User conferences. What a beautiful way to engage your customers, show them how to use your products in new and exciting ways, and (hopefully) convince them that your solution is the cat’s meow. In fact, if you’re not positioning your user conference as an advocacy channel, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to market your product to new and similarly aligned customers. Here are some suggestions on how to create true customer advocates from your attendee base.
Taking specific measures to address your customers as individuals will help you create a lasting impression on them. For example:
Use your data, customer histories, and the relationships between your sales representatives and customers to personalize your interactions with attendees.
Offer personalized agendas in your event apaction with attendees.
Pre-populate the registration form to save your customers’ time.
Ask your sales staff to personally (telephone calls when possible) invite customers to the conference.
Develop suggested conference agendas based on customers’ engagement and purchasing histories.
Sourcing conference content from your attendees builds the relationship by providing them with a seat at the table. Here are some crowdsourcing techniques:
Ask them for input on the hot topics, pain points, and desired education that should be addressed during the conference.
Create a customer advisory board to weigh in on programming, content, and special events.
Solicit input on everything from what to call the user relaxation area to the name of the official cocktail.
Giving your customers channels on which to evangelize your products makes it easier for them to spread the word. For instance:
Create and publicize a Twitter hashtag for the conference.
Set up a Facebook, LinkedIn, or other online group specifically for the user conference.
Install digital signage at the conference that shows other attendees the live feed from social channels and encourages them to comment.
Create games with embedded educational content (here are some ideas) to reinforce product features and benefits that can be passed along to others after the conference.
Encourage attendees to engage socially with digital signage like Live Display
Allowing your customer to deliver the education, especially if one or more of them are high-visibility or influential brands, can add credibility to your brand. You can:
Send out a call for proposals to your user group.
Involve customers in a variety of educational activities, including workshops, birds-of-a-feather round tables, fireside chats, meetups, tweetups, or lunch-and-learn sessions.
Work with your customers to refine their content and ensure that they are accurate.
Nothing says, “we don’t value you” like a horrible experience navigating the destination. Paying attention to these details can go a long way:
Pay or provide instructions for your attendees’ transportation from the airport to the hotel.
Provide your guests with in-airport and/or in-hotel remote event check-in.
Simplify navigation by delivering information in an easy-to-use conference mobile app with maps, agenda, alerts, and networking capabilities.
Help attendees find their way around by adding maps and location details in your event app
Train a hand-selected group of customers to be evangelists during the conference. Include these elements:
Assemble a team of customer advocates whose sole purpose at the user conference is to answer questions about the product. Call it a genius bar, help center, explanation station, or whatever suits your user base, but encourage your advocates to be honest and authentic in sharing their experiences.
Consider giving your ambassadors uniforms, ribbons, or pins to draw attention to their expertise.
Reward your ambassadors with specialized training, early access to new products, or free admission to the conference.
Bringing users face to face with your employees—engineers, product developers, trainers, technical support staff—and other users is a unique experience in the lives of customers and the company. With the appropriate strategy around serving, involving, engaging, and educating your user conference attendees, you can convert a group with few things in common besides the use of your product into enthusiastic brand advocates.
Participatory sessions offer tremendous value for conference attendees. They help eventgoers work through professional problems, find solutions, and ultimately benefit from the collective knowledge of the group. In the past, flip charts were used to collect these ideas. But after the session is over, the papers get rolled up, left behind, and forgotten about. For the attendees and organizers, that’s conference value left on the meeting room floor.
Doreen Ashton Wagner wanted more for her event. So when it came time to plan her final conference session of her two-day program, she gave pause. Her conference, Engaging Associations Forum, was in its third year and in keeping with the theme of her event — to engage her participants — she was looking for a different spin on the same old participatory session. That’s when she came up with the idea to host a Hackathon-style session. Borrowed from the tech space, she wanted to create a collaborative, focused knowledge dump — a way for her participants (most of whom were in their 40s and 50s) to share their ideas, thoughts, questions, and concerns about a topic of their choosing, but also gain access to what others were chatting about and take those learnings home with them at the end of the day.
In the past, these sorts of sessions were done manually. Ideas were crowdsourced in the room, written on a flip chart, and voted on by a show of hands. Discussions happened in small groups and the loudest voice at the table generally dominated the conversation.
Out with the Old
For Ashton Wagner, it was time to go digital. She ditched the flip chart and used her mobile event app’s live polling capabilities to allow attendees to vote on predetermined discussion topics during the event. Before the Hackathon session started, she chose the top six topics and assigned two tables for each theme so the group size was manageable for face-to-face discussion.
