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BizReport : Ecommerce : March 26, 2021

How to use digital events to create a better experience

As brands were forced to take in-person events online to comply with COVID-19 guidelines, marketers quickly realized that it wasn't an easy switch to turn physical events into virtual ones, with factors like networking translating poorly in this new format. However, many quickly adjusted, and now the key is to ensure the online event is also an experience. Here's how.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: How will marketers re-define "event" by factoring in experience?

Shane Phair, CMO, Decibel: In 2021, marketers will need to re-think what "event" means for experience, since those typically associated with in-person events, like cocktail hours, don't necessarily translate well in a virtual format. To make digital events stand out and successful, marketers should play to the format's strengths, such as personalization, convenience and brevity, instead of trying to digitize what works for in-person events. Virtual events are likely to be the norm for the foreseeable future, so marketers need to develop and execute experiences that make up for the lack of personal interaction to ensure events are successful no matter the format.

Kristina: Why will influencer relations be more important than ever in 2021?

Shane: With in-person events and interactions not likely to come back any time soon, B2B marketers have been searching for ways to increase validation and trust among prospects and customers while reaching new audiences. To amplify their brands, marketers can work with influencers to strengthen their brand's reputation and awareness through an influencer's digital and targeted network. By collaborating with influencers, marketers can increase customer and prospect trust while gaining third-party validation.

Kristina: Why will brands need to prioritize their digital experiences?

Shane: With brands across every industry feeling the impact of COVID-19, business leaders quickly realized that to effectively attract, engage and retain customers and prospects, the digital experiences they were offering had to be flawless. Even now, a year into the pandemic, research shows that brands across all industries continue to struggle with perfecting the quality of their digital experiences.

With more brands investing in digital strategies and consumers becoming accustomed to optimized digital experiences, it will become more competitive for brands to offer seamless solutions. Since consumers are still going to leverage digital channels once the pandemic subsides, brands need to prioritize their digital experiences now to ensure their most valued prospects and consumers are engaged and will continue to return to the brand's website and app.

Kristina: Will digital experience prioritization move beyond the marketing department?

Shane: As consumers continue to use online and digital channels for information, entertainment and connection, the digital experience will move beyond the marketing department and will become a priority for the entire C-suite. For example:

• CEOs will need to understand how digital experiences are performing since they impact a brand's reputation and bottom line
• CFOs will need to pay attention to digital experiences as the quality of a brands' overall digital experience directly impacts revenue. The finance department should also be kept in the loop regarding digital experience investments, so that they can plan accordingly and have a better idea to manage budgets
• CIOs will need to pay attention because digital experiences are technology-driven, and the IT department will need to understand what tools need to be implemented to execute the experiences

Since digital experiences fall primarily under the marketing department's core responsibilities, marketers can help other department leaders understand how digital experience performance impacts the entire organization, and why it's important to ensure frictionless workflows.

Tags: advertising, Decibel, digital event conversions, digital event trends, digital events, ecommerce, how to do digital events, m:commerce, mobile marketing

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