Marketing

10 Event Marketing Trends for Success in 2023 & Beyond

Published on January 10, 2023 • Updated on January 25, 2023 • About 9 min. read

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The last few years have been marked by rapid changes in consumer habits and the realities of hosting events - especially in the wake of a pandemic. But with these changes come exciting opportunities to use the latest in online and hybrid event technology.

The trick is to stay ahead of the game and adapt to shifts in consumer behavior, take advantage of new tech, and get inventive.

For this article, we analyzed the most important reports and studies on the future of event engagement to bring you the top 10 event marketing trends of
2023. Find our complete event marketing guide here.

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10 Event marketing trends to look out for

One of the fastest growing event marketing trends is experiential marketing, a.k.a face-to-face gatherings that create memorable, emotional connections with your target audience. But there are many more 2023 trends to get up to speed with.

Trend #1: Seamless hybrid events

Hybrid event landing page for the Forrester 2023 B2B Summit.

Modern audiences are pretty comfortable attending online events but we’re also seeing a desire to return to in-person conferences and trade shows. In fact, according to a study by Emerald, attendees now want a hybrid model that combines the best features of in-person and virtual events.

B2B Summit North America, hosted by Forrester, is an annual event for B2B marketers and sales teams to learn, share ideas, and improve their business strategies. In 2022, the summit went hybrid, offering breakouts, networking opportunities, and keynotes for all attendees, whether they were there in person or joining online.

A guided platform orientation was provided to virtual attendees to help them navigate the event and there was a virtual sponsorship marketplace for further digital marketing engagement. It was so successful that Forrester will keep the hybrid format in 2023.

It’s becoming best practice for virtual conferences and in-person trade shows to take a hybrid approach. That’s because giving people more choice about how to attend can hugely amplify your reach and increase attendance.

Trend #2: Immersive technology

The popularity of immersive technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) is set to grow in 2023. According to BCC Research, the global VR and AR tech market was worth $13.4 billion in 2018 and is set to reach $142.4 billion by 2023.

During London Fashion Week Topshop set up an event that used VR to allow virtual attendance to their AW14 show. Customers who couldn’t see the show in person were given the opportunity to get a front-row virtual seat alongside celebrity attendees.

When you use technology to welcome attendees into a virtual world, you give them greater immersion and participation opportunities and can host more engaging virtual events. For example, you could take inspiration from Topshop and use immersive technologies to create a more hands-on experience for potential customers during product demos and deminars.

Trend #3: Environmentally sustainable events

Gold, silver, and bronze medals made from recycled electronic devices for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics that took place during the pandemic.

Many people are becoming much more aware of their impact on the environment and will continue to look for ways to reduce their carbon footprints in 2023. A 2022 survey by IBM found that over half (51%) of respondents say environmental sustainability was more important to them than it was one year prior.

To show you share your customers’ concerns you’ll need to make your events more eco-friendly. In 2020, the Tokyo Olympics showed off its green credentials by:

  • Recycling 62% of all waste generated.
  • Reusing discarded electronic devices to create the athletes’ medals.
  • Building the podiums using 24.5 tonnes of used plastic.
  • Constructing the village plaza using timber borrowed from local districts and returning it after.
  • Using 475 electric vehicles for transport.

At your next event, try and reduce your environmental impact by, for example, using only LED lighting. You could also make your event fully or partially virtual to cut down on waste caused by decorations and catering, as well as emissions caused by commuting. Show off your green credentials when promoting your virtual event to attract attention from like-minded sponsors and attendees.

Trend #4: Gamification

In a hall full of attendees at the DockerCon event an organizer holds up an inflatable whale and video-game imagery is shown on the screen.

One of our favorite event marketing strategies is Gamification. Gamification is the concept of using game-design elements outside of game contexts. And it’s set to be a big deal for marketers in the coming years. According to MarketsandMarkets, in 2020 the gamification market was worth $9.1 billion and is predicted to reach $30.7 billion by 2025.

Docker is a software platform that enables developers to create and test apps across different operating systems. For a recent edition of their annual conference DockerCon, they created a live video game called Docker Dash. It saw 5,000 of its attendees enlisted as “players” to create an app together by solving a set of interactive challenges inside the game.

Each challenge in Docker Dash saw attendees engaging with a specific feature of Docker's product to complete their app. It was an inventive and fun way to show attendees what Docker is capable of. It also attracted a lot of attention on social media, which increased brand awareness outside of the event itself.

Gamification creates memorable experiences as well as a chance to show off your product and build buzz online. The concept isn’t limited to in-person events either. Challenges, video games, and other gamification formats can just as easily be used in digital events.

Trend #5: User-generated content (UGC)

A live social media wall by IBM at South by Southwest showing photos of attendees posing in front of backdrops and tweets.

Think of someone going to a store and posting a selfie to show off the decor - or someone buying an item of clothing and gushing about it on social media. That’s user-generated content (UGC).

The annual SXSW conference, covering tech, film, and music, uses live event technology that shows UGC happening in real-time at every event. Attendees are encouraged to take photos of themselves at the event and post them online with a hashtag. SXSW collects all these photos and displays them on a giant screen on site, creating a buzz online and encouraging more in-person engagement.

