Events are changing. While technology has always played a role in the planning, running and marketing of events, this role has expanded rapidly in scope over the last ten years or so. Today technology is allowing event planners and marketing departments to understand attendees like never before. Whether it’s through the use of social media to reach out to and build up profiles of prospective customers or the use of on-site check in software that is enabling print on demand badging and rapid registration, technology is irrevocably changing the event experience itself. Denise Sharpe takes up the story.

In this article I’d like to look at five key areas where technology is making a massive difference and how you can use it to power your next corporate event.

1. Social Media

Social media is a hugely influential marketing channel for event promoters and event marketers. From pre-event buzz and live tweeting and video streaming through to keeping the conversation going post event, social media was made for event marketing.

Social networks are often perceived as an alternative to live events in that they are about connecting with peers, influencers and customers in an open environment (albeit a virtual one). This couldn’t be more misleading. Whilst social networks do facilitate connections they pale into insignificance when compared to the quality of lead generation and networking at a live event. Much of this is down to the power and lasting impression of real human interactions and experiences that appeal to all the senses.

In this sense, then social media should be seen as a means of facilitating and enhancing real events. This might involve you live streaming your event on social media, creating pre event or post event webinars or the creation of a hashtag that helps people stay up to date with your event online. However you choose to use social media, it is simply too influential to ignore. We will be taking a closer look at some of the methods and tactics surrounding the use of social media in event marketing in a future blog post.

2. Make it Mobile Friendly

A mobile friendly digital marketing strategy is no longer a luxury, it’s essential. We are increasingly using our smartphones to access our email, websites and make purchases. In fact a 2014 Ticketfly study found that 44% of event related emails were opened on mobile phones. This highlights the importance of making all your online event marketing mobile friendly. Emails that don’t render on mobile phones aren’t just likely to come across as unprofessional they can also take longer to download and be hard to read. When first impressions count, this can really eat into your conversion rate.

Websites are another area where it pays to be mobile friendly. In fact Google’s mobile friendly algorithm update (dubbed ‘mobilegeddon’ at the time by SEOs) has recently been updated to give further preference to mobile optimised websites in the search results. But ranking well in search is only half the story when it comes to mobile friendly sites. With more and more people accessing websites on their smartphones, user experience is key to creating a good first impression.

Finally, all your banner advertising and native content should be optimised for mobile. Remember you’re dealing with a much smaller screen so creating attention grabbing taglines and titles is even more important to CTR.

3. Harness Event Check-in Technology

First impressions count when it comes to putting on an event and this means giving attendees a smooth and hassle free experience. Many attendees may be travelling from other cities or even countries so this experience doesn’t just start the moment they come through the door but the moment they step off a plane or train and make the journey to your event.

It’s impossible to predict exactly when people will turn up so inevitably large numbers of attendees can all turn up at once, leading to overstretched check-in desks and the inevitable queues. Modern event management software has allowed for check-in and registration systems that can print badges on demand and help you get people through the door quickly and painlessly. Not only does this create a competent and technologically savvy first impression but, by linking directly into your CRM, you can see who is at your event and who isn’t in real time.

4. Joined-up data management

All marketing relies on the ability to track and ascertain success. This means understanding what your key customer touch points are and being able to track customers through the sales funnel. A unified and joined up data management system will allow you to map and understand your event in context as one of these customer touch points that link up to many other touch points that come before and after it.

Not only does this kind of joined-up data management allow you to better track customers, it also allows you to improve the experience itself. The ability to know who your VIPs are, which of them are attending your event and when they show up allows you to provide a more personalised service, such as meeting them at the door. Integrating other info into your event management software like GPS data or flight times, also allows you to re-route your transport arrangements if necessary.

By increasing the amount of data you are collecting before and during the event you can create more accurate personas of who your attendees are. This allows for greater accuracy when it comes to lead generation and targeted follow up marketing.

5. Attendee tracking and mobile tech

By using tracking tech like Wi-Fi and RFID, event organisers are able to gain insights into attendee behaviour like never before. Information could include what talks they attended, booths they visited, when they turned up and when they left. By encouraging the use of event apps you can further improve the experience for your attendees, by providing things like relevant exhibitor to attendee content and mobile event alerts.

Today’s event attendee is often clued up, digitally engaged in your industry and will arrive with a very specific set of expectations and requirements of the event. Using mobile event technology, in conjunction with social media, allow you to build a better picture of each attendee through your CRM and give them a more tailored experience at your event. Whether it’s digital signage that reacts to sensor tech or attendee badges that allow for cashless payments sensor tech is changing the nature of events and creating personalised and seamless experiences like never before.

If you’re interested in how we can help you harness technology to get the most from your event, then get in touch with us today for a chat.

About the Author: Denise Sharpe is Managing Director and founding partner of London based event management company Outsourced Events. With over twenty years in the event industry, she has helped run events for global corporates such as Dell, Citrix and renowned UK organisations like the Royal College of Occupational Therapists. You can get in touch with Outsourced Events on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook or check out more of Denise’s insights on their event blog.