In March last year, the way we all work changed dramatically. Events were cancelled across the globe, working hours altered, and people everywhere embraced a completely new way of working. Despite all of this, brands still needed to get in front of customers and adapt, to ensure that brand messaging was still being communicated in an engaging way.
Therefore, the question that was almost instantly asked was: how can we build our brand when we cannot attend offline events? The answer was to move online.
This resulted in a rapid influx of emails inviting people to hundreds of events, many from brands that people hadn’t even heard of. A great number of these events requiring a full day’s attendance, and many delivering a bad user experience. This experience quickly left attendees feeling either overwhelmed or disengaged with the event marketplace. As a result, brands have had to become more innovative in the way in which they share their content with customers.
This has created a challenge for brands who want to reach clients in an engaging way. At UM to support our clients we have had to be innovative and forward thinking, allowing us to truly understand the consistently shifting market. One brand we have worked with is Accenture, working to communicate B2B content with audiences that previously would have been shared at events, and using formats that complement how people are now consuming content.
The two biggest changes in people’s lives have been their working environments, and the time that they have available to engage with content. Taking this into account, it is key to focus on flexibility in content creation; communicating the brand messages which are most relevant, whilst also distributing these in formats that can be consumed in the easiest possible way by audiences.
Webinars have become vital within this strategy. Working with regionally relevant partners has allowed us to create regionally relevant content; generating huge interest and high attendance numbers.
Key to this event success is not just webinar topics, it’s understanding when to reach the desired event audience. Timings of webinars are important, but so is the sign-up and promotion period. Working weeks are now much more fluid, and therefore promotion of such webinars starts only a few weeks in advance, compared to offline events which would be promoted over many months. In addition to this, using multiple media formats to encourage sign up, reaching people at different times and moments in their day, is vital.
Although generating high levels of live event attendees is important, no-shows remain an issue. Therefore, being able to provide post-event content is essential. The great thing about online events is that the content created can be of very high quality. Unlike offline events, where video catch up often has bad sound quality or visuals, online events have been created in an environment which allows the content to be watched again in full, listened to as a podcast or read in a white paper post event wrap up. This flexibility in consumption helps reach all audiences, regardless of their personal time pressures.
Podcasts are an online format which has seen significant growth in the last year. The demand from consumers for a high-quality listener experience has opened this media format to brands in two definitive ways: sponsorship and content creation. What makes podcasts so interesting for brands is how this media format blends time between work and social. Podcasts are often consumed in our down time; at home, in the car, while walking or working out. Building a brand’s recognition in a non-working environment builds brand trust and loyalty, resulting in brand and consumer advocacy.
In a cluttered marketplace where people are often time poor, it is vital that brands make it as easy as possible for customers to find content. As mentioned above, promoting a brand’s content correctly is key. Time, environment, and the format of content promotion are important, but with people all wanting to consume content differently, it is vital brands do not forget the destination of where this content is hosted. In many cases, having a hub on a partner site is a great way to combine many formats and topics of information. Not only is having all your content in one place easy for customers, it also associates your brand with an environment with which customers are familiar with and trust. This should make the whole process of consuming webinars, podcasts and whitepapers easy for customers and instill a level of familiarity and confidence in your brand.