What is event management software? What is the best way to use it? And generally speaking, why do you need it? In this guide, we’ll tackle these questions and more.
Marketing teams are investing more than ever in live events.
According to Forrester Research, events account for the single largest marketing expense for most B2B marketing departments. Chief marketing officers spend 24% of their total annual budgets on live events in order to connect with customers, educate attendees, and generate new leads.
There are numerous causes that can be attributed to the rise of live events—digital marketing fatigue, the curtailing of interruption marketing and a growing desire to break out of strictly online experiences to offline face-to-face interactions.
However, one of the greatest contributing factors to the explosion of live events is an explosion of innovation in live event technology.
According to the 2018 Event Marketing Benchmarks Report, the most successful organizations invest more in technology than less successful organizations do—and they plan on investing more in event technology, moving forward.
One technology that the majority of these organizations are investing in is event management software.
What Is Event Management Software (EMS)?
In brief, event management software (EMS) is a solution that assists event organizers in driving success through all aspects of their events—from event registration and event check-in, to event promotion and reporting.
Some providers claim to offer event management software when in actuality they are really offering a software that solves one particular pain point. For instance, some software specialize in event registration or event check-in. These platforms have their uses, but are limited in breadth of functionality.
For the purposes of this article, whenever we refer to event management software we will be referring to all-in-one event management software, which serves as a one-stop shop for all of an event organizer’s needs. This type of software is sometimes called “event success software” or an “events cloud.”
Because event management software integrates all of the tools that an event organizer needs into one platform, it’s easy to work quickly, securely and with more rich insights at the ready.
Just like HubSpot may be a go-to marketing platform and Salesforce may be a go-to sales platform, event management software is the go-to events platform.
What Types of Events Is Event Management Software Used for?
Generally speaking, event management software is used for B2B and B2C professional events. These include—but are not limited to:
- Networking events
- Trade shows
- Industry conferences
- User conferences
- Internal trainings
Events like concerts or shows would not be a good fit for event management software, as these types of events are focused more narrowly on driving ticket sales.
B2B and B2C professional events on the other hand need to facilitate attendee networking and engagement and they also need to serve a larger event strategy—which necessitates in-depth analytics on event outcome. These analytics can then help event organizers prove ROI and the overall efficacy of their event strategy.
What Should Event Management Software Do?
We’ve already discussed the big picture of all-in-one event management software and how it can serve as an end-to-end solution for your event needs. In this section, we’ll take a look at the different core components that go into making that happen. To review them quickly, they are:
- Event Website
- Event Registration
- Event Marketing
- Attendee Engagement App
- Reporting and Analytics
- System Integrations
Before event management software, event organizers needed to rely on third-party website building tools like Wordpress or Squarespace for designing their websites quickly. If they had the resources, they could also have a website custom-built. In both of these case, the event website was not integrated with the other tools an organizer would need to use—like event marketing or event registration tools.
Today, an EMS should come with a tool for easily creating an event website with a drag and drop builder. Event organizers should be able to build a beautiful, on-brand website without needing to learn coding or a complicated user interface.
At the same time, an EMS should offer the ability to add custom HTML and CSS for for those looking for advanced customization. It should also offer embeddable widgets for use on other websites.
Compare leading event management platforms through third-party data in the Event Software Buyer's Guide.
An event registration tool is used for processing registrations or ticket sales. In the past, event organizers needed to rely on a provider that specializes in event registration. While helpful for managing smaller events, this solution does not provide the ability to scale an event.
The event registration tool that comes with event management software should allow event organizers to establish a variety of ticket types, each of which comes with its own parameters.
This event registration tool also integrates with a variety of other functions so that event organizers can just as easily manage smaller events as they can manage an international event series.
For instance, Bizzabo’s event registration tool gives event organizers the ability to send registered contacts segmented emails and serve retargeting ads straight from the Bizzabo platform. This data can also be sent to CRMs like Salesforce and marketing automation platforms like HubSpot, for use in other ways.
Once an event website and a registration workflow are live, the next step is to drive registrations. Event management software should come equipped with a suite of event marketing tools for getting this done.
