Five Ways To Get Event Marketing Right in 2024
2023 was the year of the event. Whether in-person, virtual, or hybrid, events continued a significant post-pandemic recovery and firmly established their status as a vital part of the marketing jigsaw.
It’s easy to see why. Brands are desperate to engage audiences, build loyalty, generate demand and capture meaningful data to stay ahead of the competition. Events are perfectly positioned to deliver all this good stuff… and more.
That’s why we’re diving into the five event trends savvy marketers must harness in 2024:
1. More experimentation with AI
ChatGPT has only been with us for a year, but it has thrust generative AI centre-stage.
Over the past 12 months, generative AI has revolutionised brand-consumer interactions and streamlined various tasks for marketers. This includes chatbots serving as digital personal assistants for event attendees and helping with content creation, such as generating social media and email copy for event campaigns.
While AI has been around for decades, we’re only at the start of the generative AI journey. A 2023 report from Accenture found that, across all industries, large language models such as Chat GPT can impact 40% of all working hours. This, says the report, is because language tasks account for 62% of the total time employees work, and 65% of that time can be transformed into more productive activity through augmentation and automation.
Expect to see language-based AI further transform ways of working for event marketers as it becomes smarter and more customisable. But, exercise caution and view AI as an aiding tool rather than a magic wand. Any content needs editing for brand voice and tone, while more creative content demands human expertise. Prioritise responsible AI implementation in marketing strategies to ensure secure data privacy, prevent inaccuracies, and mitigate biases and copyright concerns.
2. New ways to engage your audience
Reimagining how to engage with audiences will be crucial. We’ve seen the success of continuous event engagement, which boosts customer loyalty, powers the customer experience and helps brands build a community.
Attendees are hungry, though, and get hungrier every year. They want more from their event experience than just networking and a good time. Event-goers want high-class content, audience participation, and memorable experiences that use the latest tech to be interactive and immersive.
Experiential marketing creates deeper connections with your audience, and events are best placed to deliver this. A memorable event journey must include tailored content, clear and actionable takeaways, quality videos (it’s time to turn off the PowerPoint), community forums to keep the conversation going, gamification options to encourage fun networking, and engagement tools such as polls and Q&A sessions.
3. Drive brand values with accessible, sustainable events
Social issues increasingly influence consumers who expect brands to follow suit on sustainability and DE&I issues.
According to a 2023 Deloitte UK report, most consumers say the commitment of businesses to sustainability influences their trust in those businesses, while 34% of consumers said their trust in brands would be improved if they were recognised as ethical or sustainable providers. Meanwhile, a recent Brand Inclusion Index survey by Kantar found that 53% of all UK respondents said it was important that the companies they buy from actively promote DE&I.
Events are a public-facing extension of a brand. So, if the brand is committed to raising sustainability and DE&I standards, so must the event.
Events should be accessible to all, and there is little excuse for not having a roster of speakers from diverse backgrounds. To make events more sustainable, consider choosing an eco-friendly venue, going plastic-free, providing locally-sourced food with meat-free options, and committing to green messaging.
4. Combining in-person and virtual events
Cvent's research revealed that 85% of event programmes feature in-person events. This comes as no surprise, as in-person events offer a broader opportunity for networking and interaction.
Yet, the pandemic highlighted that online events carry their own benefits. This is reflected in Cvent’s research, which found that virtual or hybrid events remain in high demand: 40% of event programmes use virtual or hybrid, while 10% use all three formats.
Virtual events have clear sustainability benefits, while hybrid options give attendees greater flexibility. Adding a virtual element to in-person events extends their reach. But it is critical to ensure that anyone watching online receives the best possible virtual experience, with high-quality streaming, interactive elements and exclusive on-demand content that takes them behind the scenes with interviews and highlights reels.
5. Event teams are shifting to marketing
In 2022, Forrester research found that 57% of marketers increased their spend on event tech. This aligns with a broader trend where marketing is incorporating events, as highlighted by a Cvent report indicating that 71% of event teams now operate under the marketing umbrella – a noteworthy rise from 55% in 2022.
This emphasises the growing perception of events as facilitators of marketing objectives, encompassing tasks such as boosting revenue, generating leads, and fostering loyalty and relationships.
Marketing budgets mirror this, as the 2024 Global Meetings and Events Forecast by American Express revealed, indicating that organisations allocate 14% of marketing budget to event marketing – the second-highest expenditure.
Realising the potential of events
Events are now a priority for marketing departments. As marketers plan their 2024 strategies, events must be a vital part of the mix. From investing in technology that best supports generative AI to putting sustainability and DE&I at the centre of planning, getting events right brings brands closer to their audience.