The digital event strategy should be the most important part of any event planning process.
As the event industry continues to feel the impact of COVID-19, now is the time for event planners to embrace digital technology and build confidence in virtual and hybrid events as effective marketing tactics. We need to reimagine and think differently in our approach to events. It is no longer just about execution. In order to effectively demonstrate event value, event planners must shift their mindsets to think and act strategically.
Underestimating the importance of an event strategic plan can have a direct negative impact on the success of your event.
The digital event strategy should be the most important part of any event planning process. However, it is often overlooked as a critical step. Too many planners receive a project and jump right into event design and execution tactics, without a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished. Then, there is a tendency to be too tactical. I hear planners ask questions like what platform should we use? Or, can we convert our in-person event in a virtual program? Instead of these and similar questions, planners need to be asking questions that help them better understand what event hosts would like to accomplish. The bottom line is, you cannot focus on the platform or meeting type until you know why an event is being held.
Strategy is important because the type of in-person, hybrid, or digital event depends on the host company’s goals.
Not all events are the same. One size does not fit all. The best planners use a variety of events to reach different audiences at different stages of the sales funnel. It’s important to understand the company’s strategy and to build your event strategy to support their business goals.
Your strategy is your roadmap, aligning vendors, suppliers, and internal teams to work towards a common goal or goals. After all, the goal of an effective event strategy is to produce a positive ROI.
Creating Your Digital Event Strategy
The industry agrees that you cannot recreate an in-person event as a digital experience. There is also agreement that a digital event will have a greater reach and require more engagement to keep interest and participation rates high. With this in mind, it’s important that you reduce the urge to focus too quickly on design and execution. This means more strategic planning. Be proactive. Ask specific questions. Make sure you answer the 5 Ws and the 1 H to build a comprehensive event strategy:
- Why are we having this event? Convert the ‘why’ into SMART objectives.
- What do we want attendees to learn or take away from the event? What does success look like? What specific actions do we want attendees to do after the event?
- Who do we want to reach? Who is our target audience? Who are our internal and external stakeholders?
- When do we want the event to happen?
- Where do we want the event to happen (in-person, virtual, or hybrid)?
- How will we manage the event and how will we measure event success?
It is important that we don’t focus on bottom-line results alone.
Too many times, business leaders want to know the economic impact. If your company is the market leader, and you have a large market share, your ‘why’ should not be about new leads or revenue. Instead, focus on behavioral changes, organic growth, relationship building, brand loyalty, and gaining knowledge.
Without a digital events strategy, you may not achieve the desired outcome or achieve your business goals.
Benefits of a Digital Event Strategy
A good digital event strategy provides:
- Direction – Provide focus, clarity, and alignment for all event activities and a guide for stakeholders to follow. Use this strategy to deliver content in formats your audience desires and will want to watch.
- Productivity and efficiency – Ensure people concentrate on common goals, making everyone more productive and efficient in saving time and money.
- Target audience – Market to specific demographics, psychographics, and personas of your target audience. Recognize that each segment and stakeholder may have different expectations, needs, and outcomes from the event. This research can be time consuming. The marketing team should have this information. A short meeting could reveal SMART reasons for hosting the event.
Your Digital Event Strategy Is a Roadmap
The digital event strategy identify, define, and guide your:
- Value proposition – Include a value proposition that targets a customer need. The value proposition may vary by product line and target audience.
- Engagement – Know your audience’s personas, to create more engaging content. The more you keep them engaged, the more you can prove value. You can learn a lot about each attendee from what they do during the digital event:
- Which sessions did they attend?
- How long did they stay in sessions?
- What type of questions did they ask?
- Which booths did they visit?
- Which sponsors did they see?
- What did they download?
- Lead scoring – Create a lead scoring matrix based on attendee actions to determine engagement. Develop a plan to continue conversations after the event. Create specific messaging and actions based on their lead score and position in the sales funnel. Integrate this information into your CRM. Use it to develop future programming and content.
- Focus and clarity during design phase –A comprehensive strategy will prevent distractions from design elements that serve no purpose. Your strategy becomes the blueprint to clearly drive toward the goals you wish to accomplish.
- Alignment – Your strategy can help align the entire team, including marketing, sales, social media, demand generation, IT departments, and others. The strategy brings clarity to everyone involved and the entire planning process.
More than 70% of event planners expect digital events to continue. While developing a digital event strategy is a time-consuming and sometimes difficult task, its importance cannot be overlooked. Strategy is the backbone of every successful digital event. So start early, plan comprehensively, and be flexible. As a digital event strategist, I can help your event team reevaluate your event strategy and help you prove value for your events. Let’s talk about how Grow Your Events can help you. Get in touch.