Recently, I had the opportunity to present the findings of the Digital + Exhibit Marketing Insights study conducted by The Center for Exhibition Industry Research and the Exhibition Research Foundation in partnership with George P. Johnson at TS2 in Chicago.
This study surveyed 287 Corporate Brand and Exhibition Management senior-level professionals and was designed to build understanding around how respondents are currently integrating digital marketing into their event programs.
There were several interesting findings in the report. Through this and other posts, I’ll share these findings, what they mean and what you can do about them.
1. E-mail marketing / advertising, online advertising and websites / microsites are the digital tactics most used by event marketers.
What does it mean? Event marketers are primarily integrating web 1.0 technologies into their programs.
What can you do about it? Events are the original social media. Embrace and experiment with web 2.0 technologies to drive engagement, interactivity, immersion, internalization, enhancement and extension. For more information see this post.
2. Exhibition marketing respondents appear to use digital marketing tactics more frequently and prominently than corporate brand marketers.
What does it mean? Exhibition marketers often need to stay ahead of the curve to provide value-added services to attract and retain their target audiences and provide brands the right opportunities to reach these audiences as part of their business model.
What can you do about it? Audiences interact with brands both online and face-to-face. Together, face-to-face and digital marketing are a potent combination that can deeply engage audiences where they live, work and play and build real, long-term relationships. Ensure your plan includes an appropriate mix of both kinds of tactics.
3. The emphasis on using digital marketing tactics is pre event. Post event usage is also significant. Digital media is primarily used as a means to extend reach, improve audience engagement brand perception.
What does it mean? It appears digital marketing is primarily used as an event awareness and audience generation tool, and secondly as a follow-up tool. Interestingly, digital media is less used during the event.
What can you do about it? Its important to have a strategic approach toward integrating digital media into an event plan – not just before and after the event, but throughout the experience. Digital media can be used for both on and off-floor engagement and can enhance the audience experience.
4. The importance of digital marketing in the event world is increasing and will continue to grow.
What does it mean? Event marketers will follow suit and the continued adoption of web 2.0 technologies will become more prevalent in the event marketing mix. Also be watchful of how mobile marketing plays an increased role in event marketing.
What can you do about it? Continue experimenting (in moderation) with and integrating social media tactics into event marketing programs to drive community engagement at all levels. Consider integrating mobile marketing campaigns more deeply into the event experience to be ahead of the curve.
Overall, the organic integration of digital media with event marketing continues to grow. As marketers its important for us to recognize this, experiment with and drive a greater understanding of the best uses of digital media in the event space. If you discover something that works for you, please share to help build greater community knowledge. As always please feel free to comment with thoughts or questions.
Look for part 2 of this post where I’ll discuss Virtual Media within the next couple of weeks (I’m on vacation next week).