I wrote a piece in 2017 about the foundations of the digital transformation in the events industry. At that time, the mice industry was trailing behind and had a lot of work to do. Two years on, and technology has advanced rapidly. So, does the events industry stand now? Technology is transforming the way we live and do business. Most industries have adopted it, changing many aspects of their design and makeup in the process. Digital tools are now a crucial part of strategic event management due to their proven ability to bring in substantial benefits. These benefits include significant cost and time savings, higher attendee satisfaction, and better exposure and image building.

The growth of the web is making many changes in all sectors. But, what influence is the digital transformation movement having on the meetings and event industry now that we have embraced it?

What exactly is digital transformation?

“Digital transformation is the process of exploiting digital technologies and supporting capabilities to create a robust new digital business model.” – Gartner

Digital transformation allows people to solve their traditional business problems in new ways. It offers new types of innovation and creativity, rather than simply enhancing and supporting our traditional methods.

Digital transformation in the events industry

The events industry is embracing digital transformation with all the latest tech on display at conferences and meetings. But, the new technologies available are assisting conference organisers with creating an immersive experience, making the registration process seamless. Those are the two basic, but major changes we are seeing. We are now in the Age of Experience. This means that every event, no matter how small now needs to become an immersive experience. The modern generation will settle for nothing less.

Technologies like 3D, VR, and AR can blend the digital and physical aspects of an event. They help create authentic conversations between delegates, attendees and speakers. This technology gives events the potential to become content marketing engines. As organisers in the events industry, we are now able to turn attendees into participants by adding an experiential dimension to our events, making a conference or any other event a collaborative occurrence as opposed to a function that people attend just for the purpose of consuming knowledge.

So, what can we expect in 2019 and thereafter?  

Digital transformation will have an ever-evolving effect on the events industry, with these four tech-trends at the forefront.

1.   Facial recognition

This exciting technology will permanently eliminate paper from the registration and entry process. It will also optimise the security at conferences, streamlining access.

2.   Virtual Reality

A technology that is constantly evolving has now merged with social media. Oculus venues is a virtual reality platform that enables live events to be seen with Live Nation, Ticketmaster, and through an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. The obvious point being that attendees don’t have to physically be there to experience your event.

3.   Augmented reality

Perhaps more effective than virtual reality, augmented reality is having a massive impact on the events industry. Engagement for events is crucial and can be very challenging given the demands of the modern consumer. Augmented Reality will boost engagement levels and create hype on social media by encouraging attendees to interact with your content and, in turn, share it with their following.

4.    Artificial intelligence

Smart technology is influencing the events industry in a big way too. By utilising chatbots in a wide range of scenarios, event planners can automate several tasks, better serving their attendees.  

Conclusion

So, as you can see, technology has been implemented and used to great effect already in the events industry. Associations are taking great interest in investing in new technologies, but this means a total overhaul of existing systems and practices. All for the betterment of the industry of course. The events industry is changing, and progressing in order to adapt to current trends, but these trends are forever changing. It never stops. It is a perpetual investigation and evolution of science. As players in this industry, we should continue to embrace it and view it as a thrilling time, full of opportunity and potential. We must, however, constantly seek ways in which we can be at the forefront instead of continually playing catch-up.

To learn about ways in which your association can truly embrace digital transformation in the meetings and events industry, get in touch with me. I specialise in delivering results for stakeholders within the Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Event Industry as well as for Associations and SMBs.

GDPR association

One Year Of GDPR And The Outlook For Your Organisation

One Year Of GDPR And The Outlook For Your Organisation

GDPR for your organisation. The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect on May 25, 2018. A year later, it seems clear that data protection and privacy rights are taking centre stage on a global scale. And the demands are not a strictly European phenomenon. Data and privacy professionals are counting the days until the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Comparable to GDPR in its scope and requirements, it comes into effect next year. Similar laws are being drafted in countries like Brazil and India.

The run-up to GDPR’s enforcement date last May was fraught with uncertainty. Organisations scrambled to decide how they would adjust their operations to comply with the new regulations. Readiness for GDPR had to be implemented across several departments, creating multiple and unique compliance challenges. Fast forward to May 2019, and organizations are still trying to come to terms with GDPR’s practical impact. Department-specific compliance challenges remain a significant hurdle.

By the end of 2018, and six months after GDPR came into effect, a survey by the International Association Of Privacy Professionals depicted a mixed picture of the status of GDPR compliance. On the one hand, working towards compliance seems easier in practice than it was on paper. Three-quarters of respondents said they had appointed a data protection officer. Three in four claimed they had made changes to products and services for compliance purposes. However, more than half of respondents admitted they were far from achieving compliance. Nearly 20 per cent said full compliance might never be achieved.

As far as organisations are concerned, GDPR compliance has prompted an overdue reconsideration of data security. In their technical infrastructure, management systems, and member data collection and handling procedures.

GDPR Requirements

Here’s a review of GDPR’s requirements as they relate to the business events industry:

Consent

GDPR requires explicit consent to store and use data belonging to any EU resident or citizen attending your event. Organizers must specify their reasons to collect data, how data will be used, whether any third parties like suppliers, exhibitors, or sponsors will have access to such data, and for how long. During event registration, attendees must give specific consent to each and every activity that requires data collection, and they must be able to opt out.

Data-breach notification

Event organizers must have data-breach notification procedures in place and be able to demonstrate that they are doing everything in their power to safeguard attendee data. This includes training your entire team, defining best practices, and establishing incident reporting procedures.

