With the spring events season now done and dusted, event professionals everywhere are likely breathing sighs of relief knowing some of the biggest conferences of the year – like South by Southwest and Adobe Summit – are behind them.
For event marketers, though, the pressure never stops. Event season peaks twice a year – in spring and fall – and, in a world where consumer expectations rise every day, competition amongst companies to create the most memorable event experiences only gets tougher. With fall event season right around the corner, those ahead of the game are already planning for their presence at the likes of Dreamforce, Oracle OpenWorld and TechCrunch Disrupt.
Event professionals don’t need to be convinced of the fact that these in-person experiences can generate the most leads of any other marketing tactic. But, without a strong engagement strategy – especially during peak event season – event marketers may struggle to prove ROI to the rest of the business. Everything from out-of-the-box speakers to creative onsite experiences and giveaways play a role in making up an effective engagement strategy, and can mean the difference between a passive versus engaged attendee.
In preparation for fall, we took a look back at some of this season’s most successful and engaging spring event experiences. With these examples and tips in mind, event marketers and planners can work together to build a strategy that encourages and inspires engagement.
Choose the right incentives
“Swag bags” are no longer seen as added perks at events – every company offers their own version and, at the end of a conference, people are usually left with too many logo-flashing pens and water bottles to count.
While incentives are an important marketing tool for getting people to your booth during a conference and encouraging them to think of your company after the event, companies are becoming more thoughtful about how they are using giveaways. To truly engage attendees with an incentive, consider making the item customizable to the individual, or to your company’s messaging, in order to spark interest and further discussion beyond the conference floor.
This spring, we saw companies take traditional swag to the next level by personalizing their giveaways and appealing to emotion during the process. At Adobe Summit, Hero Digital showcased its voice-powered personalization technology to give away customized totes designed by renowned poster artist Lil Tuffy, while Marketo transformed their team into Funko Dolls, which served as a great conversation starter for anyone who walked by their booth.
To truly engage attendees with an incentive, consider making the item customizable to the individual, or to your company’s messaging, in order to spark interest and further discussion beyond the conference floor.
Certain, too, brought our own creative spin to the Oracle MCX conference with our “Engage Everywhere, Go Anywhere” campaign. We hosted a scratch card game for Airbnb gift cards to support our company’s mission of helping businesses engage event attendees wherever they are – from offline at events with a more personalized experience, to online with marketing and sales outreach.
Practice purposeful onsite experiences
The best way to encourage active participation at an event is by giving attendees something to do. Onsite event experiences are made more memorable when people are called to participate in some way, or focus on a common theme or goal.
At this year’s Adobe Summit, there was a booth that allowed attendees to de-stress from the conference chaos with puppies. While a fun and lighthearted example, the experience sparked attention and conversation around a hot topic of today: employee well-being and mental health.
And Adobe isn’t the only one catching on to the effectiveness of meaningful onsite experiences. Event industry experts shared with us this year their predictions on how brands will need to showcase bold visions for the future and strong points of view when they show up at conferences in order to more deeply engage with attendees.
Spring events season hosted an impressive line-up of brands taking their engagement strategies to the next level at some of the year’s biggest conferences. With fall around the corner, it’s the perfect time for companies to take a step back and consider every step of their strategy – from freebies to onsite activations – ensuring each serves a purpose to build deeper relationships with attendees. With the right strategy, event marketers can target key audiences and drive real business results.
To learn more about building an effective engagement strategy, check out our playbook: The Event Marketing Playbook: Engagement Strategy.