According to the Event Marketing Benchmarks report, the single-most effective channel for promoting an event is email. Organizers in the past needed to rely on third-party email platforms in order to communicate with attendees, sponsors and other key stakeholders.
Now, it is not uncommon for event management software to boast their own email marketing tools. These tools should be able to work with your EMS’ contacts management tool so that you can segment attendees and send only relevant information to them. They should also allow you to easily build and beautifully customized, on-brand emails.
Some EMS platforms come equipped with additional tools for promoting your event. For instance, Bizzabo’s Ticket Boost leverages the power of social media to turn your attendees into brand ambassadors—and drive registrations.
Meanwhile, Bizzabo’s Hot Leads tools allow you to recover registrations that were not completed, or abandoned, so you can turn prospective attendees into actual attendees
Finally, your EMS should come equipped with tracking pixels so that you can track registration abandonment and website traffic for the purpose of remarketing relevant, timely content.
Attendee Engagement App
So many events happen today that it is not enough to just have great sessions and speakers. Attendees are looking for increasingly personalized experience that help them feel like they are part of the action.
Before, event organizers needed to rely on third-party engagement apps to capture the attention of their attendees. The problem is that these apps often are not on-brand (or at least branded in the same way that other digital aspects of the event are). Additionally, the siloed nature of these third-party tools made it difficult to draw meaningful insights from the data that they’d collect.
The modern EMS should come with an attendee engagement app that enable attendees to network, communicate with one another, and otherwise take part in your event.
Through the mobile event app, attendees should be able to view the event agenda, build their own event schedule, learn about speakers and sessions, manage their event registration, see who else is attending the event, send one-one messages, interact with live polls and surveys, and more.
Some event apps, like Bizzabo’s event app solution (which is one component of the larger event success platform) offer features like dedicated sponsor pages and special offers that can help demonstrate ROI to sponsors.
In addition to increasing attendee satisfaction and winning over event sponsors, event organizers will also be able to surface rich insights about their attendees’ behaviors and preferences.
Reporting and Analytics
Before the advent of all-in-one event management software, events were a black box. Event organizers could easily learn some insights about their attendees (X amount of tickets were sold, X amount of revenue was made, etc.), but the conclusions they could draw were limited.
With all-in-one event management software, organizers can view data in many ways—resulting in more insights and better decision-making. For instance, all-in-one event management software should be able to display ticket and revenue information, but it should also enable organizers to track how attendees interact with the event app, which sponsors and speakers get the most engagement and even compare event analytics from one event to the other.
All of the data in the world hardly has value unless it can accurately, efficiently and securely be passed to the rest of your team. Earlier we discussed how the integrated nature of an all-in-one event management solution is a benefit over multiple siloed solutions. However, it is likely that your EMS will still need to “talk with” solutions that are outside the scope of events, like marketing automation software or a dedicated CRM.
For instance, your sales team will want to know which attendees attended your event. Rather than manually export and import a list of attendees, modern event management software has the power to sync automatically with sales CRMs. So, your sales team is never left out of the loop.
Likewise, an event organizer can integrate their event management system with their marketing automation system to send out large emails campaigns that may include, but go beyond the scope of just those who registered at an event.
Fortunately, many EMS do come with comprehensive integrations. Bizzabo alone is able to integrate with over 1,000 other applications.
Wrapping Up: The Age of Event Success Software
Events are becoming more prevalent than ever and event management software is what is allowing them to do so. Today’s event management platform:
- Fulfills a wide range of functions such as event registration, event marketing and reporting.
- Drives event success for a variety of B2B and B2C events.
- Helps event organizers save time, save money, increase security and reduce event headaches thanks to a structure that is seamlessly integrated from end-to-end.
- Should be reliable easy-to-use, come with a dedicated customer success team and should measurably impact your event goals.
- And should be sold as a complete product, not a series of add-ons.
In sum, the modern event management software does more than just manage events—it empowers organizers to unleash the power of live events and ultimately drive event success.
Curious to see what Bizzabo’s event success software looks like in action? Request a demo today!