Jean-Marie Bonthous, Seamless Social
Content marketing will rule
Prospective attendees will expect more communication with event organizers, speakers, and sponsors and other attendees. They will want more quality content, relevant to their interests, delivered at the right time, and on the right platforms. We will see better tools for content curation and the rise of new channels: Google+, due to its integration with the world’s leading search engine. The call for better targeting and sharper segmentation will grow ever louder: those event marketers who understand their current and potential markets better will have an edge over those who only master social technologies. While the idea of content marketing is an easy sell, marketers will be challenged by the effort that is required. They are not prepared to function as publishers. They will need to build skills and resources to generate the mighty flow of targeted, high-value content that is necessary to satisfy the needs of customers and to compel them to share this content with others.
Marketing automation will support targeting and content distribution efforts
Most of all it’s the change in buyer behaviors that drives the need for marketing automation. Attendees no longer follow a linear purchasing process and you need marketing automation to identify what the buyers know and what stage of the process they may be entering (or coming out of). Attendees expect immediate, relevant information unique to their situation. Something which it is not possible to deliver without marketing automation. The tools to enable marketing and sales to automate and streamline communications and the distribution of strategically selected content to targeted audiences have been available for almost two decades. The emergence of content marketing and the fact that these tools are available as SaaS and integrate email marketing and social media marketing makes them a must-have.
Social media for events will move beyond just shiny objects, fan pages and followers
Marketers with a real interest in revenue generation will go way beyond “lets open a page on Facebook events, LinkedIn Events and lets get a hash tag”. The approach to social media will become more strategic. We will see more and more substantive multichannel campaigns, with higher investments and talent trained to operate them. A digital divide will grow very large between those event marketers who are able to conceive and implement integrated, multichannel campaigns closely aligned with revenue generation, and those still focusing on isolated tools, who will continue to reap only limited, anecdotic successes.
Event marketers will evolve into revenue drivers
We will see a rise of the event marketer as a contributor to marketing ROI.
Event organizers will realize that digital and social technologies are not solutions, but rather important marketing tools that allow driving revenues if you know how to align them properly with this goal. Such alignment is easier said than done, and requires skills, clean marketing and sales processes. There will be a steep learning curve, in particular around redesigning organizational processes to accommodate the new, and around building the skills necessary to master tools like marketing automation and in the related analytics.
Gamification will become serious business
There is a rise in a new breed of connected customer, which expects a greater level of experience and engagement in online interactions. They expect value, rewards for engagement. They want to be the ones—not the event organizer- at the center of their own online experience, and they want to be rewarded for participating. The role of gamification in attendee recruitment and involvement during events will rise. And they want the experience to be fun, too. Gamification will need to become embedded in the fabric of event marketing. We will see more badges, more loyalty programs. Watch what the Super Bowl will do this year. They will likely establish a new benchmark for gamification in multichannel marketing, and many event organizers will inspire themselves from their example in years to come.
Big data will be in big demand
The increase in cloud computing, usage of apps, and of the related analytics, plus the fact that customers can now access information any time and anywhere on multiple platforms will feed the abundance of big data. Event marketers will strive to process these data, make sense of them to generate singular views of the consumer, understand for where ROI comes from and how to improve it. Better technologies to visualize data will help sell big data and BI to upper management, and spread the trend throughout the industry. Paradoxically, with the increase in data and analytics, comes a temptation to get fascinated by revenue-driving numbers and to forget about the customer. There will be a need to balance “What” the big data focus on and to make the focus on the customer a permanent priority.
Customer will expect ral-time response to real-time feedback
As content marketers learns how to reach the right prospects and customers at the right time and through the right media, more and more conversations will get woven across multiple touchpoints, and prospects will be ushered more and more predictably through the sales funnel. As these prospects come at critical crossroads in their decision-making journey, they will come to prefer those marketers that are there for them in real time, able to answer their questions and address their concerns promptly and effectively.
Event marketers will feel the limitation of culture and internal systems
To be able to grow in the new role that is asked from them, event marketers will need new political and marketing skills. , they will need new mandates from their CMOs. In order to implement the new possibilities that they see within reach, event marketers will have to become change agents, ushering a new level of focus on customer centricity. Event marketers will be frustrated by organizational resistance, and their inability to deliver on customers’ expectations, as they would like to.
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