Next, she used the Group Discussions feature in the app as a collaborative digital notepad. Each member of the group could type their thoughts, questions, concerns, and solutions into the discussion group, making the process democratic and removing the need for a single notetaker. It leveled the playing field of participation and opened the discussion group up to more introverted attendees or those more comfortable writing than speaking.
When it came time to present each group’s findings, Ashton Wagner pulled up each individual Group Discussion thread on a big screen, so the group could see what was talked about. And attendees could follow along in the app. She was also able to access the discussion threads post event, as were attendees, so they could take all that they learned with them home without overloading their suitcase.
Meeting the Event Objective
Ditching the flip chart was the right choice for Ashton Wagner. Not only was using the app a more cost-effective solution than renting audience response hardware from her AV supplier, but using in-app features like Group Discussions allowed her to extend the discussion beyond the actual time of the event. In addition, if her attendees left the room to grab a bite to eat or a thought struck them on a break, they could still contribute to the Group Discussions. “What’s so great about the feature is that your attendees’ physical presence isn’t necessary and the time limitations are lifted,” says Ashton Wagner. “All of these things contribute to getting maximum engagement which is the primary objective of the event.”
Using Live Polls and Group Discussions as part of Engaging Associations Forum’s session content also encouraged greater engagement and adoption of the event app and led to Ashton Wagner’s best experience with an event app provider to date. And it satisfied the organizer’s objectives of innovating, trying new things, and engaging participants.
“Our event is a platform to try new things,” says Ashton Wagner’s second-in-command, Meagan Rockett. “As long as we’re pushing things forward with new ideas, new things, new platforms, then we’re achieving our goal of making it easier for people to engage.”
Her only regret? Not using the audience response and engagement features more! “It would be awesome to use these features in even more sessions next year, and even post-session where people can ask and have questions answered by the speaker or the panel,” says Rockett. “There are just so many ways you can use it!”
Curious about how you could use Group Discussions at your next event? Download this Implementation Guide for ideas
If you love the idea of designing the event experience around crowdsourced content, check out this blog post
One of the most common pitfalls with corporate events–all types of events, really– is the misalignment that often occurs between your event goals and the event technology solution you’ve purchased.
When you are choosing event technology to manage registration, digital signage, event apps, whatever, you need to be clear about how these solutions will help you accomplish the unique goals of your event. This will help you sell through this tech spend to your boss and run a more memorable event that delivers the right results.
The thing is, when you are running multiple corporate events annually with different goals, you don’t have the time or capacity to seek out a different solution for each event.
And that’s why it’s much simpler to choose an event technology platform that is highly configurable and enables you to customize your registration, digital signage and event app to suit the unique purpose of the event.
Aligning event technology with event goals
Let’s get a little more practical. For example, you could choose to use the same event app platform to run both sales kickoffs and annual general meetings but to meet your goals, you may require different functionality.
For example, to help increase networking and engagement at your next sales kickoff, you could create game-based challenges through your event app. But light-hearted games may not be the right fit your Annual General Meeting. Instead, you may be looking for functionality like live polling to vote on specific topics for discussion.
The important point to remember is that you can and should customize your event technology solution to align with your events’ goals.
Here are some ideas on how to run different types of corporate events through a single event technology platform:
How to Kick it at Sales Kickoffs
Sales kickoffs are important to start the fiscal year off on the right foot. Typically the goals of these events are to ensure that sales team members are well educated on the product(s) and energized and excited to dominate sales targets.
Here are a few tips to ensure you kick it your next kickoff:
Go paperless by storing and securing important presentations, training documents and product information and making it easily accessible to all sales reps anytime and anywhere.
Spark new relationships by incentivising your teamwith a networking game where attendees are encouraged and rewarded for meeting new team members and leadership executives (Download our Ultimate Guide to Gamification).
Increase engagement and excitement to ensure your team is ramped up and prepared for the upcoming sales year. With in-app engagement tools such as Group Discussions, live polling and Q&A, you can create curated conversations in-app about key learnings and encourage live discussions during important educational sessions.
Review Company Goals at the AGM
Annual General Meetings are mandatory meetings which cover important information about an organization’s overall status, reviews the previous fiscal year and financial reports and some key business decisions may be made.
With shareholders, C-level executives, members of the Board of Directors and other key leadership involved, branding and security are of utmost importance.
Here’s how you can accomplish these goals with an event app:
Ensure security by uploading financial documents into a secure app and make sure that access is controlled to attendees lists with password protection and other security measures.
Impress the key players with a branded & sleek looking design and ensure they have quick access to the agenda and other important details at their fingertips.
Capture feedback and make in-the-moment decisions through audience response tools such as in-app Q&A and live polling.
Create the Perfect Debut at your Next Product Launch
Product Launches are organized to show the latest and greatest offerings of that company and build sales momentum. To ensure success, a product launch must successfully reach several different audiences and ensure that each gains excitement and positivity about what they are seeing.