Access

Upon request, you must give attendees free-of-charge digital copies of their data as well as details on where the data is being stored and for which purposes.

Right to be forgotten

EU citizens or residents can request that you delete their data. Proof of compliance is also required.

Portability

Upon request, you must securely transfer attendee data to a different data controller.

Data protection officers

When involved in the large-scale processing of data, controllers and data processors (which in the case of many event organizers are one and the same) must appoint a data protection officer.

Privacy by design

Privacy and data protection cannot merely be add-ons to your systems but must be integral to the entire organisation.

Where Do We Stand Now?

How far have we come in the meetings industry implementing the requirements above? There are noticeable changes across three main areas:

  • CommunicationsPrivacy, consent, and data protection now govern the interactions between event organizers and attendees, which requires the modification of communication strategies. New terms of service are usually communicated via email. Opt-ins and consent requests also required website or event tech app updates, which now must incorporate footers, banners, or checkboxes, detailing their privacy and cookie policy, as well as users’ rights.
  • Handling Requests — Organizations should be prepared to handle data access requests from attendees or members, who also have the right to request data deletion or amendment. Some organizations have taken a proactive approach and made changes to their association-management systems to enable them to handle these requests appropriately — even if they have had no requests so far.
  • Third-Party Services and Suppliers — Some event organizers use third parties as data processors, and GDPR compliance is expected from vendors and contractors too. In some cases, contracts have had to be rewritten, or suppliers had to be replaced.

These changes hint at a change of mindset among PCOs: For some compliance is not purely a legal issue, but a matter of ethics and organizational culture. Something that adds intrinsic value to an association or organization. This is a promising aspect of GDPR and likely to become even more critical in the future.

What’s Next with GDPR and your Organisation?

It seems clear that GDPR compliance will be an ongoing effort extending beyond the regulations’ enforcement date. On this note, enforcement will become increasingly rigorous: Fines for non-compliance are already being issued, signalling event organizers about the risks of complacency. Key takeaways from the fines already levied are:

  • There are now legal precedents, and the grace period is over. Regulators expect organizations to be proactive regardless of where their headquarters are located or who provides/maintains their data-management systems.
  • Proactivity means making demonstrable efforts to comply — the keyword being demonstrable. No organization is too small or too big to be exempt.
  • Implementing GDPR can get complex, but it’s helpful to focus on the seven basic requirements listed above and be ready to fine-tune them continuously — and not only when you are hosting events.

It is also essential to create mechanisms that reinforce cybersecurity. GDPR readiness audits can take so much of your time and resources that they may interfere or distract you from enforcing other security mechanisms.

Looking ahead, you should also be vigilant about the impact of GDPR on your marketing practices, in particular where email marketing, marketing automation, and public relations are concerned. These should be governed by the principles of GDPR: transparency, accountability, privacy by design, and freely given consent.

Frank M. Waechter is a Europe–based digital marketer specializing in the meetings, incentives, conferences, and events industry as well as associations and small- and mid-size businesses. His company’s services include digital engagement strategy; conference and event social-media marketing; live, on-site digital engagement; and training, digital transformation and speaking.

This article was first published on PCMA.

Conference Promotion

5 Key Elements for Successful Conference Promotion

Conference planning is a demanding task to manage and implement. From the months of preparation to the environment leading up to it and balancing the needs of delegates and speakers on the day. There is nothing more disappointing to a conference planner than having unsold conference tickets as ticket sales are a direct indication of how well you promoted the event. Conference promotion can make or break your event, but before we get to that, you need to consider the following aspects:

Clarify Your Objective And Target Market

What is the purpose of your conference? What would make it a success? This comes down to figuring out exactly what your target audience wants.

For a conference and its promotion to be a success, this needs to be addressed. Once you have established this, you should then have a clear objective and purpose based on the needs of your audience.

Topics And Agenda

Once you have clarified your objective, you need to then decipher which topics and questions your speakers should be addressing. What agenda will help them relate to your target audience best?

Guests And Facilitators

A capable facilitator is crucial to you’re the success of your sessions or workshops. You will need to find someone who is articulate, agile and has enough knowledge of the topic to ask the right questions.

When it comes to selecting your guest speakers, it will prove highly-beneficial if you recruit individuals who have an online presence.

Picking someone with the relevant expertise and experience is a given, but the more credible they are the better as this will boost awareness around your event when you start to promote it (more on this later).

Now to avoid a futile attempt at hosting an event, use these 5 key elements for successful conference promotion.

Create Videos

This is the direction online advertising is currently moving in. Incorporating video into your online promotion will result in higher, more responsive engagement. Don’t panic, it can be done inexpensively.

Just create a simple interview-style video with your guest speakers highlighting the objective and major topic of your conference. Ensure the mention the value in attending.

Thankfully, there are DIY video editing applications that are capable of producing professional looking results and which allow you to work off of templates. All that is required of you is editing the clips you choose to upload. You can even add sound.

Email Campaigns

Email campaigns are very effective for conference promotion. The ROI on email promotion averages at 38:1. Some may say it is a dated method of promotion but the numbers and results state otherwise.

Again, there are incredible, user-friendly tools for doing this. MailChimp will allow you to shift all focus on the content.

This application allows the user to upload a list of recipients, manage subscriptions and track the open rates.

The only real work you will need to do is create engaging content to include in the mailer. You can also send out emails in phases, such as announcing early bird tickets, competitions, surprise speakers and “preparing for the event’ emails.

