Brand Marketers Cash In On In-Person Events
In-person conferences, shows, and events have returned in a big way for the first time since 2020 — but in this post-Covid era, everything is different. As restrictions have lifted across the country over the past 18 months, companies have returned to hosting their annual events, seminars, and meetings in-person. Hybrid conferences are largely gone, and virtual events taking place on Zoom have been scaled back significantly. In their place, more immersive, in-person experiences are occurring on both a small and large scale. Movie industry award shows, music festivals, and industry conferences are all back in 2023. Now, brand marketers are cashing in on the momentum.
At the Sundance Film Festival, which was held in-person this year for the first time since 2020, hundreds of major brands hosted activations at partner venues, including panels, parties, and even promotional art classes.
“Savvy marketers are leveraging these events to expand their marketable database, as well as understand the change in brand perception driven by the event,” says Daniel Yaffe, COO and co-founder of the experiential marketing platform AnyRoad. “And of course, measuring sales from ticket sales or purchases made during an experience helps quantify the impact on overall sales.”
The opportunity for marketers to use in-person events to scale their engagement and build deeper, more personalized relationships with consumers is even greater thanks to a new slate of experiential marketing platforms, many of which hadn’t been launched when in-person events shut down in 2020.
Quantifying the Impact
The biggest change in events hosted pre- and post-Covid has to do with audience measurement, or results. While brand marketers have been able to digitally quantify the impact of their online marketing for some time — so much so, that it’s become one of the most significant parts of budget planning — they weren’t traditionally able to get the same measurement quality from in-person events. In the past, that meant less visibility into performance and less understanding of how in-person events impacted customer behavior.
Yaffe says experiential marketing platforms have been a game changer for brands that want to quantify the impact of in-person events, as well as marketers looking to showcase their value and make a business case for further investment.
“Brands can more effectively quantify the impact of their in-person events by capturing guest data — such as contact information, demographic data, marketing opt-ins, and feedback,” Yaffe says. “With these data points, brands can understand the impact of these events on sales [and] revenue, and brand perception.”
When brands like Acura and Canon host events at Sundance, for example, they use demographic insights to understand who is coming to their events, and who might not be, along with any impact on attendees. Marketers can then use this data to identify areas to invest more in when promoting future events and activations.
In addition to collecting basic attendee demographic information, Yaffe says marketers can also see how their events impact consumers’ opinions of their brands by looking for a change in NPS score, also known as the brand conversion rate. Combining a brand conversion rate with guest feedback makes it easier to see the complete picture of what needs to change to make in-person events even more successful, and what’s already working as it should.
“So many brands investing huge amounts in their events know that field marketing works but can’t tell the impact on their customers or their bottom line.” Yaffe says. “Many brands are still working under smiles as a measurement or using pen and paper to try and capture some of their guest data. The truth is, it’s not only measurable; it’s necessary for brand growth and to optimize marketing budgets for success.”
Asking the Right Questions
To make sure they’re getting the most impact from events and not just getting one-dimensional data, Yaffe says marketers need to be asking the right questions. That means surveying attendees before they arrive, at the event itself, and then again post-experience.
In 2022, AnyRoad rolled out a feature called FullView, which enables brands to collect first-party data and feedback from every guest at an experiential activation or event, not just the person who booked or reserved tickets. The company also launched an ROI Analysis tool to enable brands to quantify the revenue impact of experiences post-visit with analytics and actionable insights around post-event purchase behavior.
“Getting a full range of who’s there, why, and how the event makes them feel about the brand will help brands make an impact in the moment and throughout a customer’s lifetime,” Yaffe says. “It goes deeper than immediate data – the impact comes from the insights you gain from events and their attendees to optimize over time.”