If you work in the marketing department, or if you’re involved with promotions, the task of event management most likely falls within your organization. Whether the events include tradeshows, meetings, or your company’s own hosted conference, one of the biggest challenges you face is attendee engagement. Your event needs to stand out and deliver clear value.
To further add to the challenge of event planning, events eat up an average of 30% of the typical marketing budget, and the metrics to measure engagement are nebulous, at best. A study by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) released a recent paper showing that events aren’t seen by companies as a place to close deals, but rather to build engagement and create a push for deals to happen; in other words, the face-to-face value of events is why they’re prioritized, but the type of interaction that events foster doesn’t necessarily lead to cold, hard metrics.
As an event marketer, therefore, you have a challenge.
Your task as an event manager comes down to maximizing attendee engagement — from the moment your first invite goes out. What’s your best bet? Use event management technology specifically built to increase participation, so that you can convert engagement to increased leads and growth for your company.
Here are the top 5 event technology features we recommend to help you boost attendee engagement:
#1: Pre-event session recommendations
Attendee engagement begins as soon as a person registers for your event. During registration, you have the first opportunity to offer attendees a unique experience — the event management technology you use for registration can make all of the difference. Specifically, look for these features:
- Secure web-based event registration functionality that uses logic-driven programming to accurately collect data and attendee preferences.
- The ability to tailor the attendee’s experience with custom-made event agendas, recommended sessions, and other connections.
- Data gathering that allows you to pinpoint where the person stands in their buying process, bringing you closer to offering them information specific to winning their business.
#2: Personalized attendee agendas
Think about the last event you attended: Did you feel like an anonymous number being herded through speaker sessions or invited to booth exhibitions that weren’t relevant to your particular business line? Events, as a function of what they are (a mass marketing effort, essentially), too often fail to offer personalization. They are designed to appeal to the masses, rather than the individual customer.
However, with the right event management technology, you can change your event from a one-size-fits-all approach to a customized experience. Specifically, look for functionality that offers:
- A content feed that’s personalized: Look for technology that offers attendees a detailed agenda of their sessions, activities, and scheduled appointments.
- Social media features that engage attendees in groups that are relevant to them, allowing them to connect and network with fellow participants, before, during, and after the event.
- A one-stop central resource page, filled with information tailored to their attendee profile.
#3: Mobile apps with tailored event content
Long gone are the days where event attendees were given a piece of paper to guide them through their agenda. Mobile apps for events are nothing new, but the technology and features vary widely. When looking at different apps, make sure the app includes the following features:
- A design that allows for easy, intuitive access to personal agendas, and that displays relevant, personalized content.
- Features that allow attendees to interact and connect with fellow event participants.
- Integrations with social networks to facilitate relationship building.
- Maps that show event locations and venue points of interest.
- Real-time updates, showing current event information, speakers, and session details.
#4: 1-to-1 appointments
One of the biggest advantages for events (and what sets them apart from traditional marketing methods), is the one-on-one engagement that takes place when various companies come together under one roof. Make your event a “must attend” for clients by facilitating and streamlining how attendees make connections.
- The ability to schedule automatic appointments, at scale, with a program that schedules meetings based on attendee preferences and profiles: Create the business rules to determine how appointments are determined, and use the scheduler to set up hundreds or thousands of meetings automatically.
- Give attendees the tools to schedule their own appointments with a self-scheduling feature that allows them to request meetings and set up appointments.
#5: Session polling and surveys
What’s your plan for collecting event feedback? How will you learn what attendees enjoyed, disliked, or what they wished could have been offered? Incorporate event surveys and session polling before and after the event to help your team design experiences that truly engage each attendee. With the right event management technology, you can:
- Send out surveys before, during, and after the event to get feedback along each step of the planning process: Before the event even occurs, pick a technology that allows you to get input from attendees on topics they’d like to have covered, or items they’d wish to see incorporated into the planning. During the event, send out surveys directly after sessions to capture feedback while it’s still fresh on their minds. Finally, following the event, give participants a chance to share their overall impressions, and let them offer guidance for future events.
- Set up polls during sessions, giving people the chance to interact with speakers directly: Look for an app feature that gives attendees the ability to take a poll from a speaker, and incorporate this live-feedback into the speaker’s session, sparking conversation, and encouraging dialogue.
The right technology can truly transform your events — turning them from “just another business function” to a dynamic, engaging platform for networking, learning, and connecting. When looking for event management technology, keep in mind the five above tips, which ensure attendee engagement, at every touchpoint.