Create a Conference Hashtag

Social media will be your most powerful means of promotion, and when looking to have engaging conversations with your audience, Twitter is the most popular social media channel. You will also be able to leverage your conversations and connections on LinkedIn.

You can start by creating a conference hashtag. This will encourage people to engage in online conversations.

Use something simple like the acronym of your event name followed by the year. This can be easily monitored. Include the hashtag on all your branding online and on the day/weekend of the conference. This way, when delegates attend, they will utilise the hashtag when posting online.

Further to this, look for relevant conversations that your target audience might are engaged in and join in. Offer value in your responses and you will get the right attention.

For hashtags specifically related to your conference, conduct a search on Twitter using keywords that are connected to your industry, then join in on those conversations. This method of conference promotion is entirely free, it just takes a lot of effort.

Create Valuable Content

Instead of push-marketing, why not instead give your target audience interesting content that they can use and share? Try to establish your brand as a thought leader on specific industry-related tropics.

Share information on guest speakers and their influence, insight into the topics they will be covering and why. Be relatable, be valuable. Do not simply promote the price and submission deadline for the conference.

Why is it valuable for delegates to attend your conference? Other than industry insight, it is about networking.

After you have announced your guest speakers and keynote speaker, ask them to talk about your conference to their own audience. Having someone credible speak about your event will generate invaluable interest leading to an increase in ticket sales.

Search Engine Optimisation

According to Eventbrite, search (Google) can drive between 5-10% of ticket purchases or registrations.

You can achieve this by ensuring your pages (landing pages, web pages, blogs) are SEO-optimized.

Do the following to rank higher in Google:

  • Add your event name, a keyword, and the location of your conference (city) in your title tags
  • Include your event name and relevant keyword in the “Header 1’s” of your pages
  • Finally, add the address of your event and embed the google map location of your conference on your pages.

If you are unfamiliar with keywords, view this guide. To use keywords to your advantage when actioning conference promotion, you need to discover which key phrases are relevant to your event.

Use Google’s Keyword Planner to understand keyword performance, test multiple keywords, and compare keywords to each other.

Related: Social Media Marketing for the MICE Industry

Conference promotion takes a lot of research and commitment. There are many different methods such as influencer marketing and even outsourcing your marketing altogether. If you need expert advice or a proficient support structure, get in touch with me.






inspiration hub imex 2016

My Inspiration Hub Session at IMEX 2016

My Inspiration Hub Session at IMEX 2016

I am absolutely looking forward to my Inspiration Hub Session at next week’s IMEX 2016 (click here for the session website):

Social Media Marketing in the MICE Industry: it’s about conversion, not branding!

  • IMEX 16, Frankfurt
  • Where: Seminar Room 3, Inspiration Hub, Stand G680, Show Floor
  • When: Tuesday April 19th, 2016
  • Time: 15:30 – 16:00
  • Session: Social Media Marketing in the MICE Industry: it’s about conversion, not branding!

I have been visiting IMEX Frankfurt for at least 12 years now. As a visitor during my time as freelance event manager, as an exhibitor when I was running my Spanish Destination Management Company “Abanico Incentives”, as Hosted Buyer during my episodes working for different event and conference organising companies and organisations. IMEX has always been (and will be) a great place for networking with colleagues and friends from the MICE industry (meetings, incentives, conferences, events) not only from Europe but from all over the world. It is the place where you meet at least once a year to meet and talk and share experiences and opportunities. IMEX is also a wonderful place for learning and inspiration. During the years, the organisers have developed an outstanding education programme around the exhibition. This year’s major themes are ‘Sharing Economy’ and ‘Business is Personal’.

Nothing more to add. See you at #IMEX16!

fmwaechter.com is a digital marketing strategies company with many years of experience in the MICE industry. Feel free to get in touch if you want to know more about our tailor-made services we can offer you.






Mobile App Marketing

Effective Mobile App Marketing

Effective Mobile App Marketing

Internet searches on mobile devices overtook desktop searches already years ago. (Updated content, Jan. 2017) According to research done by Smart Insights 90% of time spent by mobile users was on a mobile apps. The internet usage via Smartphone is on a constant rise of 11% per year, with an average of 3 hours day per mobile user (Updated content, Jan. 2017). As of July of 2015 there were 1.6 million apps for Android Users and 1.5 million apps available in Apple’s App Store for iPhone users. With so many apps to choose from it is apparent that mobile app marketing is essential. 

As with any digital marketing strategy it is important that you understand how mobile is being used. It goes without saying that in 2016 you must have a mobile-friendly or what’s called a responsive website. In fact it’s been nearly a year since Google changed its algorithm making mobile-friendliness a factor in their ranking of all websites. This is what the term “Mobigeddon” refers to.

Digital Media Consumption via Mobile Apps

Everything on your website must now be designed and optimized to work well on a mobile screen. This affects your content marketing strategies to be sure. For every online marketing campaign that you engage in, you’ve got to incorporate mobile marketing strategies as well. Mobile is now the platform that most web users are choosing so it’s imperative that every online marketing campaign includes mobile.  

Related: Lights, Camera, Action! The Why and How of Video Marketing

Most of digital media consumption, and especially social media, is now done within mobile applications, according to a recent study by comScore. What this signifies is that mobile apps take up more of users’ time than does mobile web surfing or desktop usage. Facebook is by far the most popular mobile app and accounts for 52% of the time people spend using digital media. Combine this with mobile web usage and 60% of digital media is consumed via mobile as opposed to 40% being consumed via desktop.  

