When a click or two can inform and trigger communications, it would be easy to conclude that face-to-face events are passé. Why go to an event with hundreds or thousands of people when you have tools like Linkedin, Twitter, E-mail to rapidly establish contact and conversation? Well, it’s those same digital tools, being so easy to use, that has led to increasing pressure on our communication channels.
Bloated by invitations to connect and high volumes of short messages to qualify new connections, we’ve started to construct our own filters to manage the flow. ‘Relevance’ is one of those filters. That sounds pretty arbitrary, but actually it’s just personal to our own situation.
Retail Week Live is a new breed of event. With the tagline “Inspiring Retail. Connecting Retail. Advancing Retail.” the emphasis is on the experience. Event delegates are offered a smorgasbord of choices to discover what’s relevant for them.
So when Wittos was given the brief for “an event app that increases delegate participation and making connections” our team became well excited. It was an opportunity to adapt our Connected Intelligence platform to serve up an omni-channel experience that would stimulate over 1,400 delegates into actively participating and connecting with each other over two event days, while at the same time generating more meaningful leads for Sponsors.
The first step to overlaying a digital experience is to know how it aligns with how a delegate’s behavior evolves, starting well before and continuing well after the actual event days. Working with the Retail Week Live team, just up the road from the living lab workspaces at IDEALondon, made for a very collaborative and agile co-innovation.
We worked together on how to tie in personalisation into the event app and launched with the event's “get ready” email two weeks leading up to the event. Over those two weeks we saw 50% of the delegates gradually then very actively plan their agenda, see who’s coming and initiating conversations. Removing the barrier to participate through a web app than requiring an app download made it easy for over 75% of delegates to overall connect to our service. This was pretty high, especially as the Wittos web app was integrated with a connection to the Event WiFi network during the event days.
Three behaviours contribute to the high event app usage rates:
- When we understand the value to us, we will try – The Retail Week Live team did an amazing job to embed the event app with the overall experience and promoting how and why to use the app – to receive notifications on sessions, participate in Q&A and make connections. As users, we’ll readily give consent for data-driven services and participate when the value is immediate.
- We actively use more than one device – That we carry multiple devices is one thing but that delegates are connecting their multiple devices to the event WiFi network is based on preferences. We prefer tablets and laptops when we’re seated or have a place to do two-handed things, while mobiles are easier to operate solo-handed on the go.
- We seek out connectivity by any means – It can be costly to consume mobile data, at times signal coverage is poor and sometimes our devices don’t use a SIM. Whatever the case, we’ve developed an instinct to seek out connectivity! Normally this is a local WiFi network, which is a really democratic way to connect any user and their multiple devices. Getting everyone onboard a secure Cisco powered WiFi network with state-of-the-art location data capabilities (technical run down of the event) allows us to start doing some very exclusive, event-day only services that heightens how delegates interact and experience things during the event.
The Retail Week Live web app we built was powered by our real-time Instant Context™ APIs that enabled some clever interactions for event delegates. This contributed to high levels of connected user interactivity that were measured across what are conventionally individual point solutions; like WiFi connection, presentation session attendance, Q&A involvement or peer-to-peer conversations. By amassing a really rich dataset we are able to do two key things to drive greater relevance and overall value for everyone at the event:
- Personalisation on the fly – Event highlights were recommended to delegates based on their registered and actual interests (like session attendance or networking connections). At any moment discover delegates nearby who share similar interests. Automatically change collaboration from email (before the event) into instant SMS messaging (at the event venue) powered by Tropo’s new European messaging service.
- Better qualified leads – By converging various digital data points through a common platform we created an ability to filter and identify better leads. Knowing that someone attended a session to listen to a topic is interesting but even more so is to know that they actively participated in the Q&A discussion, the type of question they asked or that they went online to learn more about the speaker. The combination of each small data moment contributes to a vastly better understanding for session Sponsors to be less generic and more tailored in their next connection with delegates after the event!
It comes full circle too. For the event team all these amazing insights can be played back with our visual Profile Analyzer, the animation portion of our platform runs analytical views with ease, in-memory on SAP HANA. This provides event teams with a capability to flexibly ask questions and drill down into the specifics of an answer. It’s no longer necessary to guess or approximate! At the end of the day that’s good for everyone because better understanding of what to focus on and also how to go about tackling improvements are the ingredients to make the next event even more relevant.