The beginning of the year brings a fresh set of research from analyst firms on the state of the market and predictions for the future. International Data Corporation, a market intelligence and demand generation company, recently released its latest perspective of the digital events market in, “Trends in Collaboration, Communities, Conferencing and Events.”
While a mouthful, this report covers the intersections of how digital events are used for audiences, especially in relation to maintaining and building communities, a priority for B2B organizations.
This report seeks to understand more about how attendees view events, what they want to gain from them and how attendees use information from these events to make buying decisions.
It’s a useful report, and worth reading if you have access. After reviewing it myself, I think there are five key takeaways from the report that B2B marketers should be aware of:
All events need to be virtual events to reach and engage the largest audience
Even with a return to physical, the buying journey will still be mainly digital. We cannot over-rotate our marketing mix to physical or leave behind potential buyers who lack the budget, or approvals to travel.
Produce events, internal and external, with the intent to engage, not just inform
Even in scenarios where the communication is one-to-many, there is an opportunity to engage audiences. Think about engagement through a few lenses, like the opportunity to engage with the content (resources to download, polls to participate in), the speaker (asking questions, providing feedback through emoji reactions) and other attendees (through group chat, breakout sessions) to understand where your audience is most likely to connect.
CRM and marketing integrations are invaluable
CRM and marketing integrations also serve to be highly valuable in identifying customer lifetime value, customer impact on others (advocates versus detractors), and engagement metrics that aid in personalization.
Events, physical and digital, cannot be siloed anymore. This has been an ongoing challenge for the industry, especially for physical events, that operate in data silos in organizations. Two-way syncs between marketing and sales systems of records and your digital experience technologies are critical to gathering insights and measuring ROI.
Physical events must have a valuable, first-class virtual option
Marketers and events teams can no longer consider digital participants second-class citizens, and we need marketing processes to catch up with this fact. Digital viewers who are engaged should be scored appropriately based on engagement without reference to the fact that they chose to attend virtually.
Audiences want to engage with other attendees
This validates findings from ON24 research that shows that audiences are looking to engage with one another, and prefer to do so via chat. It is interesting since allowing attendee-to-attendee chat is something marketers get nervous about since they lack control over what could be said.
This market is rapidly evolving and analysts are a great source of information and direction for marketers. This insight is critical to keep in mind as you design digital experiences and calibrate your marketing mix in 2023.
Engagement continues to be paramount. It is what audiences expect and it is our responsibility to create these experiences with engagement opportunities. Engagement follows the snowball effect — the more opportunities for engagement we create for audiences, the more they engage with us, the more engagement data we have access to scale marketing programs and sales follow-up.