Conference News - March 2016 - Page 63

TECHNOLOGY UPDATE Tooling up for the future Lawrence Coburn, CEO of DoubleDutch looks ahead with six event tech predictions 1.Event marketing will get its AdWords moment Getting everybody in the same building is no longer enough. The technology exists for organisers to instrument our events the same way we would a website. Organisers need to help their exhibitors with digital marketing: target, measure, iterate, optimise. Every other department in Marketing has made the transition and all notice how well we are digitising events. They will begin pulling event marketing into a data driven model. Advertising, marketing automation, CRM, e-marketing, SEO all benefit from the wealth of eventgenerated data that will no longer slip through the cracks. 2.Event engagement will become a thing Content Marketing as the be all/end all marketing strategy is being usurped by Engagement Marketing, a strategy that directly engages consumers and invites them to participate. Because it’s simply not enough to spit out content. Content production needs to be paired with an engagement and distribution strategy to ensure that it resonates with the right people. Layering in contemporary marketing strategies like engagement marketing only serves to elevate the role events plays in B2B. How effective brands are at driving and measuring deep engagement at their events, ultimately determines whether their attendees value the event. 3.A thousand flowers will bloom Events are a wonderful petri dish for software. Where else can you find thousands of highly engaged users with smartphones Voice of Reason Everything in moderation wandering around looking to network? It’s a software developer’s dream, and a beautiful proving ground for SoLoMo apps. I expect to see hundreds of startups enter the fray. New features will be tested, revenue streams unlocked, and lots of crazy stuff tried. Good ideas will stick and problems will be solved, and the physical world of events will continue to be enhanced by software. Both attendees and exhibitors should find their way to more ROI. 4.Messaging to become a core reason that attendees download event apps In the early days it was all about the agenda on the phone. Then it was the activity feed amplifying interesting conversations. Now we are going to see rocket fast, one-to-one or one-to-many messaging. Messaging apps are the fastest growing apps in the world and events are ripe for messaging disruption. No other feature has the potential to extend the shelf life of an event like messaging can. 5.We will see a ‘Marketo for event marketers’ Organisers often need help filling the house, and email marketing is a proven way to do it. Marketing systems of records have emerged like Hubspot and Marketo that are helping marketers stand up landing pages, instrument and optimise their marketing funnels, and run and measure their email campaigns. Events are a different enough beast that they deserve their own promotion systems, and I suspect that we will see pure plays emerge before the Hubspots and Marketos get around to going vertical. Ones to watch: Feathr, Bizzabo and Splash. 6.Metrics of our own For years, we have measured events’ performance with the bluntest of instruments: number of attendees, square footage, cost, etc. Now we are able to instrument our events like a website, and a whole new world of more predictive analytics is opening. Things like Attendee Sentiment and Attendee Influence and the ability to optimise exhibitor campaigns are all available. This could be the year we standardise around a core set of metrics that influence business outcomes, to complement the ones that we’ve leaned on to date. Technology knocking is becoming fashionable; the National Unplug Day garners popularity each year and Mash Media’s own Jamie Wallis (editor of EN) recently voiced his techno-scepticism. While this rejection is mainly focused on consumer electronics and their propensity to encroach on ‘real life’, will this backlash seriously effect events? We have seen research showing that young people are rejecting event apps, and some industry events are dropping them, too, without any public backlash. The tech vendors only have themselves to blame. We have seen technology being touted to fix problems that don’t exist, with vendors unveiling their new tech with a fanfare of wild claims, only for it to quietly disappear a few months later. Tech can offer ways to fix a problem but is not a panacea of all ills. When buying a Bentley or a Rolls Royce, a beautiful brochure will be expected, not a download. When meeting someone, you expect to be given a proper business card – and you remember the nicer ones. As soon as tech vendors cotton on to the fact that tech will not replace everything, the world will be a better, and more balanced place. Simon Clayton, RefTech March 2016 • www.conference-news.co.uk • 63 CN.03.16.063.indd 63 17/02/2016 15:01