Really connecting with your attendees at a great event requires open and insightful communications. An epic event that encourages new levels of engagement can leave attendees inspired to connect with your brand like never before. ITA Group experts share what excites them around event engagement communications.
Making the Most of Communications
“COVID-19 has forced a lot of change upon our daily lives and the events we participate in. With engagement communications, I’m seeing the need to connect, provide clear information and constant communication. You could argue that those actions are always necessary, but with physical distancing they’re more important than ever. Not being able to interact, network and be surrounded in live experiences is not ideal. Depending on the type of information we’re distributing, we need to focus on the strategy, content and delivery.
During this time we’re also establishing new routines whether it’s balancing homeschooling and career or realizing you have more time without commutes. Regardless, we’re all learning to adapt. Our personas help create communications that differentiate and support who receives what and the best way to deliver information.
It’s draining to be in front of a screen all day, especially when it’s the closest method to seeing your family, friends and colleagues. You may even experience (or heard about) video conference fatigue. A few strategies that I’d recommend looking at:
- Always anticipate what your audience needs to allow them to be successful. When creating a communication campaign, consider what you can do to earn your audiences mindshare. Why should they care?
- Be smart. Your audience is likely receiving a lot of messages. Create communications that are clear, concise and consistent. Step 1: Know your exact message. Step 2: Provide all information needed for them to act or respond. Step 3: Tell them when you’ll next communicate.
- Provide something unexpected. Rather than adding to your audiences screen time, consider going analog. Send them a kit to their home that offers tangible materials to keep them engaged with your brand. They will enjoy receiving a package and research shows if the contents are useful they will keep them around for an average of nine months.”
Balancing Communications With Safety Guidelines
“Attendees have always balanced the ROI of attending live events, but even more so now. There are going to be additional considerations and barriers (real or perceived) to justifying traveling for in-person events. It’s our job to make sure we balance informing all attendees about how we’re caring for their individual safety and health, but also making sure they see the value of attending in person that they couldn’t attain viewing remotely (or not at all). In order to do this, we’ll work closely with our clients to make sure the event value prop is clear and undeniable while also infusing FOMO experiences, making attendees take notice and eliminating debate on what they will get out of the event.
In addition, we’re going to need to communicate earlier, more often and be intentional with messaging emphasis balancing health/safety precautions with event value. Creating a campaign that balances all of those aspects to keep attendees informed, prepared and excited takes intentional effort that when done correctly, makes your attendees feel at ease counting down the days to your event.”
“I personally enjoy reading participant feedback and listening to what they have to say about their experiences. When we listen to participants actually engaging with our programs we can find out what makes them tick. Not everyone is motivated in the same way—we need to connect with people on their level. This can be done through several methods, but first you need to do your homework. Find out about your audience, and don’t make assumptions only based on their generation. Ask people where they go for their information: is it social media, email, text messages, a website? Mix it up and make sure you are communicating in a way that is easy for them and also allows for two-way communication—not just talking at them.”
Adapting Engagement Strategies
“As meetings and events take different shapes—like going virtual—so does the engagement strategy. Pre-event engagement needs to build that same excitement and anticipation attendees experience leading up to a live event. Sending attendees virtual event kits is a great way to incorporate physical components ‘during the event.’ That puts key materials in your audiences hands, will create stickiness with your message and brand after the event is over, and can be a great way to deliver recognition or amenity items attendees would typically receive on site.”
Holistic Data Showing the Fuller Picture
“I’m excited to see companies more broadly associating events as part of their marketing journey and not just as a moment in time or stand-alone occurrences. When events are viewed through a marketer’s lens, each touchpoint along the event engagement journey—pre-, during- and post-event—becomes integrated into the overall marketing picture. Marketing touchpoints are intentional. They are analyzed, measured and weighted for their individual value along with how they work in partnership with other components of the bigger marketing campaign.
If an event is viewed as a stand-alone moment, once the sizzle reel and post-event survey drop, attention moves to the next event or campaign. The value of the event is determined only by what happened in the limited pre-, during- and post-event window. In reality, any significant lift or impact to bottom line outcomes from event engagement happens on a longer cycle than a week.
With events on the marketer’s journey, event engagement data points don’t fall off the spreadsheet. They are in the same analysis pool as every other marketing engagement component. Every interaction—including event engagement—will appear in the data. This holistic marketing picture allows companies to see events as part of their sales attribution story, even with sales that happen six months after the closing keynote.”
Direct Engagement Through Digital Communications
“Digital communication has given us the ability to develop brand advocates long before an event kicks off. Email and video continue to be strong direct marketing channels.
Email marketing has proved its value in ROI and personalization—but don’t let it stop there. By letting the data make smarter decisions for you, you can craft automated customer journeys that bring people from awareness to decision without lifting a finger. Studies have shown that behavior-triggered email automation increases engagement by double or even triple.
Meaningful video content has become an expectation for consumers. There is plenty of evidence that video has become massively influential in purchasing decisions and event attendees are no different. One study demonstrated that 25% of attendees used video to research events. Event highlight videos give potential attendees a taste of what to expect and sparks the emotional connection long before the event begins.”
Audience Work Environments
“A lot of companies have transitioned their employees from an office setting to working from home over the past few months. Understanding and recognizing their new work environment and the distractions they may encounter are crucial in effectively communicating to them—meaning we need to look at our strategy. Depending on who our audience is, this may mean reaching them digitally via an interactive microsite, a video or more frequent email communications—or it may mean sending physical materials directly to their homes. Whatever the solution, it’s an exciting (and relevant) time to get innovative in reaching our audience.”
Adapting to Change
“Employee, event and personal engagement has seen an impressive amount change since COVID-19. The way we communicated, the way we spent leisure time—it all changed overnight. We watch talk shows and news from the hosts’ homes; special and sacred ceremonies took place over live streams; and companies suddenly implemented work-at-home policies.
Employee, event and engagement looked so different, and staying in touch became even more important. Sending out personal video messages from leadership, creating live meetings and video chats, starting live streams, providing “on demand” options of events—all of this became part of the communications strategy.
Gone were the days of coffee breaks and meeting up with coworkers after work. Everything became virtual. The primary message tradeshows, meetings and event organizers communicated to attendees became 'your safety is top of mind,' and the 'show must go on.'
These changes have led to a greater emphasis on individual’s feelings. As we move forward to determine the comfort of individuals, we begin to survey our workforce or give options of how to meet and stay engaged. These surveys can be informative to determine future plans toward the virtual, live or a hybrid of the two. While event and employee communication has become, in some ways, more casual, it also has become more personal and intentional. I don’t see that changing.”
Recognizing the importance of paying attention to engagement communication trends and catering your unique, segmented message to attendees is quickly becoming the standard. No matter what excites you, the variety of event engagement communications you incorporate with your marketing strategy can connect with attendees in meaningful ways that build brand advocacy. Discover how to create your own brand advocates with our ebook, Brand Advocacy and the Emotionally Connected Customer.