Don’t Lose Audience Interest!
Convert Session Attendance Into Actionable Next Steps

Organizer:   Adobe

Event type:   User Meetup

Event format:   Virtual # of attendees:   423

Event Format Virtual

# of attendees 423

With the mission statement of “Changing The World Through Digital Experiences”, Adobe integrates content and data to provide inspiring customer experiences and support digital transformation across all industries. In April 2021, the company used EventHub to hold its biannual MUG Day event.

Today, we interviewed Mari Matsui, DX Marketing Manager at Adobe, to learn about the secrets of successful event management and the outlook for the future.

As a long-time industry colleague, can you tell us how you design events that engage users?

Please tell us about the background that led to this event.

This event was held as part of our customer engagement marketing strategy.

At Adobe, we believe that “users lead the success of other users“. We support establishing relationships where users can learn from each other by strengthening connections between users, as we believe that user-to-user interaction is the most effective way to promote usage.

We have three primary activities that connect users:

  • Champion Program: 
    • Recognizes individual product experts from around the globe who are passionate about sharing their expertise and best practices to support fellow customers.
    • Offers opportunities to engage in industry and thought leadership and collaboration with Adobe product teams.
  • User Groups: 
    • MUG Day (Marketo Engage Use Group Day) 
    • Available to all Marketo Engage users.
  • User Breakout Committees : 
    • A breakout committee where people from related industries, occupations, and positions gather for deeper discussions. Users take the lead and hold meetings once a month.
    • Users take the lead and hold meetings once a month.

This event (MUG Day) was held as the second “User Group” event in Japan.

Please tell us the purpose of the event.

The event’s purpose is to provide an opportunity for continuous relationship-building to solve any questions related to the use of Adobe Marketo Engage by connecting users with each other.

Every time we hold MUG Day we hear feedback that users were able to gain hints for solving their problems and that it led to motivation. Based on this background, we have been holding MUG Day every year without fail. Since many users, including Champions, gathered at the event, many use cases were shared. One of the objectives is to create an opportunity to inspire ideas such as “I didn’t know that you could use it like that” and to support user adoption.

So, was the purpose of the event to connect users with each other?

Yes. If users continue to operate within their own company in isolation, it may be difficult to understand how to best utilize the product which can result in contract cancellation. It is unfortunate for users who have already invested time in implementing Marketo Engage. That’s why gaining experience and learning from the efforts and challenges faced by other users  is essential.

We aim to create a forum for user-to-user communication where users can deepen their connections and learn from each other, promoting utilization of Marketo Engage and preventing the cancellation of user subscriptions due to a lack of progress from their own efforts.

I heard that you switched to virtual events in the fall of 2020 due to the impact of the pandemic. Did you have any particular things you kept in mind when holding virtual events?

Rather than just converting the in-person MUG Day event to virtual, we approached it as a completely different channel and started considering what kind of event it should be.

We saw the opportunity to solve the challenges we had experienced with the traditional events by taking advantage of the benefits of virtual events.

We arranged the event page to guide participants and utilized session viewership data as a trigger for the next steps.

So, with virtual events, you tried to solve challenges you had with in-person. So what were the real challenges, and how did you overcome them?

At the in-person MUG Day event, we sponsored a social gathering post the sessions as an opportunity for users to interact with each other. However, many participants only listened to the sessions and left, and it was a challenge to create connections.

Therefore, when we switched to virtual events, we set a goal of “increasing the number of registrations for breakout committees“. At the in-person event, few people raised their hands to register for breakout committees on the spot, but by making it easier to register online during the MUG Day event, the barrier to registering as a member has been significantly lowered.

Please tell us more about the breakout committees.

They are meetings where people in similar industries, business types, and professions gather for deeper discussions. They are held once a month, and each breakout committee has 10-100 members. The number of participants in each activity is small, usually around 10-30, and the purpose is to help users master Marketo Engage correctly by discussing it with each other.

