Apteco Live goes digital - highlights from our first virtual user group conference
Apteco Live, Apteco’s annual user group conference, has historically been held in some of the most interesting and dynamic venues in London. It is considered to be one of the highlights of the year for Apteco’s partners and end users and an integral part of Apteco's event calendar.
Unfortunately, as with so many other events this year, it was clear that Apteco would not be able to hold the event in London due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Apteco decided instead to launch a virtual version of the event, which would be held over two half days on 25 and 26 November.
Day 1 - Let the fun begin!
The last few seconds were counted down on the screen and with great excitement Apteco founder and MD of Apteco in the UK, James Alty appeared in the dramatic Apteco Live Online digital studio, to welcome the nearly 500 participants from all over the world, including partners and clients from the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the US, and Australia.
James kicked off proceedings by showing a video of Apteco employees and their families during the first lockdown which provided an emotional start to the day. Empty desks in the Apteco offices provided a somber reminder of the challenge’s companies have faced during the pandemic, however this was followed by heartwarming, creative solutions from the team at home, testament to the resilience and positivity of the Apteco team, and of the drive they have to provide partners and clients with the best service possible in the face of such adversity.
James went on to present the product development update, which highlighted some of the most important software developments of the past year. Of particular interest were the number of enhancements and developments to the browser-based Orbit platform, including Pareto analyses, customisable themes and the possibility to upload audiences directly from Orbit into one of Apteco’s many integrated email platforms. In addition, James provided a preview of upcoming features - including interactive data visualisations and a redesigned home page, that puts the user experience at the forefront of its design and enhances navigation between the different tools within the platform.
Throughout the morning, delegates were kept entertained and engaged through competitions, polls, and their delegate packs – which were sent to partners prior to the event. Copies of publications from keynote speaker, Hannah Fry and guest speaker Geoff Ramm were up for grabs and the winners were announced by James Alty at the end of the morning.
Hannah Fry, mathematician, professor, and science presenter at the BBC, captivated the participants, keeping everyone entertained, with the data analyses and algorithms in her keynote speech. Using true-to-life examples such as the gender distribution in newborns, she demonstrated in an impressive and humorous way the potential offered by algorithms and where their limitations might lie. Her conclusion – humans and algorithms both complement each other, cancelling out each other’s weaknesses, and as a result, humans should therefore remain part of the analysis processes for the foreseeable future.
Interactive focus groups
Attendees then had the opportunity to participate in one of the six interactive focus group sessions, which were held on Zoom. This year the focus groups centered around real-world marketing challenges and how to use the Apteco Marketing Suite to overcome them. From Apteco’s new multi-social mechanism in PeopleStage and marketing in real-time, to predicting future customer behaviour with the new behavioural modelling capability in FastStats and optimising your build speed to improve the power of Apteco's technology. Topics were presented in detail and participants were able to ask the presenters questions throughout. The online format worked well for the focus groups – as while in previous years, the size of the venues determined the number of participants, this year those limitations did not apply, and so any number of participants could attend.
Day 2 – Customer story of the year
The second day of the event started with the ‘Customer Story of the Year’ from Apteco partner b.telligent and LifeFit Group GmbH. Due to the ongoing restrictions and closures of gyms, it has been a challenging year for the German fitness provider Fitness First. The central question for Fitness First was how to save costs. Laurentius Malter (b.telligent) and Christian Noack (LifeFit) showed how the agile campaigns of Fitness First were amended to respond to the changing circumstances in the COVID-19 environment and explained how the Apteco Marketing Suite helped Fitness First to manage the bureaucratic effort that contract suspensions, refunds and cancellations caused.
With the automation made possible by the Apteco Marketing Suite, Fitness First was able to save nearly 300 man-days and thus, decisive costs. In addition, Fitness First was able to save 40% of its previous printing and postage costs by digitising postal notifications. For us, the success story of the year!
Real-world marketing experiences
The ‘Customer Story of the Year’ presentation was followed by a panel discussion from three of Apteco’s customers, all previous winners of the "Best use of the Apteco Marketing Suite" award. The interesting insights into three industry sectors could not have been more different from each other.
Félix Etienne (IKEA CH), Morgan Jamison (ProTyre) and David Azria (Travian Games) shared the experiences they faced due to the challenges the pandemic posed to their marketing this year. At IKEA, for example, the lockdown and closure of stores led to a massive shift from in-store sales to online sales, and the need for home furnishings increased due to the lockdown.
As a motor vehicle tyre, MOT and servicing provider, ProTyre had the challenge of communicating the applied hygiene measures and ongoing opening of their garages, and at the same time re-coordinating the previously automated allocation of MOT appointments.
Travian Games recorded a massive increase in the number of users of its online games and was able to profitably implement additional marketing measures. Their big challenge will now be long-term customer loyalty.
Delegates could then visit another one of the six focus groups. All of the focus group sessions were recorded and are available in the Apteco portal for partners and customer to to view.
The Apteco Live event wrapped-up by Geoff Ramm, who is no stranger to Apteco - he was a guest speaker at the Apteco User Group Conference in London in 2013. His passion is helping companies to create outstanding "Celebrity" customer experiences. With his inspiring ideas and the question "What do your customers love?", two varied and insightful days came to an end.
Despite the social distance, the virtual platform really managed to make attendees feel connected and the event has been hailed as a success by Apteco employees, partners and clients. We look forward to the year ahead and are confident that Apteco Live 2021 will be just as thought provoking and inspiring as this year’s event.
Nevertheless, we all probably felt a small downer at the end, when instead of having the typical beer or glass of wine together, everyone went to lunch and back to work alone in their home offices. With this in mind, we are excited about what next year will bring and hope to welcome our customers and partners back together in London once it is safe to do so.