Mobile apps are the driving force of media consumption today with 7 minutes out of every 8 of media consumption on mobile devices being done via apps. App activity goes even higher for smartphone users, with 88% app usage as opposed to 82% on tablets. App users have shown themselves addicted to apps, with 57% of those with smartphones using apps every day, and 79% reporting they use apps 26 days per month.  

The Social Media Impact

Facebook remains the number 1 app used and the other top apps include Google, Apple, Yahoo, Amazon and eBay. Social networking apps as well as games and radio apps garner almost half of the time spent on mobile apps. This means that people use apps for entertainment and for communication purposes. Another interesting statistic is that iPhone users make 40% more in income than do Android users. They also use more apps for some reason, spending 9 more hours a month using apps than do Android users.  If you have a mobile app you must have mobile app marketing strategies in place to get your app the needed exposure.   

What Exactly is a Mobile App? 

A mobile app is a specific program that can do something for you once you download it onto your mobile device. Many of the top ones work as an adjunct to a website. With the technology in the smartphones and tablets of today, apps can do great things like giving you movie times, calculating the exchange rates, allow you to interact on social media, give you traffic alerts, provide entertainment of all kinds and notifying you of special offers in your area.   

In developing a mobile app for your website or your blog you must provide something of value to your visitors, prospects or customers. This would be done by incorporating the kind of functionality and content that is time sensitive and/or location based. Just as with social media, don’t be selling something, but offering something useful, like snow reports for skiers in a specific area and this will drive traffic to your website if you are in a related business, like sportswear and/or sports equipment.

It’s all about convenience

With smartphone users your app is all about convenience, and the more indispensable it is the better. In driving traffic to your retail store you can announce “Specials” and/or “Events.” This can help you stand out from your competitors, create more customer engagement and drive loyalty. A well functioning and engaging app will put your brand on many customers’ phones, allow you to receive instant feedback, and make it easy for them to share your content with other mobile users. The goal is to increase revenues and profits. The only way this can happen is with an effective mobile app marketing strategy that will get it out there for people to find.   

Related: Content Performance Marketing: Making the Right Choices at the Right Times

Marketing Your Mobile App

Online marketers naturally assume that people go to the app store to browse and find new apps and 40% of those with smartphones do go to the app store looking for new apps, making this a popular method. But app stores are certainly not the only place to discover new apps. People find out about apps in many different ways while using smartphones:

  • While they’re using another app
  • Looking for another app
  • Watching a video on YouTube
  • While navigating a mobile website
  • Through a web search   

According to research, web searches are a major way that people discover apps with one out of four app users actually discovering an app by searching the web for something else, but related. 

For example, someone planning a business trip to Paris needs a hotel room. She’ll go to Google Search looking for “hotels in Paris” and will find an app listing hotel rooms in the area along with short-term rentals. Since she travels frequently on business, she chooses to download this app because it’ll come in handy for this booking as well as overnight stays in the future.

Discovering an app through a web search is most common for local apps, as well as tech apps (i.e. reviews of new devices) and for travel categories (i.e. confirming trip details). In these three particular categories people are more likely to use a web search in finding the apps they’re looking for.  

An effective mobile app marketing strategy

An effective mobile app marketing strategy will ensure that your app can be discovered everywhere and that includes through web searches. 

Another way people find new apps is through search ads. This is one of the most effective methods of promoting app downloads. When people who downloaded an app after viewing an ad on their smartphone were questioned, 50% said that a search ad prompted them to download the app. This insight into how consumers discover new apps sets the stage for marketers to reevaluate their approach to how people discover their apps. Search ads raise the visibility of apps and because they’re there right when a consumer is searching for an app, they drive downloads. For app marketers it is vital that your app stand out wherever smartphone users would be searching for apps related to their needs and interests.  

Inbound Marketing Strategies for Mobile Apps

Mobile apps have already surpassed the Internet when it comes to time spent by consumers and it’s only second to time spent in front of TV. Inbound online marketing has blossomed over the past few years and if we’re smart we’ll take what we’ve already learned and apply this to mobile app marketing. Below are three incredibly successful inbound marketing strategies you can implement for mobile apps that will get you results:

Related: Formulating an effective approach to Content Marketing

1- Be on Social Media

We all know now how vital social media is to any marketing strategy. But with mobile it is all the more important as this is exactly what people use their smartphones for. When we’re riding the bus we email, text and check Facebook like crazy. When we’re at lunch we Instagram our meal and we Tweet our excitement while waiting in line at a concert.  This is where you want conversations to take place regarding your app’s features and offerings. Here is how you can use Twitter for example:  

Twitter

A while ago, Nike decided to experiment with Twitter in introducing their new mobile app. They went to Twitter and aggressively shared their content plus the app with consumers who were likely to be interested because they were Tweeting about their own athletic activities. Nike was amazed at the results they got after this two-week experiment:

  • Received more than 3 clicks for each outbound Tweet
  • Doubled their positive reviews and ratings in the app store for this new app
  • Got as many downloads from these Tweets as they got from their largest paid advertising channel   

2- Share Your Story

Beyond choosing the right name, creating a compelling icon and making sure your app’s description is optimized. You have got to own your presence within the app store. This is one more channel for sharing your app’s story. Do not allow the app store to tell the story for you. They will gloss over a lot of the details that can influence the number of downloads. Use this channel as well as your website and other social media channels to tell everyone why they need to use your app. Do this by explaining clearly what problems it can solve and all that it offers. 

