2018 Event Predictions: Marketers Double Down on Personalization

With 2018 now in full swing, event marketers are gearing up for a new year of events with one major question in mind: How do we stand out?

In a recent article by MarTech Series, top industry influencers offered their insights on the trends and new technologies that are driving events in the new year. Greater focus on personalizing the attendee experience and engagement make up the framework for how marketers can get the most out of events in 2018 and beyond.

One thing is clear for event marketers in 2018: Personalization is key.

Prioritizing the Attendee Experience

A recent survey by Certain revealed that 70 percent of US-based senior marketers increased their spend on events in 2017, signaling the inevitable rise in in-person events and attendance in 2018. When taking into consideration the often overwhelming amount of sessions, panels, and social events that go into a single event cycle, as well as the vast variety of attendee interests and priorities, it’s not hard to see how events can sometimes lose the personalization factor.

  • “There is so much more events can be doing to provide value, and the easier event technology vendors make it to implement this level of personalization so that each attendee walks away with a customized experience, the faster we’ll see this value materialize.” Josh Steimle, Author and Founder of Influencer Inc.
  • “Events are all about delivering great experiences. So in 2018 we’ll see events increasingly using chatbots to deliver great attendee engagement experiences by acting as event concierge desks, dispensing advice on navigating large event spaces, recommending sessions, setting up meetings, and so on. The applications are pretty limitless — especially for large events that need to figure out a way to make their events more personal, human-scale.” Ann Handley, COO of MarketingProfs
  • “[2018 will bring] better targeting of audiences and more matching of attendees based on data about their interests.” said Raab. “Encouraging interactions among attendees has always been important and technology now makes it much more possible.” David Raab, Principal of Raab Associates

Centralized Event Communications

2018 may see a shift in how marketers look to centralize event communications. Event organizers and exhibitors often rely on social media and event-specific apps to access important updates and information, but the new year could see a greater use of event hashtags as a tool for event communications.

  • “The event hashtag will move from just a place to share tweets on site to a place where people will interact before, during, and after an event. But it is up to event organizers to push people into that direction by, for example, only posting speaker slide decks via hashtag.” David Meerman Scott, Leading Marketing and Sales Strategist

Maximizing Use of Speakers and Influencers

It’s no secret that big-name speakers can be a major draw for attendees, but there is great potential in the impact that can be made beyond delivering a keynote or session.

  • “Event marketers are increasingly realizing that they need professional speakers to both attract attendees and to deliver better content experiences when folks show up.”Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group
  • “Event marketers…will finally realize and act upon the potential that influencers have for their event. From having influencers promote your event beforehand to fostering them live-tweeting and Instagramming your event to help amplify the event’s content to their networks, to the potential for post-event content to create an archive of event content and build buzz for the next event. Influencers are the missing ‘human’ piece that promises huge potential for event marketers who understand their potential in today’s digital age.”Neal Schaffer, Leading Social Media Consultant and Author

Real-time Data Gathering

A 2017 survey from Certain found that 51 percent of U.S.-based senior marketers use event automation solutions in their current event strategies, a number that is bound to grow in 2018. As vendors and organizers seek to improve personalization at events, the use of advanced technologies will undoubtedly increase, enabling more tailored content and communication with attendees.

This is where event automation tools will make their impact, offering invaluable information for marketers to utilize when engaging with prospects.

  • “[In 2018, we’ll start to see] more real-time data gathering about session attendance, audience response, polls during sessions, etc., all serving to make the conferences more interactive and more responsive to attendee needs. Similarly, [there will be] more audience-driven content: attendees have lots of expertise to share; technology should make sharing easier as the conference unfolds and even during sessions.” David Raab, Principal of Raab Associates
  • “I’d love to see this be the year that marketers use the intent data they have, whether its interest by product line, pain point, or where a prospect is in the buying cycle, all of this data can be used to suggest the right event agenda for each attendee to maximize their time and learning potential during events.” – Kristen Alexander, VP Marketing, Certain

Marketers can expect to see the increased use of event technology, the power of speakers and influencers, and the value of real-time data as the major components for achieving that much-needed personalization in 2018. As in-person events continue to play a critical role for marketers, the ability to create a more personal experience will be key in not only attracting audiences, but in capturing and keeping their attention.

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