The Event Lifecycle: Your Guide to Using the Right Tech at Every Step
In this post we’ll take a look at how technology can help you drive success at every stage of the event lifecycle: before, during and after events.
Your event strategy, like any marketing campaign, is cyclical.
The event lifecycle is built on a straightforward premise: build, measure, learn and build again.
This doesn’t mean you just “do it all over again.” Each event is an opportunity to improve off of the previous one. To flourish in the hearts and minds of your attendees and to conquer your campaign KPIs.
In the following sections we will examine common challenges that event organizers face and recommend the best solutions to address them. But we don’t want to make your decisions for you. Instead, we’ll walk through a variety of different solutions so that you can find the one that is best for your unique event marketing needs—whether you are planning a virtual, in-person, or hybrid event.
3 Stages of the Event Lifecycle
- What to do (and tools to use) before the event
- What to do (and tools to use) during the event
- What to do (and tools to use) after the event
Want more details on the tools? Jump right to building the best stack for your event lifecycle.
Before the Event
Before the event day arrives, a lot needs to happen. In this section we’ll examine tools for establishing and promoting your event.
Building an On-Brand Event Website
Recommended Tech: Event Management Software
Your website is the digital home of your event. It is often the first impression that people will have of your event brand and what it stands for. In addition to hosting info about your event, your website will be where people got to register for your event.
You’re going to want to make it look good.
Luckily, when it comes to building a beautiful event website, you have a lot of tools at your disposal:
- Third-party Developer Tools: For building a website quickly, look no further than WordPress, Squarespace or Wix. These tools all operate on the “freemium” model: they are free to use, but require payment to access additional features. While these tools do not come with event registration capabilities by default, you may be able to find a registration plug-in or integrate registration widgets from your event management software.
- Custom Development: Whether you prefer to outsource the creation of your site or delegate it to an in-house developer, a custom developed website is an option that you may choose to go with. Here you can use registration widgets from event management software or even build out your own registration tools. However, if you do build your own registration tools, it’s important to note that any data you collect or process will likely need to be manually exported in order to integrate with other platforms.
- Event Management Software: It is not uncommon for all-in-one event platforms to come with their own website tools. If you are using an all-in-one event software like Bizzabo, you will have access to a powerful event website builder that provides the flexibility and branding of a custom developed website with the ease of use of a third-party developer tool. Most importantly, anyone who registers for your event will automatically be integrated into your event technology stack.
GitHub’s website made with Bizzabo
Managing Event Registrations, the Event Agenda and Speakers
Recommended Tech: Event Management Software
Once you’ve built out your website, you’ll need to manage an assortment of other tasks, such as building out your event agenda and managing registrations. While you could use a variety of tools for each specific need, you could also go with an all-in-one platform that seamlessly integrates data from all of the above. Why deal with customer support, legal and finance for multiple organizations when you can just do so with one?
Promoting Your Event with Email
Recommended Tech: Marketing Automation Software, Event Management Software, CRM
According to the Event Success Formula, marketers from the most successful organizations believe that email marketing is the most successful channel for promoting live events. Executing a successful email marketing campaign is equal parts data and design.
On the one hand, you want to intelligently segment email contacts based on your event objectives. On the other hand, you’ll want your contacts to read beautifully branded emails.
Keep in mind that there are three essential ingredients that go into successfully promoting an event campaign: a CRM, marketing automation software and event management software.
Promoting Your Event with Social Media
Recommend Tech: Event Management Software, Marketing Automation Software
While social media may not be the most popular channel for promoting your event, it still can be extremely worthwhile. Common best practices include having an event hashtag, monitoring social media channels for chatter about your event and leveraging influencers to help promote your event.
We’ve found that attendees can often be the best event promoters. This is especially the case when you offer a referral program like Ticket Boost that incentivizes them to drive associates in their network to register.
Your event management platform should come with various features for promoting your event on social and measuring its success. When it comes to scheduling posts to be published, your marketing automation software is your best friend.