3- Engage Your Audience From Day One

In business these days we must all be proactively connecting with our customers from the day we “open our doors.” You must be doing all you can to engage with them and with your target audience as a whole. Improve social listening and Data Analytics, in order to build your brand and a fan base. When you have a loyal following your customers will likely share their enthusiasm for you and your app with the world. 

In developing your app you can create a way to reach them from within your app. Understand that your customers have their smartphones with them all day everyday. When people are inspired they will use their smartphones to share your app and all that it offers. This is when downloads can skyrocket. Offer value and you will reap the rewards.

The article Mobile App Marketing for your Business or Organisation was first published on fmwaechter.com. Author Frank M. Waechter.






digital marketing

6 Reasons Why You Should Outsource Your Digital Marketing for An Event

Are you doing your own digital marketing for an event, conference or association? If you’re a Digital Marketing Director or CEO, chances are you are currently responsible for this or at least have been before. I understand how stressful this can be and are aware of the complexities it entails.

In the modern climate, many corporations, associations and destination bureaus are being faced with over-burdened staff and diminishing spend. Not to mention a lack of expertise or know how in the rapidly changing digital sphere.

As a result, many of them have had to reassess their event strategies, thus turning to outsourcing for their event marketing needs.

There’s a wide array of benefits when it comes to outsourcing a digital marketing company to manage your event requirements. This is because running an event is an intricate and expensive undertaking so the preparation and management of every detail count, especially when it comes to foot traffic, the overall success of your event, and maximising your budget.

How do you know when to outsource? Have you thought about the reason as to why one would? Here are our 8 reasons why you should outsource your digital marketing for an event from this moment onward.

Save time

This one is seemingly obvious but if you outsource your digital marketing needs to an agency that does it for multiple clients daily, you’ll save so much time because of their experience, the number of people that will be working on your event simultaneously and their ability to get tasks done quickly and efficiently.

Agencies are also aware of all the added value you can acquire through digital marketing and are experts at implementing strategies in order to do so – getting you more for your money, more out of the timeframe and adding to the experience with content creation ideas.

Reduce costs

This also means a decrease in expenditure. Getting more done in less time because of able bodies and experience means getting the most out of your budget. As the saying goes, time is money and you’ll find that by using a digital marketing agency, you’ll save more money than you ever anticipated.

Think about if you had to go at it alone. You’d have to hire several experts to help you action strategies effectively and efficiently. With a digital marketing agency, the package or hours you pay for will cover the huge cost of attempting it internally, never mind the tedious task of having to brief new employees on your vision. Their staff already have the depth of skills needed which means no HR headaches either.

Tap into industry experience

By outsourcing to a digital marketing company, you’ll be tapping into years’ worth of collective experiences such as using content marketing methods, video and social media marketing which is backed by professional data analytics to gain trust from your attendees. At FM Waechter, targeted, interactive and measurable promotion are used for events.

These include:

An in-depth digital marketing plan is the foundation of a successful event and achieving your goals in terms of interest and numbers through the door.

Focus on your core business

When the digital marketing aspect of your event is covered, it gives you the time to focus and expand upon the things that you do best. By freeing up internal resources, you will effectively be enabling your team to be able to focus on the areas where they maximise their time.

As you’ll be well aware of, a successful event demands a detailed master plan and a timeline and budget that is followed strictly. This pertains to the practical, physical side of the event. By outsourcing your digital marketing, you and your team will be able to focus on these defining aspects.

Creativity

Digital marketers are creatives. They are capable of marketing your event or conference in an authentic, captivating, and compelling way. They will also do so objectively; sometimes one can be too close to the project. Never underestimate an outside perspective on your ideas.

Expert digital marketers will assist in making the event a success because they have a world of ideas and industry insight. Further to this, they execute these ideas and strategies with a marketing mindset and instinct toward your expectation and vision.

Learn from them

When you outsource your digital marketing, these individuals will become your partners in strategizing. They will work with your people on a daily basis. This will result in your staff learning crucial methods from them. This can only be a positive thing for building the expertise of your internal resources and may just save you money further down the line.

Conclusion

With so much on your plate and so much to be offered by outsourcing this critical element of you event, why hesitate? Speak to a specialist in digital marketing for events immediately! For advice, solutions and ideas on how to make the most of the opportunities that Digital Marketing offer your event, get in touch with FM Waechter!






Video Marketing

Lights, Camera, Action! The Why and How of Video Marketing

Lights, Camera, Action! The Why and How of Video Marketing

Tips for Video Marketing and effectiveness of Video Marketing

From the first moving pictures through to MTV and the YouTube generation, video has become the most powerful way to attract other people’s attention. Why? Because it captures the world as we both experience it and share it with others.
The past five years has seen an explosion in social video. 121,112 videos on YouTube alone are viewed every second, not to mention the traffic passing through Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. Online video is quite simply where your customers are. And it’s getting bigger all the time.
Here are our top five Whys and Hows of effective video marketing:

Be seen! Be found!

In our search-optimised world, having the best product is worthless if it isn’t getting seen. When people are looking for you on the net, video marketing will bump you much higher up on their list of results than a website using text and pictures alone.

Related: Influencer Marketing In The Meetings Industry

People like putting a face to a name.

Some say that a good product sells itself. But ultimately people buy from other people. However niche or technical what you do is, video marketing can bring the people who have created it for you to the fore and strengthen the bond between you and your customers.

