Our guest blogger, Jose Bort is the CEO and Co-Founder of EventsCase - the first truly all-in-one event management software. A thought leader within the events space, Jose has delivered talks at Google Campus, City University and Cass Business School, and is a regular contributor across tech and events publications.
2018 was a landmark year for investment in online channels and data protection which meant event marketers had to adapt their strategies.
But what does that really mean?
- Online privacy is a huge concern for attendees. If you’re using data to target specific audiences, you should be triple checking your permissions, or risk fines of up to €20 million.
- We’re seeing big changes with regards to budget and channels. While email and online display remain highly popular for marketing events, we are definitely seeing a shift in spend to newer areas, like influencers and paid social.
- Once a thorny subject within marketing circles, measurability is key for events that need to track ROI from their promotional activities.
The current situation presents a challenge and an opportunity in equal measure. Our belief is that events have to change the ways in which they target their audiences, but they can drive better results from doing it. Now let’s examine the headlines in a little more detail.
Your attendees (yes, all of them) are now online
One of the most pertinent questions for any marketer - in events or otherwise - is ‘where can I find my audience?’ In our case, we are definitely witnessing a shift to online platforms in the way that people search, find and interact with events.
This should come as little surprise given we were told, in 2014, that 89% of event attendees will use search engines to aid their purchase decisions. A more recent development concerns the increased importance of online channels to events, leading to the migration of spend from printed media to their online equivalents, as well as paid social and paid search.
It’s not just about catering for millennials or ‘Generation Y’, either. We’ve seen events taking a more youthful angle with messaging that attracts a younger audience. Today, over three quarters (78%) of 30-49 year olds use social media, with LinkedIn representing something of a hotbed for people of an older, more corporate background.
From this, we can observe that promoting an event through social media can be effective for all audiences, regardless of whether you’re committed to a B2B or B2C angle. Each post should be tailored to your own attendees, rather than a faction of younger, digital natives.
Influencer marketing is in vogue
If you’re choosing to believe the stories of Instagram celebrities being paid $250,000 for one social media post, you may already have a certain perception of influencers and their value.
The events world actually lays claim to one of the most recognised cases of influencer marketing gone wrong. Fyre Festival’s recruitment of Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski generated huge ticket sales for its exclusive, luxury music event. Their resulting negligence of basic essentials (food, accommodation and production among others) created an even bigger, more negative impact. But Fyre did prove one thing - that influencer marketing can be a powerful weapon for events, provided it is used in the right way.
For the avoidance of doubt, influencer marketing in 2019 is the enlisting of influential people to promote an event. This is elevating the role of keynote speakers in particular, who could now see additional terms like social posts being written into their contracts.
Influencer marketing is already causing events to review their connections to see who can generate the biggest amount of buzz.
Measurability is no longer an after-thought
In 2019, it’s not enough to simply invest in channels like influencer marketing and organic social. You need to be able to measure their impact.
As an example of the type of things to look out for, according to a study of marketers, some of the most popular ways of gauging performance from influencers are:
- Social engagement (comments, shares) - 85%
- Social media traffic (website visits attributed to social media) - 59%
- Revenue (ticket sales, sponsorship) - 45%
- Custom data in web analytics (leads) - 40%
Influencer marketing could help you sell more tickets, but it seems to represent a vehicle for awareness and engagement. When considering social media, ROI is named as the top challenge by marketers. Yet, considering that 73% don’t even try to measure their performance, it seems our channels aren’t all to blame.
That will change in 2019 as events start to align their business KPIs with marketing metrics. With social media, we’d advise a multi-tiered approach. This could see organic posting judged on engagement (e.g. comments, shares), with paid social being measured on its lower-funnel impact, through sales and leads.
Data privacy is a concern...but not for everyone
In 2018, data privacy rose to consumer consciousness via the new General Data Protection act (GDPR). The board in charge of the regulation saw over 200,000 reports of companies misusing customer data in the first nine months of its introduction. Despite wanting to be more connected to online communities, consumers want to maintain their privacy and are happy to call out poor behaviour when they see it.
GDPR is still very much a consideration in 2019 - a year viewed as a “transitional period”. We expect more hard-hitting charges in light of Google’s €50 million fine. But provided you understand GDPR, and your data policies are accessible, there isn’t a lot to be worried about.
The changes in 2019 should be more proactive; your data policy and unsubscribe buttons must be accessible to attendees. If someone wants to stop receiving emails about your event, they should be able to do it with relative ease.
Event marketing is changing for the better. We expect this year to bring measurability and accountability to the fore, leading to greater satisfaction among attendees, organisers, and hopefully a better all-round performance.
What are your event marketing priorities for the year ahead? Let us know over on social.