Designing an efficient high-touch event strategy in 2021 is a challenge. With the majority of participants craving person-to-person interactions, it's imperative to streamline creativity while making major changes to formats and content.
Optimizing high-touch event strategies in the digital age is tough enough. Keeping them evergreen warrants continuous research, adjustments, and a highly creative approach. By staying on top of the latest trends and tools, it's possible to tweak your high-touch event strategy without incurring formidable expenses.
According to EMB, 36% of event managers consider engagement to be the biggest challenge when turning to virtual formats.
At Impact Point Group, we help event teams design seamless event strategies that work toward achieving their business goals. Below we describe top elements to keep your efficient high-touch event strategy competitive. To learn more about each of these tactics, download our full Digital Event Forecast.
1. Curated Content Journeys
With engagement being one of the biggest challenges for event teams, developing a highly customized journey for your audience is an integral part of planning. By providing attendees an opportunity to participate in activities they feel passionate about, you are keeping them attached to the event.
Your goal is to find, organize, and provide the most relevant high-quality digital content to the event participants at different stages of the journey, from sign-up to feedback.
For example, when arranging the Dreamforce to You 2020 event, Salesforce implemented excellent content curation tactics that included:
- Holding an engaging keynote session two weeks before the event.
- Sending curated content offerings via email to help attendees sign up for specific engagements and design a personalized schedule.
Both approaches boosted the audience's engagement while customizing their experience. Since time is an issue to all potential event participants, the ability to get the most out of the event is the key to high attendance and satisfaction rates.
Pre-event engagement tactics (like preliminary keynote sessions) are an excellent way to help attendees prepare for the event and retrieve sufficient knowledge from the available resources.
By providing well-organized content before, during, and after the event, you contribute to your audience's success, thus affecting the company's profitability.
2. Innovative Engagement Techniques
With the majority of events moving online, digital fatigue is more real than ever. Addressing this issue is the key to improving engagement during high-touch events. Efficient engagement techniques for the fatigued audience may include:
- A variety of formats within one event to diversify the attendee experience.
- Short event formats (less than 2 hours) to avoid fatigue.
- A limited size of the roundtable to maximize efficiency and reduce session duration.
- Arranging physical and mental breaks to fight fatigue and increase engagement.
- Hosting thought-leadership breakout sessions (with limited or one-on-one attendance) for like-minded participants to maximize event efficiency and diversify experience.
- Designing personalized on-demand content extensions to keep the audience engaged longer.
- Adding a moderator for chats and Q&A to monitor posts and spark content to keep the engagement strong.
Event participants are already fatigued from virtual interactions. By diversifying formats and introducing engagement activities, you can prevent them from logging off.
3. Strategic Monetization
Compared to 2020, the expected meeting spend for 2021 in North America is down by 6%. By focusing on strategic monetization, it's possible to maximize profits while improving engagement.
Gated VIP Experiences
Strategic monetization allows event managers to charge for a gated VIP experience that other attendees don't have access to.
Besides creating an additional buzz around the event and attracting executive audiences, such an approach capitalizes on the thought leaders' FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), encouraging them to purchase VIP passes that provide more value than standard event tickets.
For example, VMworld event managers employed FOMO by offering a more personalized VIP experience for an additional cost and creating a sense of urgency by arranging limited-time registration and promoting the experience as "one time only."
VIP experience provides additional networking opportunities for participants. Networking in the digital event format is highly challenging. Anything that facilitates the process is in high demand.
It's important to plan your monetization efforts around the purpose of your event. Depending on the goal you want to achieve with the event, you can figure out which content and formats can be monetized.
4. Broadcast-Like Production Standards
Even though the pandemic will end eventually, digital events are here to stay. With events set to continue in an integrated format, it's imperative for event managers to plan for continuous digital event demand.
Event teams can use this trend to their advantage by investing in broadcast-like production standards that make their events unique while improving the attendee's experience.
By taking full advantage of the available technologies and investing in professional assistance, it's possible to stay ahead of the competition both during and after the pandemic.
VMworld managers sent out production kits to speakers and invited them into the studio to record their part of the event by using professional equipment. This streamlined the presentation by helping it flow from speaker to speaker seamlessly.
5. Optimized Sponsor Engagements
The pivot to digital created a sponsorship conundrum, which many event managers are struggling to solve. Perfecting digital sponsorships is a painful challenge. However, some event teams are already figuring it out.
To optimize sponsor engagements, consider using fewer sponsors, thus utilizing existing sponsorships in full. The "less is more" tactic can work since it requires a personalized approach and allows individual sponsors to be highlighted throughout the event.
Trying to attract as many sponsors as possible is time-consuming and has a low ROI. On the other hand, focusing on a small number of sponsor partnerships gives you an opportunity to bring more value to your audience and improve lead-generation possibilities for the sponsors.
Streamlining 2021 High-Touch Event Strategies
The key problems event managers face in the digital realm are engagement, monetization, and sponsorship. By adjusting your high-touch event strategies to address these issues, it's possible to make the most out of your event planning in 2021 and beyond.
The digital event format is here to stay. That's why it's imperative to design your next strategy with digital nuances in mind. With the "new new normal" of integrated events forthcoming, relying on pre-pandemic tactics is counterproductive.
Would you like to learn more about strategic high-touch event strategy? Please contact us to set up a meeting.