Event Marketing and Digital Marketing: Bridge that Gap

Today’s digital marketers are facing a hard truth: Consumers are now empowered to engage, evaluate and make purchasing decisions without ever interacting face-to-face with another human. Adding fuel to the fire, the modern consumer wants more than just flashy advertising and a sales pitch when they’re deciding what to buy. They expect brands to build genuine relationships with them, understand their needs, earn trust and provide value over the lifetime of the customer experience. This is the digital marketer’s ultimate challenge. 

Event marketers, on the other hand, must empower face-to-face opportunities for creating lasting and powerful impressions throughout the attendee experience. But just like their peers in the digital marketing arena, they’re finding that consumers expect their brand relationships to be consistent across all channels, whether it’s via signage at a tradeshow, through the event mobile app or while buying tickets via a live representative.

No matter what their specialty, it’s critical for modern marketing teams to stop catfishing their consumers by uniting the online and offline customer experience. In this article, we’ll share some actionable tips on bringing digital marketing and event marketing practices together.

What’s the Difference Between Event Marketing and Digital Marketing?

Okay, let’s break this down:

  • Event marketing is the practice of planning, organizing and executing an event to promote a product, service, cause or organization. Event marketers leverage face-to-face, branded engagement with their target audience.
  • Digital marketing is the overarching label given to all marketing efforts that use digital channels (the internet and/or electronic devices) to connect with current and prospective customers.

Sounds simple, right? Not so much.

Attendee Experience = Customer Experience

When it comes to event success, the attendee experience is undoubtedly the most critical factor: If an attendee feels like they’re not the primary focus, they’ll quickly disengage. Want to knock an event out of the park? Create a seamless attendee journey between digital and experiential interactions. This can be achieved when event marketers tap into digital marketers’ insights to understand precisely what their attendees want (optimally before they even register).

In fact, event marketers can take advantage of the exact same analytics digital marketers use when driving website traffic, content consumption, social engagement and other conversions along the customer journey. Doing so will allow event pros to create a smooth transition between digital and in-person experiences—by personalizing event content, making better speaker selections and offering activities that naturally engage attendees. This partnership-in-data concept not only increases how relatable an event is to attendees, it also drives a consistent brand image and enables digital marketing teams to promote events effectively through the use of consumer data. It’s a win-win!

Comparing Data

Multichannel vs. Omnichannel

Anyone who has spent some time on the front lines of the marketing world has heard the terms “multichannel” and “omnichannel.” Far from just being just buzzwords du jour, these concepts are the cause of countless headaches for brands trying to unify the attendee and customer experience. Here’s the lowdown:

A multichannel experience is when a brand engages consumers via multiple platforms and devices. When it comes to events, these applications include marketing automation solutions, digital ad platforms, event websites, registration portals, email marketing funnels, mobile apps, social media messaging and post-event communications. In most cases, these channels are managed by separate teams and lack integrations between data sources, resulting in an inconsistent brand image. If channels don’t seamlessly work together, it’s not an omnichannel experience.

An omnichannel experience accounts for each platform and device a consumer will use to interact with a brand, then mines that knowledge to deliver unified customer engagements. Brands accomplish omnichannel communications by aligning goals, messaging, design, technology and data across every single platform, every single time.

Achieving an omnichannel experience from the standpoint of event marketing requires orchestration across digital and event marketing strategy, as well as the integration of EventTech and MarTech solutions, so that data can flow seamlessly between the marketers executing those channels. When it comes to events, an omnichannel approach fosters a physical brand experience that unifies like-minded people, triggers human interactions and allows attendees to capture their shareable experiences online. But an omnichannel event experience lives on long after engagement with real-time polling or posts in private social media channels occur. Post-event, the practice serves as the springboard for continued conversations and attendee nurturing via digital channels.

Data Flows Both Ways

From the number of app downloads to the percentage of scanned leads, events can generate an impressive amount of data, and measuring “event ROI” has become the holy grail of many event marketers. But while this type of tactical data is great for taking an immediate post-event temperature check, much of it also leaves digital marketers flat.

Just like the insights that digital marketers can offer their event marketing colleagues during the pre-event phase, event marketers should return the favor by handing off actionable data to digital marketing after the event. Keep in mind that “actionable data” goes well beyond metrics like attendee numbers and their overall satisfaction score. Rather, it dives deep into information gleaned from attendee interactions during content tracks, online surveys, keywords used in social engagement—the list is long. Once analyzed, these data sets can be used to segment attendees, then create personalized digital experiences for them that add long-term value to their overall customer experiences.

Start Bridging the Gap

Here’s the bottom line: Digital marketers and event marketers unite! Consumers are sending a message loud and clear that the communications strategies, channels, technology and data utilized by both practices must be successfully aligned to achieve the common goal of creating deeper relationships. Bridging this gap is the difference between a brand that’s truly memorable and one that’s quickly forgotten.

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