During the Event
In this section we’ll explore how technologies can help manage a variety of event-day processes, from checking in attendees to showcasing event sponsors.
Facilitating a Smooth Event Check-in
Recommended Tech: Event Management Software, On-Site Management Software
Leading up to your event, attendees will have many touchpoints with your event brand. They will have visited your website, received emails from your team and potentially have seen retargeting or paid ads.
If someone has a lousy event check-in experience all of this can go out the window.
Fortunately, most event management solutions now come with intuitive tools for checking in attendees. Dedicated on-site management software like Bizzabo’s onsite solutions can provide an even more customizable check-in experience, in addition to other services like badge printing.
Event management software and on-site management software can be integrated with one another for an even more powerful event check-in experience.
Tracking Session Registration
Recommended Tech: Event Management Software, On-Site Management Software
Who signs up for each session and which sessions are most popular with attendees is helpful to know. On the one hand, data on the amount of session registrations can tell you which sessions are most popular. On the other hand, knowing what sessions your attendees are interested in can help you craft future event content or post-event content for following up with attendees.
Both event management software and on-site management software can help here.
Attendee Networking and Engagement
Recommended Tech: Event App
As mentioned above, attendees have grown accustomed to using event apps to navigate through events. Below are several use cases for an event app.
- Viewing an event agenda and create their personal agenda
- Researching who will be at the event and networking with other attendees
- Participating in polls and surveys
- Learning about event speakers
- Receiving real-time event updates via push notifications
Giving Partners and Sponsors Exposure
Recommended Tech: Event App, Event Management Software
Event sponsors are absolutely essential for making B2B events possible. For securing event sponsors and keeping them happy, event marketers need to demonstrate that their event is worth the investment. The same goes for other event partners.
Event marketers have multiple ways of making an event worthwhile through sponsorship packages. They can give a sponsor a booth at an event, showcase their logo on printed materials and give them shout-outs in media and emails.
Event management software can make spreading the word on sponsors a cinch. Imagine being able to seamlessly feature sponsor logos across event emails, the event website and the event app—all from one page.
Some event apps, like Bizzabo, offer dedicated features just for sponsors. These include:
- Dedicated sponsorship pages
- Special offers that drive attendees to specific web pages
- And the ability to track and measure attendee interaction with all of the above.
A glimpse of how an event app can track event sponsorship engagement.
After the Event
The stage after your event is the time for driving action and optimizing your strategy.
Passing Leads on to Sales
Recommended Tech: Event Management Software, CRM
Thanks to your event management software, you should have a list of everyone who is registered for your event. You may even have other information such as what sessions they attended, which sponsors they visited and more.
Once this info is synced with your CRM, your sales team will have a good idea of who they should reach out to next.
Naturally, you’ll want to make sure that these contacts are tagged with the event campaign. This will factor into marketing attribution and measuring ROI, which we’ll discuss below.
Following Up with Attendees
Recommended Tech: Event Management Software, CRM, Marketing Automation Software
When it comes to following up with attendees, you have options. You can use your event management software or you can use your marketing automation platform. With event management software, it may be easier to make lists based on an attendee’s event activity. Conversely, the information passed to CRMs and marketing automation platforms may not have the same level of granularity, but will let you expand the scope of your email campaign beyond those who are in your event database.
Measuring Event Performance and ROI
Recommended Tech: Event Management Software, Data Warehousing Software, Data Visualization Software
Modern event management software comes with a variety of measurement tools built into it. You can measure revenue, registrations, the popularity of sessions, the exposure of sponsors and more—all through easy to read reports and visualizations.
Some platforms, like Bizzabo, allow you to compare cross-event analytics so that you can easily see how one event performed in comparison with another.
Using data warehousing software, you can aggregate data from across your event technology stack. From there, you can use data visualization software to compile reports based off the resulting data. For example, an event marketer could create a report that pulls event revenue and attendee information from event management software and each attendee’s lifecycle stage from a CRM.
