A look at RainFocus INSIGHT 2023, “Unifying Experiences”

Reflections on an industry shift for events and the future of event innovation

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Reflections on an industry shift for events and the future of event innovation

By Rodney Hart, VP of Events, RainFocus

The RainFocus INSIGHT 2023 conference presented us with a unique opportunity to bring to life the vision that we’ve been serving our clients at RainFocus – a best-in-class hybrid event experience. This was the first time INSIGHT had an in-person component since 2020, before a dramatic shift to virtual events and before the subsequent shift to hybrid events. The theme “Unifying Experiences” embodied what we aimed to accomplish – an interactive and streamlined multi-platform event that encouraged an exchange of ideas and best practices for leaders from events, marketing, and technology industries.

Events are more than just moments in time, and are becoming increasingly important to organizations of all sizes, both as a powerful way to rebuild connections and as a reliable source of first-party customer data. Data sourced from events can go beyond a singular event experience and support personalized experiences throughout the entire customer journey. With INSIGHT, we wanted to make that connection clear and showcase why events form an integral part of a marketing strategy.

A Unified Attendee Experience

Drawing from the best of both hybrid and in-person events, we introduced  Attendee-to-Attendee Chat, a new attendee portal feature designed to bring the ease of relationship-building online. While in-person attendees connected face-to-face at the event, this offering provided a more organic networking experience for virtual attendees to connect with like-minded colleagues. Features like this assist in bridging the gap between virtual and in-person interactions and help attendees derive the most value from the event.

In addition to leveraging the right features from our own platform, our event partners helped round out the INSIGHT conference experience. From incorporating a global language service provider for Deaf and hard-of-hearing people, to tools that reinvent the way knowledge-sharing conversations take place on or offline, the right partners can take an event to the next level.

Throughout the event, both in-person and virtual attendees had access to exclusive programming. In-person attendees built out their own agendas with breakout sessions and education opportunities of interest. Virtual attendees tuned into keynotes and sessions taking place on the main stage with the ability to catch on-site interviews of clients, partners, and executives during the downtime. This created a streamlined and continuous experience with little wait time in between streamed sessions to keep online attendees engaged. 

Unified Experiences Beyond the Event

Events are becoming the most valuable source of data. With the deprecation of third-party cookies, the zero and first-party data gathered from an event participant’s customer journey is now at the forefront. It brings more value to the customer experience beyond the event and into marketing and sales initiatives that align with customer preferences and interests. Through our recent partnership with Adobe, RainFocus’ existing capabilities are leveraged for even more data to use in real time. In support of broader marketing efforts, event data populates into a 360-degree customer profile that allows marketers to deliver personalized experiences at scale, and more effectively measure, understand, and build in-depth attribution at each stage of the customer journey.

In the months following INSIGHT, the data gained from the event program continues to shape the overall marketing and event strategy. All event content is immediately shifted over to RainFocus On Demand, our always-on content repository powered by RainFocus. This allows both attendees and non-attendees to continue consuming additional event content they might have missed or want to rewatch, all within a platform that enables us to continue to measure and inform customer preferences and interest areas. We also use that data to inform the subjects and content our attendees want to hear more about. This includes ensuring our ongoing webinar strategy is based on the areas generating the most interest and being served by the RainFocus experts who resonate the most with our attendees.

The Path Forward

Our first hybrid INSIGHT event program was a huge success, but as any event professional will attest, no event is perfect. As we plan for 2024, we will rely on both user data and feedback to guide the program’s evolution. In 2023, our overall event engagement increased by an impressive +132%. While the in-person conference contributed significantly to this growth, our virtual offerings accounted for one-third of the total engagement. Expect an increasing amount of virtual-only event components to expand overall exposure of event content, while also optimizing the in-person experience to prioritize the valuable face-to-face connections it offers. What will remain unchanged, however, is INSIGHT’s fundamental role in facilitating connections among RainFocus customers, partners, and experts, to discuss the latest solutions and best practices in the constantly evolving event and marketing technology industry.

During her fireside chat at INSIGHT, RainFocus board member Alicia Tillman shared: “Regardless of what’s happening in the world and the industry, events provide interaction across the customer journey. It’s the only immovable channel that can stand the test of time — an incredible opportunity for CEOs, CMOs, heads of events, and anyone responsible for the customer journey. Events touch every function that a company uses to drive growth.”

This speaks to the growing importance of events and the work we do at RainFocus. As our flagship event, INSIGHT is our opportunity to showcase the latest event experiences, innovations, and developments that we hope will bring value to our current and future clients and become an integral role of event innovation.

RainFocus will continue to build on the momentum by investing in martech stack integrations that fully connect events to the broader customer journey, leverage event assets to drive brand value in an impactful way, and continually raise the bar to create memorable event experiences.

Short article summary:

  • Rodney Hart shares his takeaways from RainFocus INSIGHT 2023, a hybrid event program held in person for the first time since 2020, and reflects on RainFocus’ journey of innovation to embrace an event data strategy that enhances the attendee experience.

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