One of the most important questions marketing executives are asking is about how their events calendar should, or could, develop for the next planning phase. Are live events totally dead now, or will they return? What is a hybrid event and how do they choose which format to offer?
Plus, which Marketing Event Management (MEM) platform(s) will be the most suitable for them going forward. Through 2021, many MEM providers released new, dedicated software to better support virtual events of all sizes, accelerated, of course, by massive injections of venture capital. The classical webinar vendors now all support larger events, while existing virtual event providers added functionality for webinars and meetings to their portfolio.
Here is our report on MEM which is based upon a global survey of 1,500 business decision-makers about their MEM experiences in 2021 and plans for 2022, which discovered the software vendors that are most known, as well as what the businesspeople think about those products and services. Over half of the 1,500 companies used between six and ten different MEM vendors this year and most did not have a centralized procurement strategy for this topic. We expect this to change for 2022 and going forward.Here are the survey highlights and my insights from the many conversations I had on the topic:
- Partner COVID accelerated an already-inevitable move to virtual. Virtual is part of a new marketing paradigm where events will be more numerous, impactful, and measurable than before. Expect all digital marketing plans to include events as standard in customer engagement programs; to collect market/customer insights at scale and to maintain a buyer/customer relationship over a longer period than just a buying cycle. Marketers used to see events as nice-to-have vanity-driven exercises of corporate PR. No longer
- Hybrid event strategies will prevail, but the definition changes. Marketers see “hybrid” as more than just mobile apps for on-site attendees. It is a mix of on-site with virtual attendance, with all attendees treated equally; a program of on-site and virtual events within a hub and spoke engagement strategy; plus, importantly, the ability to switch to virtual at short notice if necessary.
- To immerse or not to immerse, that is the question. Many virtual event vendors have 3D, CGI-like, avatar-driven, conference environments. But a good share of marketers will opt for a more pragmatic experience – something like a Netflix interface, with a content hub/streaming platform where recordings can be leveraged in campaigns or even just be discovered through good SEO.
- Virtual events encourage further globalization. Most virtual events attract and discover new attendance from international audiences. This raises new challenges for event organizers (and the platform they select) around localization, supporting synchronous and asynchronous presentations and meetings, as well as compliance issues such as using attendee and engagement data.
- The MEM vendor landscape bewilders, vendors must tell better stories. The over-100 MEM vendors out there have a variety of roots. Some have just repackaged traditional offerings through new product positioning. Others are meeting platforms good for meetings, but not necessarily larger events, or vice-versa. Most are challenged, however, to communicate the benefits of their technologies to business-oriented marketers.
- Who came out on top? As most businesses were experimenting, the general level of satisfaction with the vendors is higher than usual, so there is an unusually long list of Market Leaders (having both a Strategy and an Execution score of over 4 out of 5) in the Vendor Selection Matrix™ – Marketing Event Management 2021 as scored by the survey and myself (listed alphabetically):
6CONNEX, ACCELEVENTS, AIRMEET, BIZZABO, CERTAIN, CVENT, KALTURA, MEETYOO, NOTIFIED, ON24, RAINFOCUS, SPOTME, VFAIRS, and ZOOM
Time will tell if that list remains so strong. The full list of vendors in the Top 19 vendors scored in the survey is completed by: CADMIUMCD, CIRCA, HOPIN, SPLASH, and MICROSOFT.
Contact me if you’d like to hear more about this research.
Always keeping you informed! Peter