Chief revenue officer at Splash, Eric Holmen, shares a view on how the pandemic and shift to virtual permanently changed event marketers’ roles
Event marketers juggle hundreds of tasks and wear many different hats. It’s what they do. But over the last 12 months, event marketers have found themselves wearing more unfamiliar and even uncomfortable ones. Digital marketer. Data integrator. Tech stack guru.
Quickly adapting to those new roles (and within a challenging environment), 73% of event professionals did so under flat or shrinking budgets, while 66% ‘made do’ with the same event marketing tools they used pre-Covid, according to a survey we conducted in late 2020.
But as budgets rebound and in-person events resume over the next few months, the event marketer’s role has changed, maybe permanently. There will be less on-site hand-holding and more emphasis on cross-team collaboration. As hybrid events become more common, consistent and cohesive event design across attendee touchpoints will be paramount. Effectively managing and analysing event data — a comparatively streamlined task in a digital-only environment — will remain a priority. And curating attendee lists and encouraging productive interactions is as important as it ever was. Only now, event marketers will be managing all that virtually and in person.
We’ve been closely tracking the evolution of event marketers’ roles and identified several new titles that event professionals must master for a changed events landscape.
Chief Event Designer
As many event teams were downsized or resource-constrained throughout the pandemic, event marketers had to get more creative and directly develop and manage event assets while maintaining brand consistency. That’s not going away, especially as other teams within organisations remain active in the event marketing process. (As recently as Q4 of 2020, 29% of companies reported having non-marketing staff involved in creating events.) New design tools and best practices that leverage a brand’s colours, fonts, and visuals to create a consistent look and feel across events (regardless of who’s hosting them) will be critical for event marketers to put in place, regardless of whether they are virtual, in person, or both.
Head of Event Data Analytics
Online events allow for much more complex interaction and activity tracking than in-person or hybrid events. Virtual meetings automatically capture check-in data, leading to more meaningful ROI calculations and insights that can optimise event programmes moving forward. The expectation of accurate event analytics and ROI measurement won’t disappear when in-person events resume. That means managing and analysing event data — and having the tools to do so effectively — is another compulsory new skill set for event marketers. (Fortunately, it’s a skill set that can be mastered. We recently published a comprehensive guide to event data integration to help you get started.)
Working more closely with sales teams will help event planners and marketers ensure they invite the most appropriate attendees who will fill the sales pipeline. Depending on the goal of each event, these sales enablement interactions can move prospects further along in their consideration phase and ultimately convert to customers.
When designing hybrid events, event marketers have a significant role in identifying attendees who complement one another’s interests and knowledge base. The goal should be to build lasting connections, not generate casual encounters. Getting attendees engaged and encouraging tangible interactions is central to driving real business outcomes from corporate events. Event marketers will need to hone their matchmaking skills to succeed.
The past year has proved that event marketers’ roles can evolve, and they will undoubtedly continue to. But to truly excel in the years to come, they’ll need the resources to keep pace with a constantly transforming events landscape. An event marketer’s most important role may actually be as a master of adaptation they’ve proved themselves to be.
Eric Holmen is the chief revenue officer of Splash, a next-generation event marketing platform designed to help teams build and host virtual, in-person and hybrid events, to create memorable experiences, new connections, and business value. He is an expert in marketing technology and digitally-enabled engagement and connection, holding leadership positions in several notable experience technology companies, including most recently at Airship.