Omnichannel or Hybrid – a new way of thinking for future events

Leander Woodbridge
20 April 2021

“We didn’t do anything digital in sales before Coronavirus. POP explained what the terminology meant and held our hand through the process.”

Nick Elliot, Coloplast

Events are returning, but what is the future of events? Developing an engaging touchscreen experience for events or exhibitions, which can also be used in face-to-face and virtual sales meetings – a whole omnichannel experience – is a great way to maximise your ROI in these changeable times, ensure that you can connect with your customers whatever the future holds and ultimately improve your sales opportunities.

POP’s sales enablement experiences can be used at meetings, events and online, demonstrating the future of sales enablement

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 platforms, 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 in order to harness the future of sales enablement and events.

The events roadmap

You can’t help but be excited about the prospect of in-person events again. After a challenging 12 months or so 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.

Each home Nation has its own approach. 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. Pilot large scale events have already started on 18 April with the FA Cup Semi-Final at Wembley with 4,000 fans in attendance. This week will also see 1000 people indoor at a business event in Liverpool.

A touchscreen experience at an event for GSMA

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, it may be possible to host events, but 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.

Touchscreen experience for the Royal Mint

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.   

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:

  • Social distancing – 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
  • 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

“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 mobile phones 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 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
  • 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
  • Analytics – data is crucial in understanding your customers’ needs and analytics can track every interaction and provide valuable insights
  • 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.

“POP took one idea and shaped it into a multi-touch program – executable in different ways, languages and over an extended time frame.

As a direct result, we doubled our lead capture at our booths, delivered stunning content to the business that is valid for at least 6 months, and in the first 7 days of the demand generation phase, this program has delivered over 1,000 leads and strong 6–digit contribution to the sales pipeline.“

Mike Oliver, Senior Marketing Manager, Citrix

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.

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 

“POP challenged us and guided us on the best way forward. It took me a while to get away from an analogue printed page mindset.  POP’s knowledge of the user interface was invaluable.” 

Clare Dawson, Coloplast

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. Link to blog.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.

Alternatively, if you’d like to keep updated on current projects and the latest thinking subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on LinkedIn.

Leander Woodbridge
Marketing Director
 
If you’ve got an idea and want to chat it through then just get in touch. Or give us a call 🤙 on 0117 329 1712.
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