Chris Clipston, MD at Circdata believes digital event planners should take inspiration from Netflix to grow their business.
When was the last time you went to a physical show? How about the last time you sat in your home office and watched a digital event? It’s an unfair question as of course we haven’t had much of a choice recently. But could savvy industry players have just experienced the ‘Netflix effect’?
The Netflix effect is when a new series catapults an unknown actor to fame – overnight – a result of millions of people binge watching a show. Is it possible then, that organisers could find themselves as the leading media company – overnight – in their sector if they adapted their business model to offer more personalised content on demand, all year round? It’s a loose comparison but go with me on it.
Changing how attendees view content
Before the explosion of digital, attendees turned up to the doors of your event to consume the content you had on offer, whilst taking the opportunity to network with fellow attendees and meet companies offering the latest products and services in the market.
Digital events have changed the way attendees consume content. They’re no longer tied to having only one opportunity to figure out which sessions to attend across multiple tracks on one day. They can view all the sessions, when they want to, during or after the event has taken place. Similarly, attendees can engage with sponsors and exhibitors long after the live event schedule ends.
A welcome result: the number of attendees is increasing. The much talked about challenge of how we can increase pre-reg conversion rates just found a neat solution.
A more personalised service
Netflix collects huge amounts of data on its customers, its AI-powered algorithm creates personalised recommendations for each user based on their preferences, watch history, ratings and demographics.
Event organisers have similarly collected valuable demographic data via the registration process.
Digital events have enabled organisers to recommend relevant content, exhibitors and fellow attendees to users of their platforms, which has driven up engagement levels and presented attendees with a much better, more personalised customer journey.
Broadening the reach
As Netflix streams content into homes across the globe with an ever-increasing audience, event organisers offering a digital sidekick will broaden their reach far beyond the attendee levels they have so far experienced. Not only does this have benefits to the organiser, creating a much more engaged community, it enables them to offer enhanced return on investment to exhibitors and sponsors.
Attendees of the live event, once it has ended, now have the digital platform to return to; arguably better than the experience a show guide presents.
If they have had a conversation with an exhibitor at the show, they can take the conversation further with ease via the digital platform. If a session was of particular interest, they can watch it again. If they missed content, or want to watch more to attain CPD points, they can do so.
Organisers can harness the data of digital – and physical – attendee engagement to build out specialised audiences. For example, taking note of community boards or the most watched sessions offers great insight into spin-off offerings to smaller audiences, which not only serves the market better, but also creates new revenue opportunities.
Updating business models
Netflix started life as a mail-order DVD company, unrecognisable to the firm it is today.
Organisers have long understood the value of the content at their events and the value of face-to-face meetings, but business models are changing to drive further value. Content can be available and updated across the year if organisers adopt the hybrid event model, driving continual community engagement and ROI for exhibitors and sponsors.
Live can never be replaced
Without doubt, digital events have their place firmly ensconced in the future. But live can never be replaced. In the same way watching Glastonbury at home on TV can never replicate the feeling of experiencing it in person. Even if digital events have experienced the Netflix effect for some organisers, it is very unlikely they will replace the live events. They will complement them to drive better engagement, more interactions and enhanced ROI.
Circdata provides event technology for digital, hybrid and physical events. Its Fusion Visit platform helps clients broadcast digital events, build communities, drive engagement and push out year-round content to drive ROI.