#10things to know about next generation events post-pandemic

NextGen events are all about aligning strategy, teams and tech for success in a new era of events following on from the pandemic, with key learnings for marketers and event organisers.

It’s all about aligning strategy, teams and tech for success in a new era of events following on from the pandemic, with key learnings for marketers and event organisers. The CMO Council has developed an ebook titled, NextGen Events: Optimized for Outcomes – Aligning Strategy, Teams and Tech for Success in a New Era of Events.

According to the CMO Council, marketers anxiously awaiting the return of in-person events are seizing the opportunity to reimagine event channel strategy: “Next-gen events can drive depth and breadth of customer engagement that leads to better brand awareness, lead generation, retention and loyalty. Learnings over the last two years will inform a holistic view of events that are better aligned to marketing outcomes. By matching event types with the right objectives, event planners can deliver a more satisfying and immersive attendee experience.” Chief content officer of the CMO, Tom Kaneshige calls this time a teachable moment for marketers, and an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the past to produce the best brand events going forward.

1. The pandemic is a teachable moment for marketing events

The CMO Council asks us all to step back and recall the days before the pandemic, when companies either hosted or participated in live events regularly, when weekly webinars rode the digital airwaves, when salespeople and customer prospects chatted over wine and entertainment. Did those events deliver on the very best customer engagement? Did events, virtual or otherwise, work together like a symphony? Were they really good times? Or did inefficiencies run amok, mar the attendee experience, and minimise the opportunity? In other words, did many events fail to perform to expectations?

2. Marketers have a chance to get events right

Before the pandemic, different parts of the business ran events without any coordination or oversight – an all-too-common phenomenon known as event sprawl. Content wasn’t optimised, rather recreated for every event. The best and most proven content wasn’t being reused. Quality of events ranged from exhilarating to exhausting. Metrics and learnings fell by the wayside. Getting attendees was a re-occurring nightmare. As brands prepare for a return to in-person and hybrid events, marketers have a chance to get it right.

3. Events are a massive channel for lead generation

It’s an opportunity to reimagine the event channel and formulate a better event strategy. Marketers can learn the lessons from the pandemic, particularly around virtual events and event orchestration, in order to fix problems that led to poor attendance and haphazard outcomes. “We know events are going to be a massive channel for not only lead generation but brand building and retention, and that’s why I’ve restructured my team and put into place a much more strategic play,” says CMO Roni Millard of Equifax Australia, in a new report from the CMO Council.

4. Events will be better aligned to marketing outcomes 

One of the report’s key findings is that 65% of marketing leaders say learnings over the last two years will lead to a holistic view of events that are better aligned to marketing outcomes. CMOs should be crafting a clear and comprehensive strategy matching different events with the right goals to deliver a satisfying and immersive attendee experience.

5. This is a reset button for marketing events

This necessitates breaking down siloed thinking in event strategy, teams and technology, and taking measures to optimise outcomes. “Because we’re all virtual now, communication has gotten so much better,” says Sonia Sahney, CMO of MI and CT at GE Healthcare, in the report. “I can let global colleagues, different businesses and regional teams know I’m doing an event on a specific date and see if anyone else is doing something similar. There was a kind of reset button, in terms of how much more we share.”

6. Smart marketers are experimenting with different event formats

More than 70% of marketers are experimenting with different event formats. Smart marketers are adding digital components to in-person events, such as online event platforms, on-demand content, and connecting digital and in-person audiences. They’re focusing on metrics, such as attendee satisfaction, lead volume and conversion, and engagement.

7. The goal is to ensure engagement remains top-of-mind

It is hoped that event ROI will be more accurate, and teams will know how to deliver compelling events, regardless of format or type. In fact, 71% of marketers are experimenting with new event formats, including metrics to measure event effectiveness, in terms of attendee satisfaction; lead volume and conversion; engagement rates; financial awareness; brand awareness; customer profiling; retention rates; and so on.

8. Virtual events still matter

While the CMO survey found signs of virtual-event fatigue, CMOs understand that virtual events will continue to play an important role in the NextGen event channel. In fact, 20% of marketing leaders say virtual events continue to deliver tremendous reach. That’s good news for hedging bets against the omicron variant or any others in the near future, because after nearly two years of virtual-only events, marketers are champing at the bit to restart in-person events. While virtual events are more about brand reach, in-person events are about nurturing customer relationships that result in higher conversion rates. Three out of five marketers say it’s very important, even critical, to restart in-person events.

9. The potential value of a hybrid event is exponentially greater than pre-pandemic events

Many marketers plan to run hybrid events — a combination of in-person and virtual — in order to gain the benefits of customer intimacy and brand reach, making “hybrid” the new catchword for the NextGen event channel. For one reason or another, many people are still unable to travel to an in-person event. A hybrid event opens registration to them.

10. NextGen events are being reimagined as more focused, digitally immersive

If marketers can infuse in-person events with digital elements, they can create a more immersive attendee experience. According to the CMO Survey survey, the top three digital components that marketers plan to add to in-person events, are online platforms (both web and mobile); on-demand content; and connecting digital and in-person audiences. Digital components also lead to richer attendee profiling and ROI measurement, better digital content delivery, deeper engagement and better outcomes. HCL Software’s Tony Arnold, for instance, plans to have his video editing team produce high-quality videos of presentations at in-person events. This will extend the value of in-person events long after everyone goes home, the CMO reports.

Source: CMO Council. Click here for free download of the CMO eBook on NextGen Events.



Main image credit: Pixabay.com


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