Evaluating virtual events, success with speakers: Thursday’s daily brief

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Good morning marketers, can virtual events ever recreate the social aspects of in-person shows?

We are social beings. That’s even more evident now that we have been confined to our homes for so long. Nothing can really replace the social aspect of in-person events — the camaraderie, developing business relationships, networking and being able to interact with speakers and sponsors one-on-one in a learning environment. Putting aside airline delays, many people will be excited to get back to in-person events as soon as it’s safe to do so. In fact, they’ve already told us they prefer in-person to virtual.

However, there will continue to be a place for virtual and hybrid events and we still need to find ways to provide more interactivity and networking for attendees that goes beyond a chat Q&A. We’ve seen great success with “community meet-ups” in our shows, where an industry expert moderates a conversation with attendees. And 1:1 networking still has a place in virtual shows. Sure it feels like digital speed dating, but there’s just enough time to trade a few ideas and contact details.

If you’ve seen other innovative ways to create connected, social moments at virtual events send me a note at kbushman@thirddoormedia.com.

Kathy Bushman

Director, Events Content

Extinct … again

Bronto, the ESP acquired by NetSuite in 2015, will cease service at the end of May, 2022. In an email to customers, Bronto announced that it was entering an “end of life” phase, with its marketing automation technology and other resources migrating to the Oracle CX Cloud. Bronto’s market share appeared to be both small (0.68%) and declining. Oracle itself commands a much larger slice of the marketing automation space, although it lags well behind HubSpot.

If this was a logical step for Oracle NetSuite, for Bronto’s clients it meant the headache of switching to an alternative ESP provider. Tinuiti, the performance marketing agency, responded swiftly to the news by offering advice on selecting a new ESP: Tinuiti itself, of course, offers professional guidance in selection and migration of email services, as well as email marketing management. Cross-channel marketing platform Acoustic, home to IBM’s divested marketing solutions, also stepped forward to help Bronto’s customers, with the message: “Acoustic can help…We’re not going anywhere.”

Why we care. Consolidation. What room is there for even long-established niche players in an environment where any business above the smallest mom-and-pop operation is looking to scale its digital marketing? With a market leader like HubSpot offering a bargain basement starter kit, it’s hard to know what value proposition a vendor like Bronto could offer.

Partnering with speakers for successful events and webinars

The important word here is “partner”. Speakers can make a big difference in the success of your event or webinar so whether you are working with internal or external speakers, it’s important to choose someone with the right expertise and coach them through the speaking process. Here are a few tips for a smooth experience.

  • Know your goals and communicate them to potential speakers. Is this speaking role purely educational, for lead generation, for branding or thought leadership, or something else?
  • Write down your expectations. What topic do you want the speaker to cover? What type of presentation are you planning, are they expected to work with other speakers as you would with a panel, or is it a solo talk? Will there be slides? If so, who will design them? Do you want the presentation to include a case study, be actionable or is it more of a strategic presentation?
  • If you’re producing this presentation virtually, be sure to communicate what technology, background and lighting the speaker will need to have in order to look and sound good in the recording or during the live broadcast.
  • Educate your speaker on the audience demographics, experience level, and needs. The more information you can provide them, the more customized they can make the presentation.
  • Lastly, layout the logistics, timelines and deadlines. Check in with your speakers before each deadline to make sure they have everything they need to be successful.

How ad spend changed during the year of COVID

Between January and December 2020, the higher education (481%), design (229%) and consumer electronics (217%) industries saw the highest increases in digital ad spend, according to a study of 6,000 U.S. companies from data platform Improvado. On the flip side, the entertainment (-82%) and leisure, tourism and travel (-78%) industries saw the greatest decreases in spend.

The biggest changes (higher education, consumer electronics entertainment, tourism,) make a lot of sense, but the most interesting changes were towards the middle of these charts (the changes most didn’t see coming): Increased demand for housing due to low interest rates resulted in a boom for the construction and furniture industries, and stimulus payments did what they were meant to do (encourage spending) so the manufacturing sector responded with more ads.

Why we care. Knowing how your sector has adapted to life being upended for an entire year can communicate important details about how effective your marketing has been, such as whether higher ad spend is the new norm or if you can reduce budget and rely on organic without a negative impact on your KPIs.

Quote of the day

“(C)ompanies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.” – Mekala Krishnan, et al, McKinsey Global Institute.

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