Don’t just sell the sizzle. Show them how you made it happen with video.

Without giving away your secret recipe, video can bring your audience closer to you than any number of words can achieve. Taking your customers behind the scenes will involve them in what you do more. And some will become as passionate as you are about your business.

Make word of mouth work for you.

All businesses know that word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing. So get people talking about you. Videos, if they are interesting, will be shared by those who see them with their friends and colleagues, increasing your reach and the good things that others say about you.

When you’re being entertained, you don’t feel as if you’re being sold to.

With radio and television in relative decline, social video marketing has become the new space for leisure and entertainment. Video can help you to focus on the fun in your product rather than just the facts and information.

Video Marketing: Your production studio is in the palm of your hand.

With the technology available in most people’s smartphones, you have, almost, all you need to make a good video. High quality sound, nonetheless, is essential so investing in a top of the range microphone should be at the top of your own wishlist. The software you will need is probably already on your computer.

Engage your audience with a good story.

There is nothing quite like creating a little bit of drama. Video storytelling doesn’t require big sets or costumes. It just needs a good idea. A fly on the wall mini-documentary, interviews with staff or customers – anything that adds value to what you offer – will make your customers stand up and take notice.

Related: Three Ways In Which Social Media Are Becoming Increasingly Event-Centric

Provoke a reaction.

You can make your audience laugh or cry. The important thing is that you engage them on an emotional level. Video storytelling, more than any other kind of social media, will connect you with your customers. And if you bring a smile to their face, or a tear to their eyes, they are more likely to want to share that feeling with others.

Spread your message far and wide.

When it comes to using social video, don’t be a specialist. Create content that is appropriate for every platform and adapt it to the formats they use.

Stay ahead of the curve by being on top of the trend.

If you can attach your story to what everyone else is talking about at the moment, then it will be what you have to say that will make the headlines.In the time it has taken to write this blog, YouTube views have grown by another six hits per second. Can anyone afford not to be part of the video marketing revolution?

The article Lights, Camera, Action! The Why and How of Video Marketing was first published on fmwaechter.com. Author Frank M. Waechter.






digital transformation event industry

Digital Transformation in the Meetings and Events Industry

I wrote a piece in 2017 about the foundations of the digital transformation in the events industry. At that time, the mice industry was trailing behind and had a lot of work to do. Two years on, and technology has advanced rapidly. So, does the events industry stand now? Technology is transforming the way we live and do business. Most industries have adopted it, changing many aspects of their design and makeup in the process. Digital tools are now a crucial part of strategic event management due to their proven ability to bring in substantial benefits. These benefits include significant cost and time savings, higher attendee satisfaction, and better exposure and image building.

The growth of the web is making many changes in all sectors. But, what influence is the digital transformation movement having on the meetings and event industry now that we have embraced it?

What exactly is digital transformation?

“Digital transformation is the process of exploiting digital technologies and supporting capabilities to create a robust new digital business model.” – Gartner

Digital transformation allows people to solve their traditional business problems in new ways. It offers new types of innovation and creativity, rather than simply enhancing and supporting our traditional methods.

Digital transformation in the events industry

The events industry is embracing digital transformation with all the latest tech on display at conferences and meetings. But, the new technologies available are assisting conference organisers with creating an immersive experience, making the registration process seamless. Those are the two basic, but major changes we are seeing. We are now in the Age of Experience. This means that every event, no matter how small now needs to become an immersive experience. The modern generation will settle for nothing less.

Technologies like 3D, VR, and AR can blend the digital and physical aspects of an event. They help create authentic conversations between delegates, attendees and speakers. This technology gives events the potential to become content marketing engines. As organisers in the events industry, we are now able to turn attendees into participants by adding an experiential dimension to our events, making a conference or any other event a collaborative occurrence as opposed to a function that people attend just for the purpose of consuming knowledge.

So, what can we expect in 2019 and thereafter?  

Digital transformation will have an ever-evolving effect on the events industry, with these four tech-trends at the forefront.

1.   Facial recognition

This exciting technology will permanently eliminate paper from the registration and entry process. It will also optimise the security at conferences, streamlining access.

2.   Virtual Reality

A technology that is constantly evolving has now merged with social media. Oculus venues is a virtual reality platform that enables live events to be seen with Live Nation, Ticketmaster, and through an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. The obvious point being that attendees don’t have to physically be there to experience your event.

3.   Augmented reality

Perhaps more effective than virtual reality, augmented reality is having a massive impact on the events industry. Engagement for events is crucial and can be very challenging given the demands of the modern consumer. Augmented Reality will boost engagement levels and create hype on social media by encouraging attendees to interact with your content and, in turn, share it with their following.

4.    Artificial intelligence

Smart technology is influencing the events industry in a big way too. By utilising chatbots in a wide range of scenarios, event planners can automate several tasks, better serving their attendees.  

Conclusion

So, as you can see, technology has been implemented and used to great effect already in the events industry. Associations are taking great interest in investing in new technologies, but this means a total overhaul of existing systems and practices. All for the betterment of the industry of course. The events industry is changing, and progressing in order to adapt to current trends, but these trends are forever changing. It never stops. It is a perpetual investigation and evolution of science. As players in this industry, we should continue to embrace it and view it as a thrilling time, full of opportunity and potential. We must, however, constantly seek ways in which we can be at the forefront instead of continually playing catch-up.

