CEMA Summit Ignite Session Recap Tailored Experiences

<< Back to Event Highlights | Posted on: December 7, 2021

Sponsored by MC

Panelists: Rodrigo Espinosa, SVP Marketing Strategy/Head of Brand Experience MC2; Julie Lynch, Head of Global Events F5; Sara Ann Straw, Sr. Event Strategy Manager, Sage (now at F5)

At this CEMA Summit Ignite Session, seasoned event marketers from both brand and solutions provider communities led an interactive discussion on how behavior shifts, amplified during the pivot to digital and hybrid events, have dramatically changed audience expectations and have obliged event marketers to discover new ways to harmonize engagement mixes for audiences and design immersive experiences for multiple channels.

The panelists agreed that today, event participants want event content to be like the rest of their digital content personalized, digestible, and accessible on their timetable. Two provocative insights framed the discussion:

  • We have a great opportunity to leverage all of our channels to engage our audiences intellectually and emotionally to educate, enlighten and entertain them in a meaningful manner. 
  • We can also fail miserably to accomplish real engagement by overlaying traditional content into a digital environment or assuming a creative virtual element will translate seamlessly into a live experience.

The key to success is to understand your audiences intimately and learn how to shape, personalize, and optimize content delivery based on their preferred mix.  

The panel and participants also shared key wisdoms learned in the “pivot:”

  • Let your audience inform the best way to structure content delivery: If you are trying to determine whether to go live only, live first, virtual first or omnichannel, put your audience front and center and work back to solution.
  • “One-size fits all” approaches do not work. Gratefully that practice is pretty much dead.  One could argue that today, it is more important to know your audience than to have great content. By matching content to the needs and interests of your different audience personas, you’ll have a better chance of connecting with them and driving deeper engagement.
  • Linear content delivery is boring. Sequential slide decks are so 2010.  Coach your speakers away from linear presentations, work with them to spice up presentations with different content pallets: video, pre-taped features, short-take commentary, interactive chat, and real-time audience input. Invest in pre-production and have professional event directors run the show.
  • Dare to be edgy – but know your limits. Creative ideas don’t always translate to all audiences. Craft experiences that keep your audiences eager and intrigued but not uncomfortable.    
  • Take cues from how other industries have adapted the customer journey. Retailers use preference and interest data to introduce customers to new products that align with their needs and tastes. Your live and on-demand digital content can do the same. 
  • Humanize digital environments.  Nothing will replace in person connections, and it’s essential to ensure that you are not isolating or alienating your audience for the sake of digital expediency.  “Cameras on” can help participants feel included and relevant.  Polls and chats can spark stimulating conversations. Collaborative exercises promote inclusion.  Breakout rooms allow attendees to self-select into areas of high interest. 
  • Give all marketing disciplines a seat at the event planning table.  Use their input to determine how your event can be the hub for richer, ongoing customer engagements.  Can they hold one-on-one conversations with sales teams or product experts? Are product demos and training available? Is educational or advisory content available post event for continuous lead generation?