MUG Day is an opportunity to foster motivation through interaction with other users, and more than participating alone is needed to improve operational skills. Therefore, at MUG Day, we aimed to make people aware of the breakout committees as “a place where they can continuously learn” and continue their participation post the event.

What efforts did you make to increase registration for breakout committees?

We encouraged registration for breakout committees even during in-person events. For example, we set up a box at the venue where people could submit their business cards to complete the breakout committee registration process. However, the number of registrations did not increase.

Since the breakout committees are small and closed gatherings, we felt that the motivation to participate might not be there if people did not understand what kind of activities they were actually doing. So this time, we put detailed pages explaining each breakout committee on the EventHub exchange space so participants can easily understand the purpose and past activities of each committee. We also made it possible for breakout committees to recruit members by introducing themselves through the EventHub platform during the MUG Day event.

As a result, out of approximately 400 participants, we received about 100 registrations for membership and participation in the next event.

Ensure attendee interaction. What kind of sessions leave an impactful impression?

How to ensure interactivity in chat? What makes a session impactful and memorable?

We made it easier for participants to access materials and register by using EventHub’s built-in communication tools. In addition to watching sessions, it was important to us to make users were aware of Adobe’s various support programs and make it easy to access the information. EventHub was designed in a way that allowed us to include detailed information about breakout committees and various learning content such as webinars and online learning courses.

What other things did you consider in planning of the event?

We made it a point to create opportunities for interaction during the event itself. Many people hesitate to ask questions at physical events, and most leave the session having only listened without sharing their concerns or opinions. 

To address this issue, we used within EventHub, allowing participants to tweet their thoughts and questions easily during sessions. As a result of some Champion’s encouragement to use the comments section, we received 156 comments during the 3.5-hour event. Not only did participants ask questions, but we also received many comments such as “I didn’t know this kind of usage existed” and “This kind of thinking is important.” This helped create an atmosphere of “watching the session together” among all the participants.

How about the session format?

We ensured that there were always at least two speakers for each session. We wanted to promote the importance of discussing and using Marketo Engage as a team. We also encouraged our user presenters to present with team members, which helped the audience understand the benefits of working in teams.

We took care to avoid making the session monotonous by not only showing slides but also the speaker’s themselves. We also explored ways to leave an impact by limiting sessions to 30 minutes and smoothly transitioning between topics, making it feel like watching TV.

Value unique to virtual events. How to make better content for audiences.

Did we achieve our initial goals after the event?

We feel that we were successful in creating opportunities for participants to “interact”. The number of breakout committee registrations increased, and many participants accessed content. Our goal was to “support the continuous relationship building between users,” and we were able to achieve that. Participants were actively involved in the breakout committees, and we received positive feedback.

We received positive feedback from the participants, such as “I want to actively participate in the breakout sessions, contribute to the results of my company, and aim to become a champion,” and “I would like to participate in the breakout session for users new to Marketo Engage”.

Are there any areas you want to improve further in the future?

As we continue to carry out marketing with Marketo Engage, there are always challenging tasks ahead. We want to encourage even more users to participate so they can discover how to succeed. In addition, we want to find ways to promote even more participation.

There is still room for improvement in terms of delivering the best content to individual users through the CMS and communications from the marketing department. To find out how MUG Day can be more helpful to customers, we will review the feedback session content. In addition to encouraging participation, we will produce content that appeals to their interests.

Finally, what advice would you give companies planning to hold virtual events in the future?

Firstly, it’s essential to understand that virtual events are more than just a replacement for in-person events. As it is an entirely different channel, it might give birth to new ideas for planning if we don’t think of it as a substitute for face-to-face events.

While the ability to “watch while multitasking” is one of the strengths of virtual events, it can also be a disadvantage for organizers. By thoroughly putting ourselves in the participants’ shoes and considering what is beneficial for them, we can create an unforgettable event that will leave a lasting impression. In this sense, interactive events are more memorable and create more opportunities for the participants to take the next step.

By considering the purpose and nature of the event, as well as approaching it from the customer’s perspective, it’s possible to hold a “virtual event” that is not just a substitute for in-person events.

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