It wasn’t long ago when event marketers first began to take digital marketing seriously as a top contender amongst other marketing channels. Fast forward to the present, and we are truly immersed in the digital world. Event marketers are embracing it as their channel of choice to engage consumers. More ‘traditional’ forms of event marketing (press releases, email marketing etc.) are being dropped in favour of social media, SEO, blogging and multimedia as well as building integrated communities and event advocates.
Despite the obvious change in event marketing over the last decade from traditional to a considerably more digitally focussed approach, is digital marketing all it’s cracked up to be?
There are two major problems facing digital marketing with the event industry today.
Firstly, we are seeing a change of focus in marketing spend from traditional marketing techniques (press releases, print ads, email campaigns) to digital ones (SEO, PPC, social media campaigns). However, reduced spending on traditional techniques is not being met by a comparative growth in digital ones. This results in an overall decline in marketing spend and revenue as a whole.
Why is the growth of digital marketing so slow? Well, this is in fact due to the second problem – digital marketing is not being used to its full potential. Event marketers know that it’s a hard concept to grasp and involves getting to grips with technologies that are constantly changing. It can be hard to become an expert in such complex processes, especially when there may not be sufficient training.
It’s all too easy to see the result of digital marketing at its worst. We are subjected to it every day and it litters our social media newsfeeds. This kind of marketing lacks focus and personality and is pure broadcasting. We feel bombarded with digital marketing messages to the point where it has almost become ‘spammy’. It’s no wonder some of these messages are losing their appeal and being ignored by the target market.
What are the more successful marketing techniques being used today involving digital marketing? How do you rise above this ‘noise’ of mass digital content and actually grab the attention of your audience? With so many marketing channels to choose from, how do you choose the right ones without spreading yourself too thinly? As popular marketing channels, such as social media, become overpopulated with digital content, is this form of marketing losing its effectiveness?
The solution is a call for a transformation in digital marketing. But how can this happen? Event marketers aren’t always thinking about what their audience really want to see. The answer appears to be simple - personalisation. Customer experience automatically improves when the audience feels brands have created something relevant that truly matches their needs. The solution is clearly easier said than done, and creating highly curated messages takes time and real understanding to get right. Event marketers are being presented with the dilemma of not only trying to beat competition but to also deliver more revenue and value with fewer resources. However, by developing a transformed approach to digital marketing, it could help tackle many of these issues.
Event professionals have, to some degree started to really understand their customers through increasingly personalised approaches. However, the bottom line is that real transformation will only come from actually taking that understanding and matching it against direct action that drives engagement – and doing so at scale.
Much of the ‘spammy’ side of digital marketing will make way for considerably more personalised messages. These messages should be based on an understanding of the customer’s contextual situation and delivered in a timely and tailored fashion.
Digital, as an event marketing technique continues to see the largest growth of any other category, however it’s important to not lose focus on other techniques that are still gaining results. As we have learnt from the past, the introduction of new marketing channels and techniques does not necessarily kill off the old ones. For example, computers haven’t killed TV, email hasn’t killed snail-mail, and digital has not completely replaced print ads and press releases. In fact, all these channels are still alive to some extent, as every new medium isn’t a perfect substitute for the other. This allows all mediums to have their own place within the marketing mix, however significant. My point is that even with this transformed version of digital marketing, more traditional forms of event marketing (press releases, email marketing etc.) will not completely cease to exist, but will probably stick around for a little while longer. Just how long remains to be seen, but could these forms of marketing re-emerge as more popular further down the line?