To learn about ways in which your association can truly embrace digital transformation in the meetings and events industry, get in touch with me. I specialise in delivering results for stakeholders within the Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Event Industry as well as for Associations and SMBs.

Social Media in the Hospitality Industry

The Pivotal Role of Social Media in the Hospitality Industry

Social Media in the Hospitality Industry. It can be argued that the hospitality industry is entirely unique in the fact that success or failure will often depend much more upon customer reviews as opposed to discrete products or services. In other words, the opinions of others will have a massive impact regarding how a business is perceived. In the past, this equated to simple word of mouth or the recommendation of a friend. Social marketing has now undeniably changed the playing field. What are some of the most notable impacts within the hospitality sector? More importantly, how can hotels and similar properties leverage this tool to their advantage?

The Surprising Role of Social Media in Hospitality Industry Sectors

Sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram can have a massive influence on the perception of a certain hotel (or a chain of properties). To put this in perspective, it has now been shown that no less than 75 percent of all consumers will consult with a social media outlet before committing to a product or service¹.

Related: Social Media Marketing for the MICE Industry

No longer is a static web page sufficient in and of itself to attract customers and to drive business. This is to say nothing about major online hospitality review sites such as TripAdvisor or Booking.com. Now that we can appreciate the fundamental role of social media in hospitality industry sectors, how can businesses capitalise upon its influence?

The Most Frequently Used Networks

To appreciate what customers may be saying, it is first critical to know which sites they are visiting the most. Keep in mind that this may not necessarily be popular portals such as Facebook or Twitter. Due to the rise of the smartphone, guests are now utilising locations which allow them to post pictures and descriptions (such as Instagram). Identifying which sites are popular is the first step towards effective customer relations management.

Engagement: The Key to Successful Social Media Marketing Success

Engagement is the very same rule which applies to every modern business. It is critical to socialise with customers, and this is why the concept of “social marketing hotels” has been created. Guests need to feel as if their needs are being addressed. Proactive client engagement will serve two primary purposes:

  • It will contribute to building brand loyalty over time.
  • Any problems can be identified and rectified to avoid future complaints.

It should also me mentioned that other patrons would see that the hotel takes the needs of its patrons seriously. This is an excellent form of passive social media marketing, and within the hospitality industry, such a benefit cannot be overlooked.

Social Media in Hospitality Industry Promotions

Social customers simply love hearing about new promotions and deals. As a growing number of consumers are now relying upon social networks to retrieve valuable information, it only stands to reason that such bonuses should be made visible. Customers can be rewarded by following or “liking” a specific page while they are also able to be sent timely newsletters. These strategies are other effective ways to build brand recognition and loyalty.

Pipeline Management

Social media should always be employed as a form of pipeline management. While sales data and occupancy rates are important, these may not provide the “big picture” necessary to make the most informed decisions. Social media posts and comments will provide an additional level of insight, and as a result, specific marketing campaigns can be tailored around trending subjects and issues which guests find the most appealing.

Regular Updates for SEO Improvement

On a final note, it is crucial to mention the importance of online exposure about social media posts. Greater degrees of interaction will cause SERP rankings to increase. In turn exposure within the hospitality sector can grow. This leads to higher click-through rates and ultimately, greater success.

Related: Social Media Networks Basics: Consistency

The concepts of social media in the hospitality industry needs to be taken seriously in these modern times. To learn more about this subject or to discover even more turnkey solutions based on your requirements, please feel free to contact us and speak with a dedicated specialist.

Facebook for Business

Facebook for Business

Nearly every business owner is aware of the important role that social media marketing, like facebook for business, can play towards boosting a particular marketing campaign. Sites like Facebook increase client engagement rates, promote specific products and keep fans up to date with the latest advertising campaigns. However, static content alone is no longer enough. Unless firms understand how to leverage the real power of this massive portal, their efforts could fall upon deaf ears. How can you develop a balanced digital marketing approach to this concept and what other tools do Facebook digital marketing platforms have to offer? Feel free to use the suggestions below as a short checklist when forming your social media campaign.

Related article: Formulating an effective approach to Content Marketing

Facebook for Business: Understanding the Power of Live Feeds

Consider the advantages of the webinar. Concepts such as real-time communications, in-depth product presentations and visitor feedback will often come to mind. Now, imagine a platform which requires no additional hardware and can nonetheless reach out to your chosen demographic. These are the main takeaway points of Facebook Live from a business perspective. No other equipment is required, there are no subscription fees, and broadcasts can be transmitted for up to 90 minutes with no interruptions. Whether you choose to publicise a live news feed from within a trade seminar or the conference room of your home office, connecting with your audience has never been easier.

The Power of Visual Content

The average online consumer is now more discerning than ever before in the types of products and services that people follow on a social media page. So, static text alone is no longer enough to generate a significant following. If you want to improve your Facebook for business, images, infographics and video clips should become integral parts of any Facebook digital marketing campaign. This approach will lend a visual appeal to your brand while simultaneously providing the viewer with more in-depth information.

Related article: Lights, Camera, Action! The Why and How of Video Marketing

Peak Viewing Times Regarding Facebook for Business

The evolution of the smartphone enables users to access Facebook at any time of the day. However, there are still peak hours regarding inbound traffic. According to a study by Mashable, the most extended viewing hours on weekdays are at eight o’clock in the morning, three o’clock in the afternoon and eight o’clock in the evening. Thus, it is a good idea to release any posts just before these increments. Considering viewing times will help to make certain that you are tapping into the largest audience base. Another trick which digital marketing professionals employ is to release a “teaser” advertisement in the morning followed by a more in-depth discussion in the evening. Let us not forget that many users do not have the time to read through a lengthy post during the day.