Building Your Event Technology Stack
There’s a lot that goes into the event lifecycle. Fortunately, you don’t have to do all this alone. The Event Success Formula shows that the majority of overperforming organizations are working in tandem with technologies to help them achieve success at every stage of the event lifecycle.
For an even more in-depth examination of event technologies, check out the Event Tech Stack Guide.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to the technologies that you can use to help you with your event lifecycle. Below you’ll find an overview of the types of technologies that we covered. The combination of these tools working with one another is called the event technology stack.
Event Management Software
Event management software (EMS) is the foundation on which the rest of your event stack will be built. Not only will it help you create your event, it will also serve you in growing and optimizing your event far into the future.
Given that your event management software forms the base of your tech stack, it is essential that it integrates seamlessly with other platforms that comprise it. That is, your EMS should be able to automatically send data to and receive data from other platforms in your event tech stack.
Mobile event or conference apps for attendees have become a fixture at B2B events. They offer attendees a means of conveniently networking with one another, planning their event itineraries and engaging with event app content (via polls and surveys) among other features.
For organizers, event apps can be a great way of driving event ROI, showcasing event sponsors and mining valuable insights about attendee preferences.
On-site Event management Software
While your event management software should cover the majority of the functions for marketing, managing and growing your event—you will likely wish to utilize on-site management software to make event check-in smoother for attendees and easier for organizers.
There is a lot more that on-site event management software can manage like badge printing, session registration and other tasks that we’ll examine below.
Customer relationships managements systems (CRMs) have become a mainstay for most marketing and sales teams. Statistics show, there’s a good chance that you (or someone at your organization) is already using one. But just in case you’re unfamiliar, here’s a quick breakdown.
At its simplest, a CRM serves as an interactive database of information for customers and leads.
Before an event campaign is even planned, an event marketer can pore through a CRM to surface data that may influence that campaign. Mining a system for data related to contact location, seniority, or other information can make it easier to plan a more successful event from the outset.
Marketing Automation Software
Outside of your event management platform, your marketing automation software will be your primary platform for engaging with your event contacts. Marketing automation software automates repetitive tasks that marketers would otherwise need to handle manually.
When it comes to your event stack, your marketing automation software can perform a number of critical functions like sending out segmented emails and passing attendees through specific workflows.
Data Warehousing Software
Data warehouse software serves as the central hub for all of the integrated event data across your event technology stack and even your organization. It is a database that constantly updates based on the platforms integrated with it.
As an event marketer there will be times when you want to analyze and manipulate data from your event management platform, marketing automation platform, sales CRM, attribution software and online ads (tracking pixels). Data warehousing provides the foundation for making that analysis happen.
Business Intelligence & Data Visualization Software
Once your data warehouse is in place, it’s time to extract insights from it. Business intelligence and data visualization software covers a wide variety of tools that are used to translate event data and metrics into charts, graphs and insights.
Wrapping Up: optimize Your Event LifeCycle with the right tech
At every stage of the event lifecycle there is the opportunity to harness technology to make you and your team more productive than ever before. In this post we covered the core technologies that can take your event strategy to the next level. As you continue to build out your event technology stack you may find other technologies that serve your event strategy.
- Leverage event management software, CRMs and the rest of your event stack to maximize productivity .
- Before your event, you can leverage technology to build the foundation of your event campaign and promote.
- During your event, you can leverage technology to showcase sponsors and partners, engage attendees and harvest valuable attendee data.
- After the event, technology can help you coordinate between different teams, follow-up with your attendees, create reports, visualize data and prove ROI.
- At every stage of the life cycle, ensure that your technology is seamlessly integrated so that no data is lost.
The perfect event technology stack starts with the perfect event software. See how the leading analyst Forrester compares the top event management platforms.
Editor’s Note: This post was initially published in February 2018 and has since been updated for relevancy.