Omnichannel or Hybrid – find out how creating digital sales tools and event experiences in unison can increase RoI

“POP took one idea and shaped it into a multi-touch programme – executable in different ways, languages and over an extended timeframe. As a direct result, we doubled our lead capture at our booths” Mike Oliver, Senior Marketing Manager, Citrix.

Events are coming back, but how can you maximise RoI in these changeable times and ensure that you can connect with your customers whatever the future holds?

By developing an event and sales experience in unison, it is possible to create an integrated approach to your events and sales tools. Addressing both sales and marketing channels at the same time – an omnichannel approach – not only are your messages consistent across both, but the development time and costs are considerably less.

And, importantly, it doesn’t need to be costly or complicated to pull off, if you have the right team to guide you.

This blog will show you the current thinking on events and technology, what your options are, the advantages and what your first steps should be.

The events roadmap

You can’t help but be excited about the prospect of in-person events again. After a challenging 14 months for event organisers and sales and marketing teams, who rely on events to demonstrate their latest products, meet customers and make connections, there is good news on the horizon.

Not only is the vaccination programme having a positive effect on infections. But it looks likely that events will be resuming in some form very soon. The latest pilot events held in Liverpool recently certainly give hope.

In the UK, each Home Nation has its own approach and for global businesses it is even more complex. While small indoor and larger scale outdoor events should be able to start up again from 17th May in Scotland, in England it is hoped larger indoor events will also be possible, with limits on capacity, followed just over a month later (21st June) by all events being permitted.

Evolving attitudes to digital events  

However, a recent survey from Reed Exhibitions, which surveyed 3000 exhibitors and over 9000 attendees across 201 events from June 2020 to October 2020, suggests that the events landscape may be forever changed and technology is likely to feature more widely.

It discovered that:

  • 84% of visitors and exhibitors have tried at least one new digital service since lockdown
  • 94% of visitors say they would like to carry out one or more event activities digitally whilst they are unable or unwilling to attend in person
  • 59% of visitors now say they would be likely to sign up to attend an online trade event
  • 57% believe that they can still carry out the majority of their event objectives online, this figure rose from 52% between June and Sept 2020, which suggests the more exposure to digital tools the more beneficial they’re found.

But most interestingly “65% of exhibition visitors believe digital will continue to work for events after Covid-19”. In other words, while the desire for live events is strong, customers have experienced the convenience and accessibility of virtual and online events – the future, in many of their minds, is hybrid.

What is a digitally enhanced hybrid event?

A successful hybrid event encompasses omnichannel marketing thinking – creating an experience that can be centred around the event, but uses other marketing channels to create a seamless customer journey.

Whether your customer is:

  • Physically at the event interacting with a Touchscreen or AR experience – exploring a product, its features and benefits through 3D modelling, video and written materials. Discussing their requirements with your sales team on the stand and emailing relevant information back home for consideration later   
  • Accessing the 3D virtual exhibition online at home or work, viewing the same content available on the stand, but also connecting via webinars, and having conversations with stand reps in one-to-one video calls. Available 24/7 and for as long as you want online
  • Viewing and discussing content that was also available on the stand with a sales rep in a face-to-face or virtual meeting, with webinars and other event-created content available on-demand
  • Or a combination of all three.

The same tailored customer journey, marketing and sales materials or opportunities with sales reps is available at all touchpoints to create a fully immersive brand experience.   

“We came to POPcomms because we wanted to tell a story. When presenting to customers you have to find the heart of the message and deliver it in a visually impressive and memorable way – and POPcomms do just that every time for us.” – Andrew Davidson, Head of Marketing, Hosting, Network & Security, Fujitsu

So, what are the advantages of this new approach for event organisers?

It is clear from the evidence that the pandemic has changed customers’ attitudes to in-person and digital events. However, exhibitors are more cautious.

According to Reed’s survey only “57% of exhibitors believe digital will continue to work for events after COVID-19.” The reason for this is unclear from the research, but if it is related to money, time or convenience here are some compelling reasons why a hybrid approach can be more cost effective, accountable and compelling:

  • Cost effective – one digital sales tool can be created as a single source of truth, able to be updated instantly and flexed across different platforms and available for as long as required
  • Flexibility with on-demand content – customers can access the information at their own convenience. They can download any data or information they like, when they like
  • Personalisation – interactive sales experiences enable content to be filtered according to interest, geography etc, so only information relevant to each specific user will be shown

“86% of B2B organisations see a positive ROI of their hybrid events 7 months after the event date.” Markletic

  • Flexible content – a well-designed digital hybrid tool can be created to filter content appropriate to the situation it’s being used in. At events content can be selected to be shown on Touchscreens or accessed on smartphones through QR codes, to minimise physical contact. This same content can be accessed remotely by visitors unable to attend physically
  • Increased reach – some customers may not want to visit events, may prefer to engage remotely or may not have attended anyway if overseas or extended travel was involved. Digital tools can broaden your reach by making your most valuable and important of assets available virtually and globally. 

“47% of event organisers say that hybrid events are a solution in connecting internationally dispersed audiences.” Markletic

  • Analytics – data is crucial in understanding your customers’ needs and analytics can track every interaction and provide valuable insights
  • Social distancing – it is a topic for debate at the moment, but it is possible that restrictions on numbers may need to continue in some form in the future. A two-stream approach to events will ensure larger numbers, as some delegates can attend in a digital capacity.
  • Reduced environmental impact – a key objective of many businesses is carbon footprint reduction, hosting hybrid events makes this goal more achievable 
  • Driving business forward – it may well be the case that digital transformation has featured on your company’s to-do list for a while. Now is the opportunity to make progress in this area. By developing a solution that can be easily adapted to be used in the future.

A joined up approach

Digital event technology is no longer a ‘nice to have’, but a necessity for businesses needing flexibility and assurance during these changeable times.

It is clear that delegates are becoming increasingly accustomed to the idea of engaging digitally alongside in-person events as they return.

What next?

Here at POP we design and build sales enablement tools featuring 3D product models and environments, videos, PDFs, interactive content and presentations and a wealth of other assets, which can be accessed in a variety of ways:

  • Touchscreen or smartphone at an event
  • Laptop or PC while accessing the event remotely
  • Tablet at a follow-up meeting with a new connection or existing customer 

To see how these work in action, take a look at our video here:

We develop all our experiences following an Agile methodology, which means that we only focus on the key elements required – saving time, complexity and money.

Our first step when developing an interactive experience is to map out your objectives and those of your customers using our Customer-First Blueprint. Having a clear vision of what you need your experience to achieve is key to its success.

“If it doesn’t solve an immediate need that the sales team are facing, then it isn’t going to be of use or useful.” Dan Cheung, Marketing Manager at Wienerberger

If you have an upcoming event and would like to find out more contact me for an exploratory call and find out how our digital experiences can enable you to have successful, customer-centric conversations – whether you meet face-to-face or remotely.

Damjan Haylor
Managing Director

+44 (0) 117 329 1712

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