Matt Coyne, the co-founder of AMMP Digital, explores what planners can learn from MarTech platforms on how to win and retain attendees.
This blog originally appeared on Virtual Events Institute
Being an event technologist, I’ve absolutely loved having a professional foot, and a personal passion, in three of the most creative and innovative industries – events, technology and design.
Technology is currently shifting at a much faster rate than events and so provides great insight into the rapidly changing ways people are interacting with the world around them.
These insights have always informed my view of events and the amazing opportunities there are for our industry to adapt and evolve, keeping ourselves relevant and audiences engaged.
Many of the conversations I’ve had with our team recently as we launched our own event tech platform have been around the approach and delivery of modern event tech software and being fit-for-purpose in 2021. Starting with the attendee, we put the user experience at the heart of events.
We are passionate about ripping up the rule book, but we have also learned from other successful MarTech platforms how to recruit, onboard and retain users. We have sought to understand the ways MarTech platforms are engaging with SMEs, as well as large global organizations, in recognizing the benefit of quick, effortless onboarding to their businesses.
Events professionals can benefit from the experiences of some of the most successful technology providers in learning how to win and maintain their user’s attention.
1: Users like to jump right in
When using a new tech – whether it’s a software platform or hardware device – customers like to dive straight in.
With many of these marketing SaaS programs, once a user has signed-up they are ready to go and can start using the platform instantly. There is no long-form registration but a few weeks later a networking tool or event app is launched. It’s all there – ready and waiting for the user to start benefiting straight away.
We know engaged registrants are much more likely to convert into a live event attendee so being able to register quickly and jumping into the event experience is essential for any delegate. A straightforward registration system that lands in a personalized event portal will help attendees kick-start their event experience faster and on a positive note.
2: Simplicity is key
If it needs an instruction manual, it’s already broken.
From my early days in design through to building websites, event registration and smart badging, the most successful campaigns I’ve worked on have always been the simplest for clients, exhibitors and visitors to understand and interact with.
The most effective platforms and social media channels are the ones that rely on simple design, straight-forward messaging, and easy-to-follow calls to action.
As seen on an event just a few weeks ago, we received links to video walkthroughs, links to TWO different PDF “how-to’s” as well as a click to a walkthrough when you clicked-in. I’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt myself, but surely we should look at making the product so simple we don’t need all of these guides? Or certainly simplifying the onboarding experience.
As a tech provider, we need to make sure we invest the time so that users simply log in, get what they want, love the experience, and stay.
3: You can learn more about a person from their interaction with your platform than you can from asking them
Trade show registration forms are notoriously long – often more than 25 questions. While most organizers just about refrain from asking for an attendee’s inside leg measurement, there is very little value given to the user in exchange for their information.
Some platforms instead prefer to collect a more solid picture of users from their interaction with the platform. Many try to understand its users’ motivations from their actions, rather than their answers to predisposed questions.
Many event tech platforms offer event organizers the opportunity to understand behavior-based interaction from online-to-onsite through data profiling. Surely knowing the behavior of how a visitor is interacting with your exhibitors and content is much more relevant than knowing their company’s annual spend?
4: You need to work hard to keep their attention
This may be a surprise – but our customers don’t live and breathe our events.
With so many distractions available, a registrant can quickly forget about your event immediately after registering. One solution to this problem is to bombard event registrants with generic conversion emails but, I ask – how’s that working out for you?!
If we look again to the global marketing SaaS platforms for their conversion strategies, their communications are much more tailored. For example, ‘we can see you’re using THIS tool, many customers have also found success with THAT tool’.
Keeping the attention of your visitors will come down to how much you understand them – again a second argument for intelligent data profiling.
5: There has to be value in order to maintain attention
Many online tools have diversified. One company that was once simply an email marketing tool has now adopted a focus to help small businesses every step of the way. The value it is providing to the users is right there on the tin and underpins every one of their business decisions.
Ask yourself what the value is for your users in engaging with your event and then look at the way they experience your event brand.
6: You get one chance
In the competitive world of software platforms, big tech knows it has only one chance to retain a user, so its top priority is creating the perfect frictionless experience.
If the value is clearly demonstrated, if it is simple to use and interact with, and if it speaks to the needs of the business – a user will stay.
As events return, we will only have one chance to capitalize on the energy of our returning audiences, so it needs to be right from the outset.