Event audiences have changed. How are event marketing teams keeping up?

Major events can be great levellers.

A global tournament such as the Rugby World Cup, a World Expo or a World Tour by a global band often bridges the gap between social, economic, and political ideals, as well as appealing to demographics of all ages.

At an event, children, adults, VIPs, remote attendees, and audiences from every walk of life share an experience at a point in time. Yet their perceptions, expectations and enjoyment surrounding the event may be very different. And, while these events may span for hours, days, weeks or months, how well do they really market themselves to the audience beyond that single point in time?

While vanity metrics such as likes or impressions are still often used as viable tools for showcasing good event marketing, in our experience as you might expect, event organisers are much more interested in the team’s ability to support revenue generation.

We often see clients with a short-term focus on activities around the event itself, including ticket sales, F&B, merchandise, and other activities designed to drive this short-term revenue generation.

The problem though is that this can lead to a large disparity between an organiser’s objectives and the audience’s experience, resulting in a limited spike in engagement around the event, then very little beyond.

While this type of approach may be good enough for certain event organisers, audiences are changing, and they demand much more from an event than a single moment in time.

So what is the impact of increasing a better marketing experience before, during and after the event? And why is it important?

According to a sports fan insight report by Nielsen, 55% of survey respondents are not convinced that the measures brands are taking are contributing to real progress.

Marketing the event itself is no longer the campaign.

The best event organisers realise that the event is now part of a long-term campaign designed to drive loyalty and engagement, thereby ultimately driving sustainable revenue well beyond the event itself.

However, longer-term marketing is only half the challenge to improving the experience. Personalisation is now no longer an option; it’s a prerequisite and audiences expect it at every level of their engagement with an event. Indeed Rob Donofrio, Business Applications Specialist at Microsoft, suggests that venues that create better-personalised experiences can expect a 1-2% increase in revenue alone.

Applying this logic to a real-world example, a global event such as the 2018 FIFA World Cup would potentially have generated an additional $69million in revenue through better personalisation. Not to mention the potential upside from an engaged audience who would be significantly easier to market to for the next event…

In our experience though, core ticketing objectives, rather than audience engagement objectives, still often take centre stage for event marketing teams.  

Compound this short-term revenue requirement with an exponential proliferation of marketing technology and it’s not a massive shock that event marketing teams are frequently limited in their approach to longer-term sustainable revenue through increased engagement.

In short, how do you successfully target different demographics in different languages, at different times with personalised content before, during and beyond an event?

Having the right technology to support your marketing activities is paramount to a better understanding of your customers, as well as the obvious benefit of better engagement at every level of the customer journey.

But just as audiences are becoming more sophisticated in their demands for a personalised marketing approach, so too is the availability of tools to provide this support. Another challenge for event marketers to adapt to.

According to Scott Brinker’s ‘State of Martech’, the number of marketing technology apps has increased 6,521% since 2011. Getting a handle on how to use the right technology is a significant step to being able to ensure you use it effectively to drive better engagement. And when you get it wrong it can have a lasting impact on the audience’s takeaways from an event.

Tim Hymans
Tim Hymans
Senior Marketing Associate

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