Event Marketing Post-Pandemic


 How have marketers' event strategies changed post-pandemic?


"Next-gen" events can drive depth and breadth of customer engagement that lead to better brand awareness, lead generation, retention, and loyalty. However, with the pandemic, an ongoing concern marketers face revolve around post-event strategies, which can also be something of a moving target. 

It comes without surprise that one of the main concerns for teams planning events right now is safety. According to a report by Eventbrite, "the most popular strategy, globally, is asking for proof at the door, with 68 percent of respondents stating they confirm vaccination that way." However, 71 percent of global respondents said they had "conducted virtual events in 2021, only 49 percent planned to host them in 2022."

These two facts in itself show the complex nature of hosting and planning events; how do companies keep people safe while planning more physical experiences?

Gartner, in a recent study, gave valuable suggestions for hosting hybrid events, such as being "realistic in forecasting future event participation" and set "expectations for stakeholders and attendees." 

Below are resources on event strategies in a post-pandemic world that provide a general sense and flavor of event strategies and trends today – and tomorrow.


Trends 

  • 2022 Event Trends Report. Eventbrite, March 2022.
    In late 2021 Eventbrite surveyed more than 4,500 event organizers to get a sense of the latest trends in event planning in the USA, Canada, U.K., Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, and understand what their COVID-19 event risk assessments looked like for the months and years ahead. The responses show distinct improvements in the outlook for live events.

    Nearly one in four of survey respondents said they were concerned about low levels of attendance in 2022, and ticket sales reflect this worry. Among those who sell tickets, 50 percent of respondents reported that sales volume is down compared with pre-pandemic levels. However, another 26 percent say their sales have increased, and another 24 percent report sales are on par with levels before the pandemic. Other findings: Only 33 percent of Americans said event were asking attendees for proof of vaccination.

  • 2022 Event Trends Report. EventMB, December 2021.
    This report gathers the most important and potentially impactful trends on the minds of event professionals in 2022 and beyond. Big questions remain as we grapple with comprehending the full impact of the COVID-19, and this report looks at ones like: where is the event industry headed? What will events look like in the future? How will societal changes impact the demand for events

  • Fearing Omicron Wave, Marketers Less Likely to Attend Upcoming In-Person Conferences. MarTech, December 21, 2021.
    Industry practitioners responding to MarTech's regularly updated Events Participation Index recommend keeping events virtual and hybrid options going into the foreseeable future. Respondents gave the likelihood they would attend an in-person business event in the first half of 2022 a 5 out of 10. That outlook improved slightly for the second half of 2022, when marketers gave the likelihood a 6 out of 10. Marketers gave a 7 out of 10 likelihood they would attend an in-person event in the first half of 2023.


Best Practices

  • In-Person, Virtual or Both? How to Manage Conferences and Tradeshows in 2022. Gartner, February 8, 2022.
    Gartner explains how to navigate the fallout that the omicron variant is having on companies' plans to bring back in-person conferences this year. They say that incorporating a balanced, agile event strategy is critical to technology marketing success, and that there are four key factors to consider when determining how to host or participate in conferences in 2022:
    • Regional status and ongoing management of the global pandemic
    • Level of in-person attendance
    • Budget impact
    • Success metrics
  • The Playbook for the Return to In-Person Events: Top Challenges and What to Do About Them. EventMB/Hopin, December 2021.
    Some of the top challenges and strategies discussed here include:
    • Managing continued uncertainty
    • Balancing the polarization of the event industry: virtual versus in-person
    • Knowing when to schedule which type of event
    • Changing audience expectations
    • Assuming that being face-to-face guarantees success
    • Creating swag that meets new expectations
    • Designing brand activations that people will remember
    • Placing onsite advertising strategically
    • Adapting to new norms for onsite events
    • Dealing with post-COVID pandemic social anxieties
  • Aligning Strategy, Teams, and Tech for Success in a New Era of Events. Cvent/CMO Council, January 2022.
    This study, based on a survey of 150 global marketing leaders plus in-depth interviews with executives, explores the NextGen event channel, the lessons from the pandemic that can be applied to event management, why trialing new event formats is important, and how to optimize event outcomes.

  • Eight Tips and Takeaways for Pivoting from Virtual to In-Person Events. Event Marketer Magazine, March 2022.
    Having to "reverse pivot" back to in-person events may sound simple, but just as with transitioning from IRL to virtual, you can't simply lift and shift your strategy, says this article, in which a group of marketers weigh in on what they're doing to transform their pandemic-era virtual events into physical ones. POV shared includes:

    "It may sound like common sense, but brands need to be prepared to reserve a bigger chunk of the budget to produce in-person or hybrid events. Not only is there the venue, staff, and meals to consider, but there will likely be the additional cost of in-person safety protocols, says Giselle Umland, senior manager-global strategic events at MuleSoft. "Besides health and safety, the biggest challenge [of pivoting back] will be the budget."

The Marketing Knowledge Center actively connects ANA members to the resources they need to be successful. You can visit the ANA website to engage with the MKC in three ways.

  • Explore content to access best practices, case studies, and marketing tools. Our proprietary content includes Event Recaps, which share actionable insights from conference and committee presentations.
  • Connect with our Ask the Expert team in real time for customized answers to your specific marketing challenges.
  • Stay on top of trends with Marketing Futures Pulse issues, which explore how new technologies and innovations will affect marketers and consumers alike. 

Submit a request to Ask the Expert here.

Source

"Event Marketing Post-Pandemic." ANA, 2022.