3 Key Event Marketing Insights from Adobe Summit 2019

In my continuous quest to gather event marketing and digital marketing best practices, I recently attended Adobe Summit 2019 in Las Vegas. It was an awe-inspiring demonstration of the power of digital experience thought leadership to draw crowds: Roughly 20,000 business and marketing professionals converged, with the goal of learning how to position their brands to drive a seamless and memorable customer experience (CX).

My time there involved a deep dive into how top brands are driving the digital transformation, impacting the industry and changing the future of event marketing. Now it’s time to share! Read on for my three key takeaways regarding the crucial intersection between marketing technology and event marketing.

1. Capturing data is no longer just about proving ROI. It’s key to a seamless CX.

Modern marketers may think that they’re on top of their data games, but many of them are wrong. It’s no longer enough to capture data solely to report on ROI—marketers should be harnessing data insights to personalize their customer experiences. Full disclosure: Struggling with this concept is a normal part of scaling a business, and one that, frankly, we’ve faced at Attendify. That’s because it sounds easy, but there’s a catch. The reality is that data silos exist across multiple platforms, tools and teams. Achieving the integration of these data points can prove time-consuming and difficult, a combination that prevents many organizations from delivering (not to mention scaling) a personalized customer experience.

Event marketers often fall victim to the double-edged sword of siloed data. “Wouldn’t creating an attendee experience make more sense if it was personalized?” many ask. Yes, but to accomplish this, brands must first recognize that the attendee experience is part of the entire customer experience. The heightened emphasis on the value of data before, during and after the event—bridging the gap between event marketing and digital marketing—is key to making events an important component of CX.  

The right approach is to “think big and start small,” said Todd Schwarz, the global delivery lead of Adobe technologies at Accenture Interactive. “Start with some initial use cases, learn from them and then scale them out and build on them,” he added.

2. The recipe for hyper-personalization? Marketing, technology and data.

This year’s Adobe Summit continued to crystal ball a business world where CMOs and CIOs have blurred kingdoms, customers expect personalized experiences, and marketing teams use data to drive investments that lead to ROI. Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen highlighted how these demands accelerated Adobe’s push toward a single platform that doesn’t merely integrate products, but also simultaneously merges marketing, technology and data to improve the customer experience.

Adobe Summit 2019 Keynote
Adobe Summit 2019 | Keynote: Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen

With the recent acquisitions of Marketo and Magneto, technology integrations were a hot topic at this year’s Summit. But the core theme was technology as a catalyst for change—not simply as the endgame. The challenge is for brands to take control of their end-to-end CX and establish ownership of this relationship. Or as Shantanu put it, “Every business has to transform themselves to be maniacally focused on the customer experience.”

In this context, event marketing teams must make the transformational journey alongside their digital marketing peers if they want to stay relevant in a data-driven, customer-first world. Progressive event marketing leaders will be the first to focus on online and offline event-data sources, and will seek solutions for enveloping the attendee experience inside the customer experience.

3. If there’s a digital transformation grading curve, event marketing is failing.

Today’s customers expect—they demand—an integrated experience across all of a brand’s channels. Top of mind for organizations should be that customers are often using multiple devices at any given moment, extensively researching products and services online before they buy, and demanding personalized experiences that flow seamlessly from channel to channel. This demand has resulted in the rapid advancement of digital marketing ; data sources that are difficult to track or can’t integrate with analytics platforms have been left in the dust. It’s a lesson that’s been hard for many event tech vendors to learn. In the newly blended world of marketing, technology and data, event technology that doesn’t drive actionable data is the equivalent of analog in a digital age.

During their session “Taking Home an Event Oscar with Marketo and Adobe Experience Management,” Pure Storage showcased how they combined experiential and digital marketing and built an event marketing program that supported a roadshow movie premiere across 40 cities. Marketing Operations Manager Betsy Chen explained that instead of using an existing event technology solution, her team decided to build one themselves. Why? They wanted to host their landing pages on Adobe Experience Manager to capture analytics and integrate the events with their customer experience.

Adobe Summit 2019 Pure Storage
Pure Storage presenting “Taking Home an Event Oscar with Marketo and
Adobe Experience Management” at the Adobe Summit 2019

Here’s the reality check: Pure Storage did accomplish what they set out to achieve, but the tradeoff was that they had to:

  • Use six different technology platforms
  • Implement custom development
  • Create advanced Marketo configurations
  • Build an additional database to manage event capacity, and
  • Dedicate 45 days of labor to the project

Betsy shared that the company partnered with a third-party agency to architect a clonable solution in order to replicate it across all 40 events.

Taking the First Steps Toward Digital Transformation

There’s no question about it: Event marketing driven by CX data powers up a lasting brand impression. But kicking off your organization’s digital transformation doesn’t mean you have to go out and procure all new technology. It really starts with answering one question: “What kind of event data should I collect to not only produce a great event, but also enhance the overall customer experience? (Hint: Don’t answer this one alone; collaborate with all stakeholders involved in building the customer experience.)

Only after you’ve uncovered the “what” behind your data capture can you effectively start looking for technology solutions that provide the “how.”

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