Planning An Event? Here are 6 Ways to Benefit from Adding Digital
As we’ve all grasped by now, the world has gone digital. Brands are ultra aware of their digital presence and this certainly feeds into the worlds of Events and Experiential Marketing. In short, it is no longer a question of whether or not to factor in digital... but, rather, how digital will be incorporated to good effect.
I should stress that following suit and adding tech into your event shouldn’t just stem from a fear of looking outdated, or a thoughtless need to copy market trends (often the briefs that have it wrong from the start are the ones that begin with a declaration along the lines ‘we just want to do something with AR….’). In fact, to the contrary there is still a great deal to be said for good old fashioned event management; stripped back and simple. The strength of using digital elements at events isn’t drawn from this perception that we live in a modern world, ergo we must do digital…. The reason it’s savvy to utilise digital in your plans is because, in it’s own right, when done correctly, it makes everything far more efficient!
Here are some ways and reasons to use digital at your events to good effect.
There will always be room for an old school postal invitation, but there comes a point when it just makes sense to let technology do the time-consuming nitty-gritty admin. Gone are the days of juggling multiple messy spreadsheets and manually ticking off RSVPs as they trickle through. A far cleaner, quicker and even more cost-effective way to bring attendees through the door is to manage the process digitally: build a branded HTML invitation e-mail and a matching mobile-responsive registration site through which guests can register interest, commit to attending, or even populate some simple fields to inform your approach to hosting them during the event.
Within one or two clicks, the RSVP is captured, grouped appropriately in a back-end database - all encrypted and GDPR compliant! Minimal fuss for a busy event management team, great trackability to keep a feel for who is attending, and a smooth, immediate method for guests to commit.
A massive time and stress-saver all round, and not to mention the cost for this really is way less than you’d expect!
INCREASED DWELL TIME ON THE STAND
The mantra “build it and they will come” may work for certain things, but sadly at your event people need a pull to bring them in and then a reason to stay. Being more innovative is a great way to pique interest. As the majority are, presumably, well-versed in the language of technology, why not play on this? If people are into it, and if done correctly people can get excited by it, then injecting a bit of a digital presence into your event just feels right. Use it as a means to tap into what gets people’s attention.
If you have nice rich content you’re keen to show off, go for something very tactile that people need to engage with in order to absorb. The ideal scenario is that there is a blur between people absorbing your content and enjoying the means through which they are engaging. You can even design your experience to fit to a certain dwell time - create a shorter experience to churn through thousands of guests over the course of the event, or more open-ended pieces for people to explore at their own pace if you're looking for people to enjoy a deeper experience with the brand or the product.
If you’re wondering what on earth these mystical techy ideas could actually look like, then do read on!
OPERATING ON A PLAYING FIELD WITHOUT LIMITS
Taking the attention away from the more measurable, quantifiable benefits to technology and turning it to the more creative, emotive…. Deciding to design and build something digital for an event opens up a “virtually” limitless world of possibilities (budget permitting of course).
With such a spectrum of things you could build, naturally it’s important to have some clear direction; which means a solid enough idea of what you’re looking to achieve, a rough idea of how much is worth spending, and to take plenty of creative input to help fit the brief. Operating in a world where you could bring almost anything to life is an invigorating idea. With the shackles off you can be more innovative, more creative and really impress consumers and clients who are often short on time and attention spans...
Content on touchscreens (small to monstrously big), iPads, touch floors, motion sensor walls, virtual reality, augmented reality, addictive games, wearable technology tracking “passion”, QR code scanners, microsites, data capture tools, interactive infographics, live streams, 360 experiences, event apps… the list goes on and on.
The surprising thing is that the costs to deliver most of these ideas really aren’t as punchy as you’d think. Ranging from just a couple of grand for a simple data capture app to around £10k for a well-designed game or quiz - in fact, the vast proportion of an event budget tends to get eaten up by the space and build of the physical stand itself, as well as staff, catering, decorative elements, and don’t get me started on internet... (more on that to come!)
CAPTURING DATA AND SALES LEADS
If your event stand isn’t simply there to give people something to do, or just there to look cool, then it’s more than likely you’ll want to show some sort of ROI.
There are different ways to do this. You could be blunt and simply ask people to type in names and e-mails, or you could be more subtle and slip this in amongst a wider experience: quizzes, games, short stylish surveys with some kind of incentive, or even just a fill-in form to enter a prize draw on an ipad are all effective ways to go. Often this comes down to how many guests you are looking to get through - you may need to churn through visitors to get hundreds of entries in a short space of time, or the importance may be on the levels of engagement with the space. Either way, a grasp of how many people showed up, and retaining some basic information will give you that all important answer to the question of what you got for your money.
Retaining the data from an event puts a numerical rating on how successful your efforts have been, and furthermore you can get a gauge on the activity itself. Who used the app? What was the dwell time on each page? When was activity on the stand at its peak? With the right data being tracked, and the right analytics going on in the background, you can form a complete picture of the flow of the day. So no guesswork - measuring the digital footprint offers you something far more quantifiable, and you can always still see how much people enjoyed it with your own eyes!
One issue you’ll be faced with when asking one device to pass data to another is the strength of the internet. My advice would be to always assume the internet is terrible to non-existent. Any data capture mechanic should be built to keep data safe on the specific device, and when a better connection is established, all of this data can pass via a server to the database. This means no loss of data and no reliance on expensive military-strength internet at the event.
Data capture at events is turning into a must-have, so why not make it easier for all concerned and let technology do the work. It’s cheap and saves sooo much precious time!
PLUG INTO SOCIAL
Make content shareable during and post-event - two benefits spring to mind: this is another easy way to track ROI (it’d almost be a crime not to) and it creates a wider buzz around your brand and the impact you’ve had. It’s no longer even a generational thing. Of course younger generations are far more tuned in (/obsessed) but social sharing icons are now ubiquitous - most people try to cultivate a stronger online presence. Others at least have one.
For better or worse, people dedicate a large chunk of their lives to social media, so why not play on this at your event. Focusing on the ‘for better’ part… your reach will stretch further (online but funnily enough as a result offline too!), attention will be placed on your brand from all angles, and a positive message spreads quickly.
KEEP A LINE OF COMMUNICATION OPEN
The event has finished and everyone moves on with their lives. What did anyone take from it? Well… it was quite fun and seemed to go down well… And will I ever see or hear from these people again? Erm… hopefully?
Surely we’d all rather have more control than this. It sounds so obvious but a more thorough way to know how well the event was delivered is to ask people, and a good way to ensure you can follow up with people is to make sure you have the details you need. Be sure to keep a digital record - a database of sorts - for people who have opted in for future contact. If you were capturing data, now the mind turns to putting this to good use.
Traditionally data will be passed on to the sales and marketing teams as leads to be gently pursued… but from a pure event management perspective it’s useful to re-engage with people for a number of reasons. Either at the end of the live day, or post-event, you’ve got a great chance to solicit guests’ opinions. A quick nudge towards a web page, a digital survey, or better yet a follow up HTML e-mail, sending some relevant content or a takeaway from the event can bring your event around neatly to its end. As a brand you are sure to remain on the radar - without being too intrusive - and you show yourselves to be thorough.
People may well give constructive feedback if you ask for it. Moreover, a clean encrypted database of guests and their individual levels of engagement and their preferences stands you in great stead when planning the next one!
Beyond the suggestions above, there are plenty more ways to benefit from building digital into your events. If you’re keen to explore any of these then do get in touch and we’d be happy to chat through ideas, costs, timeframes, and any projects - from the simple to the outlandish.