How can event technology help?
Educate attendees by making it easy for your attendees to learn more about your product. Upload product information, videos & paperless handouts into a custom-branded app so your attendees can access the information whenever they want.
Create buzz on social media by integrating with your social media platforms and allowing attendees to interact and spread the news about your product. You can pre-select a twitter hashtag ensuring everyone is using the same one and incorporate Live Display – digital signage with a live tweet wall!
Eliminate Q&A hassle and ensure clarity by allowing attendees to submit questions through the app and eliminate the hassle of a microphone.
Deliver Value at Partner & User Conferences
Partner and user conferences are important for an organization to build strong relationships with its customers and prospects by connecting them with the right information and people.
Here’s how to use an integrated platform to ensure a measurable return on investment:
Create a seamless registration experience by implementing an online and integrated registration solution. It will be easy for attendees to register, painless to manage and simple for you to capture those important pre-event questions around dietary restrictions, session preferences and other important details.
Encourage knowledge sharing onsite by allowing attendees to interact with both the session content and other customers through engagement tools such as live polling, Q&A and Group Discussions.
Demonstrate event ROI by creating custom reports with a seamless platform and built-in analytics. Dig into the details so you can understand what your attendees loved and where there’s room for improvement in the future.
Maximize Exhibitors’ ROI at Tradeshows
Tradeshows bring customers and prospects to meet with organizations to learn more about their products or services. The key is to ensure that sponsors or exhibitors feel that they are getting a return on their investment for being there and that attendees leave with the information they were looking for.
This can be easily achieved with the following:
Highlight sponsors, exhibitors and partners by ensuring that each has some digital real estate to share company information, product news and more. Increase exposure of your key partners by utilizing your event apps’ homescreen, creating banner ads and using sponsor ribbons.
Guide attendees effortlessly through interactive mapping by demonstrating where each exhibitor is located. No more flipping through pages and pages of exhibitor booth numbers!
Increase exhibitor traffic – Have a few exhibitors that aren’t getting the traffic they expected? Through gamification, it’s easy to encourage attendees to visit specific booths so those exhibitors are sure to return back next year.
Create an Incentive Trip to Inspire
Incentive trips are a chance for attendees to kick back and enjoy the payoff from all of their hard work. They want it to be stress-free but you also want to make sure that it’s seamless and easy to contact everyone even when they aren’t all together.
Event apps make it simple to keep in touch with all your attendees:
Provide everything they need to know before they go by uploading key contacts, hotel details, shuttle times and activity information.
Keep your attendees informed (even if they escaped to the pool for the day)with real-time alerts & notifications.
Foster new relationships by allowing attendees to view the profiles of the people they’ll be spending their time with and allow them to send in-app messages to make a few new friends along the way.
Event technology is gradually popping up at all corporate events as it’s a great way to increase ROI, make changes on the fly and ensure attendees have everything they need in the palm of their hand; however, it’s important to remember, it’s not a one-size-fits-all. The right event technology solution can be customized to ensure your events reach their primary goals.
To be effective, corporate events must be built on a solid foundation of return on investment (ROI). When event planners fail to capture the true value of meetings and corporate events, event spending is perceived as discretionary and events are viewed as a “nice to have” instead of a contributor to the bottom line.
As a result, events and meetings are some of the the first areas that get cut whenever there is a decline in corporate performance.
ROI: The Key Event Design Driver
Unless an event is strictly social, like the company Christmas party or the company picnic, clear objectives and measures that flow from ROI should always be the key drivers of content and design decisions for corporate events.
Unfortunately, many event planners focus on the creative aspects of meetings, conferences, and other corporate events. They never ask about ROI. When event and meeting planners do ask clients about goals, objectives, and expected return on investment, they are usually met with silence. Just post a question about event ROI in social media groups and see how few responses are generated. It is as if eyes glaze over whenever ROI is mentioned. By contrast, discussions about decor, colours, catering, and certification and generate a flood of responses.
The economic meltdown of 2008 should have been a wake-up call for the industry. The industry should have learned that just doing events for fun dooms the event planners to the treadmill of boom and bust economic cycles. Despite the events of 2008 and their aftermath, ROI continues to be the missing ingredient for so many events. Remember, creative should never be the key driver of event design decisions.
Measuring the business impact of events
Corporate events have value that extends beyond the immediate event. To fully capture ROI, it is important to pinpoint the goals and objectives for the event and specify and quantify each objective.
Here are some examples of what you should be measuring for specific types of events and event marketing initiatives:
The aim is to generate as much revenue as possible by making prospective and existing clients aware of the product, right “out of the gate.” If everyone has a great time but no business is generated, the product launch has failed.
