How Alkami transformed its event experience
Alkami Technology, the leading provider of cloud-based digital banking, prides itself on helping financial institutions implement personalized online and mobile banking experiences for their users. Part of that commitment includes an annual three-day networking event where “Alkamists” and clients come together to learn, connect, and drive digital success into the future.
Amidst Alkami’s final preparations for the event, the threat of COVID-19 took in-person events out of the equation. To continue its networking tradition in a new form, Alkami acted fast by working hand-in-hand with Freeman to strategize and retool a virtual approach.
To entice its expected in-person audience of 500 attendees to attend virtually, the online gathering needed to reimagine education sessions and audience engagement with as seamless a production as possible. For this maiden virtual voyage, it was essential that attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors could easily navigate the experience ensuring that it was productive, engaging, and enjoyable.
Alkami partnered with Freeman and its producers to achieve these goals by transforming the experience into a virtual space: Alkami Unite was born.
Even though the event format was novel, Alkami’s intent to create a personalized online experience remained unchanged. The team quickly shifted its strategy to focus on (and build) audience engagement. With this approach in mind, Freeman provided the right solutions to turn the idea into (virtual) reality.
With an audience that includes some of the most innovative digital banking technology partners in the industry, Alkami needed a virtual platform that met this audience’s high-tech standards. Inspired by Alkami’s branding guide and reinvented strategy, Freeman utilized its virtual event platform to create a customized Alkami Unite event site. The branded landing page served as a virtual information desk where attendees could register, view the event schedule, and read speaker and exhibitor profiles.
Alkami and Freeman worked together to quickly develop and build the platform and its registration page prior to the event. This strategic move allowed the company to promote and market its virtual event while also creating an audience destination — attendees could explore offerings and virtually network with fellow registrants before attending the experience live, which helped drive deeper engagement.
The digital platform supported “simulive” sessions and panel discussions, which were pre-recorded, edited, and webcasted live during the event. Presenters and speakers arrived wearing the same outfits in the recording, making the transition from recorded session to live Q&A seamless, which created a true simulive viewing experience. The Freeman production team prepped the presenters from remote locations via virtual green rooms, and armed them with tips for adjusting the equipment (camera, audio, lighting), and moderating live questions.
Converting three days’ worth of event content into a single day is already a hurdle. Throw in the live-to-virtual conversion and you have a true feat. But Alkami was game for the challenge. In fact, one of its key strategies was implementing the “Get Social” activity to maximize audience interaction on the platform and help guide attendees to exhibitors and various offerings during the experience.
The gamification element allowed attendees to explore activities that could earn them points (for daily prizes and a grand prize following the event), including attending sessions, asking questions during live Q&As, learning about sponsors and partners in the virtual exhibit showcase, mingling with Alkamists, networking with colleagues, and getting social using #AlkamiUnite2020.
In the spirit of productive interaction, Alkami encouraged attendees to share what they learned with peers via social and on the platform. The gamified experience generated friendly competition that kept activity going throughout the day.
Case in point: more than 50% of attendees were still actively interacting on the platform in the afternoon, when engagement typically falls away.
Despite the quick shift, Alkami achieved its goal of building an engaging virtual space where digital banking leaders could convene, engage, and learn. Instead of its initial anticipated audience of 500, this inaugural online gathering drew more than 1,200 attendees, representing more than 150 U.S. financial institutions.
Getting the attendees to join virtually was a success, but keeping them engaged and active was another challenge the team accomplished easily by gamifying the experience. Online event attendees typically bounce among 5-6 pages per visit. But Alkami Unite attendees averaged three times more with 18.12 pages per visit.
The event offered 16 sessions during the day, which attracted 381 attendees on average per session. And social interaction thrived, with 374 posts shared — this obvious enthusiasm illustrates the success of the platform’s “Get Social” challenges and incentives.
Alkami considered this event successful, not only due to the overwhelmingly positive response, but also because it evolved into something more than the team anticipated. The experience helped showcase the importance of digital strategy in light of COVID-19, attracted more people who may have not been able to join in person, and generated new leads. And most important, Alkami Unite helped Alkamists keep client community connections alive while building new relationships with future users.
Despite being a first for Alkami, this approach reinforced the foundation of its thriving and engaged digital community, and helped continue its networking tradition. With this successful experience under its belt, the team is now considering more virtual and hybrid events in the future.
“We had a robust team from Freeman who was dedicated to our event — by the time the virtual event launched, we felt like family. It was clear that they were emotionally invested in it with us and did whatever it took to help us reach our goals. When it’s clear your partner wants you to succeed, that makes a difference,” said Nancy Johnson, senior events manager at Alkami Technology.