Preliminary “Likes”

Companies can offer visitors information of value after they like a particular page. That is important for two reasons. First, a greater number of likes will help to generate further social media exposure. As the choice is entirely voluntary, only those who are interested will subscribe; another significant advantage when gauging the efficacy of a marketing campaign. Some offers that a business could provide:

  • Discounts or Coupon Codes
  • Email subscriptions
  • Free white papers
  • Event invitations

Cross-Linking Platforms

A final point to make is that you should always link across to different platforms. Pro-active linking will add digital impact to your reputation, and of course, your SERP rankings will inevitably improve. Outbound links should be included on your homepage, within email campaigns and even within other social media circles such as Twitter and LinkedIn. It is critical that visitors can find your Facebook page from any one of these sources.

Leveraging the power of Facebook for the business purpose should become a permanent portion of your overall social media marketing, and thus digital marketing strategy. Let us also remember that all of these suggestions will cost nothing to implement, so there are no financial drawbacks. With time and focused effort, this robust social media platform can become another spoke on the wheel of online success.

This article Facebook for Business was first published on fmwaechter.com. Author Frank M. Waechter.

Employees Brand Ambassadors

Employees As Brand Ambassadors: Advantages And Best Practices

Employees brand ambassadors. Marketing and advertising are at the heart of business success. Traditionally, companies relied on celebrity branding and conventional marketing strategies, but despite their efforts employee engagement has been stagnant for several years. A Gallup study measured global engagement levels at only 13 percent, so it seems clear that old methods are no longer productive and businesses need to adopt a new approach towards branding strategy. Enter employee ambassadorship, an efficient technique that has multiple advantages and is easy to implement.  

Why It Works 

A motivated workforce translates into higher productivity, better reputation, and can boost a company’s bottom line. Staff ambassadorship programmes complement traditional marketing efforts and help build a strong brand name using modern communication channels. The fact that many employee ambassadorship initiatives take place online is not random: trust barometers indicate that customers perceive staff as more trustworthy than corporate marketing, and a brand ambassador is usually given more credibility and authenticity than organisations, as customers can identify with them at a more personal level.  

What’s more, a study revealed that more than 60 percent of customers surveyed believed corporate social media are more credible than traditional marketing messages. Similarly, a report showed that content shared using employees own social networks generates engagement levels eight times higher than corporate profiles.  

The Advantages Of Turning Staff Into Brand Ambassadors 

In addition to coming across as more genuine, the benefits of developing an online employee ambassadorship programme include reduced costs and increased ROI. For example, research has shown that a programme involving 1,000 employees can generate nearly $2m in advertising value, and conversion rates are up to 7 times higher if the call-to-action originates from an employee social marketing programme. And by using these programmes, businesses can reach a wider audience and connect with customers that would not be achieved through traditional methods.  

Staff also benefit from participating, as they can widen their professional network, gain valuable skills that are in high demand, and find new career opportunities. Lastly, businesses are more likely to enjoy higher retention rates and are more efficient at change management strategies that allow them to adapt their approach to the changing needs of the market.  

How To Create A Brand Ambassador Programme 

Designing a brand ambassador programme is a crucial strategy to turn employees into brand advocates. Such initiatives can be used to publicise products, services, vacancies, or events. But for employee engagement to happen, companies need a change of perspective: in these programmes, the focus is not on products or services, but rather on staff, which are seen as the organisation’s most important asset.  

Some elements of a staff ambassador programme include: 

  • Training: ambassadorship programmes should train employees and socialise them into brand values without assuming they already known them. Training can be made more compelling through storytelling and by highlighting the human factor since advocacy marketing is all about human connections. 
  • Choice and authenticity: employee advocacy programmes create growth pathways that straddle personal and professional development, finding alignment between an employee’s values and strengths and the organisation’s mission. As staff promote those values in social media and other online platforms, they should be encouraged to let their individuality show through, as personal voices contribute to convincing branding. For more authenticity, staff should be given a choice to promote content they can embrace and to offer feedback and suggestions.
  • Goals and guidelines: while staff should be able to choose which content to share or promote, these programmes need to have a central focus and ensure that content illustrates corporate values and how its ambassadors embody them.
  • Tools and resources: staff should not be burdened with time-consuming online tasks in addition to their usual responsibilities. Instead, employers should give them what they need to get started: a selection of ready-made news or content that can be easily shared to social media, curated hashtags, short videos, and/or a blogging platform are some examples.
  • Consistency: ambassadorship programmes are not a one-off effort, but rather ongoing projects that cover the entire sales cycle, from awareness-raising to decision-making, purchase, and loyalty building efforts. This is important considering that more than 55 percent of the sales cycle is spent searching for content online.
  • Rewards: participating staff must receive recognition for their contribution to business growth. Rewards can include everything from bonuses to symbolic awards, vouchers, invitations to special events, LinkedIn recommendations, flexible hours, etc.  

Conclusion 

Motivated employees are a company’s best resource, mainly when they are inspired to use trusted channels to reach an audience and deliver a powerful message that reinforces the key values of a company and its brand. Creating an online ambassadorship programme that champions brand values can help make engagement an integral part of corporate culture and result in quantifiable benefits for business owners and staff alike.