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The Show Must Go On: Engaging with Customers Virtually

Over the last five months, as we’ve all taken the necessary precautions to stay safe during the global COVID-19 pandemic, our usual 9-5 way of life has most certainly been turned upside down.

Marketers and event professionals are trying to make the best of widespread lockdowns while anticipating the resumption of ‘normal’ activities – guessing what and when that new ‘normal’ will be.

As businesses adopt and refine new marketing strategies, the objective remains the same of delivering the same overall brand promise and values. Interactions must bring people together not just to do business, but to inspire with experiences that elevate not just fulfil. Never before has your digital presence mattered and have virtual events given such opportunity for global brand engagement and connection.

A new way of staying connected

Now some months into the new ‘norm’ and with the remainder of this year’s events moving online, we’re finding that digital conversations can be just as meaningful as face-to-face interactions.

With a wide range of online tools at our disposal, virtual events are making it ‘easy’ to stay connected with audiences, at scale offering engagement with your brand, content, your team and even to your wider community members.

With a mixture of approaches from webinars, podcasts, virtual panel discussions, LinkedIn Live, Zoom roundtables and one to one meetings via Teams, this period is a prime opportunity to innovate with technology and you may even find that you want to create a virtual event stand of your own to replace the physical tradeshow presence you would have had.

A significant advantage to creating your own stand or even your own event is that it gives you greater insight into what resonates well with your audience, thanks to the data you can obtain with such online activities. This can then be used to inform how you interact with customers and partners moving forward and the types of content that work the best to spread your messages.

Preparing for the new ‘norm’

Although online events are the norm for now, in-person events will return at some point in the future. So, this also a good opportunity to ensure that you’re ready to host or take part in those events when the time comes, as many event organisers will be doing. But, what might these events look like?

Technology will play an even more crucial role in the events of the future. For instance, wearable tech may be on offer to help maintain social distancing, with delegates wearing devices such as wristbands that vibrate when you get too close to another wearer. Venues or organisations could also opt to develop their own track and trace-style apps to ensure they can implement effective contact tracing.

Hygiene and social distancing are going to be of the utmost importance so the days of passing a microphone between speakers may be a thing of the past. Instead, each speaker may have their own individual microphone which can then be disinfected after use.

The traditional conference event buffet is also likely to disappear. Instead, food that is ready to go or brought to the individual could be an option at some venues, while contactless registration and reduced numbers of attendees might also become routine.

We will most definitely find that things that work successfully online now will ultimately find its way to real, onsite events once they return.

Adapting to Change

For us at InterSystems, we pride ourselves on our customer-centric approach and being able to meet and connect with audiences at events was something we didn’t want to lose out on. This is why we’ve taken this opportunity to adapt to these changes in circumstances and create our own virtual stand so the event interaction and engagement can continue albeit in a digital form.

Our new stand allows individuals to explore our latest content at their leisure, dip in and out of different areas including a partner pavilion, seating area to listen to podcasts and webinars and a video wall to watch, much like you would at a regular event. You can even use the chat bot and talk live with one of the team. Of course, those who have come to an InterSystems event stand before know we also like to have visitors engage and interact with our stand, so we’ve still included an element of fun by being able to play an interactive rubix cube game for a chance to win a prize, delivered by the postman rather than us in person!


Cara Bainton

Cara Bainton, Senior Marketing Programs Manager at InterSystems has over 18 years marketing, PR and event management experience working both in-house and agency with international clients in both private and public sector. Working across multiple elements of marketing, Cara’s role is to plan and execute the UKI marketing strategy to drive the awareness and interest of InterSystems’ highly scalable data platform technology across all non-healthcare focused industries.
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