The novel coronavirus has upended many aspects of work, including events. With face-to-face opportunities decimated, or at least reconfigured, marketers are playing with new rules — and using tools and opportunities to reimagine the events landscape to their advantage.
Events get a reboot
In April, the majority of professionals polled for a survey by the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) had canceled or postponed in-person events. Especially noteworthy: 7 out of 10 respondents had shifted their in-person event partly or completely to a virtual equivalent.
This is no short-term trend, either. Even post-pandemic, event professionals expect virtual events to stay, complementing the in-person avatar.
The uncertainty of this new landscape might be worrying, but there’s plenty of good news as well. You now have the power to rethink event marketing, expand your message to a global audience and better measure return on investment.
The best way to achieve these objectives: integrate your event management functions and your customer relationship management (CRM) tools.
You can use any combination of event management and CRM tools to get the job done, but Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing is especially useful for supporting all ranges of events — small and large, virtual and in-person, and for its ability to streamline processes based on frequency (3-4 a week or 3-4 a year). Here are a few ways you can use the tool to manage, deliver and follow up on successful virtual events.
Personalize, personalize, personalize
Want a custom events portal? Use Dynamics 365 and create a portal that replicates your brand. The portal can serve as a one-stop gateway for information about the event, including:
- Attendee registration
- Audience engagement
- Session tracking metrics
You can also use Dynamics 365 to personalize marketing messages for potential event attendees. Your CRM is a gold mine of data; use it to your advantage:
- Widen your reach by contacting people who might not have considered attending a physical event because of cost or travel time.
- Break messaging into a few buckets and target attendees accordingly. A C-suite executive, for example, can receive a different set of emails than an employee who needs to demonstrate value for event attendance.
Use Teams for your Virtual Events
Dynamics 365 Marketing will include direct integration with Microsoft Teams live events and meetings as of the upcoming October update. You will be able to:
- Set up a webinar event as a Teams live event or a Teams meeting
- Enable event check-ins for live events and meetings, allowing more visibility into online attendance
- Integrate marketing events directly with Teams
- Use Teams as the webinar provider
Drum up excitement
Use Dynamics 365 segment and customer journey functions to schedule custom email campaigns and generate enthusiasm for your virtual event:
- Reveal keynote speakers and seminar tracks over time.
- Send out attendance tips.
- Notify attendees of changes to your lineup.
Track engagement metrics
Since attendees log on and off to enter and leave your event, you have a more objective way of measuring attendee engagement. You can create exclusive sponsored breakout sessions to share engagement metrics with sponsors and better measure ROI for campaigns. The Dynamics 365 event management dashboard can track all related activity and automate follow-up engagements.
Follow up effectively
Retain interest in your brand and services by keeping up with attendees after the event. Use Dynamics 365 to create and run online surveys and custom forums. Engaging participants in this way can lead to greater brand loyalty — and an enthusiastic audience for your next virtual event.
The pivot to virtual events delivers an opportunity to reinvent the rules of event marketing. By digging deeper into best practices and casting a wider net, you can create a brand-consistent virtual event that yields rich dividends for attendees, sponsors — and you.