It’s been a rough four months for the world. As an entrepreneur, I am used to setbacks. In the past 7 years of growing Chab Events with my two co-founders Guillaume & Louis, we have made countless mistakes, always learned from them, adapted fast and grew the company bigger each time. But this time was not the same, the entire event and travel industries collapsed overnight.
To deliver great emotional impact and fantastic engagement, live experiences have always been the “go-to” for marketers.
As specialists of crafting these experiences, together with our clients we had to rethink how to engage audiences now that all touchpoints have moved digital for the time being, and will most certainly continue to be hybrid in a social-distancing future, a mix of a live event with a strong online component. Luckily, even though the medium has changed, the goals of creating emotional connection and brand love have not.
We engaged our clients to design the new ways of connecting with their audience, weaving emotion into the digital touchpoints to stay relevant now and in the future. That’s how we launched Chab LAB to help our client’s digital transformation. If you’re reading this article, then I am sure your industry has also been impacted to various degrees from bad to horrible, leaving you with this dreadful question: How can I engage with my team or clients in a meaningful way, now that all interactions and touchpoints have shifted to digital?
This new age of digital transformation has placed a premium on experiences that create an emotional connection with consumers. Here’s our take at how you can SMASH it:
S – Storytelling is King
Compared to traditional events, digital & hybrid experiences place your audience into a very different environment, which means you need to rethink your content accordingly. In particular, the multiple branding opportunities available in an online environment help promote brand awareness and drive higher levels of engagement through customisation that were not possible in the live event world. However with digital, it’s very easy to get carried away with all the possibilities. You need to set clear KPIs for the experience, and work out all your interactions and messages around it in the most authentic way. For example, bring the focus back onto the product, dive on individuals with personalised experiences, or let the guests get hands-on with a live participation brought to their living-rooms. When clear goals and a good storytelling intersec with customisation and authenticity, experiences become transformative. They make a genuine and lasting emotional impact.
M – Moderation is Queen
As orchestras cannot succeed without a Maestro, moderators bring rhythm and coordination to digital experiences, and help “shape the flow of the concert”. With Millennials and Generation Z raised in the digital age and media obsessed with social action, they are being more than ever driven, idealistics, and empowered. While these are positive traits, this also means a large part of the audiences today is more prone to strongly defend personal ideas. For digital marketing and PR product launches, you need to make sure your digital experiences do not turn into a brand engagement disaster as a result of an unfortunate conversation. Whether you bring in influencers, professional entertainers, or creative agencies to take that role of a moderator will depend on your goals and KPI. Planning in advance and setting out clear rules of the game here is the key to ensure your audience will get the most of the experience.
A – At Home Experiences
With the rise of the low-touch trend and recent retail lockdowns, live streaming is all the rage. And with video content creation being at an all-time high (Tiktok just exceeded in April 2020 YouTube to become the world’s highest-earning non-game app), brands are ever so eager to jump on the bandwagon, however, they need to do it right with hybrid experiences, as more countries start to get out of lockdown. For instance, if your brand has a luxury positioning, make sure your staging for a live broadcasting reflects your brand values to have a positive impact. You can broadcast a new collection launch from the store to a group of clients and augment it with personal sales advisors available for a 1-on1 video appointment. If your brand has a large or mass audience, you can create a major cinematic style live broadcast product launch with virtual breakout rooms for discussion sessions at the end. The small groups of attendees can get more time with an expert, an influencer or a celebrity and create a stronger connection with the brand thanks to those intimate wow moments. Remember, the most memorable moments are often those that evoke emotional connection. Celebrity hosted wine tastings, cocktail classes or even Michelin Star catering for guests to enjoy at home, while being connected to a like-minded community through an online branded event platform, enables sharing moments, sparks emotions, and can become a powerful and positive way to engage with your audience.
S – Spark Interactions
If the value of face-to-face interaction will never go away, your digital experiences should be designed with the same principles in mind. Interactions are key to maximize engagement and help your messages stick, not only in virtual product launches and conferences but also in augmented or mixed reality consumer experiences (if you want to know the differences between mixed, augmented and virtual reality, you can read our past article about it here). Even if social distancing has somewhat paused people’s busy lives, the attention’s span remains short still. Your digital experience competes with other household’s members, push notifications from various messaging apps, the other tabs of the web browser, and the list goes on. The key here is to have people feel included and actively participating 100% of the time. Interactions should feel fully connected to the experience and not something planned as an afterthought. Go beyond the basics of quizzes and surveys. Think Selfies of all attendees taken live, that then transform into your new product on the main screen of the virtual event. Or augmented reality platforms that analyse the users’ own body characteristics together with gamified questions to help recommend the right product, much like the IKEA app. In the low touch, social distancing future, “second screen” technology is a great answer to engagement (i.e. your mobile phone complementing the main screen). In addition to the desktop or a laptop, your audience can collectively use their individual phones to execute an action that could spark a grand reveal on the main experience screen. It works very well both with revealing the visual of your new campaign, or your internal financial results. Not only this will help you get better data on the audience’s engagement besides the number of connections, but will also capture valuable information on what people thought and felt during the event.
H – Human First, Not Technology
Artificial intelligence might just take over the world. Right now, virtual events, webinars, augmented reality for retail, connected objects and you name it – “Work/Dance/Party FromHome”… have taken every bit of online media space. It’s never been harder to build a brand with such saturated digital touchpoints. And the number of devices, platforms, and solutions have resulted in a massively-fragmented marketplace. However, keep in mind that technologies are not the experience itself. They are tools that you need to use to your advantage to connect better with your customers and engage them digitally. Use them as strategic means and put humans first. Think what kind of emotions and messages you want to create for your guests through the experience and then select technologies that empower and reinforce those. For example, if your goal is to train your new coming retail sales staff, you may want to design roleplays to help them understand the customers they will face in the future, and based on this, decide to use virtual or mixed reality to immerse them in. If you target a product launch to a wider consumer audience, streaming complemented with live interaction tools would be the right medium in this case. By doing so, you will create memorable moments that will help your new team member or a customer to retain better your brand rituals, key information and desired messages. As more and more brands adopt digital experiences, they will eventually become standardized across the industry. Yet, technology remains only an instrument in the creation of unique events. What matters more is still the brand experience with humans at its centre.
Whether your next digital experience is large or small, for clients or employees, remember that an engaging experience has to be robust, coherent with your brand values, personal, interactive, dramatic, and above all transformative. If you’d like help or advice on your future virtual event, get in touch with one of our Chab LAB experts.
Alexis Lhoyer – Co-Founder Chab Events & Chab LAB