Measures: # of leads and conversions, $ value of sales. Use formula 1 to calculate ROI (below).
Client Appreciation Events & User Conferences:
The goal of client appreciation events and user conferences is to forge a stronger bond with top-tier clients, retain them as customers, and boost what they are spending with your organization by increasing adoption of your products and services.
Measures: Incremental $ value of business generated as a result of engagement through client appreciation events.
Social Media Marketing Event:
Some argue that measures like number of followers, re-tweets and size of network are accurate indicators of the success of social media marketing initiatives. This is a misconception. If there is no revenue generated, it is an online social event not social media marketing. For example, if one holds a series of Twitter chats and there are no leads generated and none of these leads are converted into business, the ROI is zero. Read more on the ROI of Social Media.
Measures: # of leads, $ value of business generated
Time is money. Calculate how much time and money your organization is investing in social media. To do this, have employees track their time and calculate the value of this time based on their hourly rate. Add the $ value of any paid social media initiatives.
Engaging with your audience 365 days a year–not just onsite at your event–is the ultimate goal of many forward-thinking corporate planners and marketers.
What are you doing right now to capture the attention of your audience to build anticipation and drive tickets sales before your event starts? How are you making sure that conversations and relationships are continued long after the event is over?
You may know that event technology adds incredible value to the on-site experience but it can also help to achieve set goals pre-event, on-site, post-event and beyond! We’ll be writing about all 3 topics in upcoming blogs, but will focus this post on how event technology can help you accomplish your pre-event to-do list.
As a Customer Success Manager with EventMobi, there are several goals that have come up in conversation with my clients that you might also be looking to achieve:
Increase event registrations & boost ticket sales
Highlight keynote speakers to drive excitement
Share the right content at the right time
Give partners an opportunity to reach a broader audience
Facilitate networking beyond the four-walls of the venue
If your goal is to drive registration and/or ticket sales, using a event tech platform that integrates registration with your event app really simplifies your job.
Advantages of managing your own event app and digital signage through a content management system include:
Make changes on the fly
Easily customize the registration site to your event needs
Get your registration site up and running at your convenience
Here are a few ways drive traffic to your registration page:
Releasing early bird promo codes early on
Tier your registration release dates to target certain groups of attendees
Look into your email analytics or marketing automation system to understand which days/times your audience is more likely to open emails from you. Send your event invites on these days.
The advantage of choosing an event app that is integrated with registration, is that you can use your registration page as an opportunity to start driving traffic to your app. Even if your sessions are still being confirmed, you can upload the bare bones–your logo and some teaser content—so that when attendees register and click through, you can start pushing attendees to use and download the app.
Highlight keynote speakers to drive excitement:
So you’ve booked that awesome speaker – now what? It’s no secret that a great keynote can drive attendance for an event.
Here are some ways to highlight speakers on your registration page and in your event app to drive anticipation.
Highlight them on the main screen of your app
Bump their bio to the top of your speaker list
Send out targeted in-app alerts before the event with teaser content for their presentation
Use a private social network (like Group Discussions) as a pre-event Q & A channel to source hot questions for the keynote to tackle during their presentation.
You may even create a sense of FOMO “fear-of-missing-out”, when registered attendees start bragging to their colleagues and friends about who is speaking at your event!
Share the right content at the right time:
You know that awesome “know before you go” that you email out to attendees? Instead of having attendees madly digging through their inbox looking for those details, why not include it into your app?
Creating an in-app infobooth of centralized knowledge helps drive traffic to your app and provide continuous value to the attendees.
You can include things like:
Things to do in the area
Contact information for any questions.
In terms of marketing your event, providing continuous teaser content periodically will keep interest high! Have pre-event reading materials to include? No problem! See next goal for more info.
Give partners an opportunity to reach a broader audience:
Want to give your partners more visibility, but not sure how to reach this goal with event tech?
Promote a partner on the main page of your registration
Give them real estate in your event app in banner ads, profiles, or a homescreen widget on the main screen
Upload partner brochures and info into your app before the event. Pre-scheduled alerts can go out to attendees with bio information or links to their work, and you could even target these alerts to groups of attendees.
Create a branded discussion channel to allow your partners to share information at any time pre-event with the attendees!
Facilitate networking beyond the four-walls of the venue:
When searching for an event technology platform, make sure your platform allows attendees to connect at any time throughout the event experience. Focusing on engagement only on-site neglects the option for 365 engagement, so use such tools as attendee profiles, links to LinkedIn, and private social networks (like Group Discussions) to start chatter before the event.
Remember that pre-event engagement with your attendees is vital to ensure the success of your event and that you do not need to wait until all your attendees are onsite to start driving excitement, facilitating networking and adding value for partners.