Event Marketing Gets Smart

Machine learning is helping brands promote, support, and execute events with greater ease and confidence.

by Niranjan Kumbi

posted on 11-12-2019

It’s no secret that event marketers — especially those at SaaS companies, media agencies, and high-touch B2C companies — are plagued by a host of challenges that other marketers don’t have to deal with.

Pre-event website traffic is notoriously unpredictable leading up to events. Event brand loyalty often takes a nosedive immediately following events — when event social media pages suddenly become virtual ghost towns — and does not recover until events roll around again the following year. Both are at least partially to blame for the high cost per acquisition event marketers routinely face.

In addition, events, by their very nature — crossing multiple platforms, channels, and moments in time, from pre-registration to the event itself to the post-event experience — seem to defy the Experience Age. Attracting and engaging the right audiences, driving timely registrations, and managing day-of activations and experiences — and delivering a personalized customer experience throughout — can feel impossible, especially when the required data is sprawled across so many diverse touchpoints.

Now, though, artificial intelligence (AI) is beginning to make the event impossibilities possible, and Marketo is rapidly positioning itself to be at the forefront of this transformation in events and other marketing channels.

“Our vision,” says Marketo’s head of product, Ajay Awatramani, “is to apply intelligence to every aspect of work marketers carry out within Marketo enabling marketers to engage at scale, shifting focus from creating campaigns to crafting right marketing stories around their brand.”

And Marketo isn’t alone. With its ability to digest and derive patterns from large bodies of data, AI and machine learning are empowering event marketers to predict and manage the RSVP flow, master onsite activations, and provide more memorable events that will keep attendees coming back for more. Here’s how.

Activating the right audience

To compensate for unpredictable traffic and registration, many event marketers are forced to mass email thousands of possible prospects to hit their goals — and then cross their fingers that things will work out.

A marketing automation solution can be massive for providing event marketers a view of where each person on the email list is — whether they’ve been invited, registered, attended, or engaged post-event. However, based on the use of AI in other similar contexts, the technology could certainly be deployed to make this even more effective, filtering through contact lists and targeting those most likely to register and attend. For instance, AI is already being used by targeting and personalization to filter out people from its audience that would opt out from its emails. Similarly, event marketers could use AI to sift through an ocean of data to identify the attributes that determine which contacts are most likely to register — and exclude those who are not as likely. They could then narrow down a list of 10,000 possible names to those 400 who are most likely to register and attend and ensure the marketer hits her event goals. Spending a fraction of their original cost, they could proceed toward their goals with a high degree of certainty, instead of crossed fingers — while bringing down their cost per acquisition.

Marketo expert Kimberly Galitz foresees this capability making a huge difference for event marketers. “AI will be instrumental in helping us reduce the time we spend doing our own analysis of past events to create a list for invitees for future events,” she says. “Not only will it save us time, but I picture it helping us be so narrowly and strategically focused that we won’t have to cast as wide of a net and will ultimately cut down on our unsubscribes.”

Automating customer support

As events loom ever nearer, they bring with them customer support demands from registrants and would-be registrants alike. Malfunctions in registration tools, questions about accommodations, inquiries on social, and inevitable questions the day of the event typically inundate event marketers. They are forced to put out each fire one at a time — a less than ideal customer experience. In this area, AI can allow event marketers to provide better customer experiences for their attendees at scale and save their own sanity.

SaaS provider Eventmaker, for instance, is providing machine-learning tools to event marketers to streamline and automate customer support functions. In Eventmaker, brands can quickly build an event-specific chatbot, build a website that provides a personalized experience to each registrant, or sync each attendee’s QR code badge seamlessly with the rest of the attendee’s data.

Engaging attendees onsite

With so much of attendees’ event satisfaction success hinging on their networking experience during the event, event marketers are under pressure to deliver. They often do so by providing mixers, receptions, and other activities to get attendees into the same room, but are often helpless to affect the quality of the interactions that happen there. Thankfully, AI is now giving marketers the ability to prompt, influence, and increase the quality of those interactions.

Swapcard, an AI-powered event app, is using deep learning to provide a “B2B matchmaking platform” to event planners. Digging into each attendee’s data and using matchmaking rules preset by the planner, the tool will automatically identify attendees from similar industries, job roles, and other attributes and introduce them to each other. In other words, AI is enabling them to remove the guesswork — and much of the inherent awkwardness — from event networking and move the needle on event attendee satisfaction.

Empowering event marketers with Intelligent Insights

If event marketing is plagued by so much complexity and ambiguity, then AI is the key to simplifying that complexity and removing that ambiguity. From promotion to execution to post-event follow-up, this technology is enabling marketers to remove surprises, make smarter spending decisions, and deliver more valuable, personalized customer experiences. More than any other technology out there, AI and machine learning are poised to transform the end-to-end event experience.

With events still being one of the top lead-generating channels in marketing, this technology will be a must-have for marketers at SaaS companies, high-touch B2C companies, media agencies, and others that rely heavily on events to connect with and deliver powerful experiences to their customers.

Learn more about AI in digital experiences at the Adobe blog.

Topics: Digital Transformation, Email Marketing

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