Esri France

completes its event strategy by running BtoB communities

Context

Esri France is the distributor of the Esri solution in France and in 10 French-speaking African countries. Esri is the world leader in the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) sector and offers a software suite based on geography to collect data, understand it, analyze it and help in decision making.

Esri France employs 240 people, including 7 dedicated to marketing activities.

The initial objective: managing the event strategy

Esri France has been organising events dedicated to users of its solutions for more than twenty years. The first editions were user clubs, gathering about 250 participants. With the growing number of users over the years, the format has evolved into an annual conference, whose last 100% face-to-face edition in 2019 brought together 3000 people over 2 days.

Historically, this annual conference was managed directly on Esri France’s website, and a ticketing solution was used in parallel to manage registration and badge printing. No digital aspects were planned for this event: the sessions were only made available in replay at the end of the conference, but no live streaming solution was set up.

Since 2020 and the COVID-19 health crisis, Esri France’s teams have changed the format of their annual conference to a hybrid event, combining both a digital and an in-person component.
For the 2022 edition, which will be managed by inwink, the basis of the event will be digital, with a plenary session and a rich programme of more than 300 sessions, half of which will be dedicated to user feedback, all sessions being open to all. This digital component will then be rounded off by 9 in-person meetings that will take place in 9 cities in France.

“I am convinced that the basis must be the digital event. That’s what’s essential. When we were doing purely face-to-face events, we had many rooms in which the sessions took place. It was very difficult for us to plan the capacity of these rooms according to participants’ expectations, which could be particularly frustrating when they were full, knowing that for technical reasons, it was impossible for us to record all these interventions. Now, with digital technology, we can “push back the walls” and welcome everyone in good conditions, while capitalising on these presentations. Our event’s carbon footprint has also improved considerably, which is essential for us, as the E in Esri stands for environment, a dimension that was at the origin of Esri’s creation.” Jean-Michel Cabon, Marketing and Communication Director at Esri France

To make the digital sessions as interactive as possible, the Esri France marketing team has also implemented many features available in inwink Event: Networking, Speed Meeting, Watch Together, surveys, and more.

6000 participants are expected to attend this event, including 300 in person in Paris, and around 100 per city in the regions.

The redefined objective: capitalise on event audiences to continuously unite BtoB communities

In parallel to the event management with inwink Event, Esri France has also deployed the inwink Community solution to promote the continuous engagement of its various audiences. Indeed, uniting user communities was thought about several years ago, but without leading to the implementation of a dedicated space.

“More than 10 years ago at our annual conference, we realised our event had a community aspect through the engagement of the users who attended. With webinars and face-to-face events, we were meeting with our customers and users quite often, but we felt that there was a lack of space to continue the discussions the rest of the time. For me it was obvious when I saw inwink Community. We organise events, something happens for 30 minutes, 1 day, 5 days… We feel it’s essential to maintain ties throughout the year between users, partners and Esri teams because everyone wants to keep these ties and continue the discussions and mutual learning.”

3 community spaces have been created by Esri France teams to date:

  • “Generation Geo”: a community dedicated to the uses of Geography for education.

Generation Geo is an educational hub where Esri technologies are provided almost free of charge to over 100 universities and research programmes.

  • “arcOpole”: a highly active community in the world of local authorities.

Historically, this community of 3,000 users used to meet once a year during our conference and had a website where some information was provided, but which did not allow members to interact with each other. The goal is to continue to unite this community via inwink Community by providing them with a dedicated space to interact and share on a daily basis.

  • An “immersive views” community.

This community gathers about thirty members on a specific product, who exchange tips and tricks and best practices on its use.

For these 3 communities, most of the functionalities available in inwink Community are used: news feed, blog, networking between members, organisation of dedicated events, sharing of documents, video replays, publication of podcasts, management of forums.

inwink Community brings together everything we’re missing. It’s a private LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube, a solution to easily and quickly organise webinars in just 2 minutes, a blogging tool… and much more.”

Developing new BtoB communities is at the heart of Esri France’s global marketing strategy, which plans to duplicate existing communities to industrialise the creation of new ones over the long term.

“In the long term, I can see thematic communities, product communities, and company communities bringing together members of the same company who use the same technologies without knowing each other. And then, why not cross communities?”

The challenge will then be to continuously manage these BtoB communities. For this, Esri France relies on pilots and the involvement of power users. This is a perpetual process but, paired with an event-driven strategy, it fulfils Esri France’s objective of continuous audience engagement.

“The goal is to use the event to launch communities. That’s what’s planned for our community launches. The idea is to say that the momentum doesn’t die down after the conference, but it’s up to us to start nurturing those communities and encourage conversation!”