The event landscape continues to change, and you can’t rely on last year’s event strategy — even if it worked. You have to ask the right questions to craft an event strategy that hits goals and delights attendees.
According to a Bizzabo survey, 92% of respondents in the commercial and professional services industry agree that their leadership teams are very committed to their event strategy. But to ensure the highest ROI and ROE (Return on Event) possible, you have to build a comprehensive strategy and ask the right questions.
If you’re ready to take a second look at your event strategy with virtual and hybrid events in mind, then this guide has everything you need to craft a successful event strategy.
What is an event strategy?
An event strategy is the key to creating a memorable experience that meets your organization’s objectives, drives business goals, and exceeds attendee expectations. It’s the single source of truth that takes you from an event’s conception through to post-event follow-up.
Your event strategy should be purposeful, measurable, and data-informed and should outline the following:
- Organizational objectives: Once you determine the purpose of the event, you can align your goals to ensure you meet your objectives.
- Event goals: This can be anything from increasing brand awareness to growing your sales pipeline to educating employees.
- Event type: Is your event hybrid, virtual, or in-person? Is it a sales kickoff or a networking event? The event type should support your event goals.
- Audience: Whether an event is internal or external, you need a strategy. Consider whether your event is open to the wider public or it’s an invitation-only event.
- What you will do: Once you determine all the foundational elements of your event, you can make a plan for budget, platform and tools, speaker list, promotion plan, what kind of event experience you’ll provide, how you’ll engage your audience, and more.
- What you won’t do: It’s equally important to list the “will nots” of an event. Make this a document you can point to when last-minute ideas that don’t align with your goals come up during the planning process.
An event strategy is only as relevant as you make it, so you should regularly update the strategy according to your organization’s objectives and goals. Don’t forget to keep tabs on industry trends too.
How To Evaluate Your Event Strategy
According to original research by Statista, marketers are anticipating an increase in virtual events. This — and the slow pivot back to in-person gatherings and hybrid events — is reason enough to take an in-depth look at your event strategy.
You should evaluate your strategy for the following:
- Success metrics: KPIs and other targets change all the time, especially with the more data you’re able to collect and analyze. Greater access to data means the ability to create more focused targets that will better align your event strategy with your goals.
- Budget: As the event landscape changed over the past two years, budgets had to change with them. Although 66% of budget organizers anticipated budget cuts in 2021, the costs of technical requirements of hybrid events can stack up quickly. Luckily, 86% of B2B organizations see a positive ROI of their hybrid events seven months after the event date — but shifts in budget need to be accounted for regularly regardless of event type.
- Need: Events are an important channel for accomplishing business goals, but to compete, they need to be done right. Throwing together an event just to have one, without considering the audience experience, is never the right move for your brand.
What To Consider When Creating Your Next Event Strategy
During the process of evaluating and evolving your event strategy, there are plenty of angles to keep in mind. With hybrid events becoming the norm, there are many technical needs that need to be factored into planning. Consider the following questions:
Are you achieving data security and compliance?
A lot more information changes hands in the hybrid and virtual event space, making data compliance a big concern. Make sure your event strategy takes into account all ethical and legal requirements and takes every precaution to protect your attendees’ information.
Is your software provider a data controller/data processor? What’s the difference?
A data controller determines the purpose of personal data and how it should be processed. A data processor carries out the determination of the controller. The tools you choose can take some of the weight off your events team to determine the storage and processing of personal information.
Does your event platform offer integrations, such as with a CRM?
The more centralized all the elements of your event management are, the easier it is for you to do your job — and the more accurate your reporting will be. An event platform that integrates with your pre-existing software will make your event all the more helpful to your sales team.
Can you track and evaluate attendee behavioral data?
Whether an attendee is in-person or virtual, being able to track their attendee experience will help you tailor their event experience, plan content that matters, and follow up with resources directly tied to their interests.
Are you able to engage attendees with chat, polls, Q&A, and more?
Engagement is an ongoing process in the hybrid space, but many event organizers have found their best levels of engagement come from interactive elements: live chat, polls, and Q&As. It’s integral that your event strategy — and the platform you choose to host your event — makes room for these vital event experiences.
Can you deliver personalized attendee journeys?
Having comprehensive data about your participants in a single place can help you ensure your attendees get the most out of your event from the minute they register. Have you considered the power of offering personalized experiences in the moment during your event? It’s possible — with the right events industry software partner.
Can you deliver a comparable experience whether attendees are in-person or virtual?
B2B marketers have a strong preference for the in-person side of hybrid events, so the in-person experience often gets the majority of focus in an event strategy. But the experience of audience members behind the screen needs even more careful consideration to deliver a comparable event experience.
Are you able to create high-quality video or a high-impact website without hiring a web developer?
The technical aspects of events have to meet a higher bar. To make the virtual attendee experience just as rich as the in-person one, video and sound quality have to deliver and your website must hold the answers participants are looking for. Rather than building it all on your own — or hiring someone and training them up — finding a partner who does it all is key.
Does your event strategy leverage sustainable practices?
The environment is a hot topic across industries. Consumers want to work with and support brands that are socially and environmentally conscious, so consider setting a carbon target for your event using a tool like a carbon footprint calculator. If sustainability is a corporate goal, hybrid and virtual events can help cut down on travel, food waste, and printed materials.
Does your event strategy include a focus on diversity and inclusion?
Because hybrid events can now reach attendees around the globe, it’s more important than ever to promote inclusive content from diverse speakers. Nearly 70% of event speakers are male — and that’s likely not representative of your audience. Ensure the event experience makes everyone feel included and brings innovative thoughts and perspectives from various backgrounds.
Get Started: Level Up Your Event Strategy Now
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. There is a lot to consider when planning an event that meets and exceeds your goals, but with thoughtful planning and the right event experience software partner, you don’t have to feel anything but successful.
By outlining your objectives and goals, as well as your do’s and don’ts, staying updated on industry trends, reassessing your success metrics and budgets, and asking yourself tactical questions, you’ll build a stronger event strategy. With a strong strategy and a supportive partner, you’ll be able to devote more time and energy to creating a great event experience.