June 27, 2022
To generate results from your events, you can’t merely target personas like “digital marketing manager” or “VP of Sales.” You have to resonate with individual people within those categories, each with their own different questions, knowledge gaps, and preferences.
The more you can tailor your event content to individual needs, the more you’ll provide value for each one — and the more likely you’ll see them again in the future.
But how can you achieve this while staying aligned with your brand (and maintaining a reasonable workload)?
It’s a hard balance to strike: That’s why we sat with Hannah Scherer, our Senior Director of Marketing and Partnerships, to discuss you can use event technology to create personalized, successful attendee experiences. (Prefer audio? Check out our webinar on this topic here!)
“Each person is going to come into your event with a different worldview, a different experience and agenda that they want to get out of your event.” Scherer says.
And each of those people need different content experiences, networking opportunities, etc., from your event to have a successful experience. “So how can we make them feel like an individual as opposed to part of a crowd?”
Personalization comes down to providing more ways for people to engage with your content. And hosting a hybrid event allows everyone in your audience to participate in the way that’s best for them.
“When you provide virtual and in-person experiences, it innately provides more accessibility,” Scherer says. “But giving people the opportunity to attend fully in-person, fully virtual or both allows people to feel more satisfaction about your event because it fits with their schedule or rhythm.”
Similarly, making your event’s live content available on-demand allows your attendees to explore different agenda tracks, networking experiences, etc., of interest without missing out on other useful content.
“This is especially important if you have multi-track agenda sessions,” Scherer says, “Maybe all of the sessions happening at the same time sound interesting to me, but I need to pick one. Or maybe I really wanted to check out this exhibitor booth, and it’s the last day of the event, but I want to watch this session too. When you provide Plan Bs for people who are so invested in your event, it makes them happier because they can get a taste of all the experiences you have to offer.”
You can make this content available on your event site or on a custom-branded Media Hub, so you have ultimate branding and marketing control over your on-demand attendee flow as well.
The more you know about your attendees, the more you can tailor your event experience to their specific needs. But to get that information, you need to generate actionable data about your attendees’ needs and preferences — before they step foot into your event. That process should begin at registration.
“Going into an event, we assume what people want, but we really don’t know. So the first question is we need to ask is, ‘What can we gather ahead of our event to make an impact?’”
The easiest way to do this is through custom registration fields. These are the fields on your registration form that ask for Job Title, Industry, and other personal information.
We know how it sounds — it’s not just a cheap grab for marketing information (at least, it shouldn’t be.) Instead, you should use information to create smaller segments within your audience, then generate more specific, niche content ideas related to each particular.
“So we’re asking things like what’s your job title, where is your company based. You could even ask questions that are specific to your event topic or technology,” Scherer says, “So we can use that aggregate data to build a persona about who’s attending our event, and use that to create assumptions about what they want.”
But it’s way too easy to go way too far with custom registration fields. We suggest adding a max of three additional fields to your registration form, and make sure they’re directly related to your event experience to avoid hurting your conversion rate.
Through polls and Q&A, you can learn about your audience’s biggest knowledge gaps and questions, then address them with your event content. This ensures that you’re meeting your audience’s individual concerns head on, instead of unilaterally pushing your company’s ideas at them.
Hosting a huge virtual or hybrid event? Maybe host a series of smaller webinars 3-6 months beforehand to test out content. Use these webinars to evaluate the relevance of specific topics to your audience, then use the poll and Q&A to further refine your content ideas.
Some attendees want to move through each activity on your agenda without navigating the event site, while others will prefer to drop in and out of event activities independently. Think about how different personas will navigate your event site — and as you craft your attendee journey, create options for each of these personas.
One important example: transitions between sessions. For those who want to move automatically from one session to the next, Scherer recommends using exit URLs.
“This serves as the ‘end point’ of a session and moves people to the next session automatically. So if your persona is someone who wants to participate in everything you’ve set up for them, they can sit along for the ride and you can drive them wherever you want to take them.”
But what about those who want to pop into the Networking Center for a few minutes between sessions?
Having consistent navigation is a great way to accommodate these attendees, Scherer says. “That’s why it’s so important to have navigation buttons at the top of the screen or somewhere that’s very accessible like a lobby page. That way people can say,” I wanted to attend this session, but now I want to network for the rest of the day” and they can easily take that action independently on the event site.”
“Some people are more timid when it comes to networking, whereas others are more open. So providing different kinds of networking experiences innately results in more people participating and connecting with one another at your event.” Scherer says.
For example, on BigMarker, attendees can participate in text-based chat rooms and roundtables in a group setting, or they can conduct 1:1 conversations via chats or video calls. This gives attendees more control over how much they disclose and whether they’re physically visible to their fellow attendees..
Attendees can also choose their preferred connections on their own — or choose to be matched with other attendees via AI-powered networking or speed networking. That way, time-strapped attendees can network with those who are most likely to share their experience and interests, while others can take a more ad hoc approach.
Nothing gives a blah impression quite like getting the same black-and-white event badge as everyone else. Lame. On BigMarker, you can incorporate your logo, branding and colors onto your badge so your attendees know they’re at YOUR event, not Generic Sales Conference 2022 v. 6.0.
Better yet, provide custom badges with each attendee’s name, company and a personalized QR code. Besides giving attendees a more “personal” welcome to the event, the information presented on these badges also gives fellow attendees a natural jumping-off point for conversation.
Push notifications are a great way to broadcast timely updates to your audience during the event. But although your attendees might want to get updated on every new sponsor activation or upcoming speaker, others may want to be notified about technical issues only.
The fix? Give your attendees the ability to opt in and out of specific notifications. This way, they’ll get updates on event areas of interest without having to hear about every single event update.
Want to create more customized, interactive hybrid events? Our team of event experts is here to help. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a demo and get started!