People care about experiences, maybe now more than ever. We live, after all, in what's been dubbed the "experience economy." We've all seen the statistics about millennials' willingness to spend more money on experiences than tangible products, and there's a reason I can talk about FOMO without having to tell you what the acronym stands for. Businesses and organizations that once existed exclusively online—retail stores like Warby Parker and media sites like Mashable—have created real-life experiences by either opening brick-and-mortar stores or by fully embracing events and experiential as part of their business strategy.
I could keep going, but the point has already been made and accepted: events and experiences are and will continue to be necessary for building business. And with today’s rapidly-evolving event marketing technology, there’s more opportunity than ever for organizations to build innovative and disruptive marketing strategies that leverage the power of experiential. A lot is changing, and it's changing quickly.
So why is it that the conversations in the event and experiential marketing space are becoming hackneyed and predictable? Companies building event marketing technology are focused on either reiterating the fact that the best business has always been done in person, or they give the same [X number] of tips or how-tos about email invitations, registration pages, and on-site event logistics. A lot of the content doesn't deliver the insights people need if they're going to keep up with the rapidly-evolving space and meaningfully incorporate in-person marketing into their larger, long-term business strategies.
The industry needs a shift in perspective. While email invitations and registration pages are important components of hosting a successful business event, they're ultimately just pieces of a much larger puzzle. To focus on the long-term business strategies that experiential marketing helps drive, organizations need to start contextualizing what they're doing now within a broader understanding of what they'll be doing in the future.
Like so many things today, the future of event marketing depends on technology. Having an understanding of where event marketing tech is going will not only help organizations do better business now, but it will also set them up to successfully harness the powerful marketing technology of the future.
So, what’s the future of tech?
To best understand the future of marketing technology, it's helpful to consider the future of technology in general. In 1988, Mark Weiser, a chief scientist at Xerox, laid a blueprint for the future that we’re still realizing today.
“Now we are in the personal computing era,” Weiser explained, where “person and machine [stare] uneasily at each other across the desktop.” But we’re transitioning into “the age of calm technology, when technology recedes into the background of our lives.”
We’re building toward a future of unobtrusive (what Weiser called "calm") technology—one in which tech will help us achieve even more but won't require as much of our attention to do so.
What does this mean for event marketing tech?
At Event Farm, we’re building toward a future of predictive events.
To understand what exactly that means, first think about all of the decisions you have to make when you're building an event marketing strategy today:
- What’s your goal? To generate leads, build pipeline, drive revenue, or all of the above?
- What type of event are you going to host to help you achieve your goal(s), and how many are you going to host within a given timeframe? When? Where?
- How many people will you invite, and who will you invite?
- Are you targeting the right personas?
- How can work within your budget to host the best event possible?
A predictive event marketing software platform will answer those kind of questions for you. At it's best, it will consider your business goals and constraints (like budget and time), suggest when and where to host specific types of events, and suggest who to invite. It will incrementally take the variables of human error and bias out of the equation, and it will help organizations extract the most out of each marketing dollar spent.
How can you prepare for predictive event technology?
Here's what makes this future technology important today: it will rely on data. The more data, the better. So even though predictive technology does not yet exist, we can and should prepare for it by collecting as much data as we can.
This means we not only have to continue leveraging the power of experiential marketing, but we have to track it—which is where a lot of marketers get stuck, and understandably so. It's relatively straightforward to track digital marketing channels and much more difficult to track in-person events. But marketers usually devote at least 20% of their budgets to experiential marketing, and that number continues to rise—so shouldn't it be the channel marketers most diligently track?
This is why event marketers cannot become focused on using event tech for the sole purpose of email invitations, registration pages and check-in logistics. Those are, of course, important aspects of hosting a successful business event, but there’s a lot more marketers should be asking of their technology. Things like streamlined check-in should be a given.
Instead, marketers need to consider whether or not their tech is setting them up to successfully gather the event data that will not only make their strategy smarter now, but will also prepare them for the future. And by event data, I don't just mean the open rates and clickthrough percentages of email invitations. Organizations need to gather data to determine whether or not they’re hosting the right type of events or inviting the right people, and data that uncovers insights about their audience by tracking which in-event activations they’re most drawn to and why. By starting to gather these insights now, marketers will set their organizations up for short and long-term rewards.
This blog post is the first in a series that takes a deep dive into how marketers can prepare for the powerful tech of the future by making the most of a data-driven experiential strategy today. Future posts will focus on:
- What to look for in event marketing technology to make sure you’re building the foundation for a data-reliant future
- How to build an experiential marketing strategy that will help achieve long-term business goals
- The nitty-gritty details: Successfully incorporating event marketing tech into a specific event campaign
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