UGC is a powerful event marketing tool because people don’t like feeling like they’re being sold to. According to a report by Tint, 78% of consumers feel they can tell when a brand is advertising to them. And they’re more likely to search for real customer testimonials before making a purchase. So, if your brand-loyal customers are out there creating UGC, you can bet it’ll build trust and attract more sales for you.

Trend #6: Values-based marketing

Promotional image for Salesforce’s Representation Matters virtual event with photos of key speakers in a grid.

Values-based marketing is about appealing to consumer values and ethics rather than simply focusing on your products and services. An example of this in action is Representation Matters, a virtual conference by Salesforce. The event platformed speakers from Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities that are normally underrepresented in technology and society.

People expect brands to show awareness of social issues, and that expectation is only going to continue in 2023. According to research by Edelman, 58% of customers now say they’ll buy from or support brands according to their beliefs and values. Representation Matters achieved amazing virtual event metrics, including 1.2 million attendees, because it showed commitment to the social values that are important to its audience.

Trend #7: Strategic brand partnerships

Two dogs at the in-person event Wienerpawlooza sitting in front of a backdrop branded by the company Longboi.

Strategic brand partnerships are when two or more companies join forces temporarily to enhance their reach. Think Lego working with Star Wars or Starbucks with Spotify.

In 2023, when many companies will be looking to make savings, a strategic partnership with a similar brand will be an attractive way to cut costs and connect with more consumers. And partnerships like these are becoming more powerful as businesses experience a cultural shift away from treating other brands like rivals.

For a simple, low-cost example let’s look at the partnership between Wienerpawlooza and Longboi. When the organizers of Wienerpawlooza, a dog festival, spotted a photobooth backdrop created by Lonboi, a dachshund clothing brand, they knew they needed it for their next event.

This marketing strategy was a no-brainer for both parties - Wienerpawlooza saved money on creating new backdrops and Longboi got free publicity among festival goers. Next year, whether your event is in-person or online, the same principle can be applied for a mutually beneficial strategy that lifts up both brands. Find more event marketing examples here.

Trend #8: Quality over quantity

The landing page for the event series Microsoft Reactor with illustrations of the digital world and a list of featured events.

In 2023, attendees will continue to show a preference for quality content and social engagements over long events with lots of sessions. A 2022 study from Emerald found that businesses, event planners, and attendees will all be prioritizing the quality of the contacts gained and the level of engagement beyond the content of the events themselves.

Microsoft holds a series of online, hybrid, and in-person events called Microsoft Reactor that really taps into this desire. The events are billed as free ‘community spaces’ where professionals in the tech space meet, learn from each other, and connect to local peers, developers, and startups.

These events are laser-focused on delivering quality connections and educational webinar content. Instead of hosting a giant gathering, this series is small-scale and takes place regularly. Focusing on the virtual element is also a great way to reach more people and strengthen their brand recognition.

Trend #9: On-demand is in demand

The landing page for the Adobe Experience Markers Live 2022 event with several on-demand videos.

Event attendees are pushing for on-demand content that meets their flexible work environment. A 2022 study by Skift found that people ranked the option to access content on-demand as the second-most desired feature of events.

Adobe recently held a live event online called Experience Makers Live. The event focused on the future of technology and building experiences for your customers and featured over 35 sessions available as live streams. The impressive thing about this event is that every single session is now available to watch, for free and without signup, online.

Adobe’s slick and professionally made sessions have a big ongoing presence on social media. High-quality on-demand content like this is perfect for repurposing on other channels to boost brand awareness. It also allows you to continually deliver value to your customers, long after the initial event itself.

Trend #10: Personalized events

A conference room with speakers sitting on a round stage while attendees sit in a circle around them at a live event.

Personalized events are achieved by analyzing data about potential attendees to customize your events, marketing efforts, activities, and content to meet the needs of your target audience. According to Statista, the customer experience personalization and optimization software market is projected to be worth more than $9 billion in 2023.

Maritz Global Events is an event organizer company that has been in the industry for over 45 years. For a recent conference, it created journey maps that outlined unique event experiences for each persona they expected to attend. Two personas they identified for the event were the ‘Be-Wellster’ and the ‘Post-Master’.

Be-Wellsters were identified as wanting a mind and body, health-focused experience. So the organizers planned activities like morning runs, a yoga session with dolphins, and guided meditation. Meanwhile, the social media-savvy Post-Masters were directed towards fun backdrops they’d set up for selfies and recommended the best local entertainment spots for further photo ops.
For more on this tipic read our virtual event marketing guide.

Event marketing for higher conversion in 2023

The event industry will continue to evolve over the coming years but if you take inspiration from these projected trends, you’re already ahead of the curve. Whichever trend you choose to focus your event marketing on in 2023, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your event memorable enough, and will it inspire attendees to post UGC?
  • Are you meeting consumers' demand for online, hybrid, and on-demand content?
  • Are you using the right online events platform and virtual conference software tools for your event?
  • Have you personalized the event, and related communications, to individual attendees?
  • Does your event take consumers’ values and ethics into account?
  • Is your event focused on bringing attendees high-quality content?

If the answer to all of the above is “yes”, your event will generate higher attendance rates, brand awareness, and more qualifying leads. If you’re going hybrid or fully online in 2023, make sure to use tools that maximize virtual conference engagement like Livestorm.

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