Events and networking are a growth area within marketing for accounting firms taking a proactive live approach to engage industry professionals about tax updates and their client’s Making Tax Digital responsibilities.
Recent statistics revealed that 38% of Accounting Excellence entrants attributed their success to holding client events, up from 30% of entrants in 2017. Supporting the relevance and continued rise of events in the sector, the results also showed that 24% of Accounting Excellence entrants have found success through networking, up from just 19% the year before.
If you are one of those finding success with events and fancy a more ambitious approach, here are some tips to enhance your attendees' experience and create the right event that will resonate with clients long after they have gone home.
Understand what your attendees really want and get the content right
Well in advance of the event, be sure to establish the objectives and goals of the event with key stakeholders and do plenty of research to determine what content and format your attendees and target audience preferences.
Crowdsource the content prior to establishing the agenda via online surveys, focus group and past attendee interviews, engaging with attendees on social media, and by using mobile event apps to collect data pre, during, and post-event.
When crowdsourcing, include questions regarding presentation and learning style preferences to shape content delivery that best resonates with attendees.
Maximise networking opportunities
One of the main reasons people attend events is to network with their peers and make connections, so it’s important to incorporate dedicated networking opportunities into the event agenda.
A recent study conducted by Cvent amongst 2,000 business executives including more than 325 accountants, FDs and those working in business in the UK, revealed six in ten professionals do not look forward to or dread networking opportunities and more can be done by organisers to improve activities.
It’s important to take the time to give attendees a chance to network with the right people by understanding their profiles – job title, professional interests, for example, to help connect those of similar interests. It’s also important to provide tools to identify the right people to connect with – this could be as using a colour badge system or implementing a mobile event app with chat function and enabled recommendation feature which facilities relevant and seamless introductions.
A good thing to note is that not everyone is comfortable with networking, so don’t leave it to chance – help attendees make the right connections and they’ll walk away with lasting relationships that make an impact.
Use mobile apps and social media for impact and longevity
The more enterprising firms may have considered using technology. A customised event app, for example, will allow you to interact with your audience in a far more dynamic way pre, during and post-event – whether it’s to present unique content, to facilitate networking, or to give attendees a way to interact with speakers and pose questions during a live session.
Research shows emails are read 10% of the time whereas push notifications on mobile apps are read 85% of the time. Another plus, most attendees will not delete the mobile app after the event, making it a highly effective way to keep in touch and truly engage with attendees by providing updated content long after the event has concluded.
Make the experience fun
If you are feeling particularly adventurous, gamification (incorporating game design elements) can enhance the attendee experience and encourage greater engagement.
Popular digital methods of gamification include in-app solutions to encourage actions from early registration to social media shares, interactive touch screen points, customised scavenger hunts, and digital passports that allow attendees to collect points for attending seminars.
Attendees should feel that they get something out of the event through the gamification, such as facilitating networking by assigning points to networking activities which encourage attendees to make more face-to-face connections.
ROI and data aggregation for new business development
Collecting data and comparing an attendee’s engagement with digital assets (like company and event websites) with their physical engagement while onsite allows organisers to track the event performance, improve educational content and personalise marketing communications post-event.
Mobile apps can be used to gather attendees’ interests and actions providing an opportunity to boost lead generation and personalisation. Tools such as GPS activated beacons or badges, which use RFID or QR codes, can help track attendees’ movements at the event – helping organisers better understand attendees’ interests and needs and build more detailed profiles for their prospects and customers which highlight their preferred topics, products and services.
With full visibility into each interaction and all the activity attendees engage with onsite, data insights can be utilised to ensure a better attendee experience is delivered year after year.
About Jamie Vaughan
Jamie is no stranger to events or technology, having spent over the last 12 years directly in the EventTech market, he has developed his position as an influencer and thought leader within the space.
As the European sales leader for Cvent, a global leader in meetings, events and hospitality management technology, Jamie has direct exposure to the everyday complexities of hosting events, small and large along with the variety of solutions that bring both an effective attendee experience as well as a direct ROI.