How Event Tech Trends Influence Your Vendor Selection
If you're one of the planners who have bookmarked the tech section of Event Manager Blog or you've been following the likes of Corbin Ball and Dahlia El Gazzar, you're clearly an event technology expert.
But have you ever asked yourself what's the next big thing in event tech, what's here to stay and what's just a fad? This article explores the differences and shows you how event tech trends can influence your vendor selection.
EVENT TECH FADS & TRENDS, WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
A trend is a change in behavior, e.g. the use of online registration vs. paper forms, the move towards mobile conference apps vs. paper brochures, the trend for event personalization vs. mass email through chatbots, email marketing automation & personalized event websites.
A fad, is driven by an immediate rise in interest and is short lived in its widespread influence with no staying power. Think Google Glasses for example.
Event technologies and trends are evolving and there are certainly some technologies which are here to stay. It's safe to say that online event registration will always be required. You'll always need to capture information about your registrants and this should be in the nicest, most user-friendly way.
The HOW you capture information or HOW people register might evolve over time, but ultimately you'll always need some form of registration.
Other trending technologies include mobile apps which are also constantly evolving. As mobile devices become part of our day to day life, your audience will expect better, faster & more user-friendly apps that deliver real value at an affordable price.
Unfortunately, not all online registration tools and mobile app providers are created equal.
TAKE TRENDING 'MUST HAVE' EVENT TECH AND ENHANCE IT!
Event tech providers that focus on one or two areas of expertise are able to focus on in-depth features and can offer the most advanced functionality. These providers help you delve deeper into the user experience instead of offering high-level basic tools.
"Do my attendees care if I use Google Forms, WooForms or (insert any generic form builder tool) or a sophisticated, fully-integrated marketing tool?" Yes, of course, they do. They might not care about the technology itself, but they surely do care about the overall experience.
In fact, a study shows that attendees rate the registration & on-site check-in experiences as two very important factors during the overall event experience.
Instead of labelling your online registration provider as a transaction tool, see it as an opportunity to dive into the registration experience. (Click To Tweet!)
1) Event Tech Trends Create Opportunities for Personalization
With your existing event tech resources at hand, focus on enhancing the registration and event experience. How can you make your attendees' registration journey more streamlined, easier to use and personalized?
Can you use existing data to pre-load the registration forms? Can you use custom content to create a unique experience? Can you optimize your registration flow? Can you create a personalized welcome messages on the registration form without the need to ask your IT team?
Modern event technology will allow you to do these things easily.
Did you know?
72% of B2B marketers are heavily focused on creating engaging content, listing it as the top priority for their internal content creates, according to the Content Marketing Institute, 2016)
62% of them rate video as an effective tactic for their B2B marketing strategy
58% of event planners believe that the demand for experiential marketing is increasing
2) Build strong tech skills WITHIN your team
Strong tech skills build strong event teams. You can only get the best out of your existing event technology if you understand the tools you already have in place.
Only 19% of planners consider themselves proficient at selecting and deploying event technology, so invest your time in your chosen event software. (Click to Tweet!)
It's best practice to appoint an internal main contact for your event technology needs. You should identify one power user and empower her to understand the software available inside out. This person also needs to understand how your existing tech can potentially talk to other systems in your marketing tech stack.
Before looking at shiny, new event tech tools, review your existing offerings. Often, they have functionality that you weren't aware of. Make sure you're not missing any new features or key components of your current software.
However, If they don't provide what you need don't be afraid to look outside!
3) Understand the role of event tech within your marketing tech stack
Where does your event software or app fit within your set of event marketing tools that you already have in place? Where are the integration points and what tools do they integrate with?
Did you know, 74% of event planners use different event technology providers rather than an all-in-one solution?
You're probably capturing information about your leads in a Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) or you use marketing automation software like HubSpot. In any case, you need to identify your data points and where your event tech software overlap:
For starters, think of the following areas:
Social Media Influence
Customer Relationship Management
Good event tech will have at least one or two touch points with those areas.
4) Review Your Event Tech Vendors
If you do decide to source new event technology, review your shortlist of vendors to see where and how each piece of the puzzle connects to the other and where event tech can get the work done for you.
Is this a one-way connection or a two-way connection?
Where do you need the data stored for best analysis?
Which system will host the data?
How difficult is the integration setup?
In what data format is data exchanged, XML, JSON, FEED?
Is this a native integration?
Have your vendors worked together before? Are there any case studies?
Do you need outside resources to assist?
Of course, there is a great value in choosing event tech vendors that are familiar with each other's systems instead of companies who operate in silos.
5) Assess & Benchmark
Now that you've reviewed vendors, you know what data you need, and you know where the pieces connect, you can assess which tools are best to connect to each other and identify the main integration points.
Benchmark for Event ROI as part of the marketing mix and decide what you'd like to measure:
Is it attendee numbers, brand exposure, revenue or lead capture?
What is success and how do you measure it?
What, to you, determines the value of the return?
Did you know, the average ROI for events is in the 24-34% range and 19% don't know their event ROI, according to Marketing Charts. Further on, 91% measure the success of their events on attendee satisfaction. (Click To Tweet!)
61% measure event ROI according to their specific event objectives and 60% determine results based on staying within budget, says Event Manager Blog.
Once you've identified the data you'd like to track, implement your integrations and connect your resources. Then you need to monitor your data against your set goals and measure them.
Finally, build out your event plan for your next events based on the data derived.
Pay special attention to the event technology which is most likely not going away (trend vs fad)
Focus on what tech you already have in place, then maximize the use of it by choosing internal experts with the right tech skills.
If you need to look outside for new technology, pick best-in-class as compared to one-size fits all solutions.
You want to go deep to enhance user experience and set yourself apart from your competition.
Assess and benchmark your technology around your Event ROI goals by identifying those key performance indicators early in the event planning process.