that every audience behaves differently and uses various channels in ever-changing ways. This is both a problem and an opportunity. Digital ad spends on channels like Facebook that drive a large audience in the United States won’t work in China, where WeChat is the dominant social channel. As such, campaigns and messaging that work in one area simply may not resonate everywhere. In fact, they rarely do.

A version of this content originally appeared in PCMA Convene.