Marketers will have to use organic digital marketing to unearth new leads and drive brand awareness after a new study by Martech found that professionals in the industry do not expect in-person events to take place until the second half of 2021.
The latest ‘Event Participation Index’ polled 300 marketers in the US and found that on average, there is currently a 30% chance that respondents will attend an in-person event during the next twelve months as concerns about the global pandemic continue.
With social distancing guidelines and measures still in place both in the US and across Europe, marketers are facing up to a lengthy period where traditional marketing channels like events will not be available to them.
While this would have been a major blow in the past, the study found digital is picking up the slack as the vast majority of professionals are satisfied with the marketing alternatives they have at their disposal.
Live events are usually a great way for brands to meet new contacts and clients, establish relationships, build brand awareness and affinity, all of which feed into increasing sales and revenue and generally helping companies to thrive.
Fortunately, marketers can deploy content marketing to support many of these objectives and push thought leadership and credibility.
The Martech study stated that “content is still king” and that the pause in live events will give marketers ample opportunity to focus on the quality of content that is published.
In addition to blogs, articles, news and videos, brands can also host events online where they can make use of new features like live polling and interactive question and answer elements to engage the audience.
However, Martech sounds a note of caution, adding that virtual events can be more challenging to manage than live events as a robust tech infrastructure and talented team of producers are usually required.
Marketers will have time to hone their skills though as 70% of respondents said online-based will be the only form of event they would consider attending until a vaccine for Covid-19 is available.
Eight in ten say they have already attended a virtual event experience since the outbreak in March and three-quarters were happy with how it went and what they were able to take away from it.
For companies that have been forced to cancel in-person events this year, 80% say they decided to switch to a virtual event but many have also been supplementing the new experience with different forms of content.
Almost two-thirds say they have hosted online education sessions during the last three months and almost half (47%) have published sponsored or exhibitor content during the same period.
It seems the disruption has prompted many companies to not only embrace digital marketing but to get more creative with formats and channels to reach out to customers and potential clients.
Whether many will switch back to live events in the future remains to be seen but for now, virtual events and other forms of content will be a top priority for brands during the remainder of 2020 and into 2021.