Event Tech Strategy, Insights & Trends.

The Rise of the CMTO: Event Marketing Re-Tools for the Future

At any organization, the chief marketing officer and the chief technology officer typically stand alone in separate silos. But as technology’s role in the marketing world increases, there is a greater need to change these roles, especially in the events space. It’s why in the years to come, the role of the CMO may evolve to CMTO – or chief marketing technology officer.

The CMTO role today is essentially a unicorn; it doesn’t technically exist. However, what we’ve seen over the last few years is that chief marketing officers have greater responsibilities for the marketing infrastructure stack and data analysis, because these tools are increasingly influencing key marketing and investment decisions. Combining the influences of technology and marketing in the meeting and events industry alone can benefit planners greatly.

Automation & integration processes
When you start to look at all the different systems and all the different applications that sit within marketing, you start to realize it is critical that marketing managers have some sort of technology background to be able to understand the goals of a modern organization and how to marry all those systems together to create an automated scalable infrastructure.

There is so much attribution software, so many different content platforms, that event marketers today need to know what they’re doing on the backend. Event management software (EMS) and customer relationship management (CRM) software can work together to fully engage attendees and prospects, from pre-event to post-event. The former is especially important because how you connect and market to your attendees before the event has even started already starts to shape their experience; the digital engagement, the communication channels, the social media outreach, etc. The more targeted marketing you can do pre-event, the smarter you can be about your attendees and sponsors in creating a unique experience for them.

Understanding data
The biggest challenge for event marketers today is not only the huge influx of data aligned to metrics and KPIs, but how exactly they use those different data sets to identify attendee trends and behaviors. From registration numbers and demographics, to email clicks and session attendance, there’s so much data from events that can become actionable from a marketing standpoint because it drives the decisions of how to create messaging around event-related curated content for unique audiences.

To truly understand the behaviors, software that offers reporting and ROI tools throughout the event lifecycle is key. One example is utilizing digital badges, which allow event managers to track how their event is performing through real-time attendee engagement. They can see an attendee’s entire footprint throughout a multi-day event; what speaker sessions they attended, what exhibit hall booths they stopped at, which content they downloaded and who they are networking with. Once event marketers start to gather all that information, they’ll have a treasure trove of data in their databases that can help them market better to their broader audience, as well as to individual attendees. Based on high attendance/traffic numbers or website/email clicks, marketers can make key decisions on messaging, curated content (blogs, articles or even a research piece) or the event program as a whole.

These numbers also help planners understand event value and ROI that comes in handy when trying to acquire sponsors or keynote speakers. For example, if someone wants to sponsor your event, you can provide them with the exact data points that showcase how your customers engage with you and how that can benefit them.

Staying on top of trends
Having technology-versed marketing executives is crucial for an organization to stay atop of the latest tech trends that can not only gather more data, but can also be appealing for the audience they are trying to capture. The entire event experience as we know it is going through a complete metamorphosis and event technology will only get a lot more sophisticated and innovative. Artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), cognitive learning, Bluetooth monitoring, voice recognition and even robotics are just some of the many technologies that are up and coming in the event space.

The decision to utilize new technology that will create a meaningful experience at an event and for its attendees, I believe, starts in marketing. This is why it’s vital to look for event marketers with a background in technology, as well as continue to train and educate current staff on the latest tools and trends. The more insights and understanding you have, the better event experiences you can build, and your CMO (or possibly your future CMTO), plays a huge role in providing the guidance in this complex decision making process.

Chalva Tchkotoua is chief marketing officer at etouches.

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