CMX Retrospective 2021

CMX Summit 2021: Rise was an incredible three-day long event, where thousands of Community Professionals from all over the world came together to learn, grow, and connect. It was the largest CMX Summit we’ve ever hosted; we had more RSVPs, the largest global attendance, and the most diversity on stage in CMX Summit history.

With the CMX Summit retrospective blog post, I aim to bring a behind-the-scenes look into some of the planning and decision-making processes for CMX Summit 2021. I will also share some of our goals – both the ones we reached, and those that we didn’t – and provide insights from the post-event survey our attendees filled out.

Planning Around COVID

When beginning to plan the format of CMX Summit 2021, the team knew only one thing – that all of our plans were probably going to change. With ever-changing gathering restrictions in California and travel restrictions being announced around the world, we knew we were going to have to come up with a hybrid event plan. We wanted to make sure we could reach as many CMX’ers around the world as possible, while meeting them where they were.

We went back and forth, debating how to successfully plan and execute a hybrid event. We even planned a fully in-person event in San Francisco, booked the venue, made the plans, and started selling tickets, only to have COVID restrictions change again, forcing us to cancel. In the end, we decided to host CMX Summit 2021: Rise fully virtual, and tap into the incredible passion of our CMX Connect Hosts (volunteer organizers) to host in person watch parties around the world.

Every year, CMX Summit is our chance to provide an opportunity where our attendees leave feeling fired-up about building community, and armed with priceless insights, connections, and practical resources to help their community thrive. CMX Summit 2021 would be no different – no matter what!

Watch party in Lagos, Nigeria hosted by Alimi Eyitayo, CMX Connect Host Lagos.

Designing the Event Theme and Experience

The community industry has been growing nonstop year over year, and we are watching history unfold right before our eyes. For the first time ever, we chose a theme for CMX Summit 2021. The theme was Rise. The rise of the industry. The rise of the community professional. The rise of community.

This is a pivotal time for the community industry. Amid massive changes resulting from the pandemic, it is more critical than ever for businesses to build communities of customers, employees, and partners. To ensure community continues to deliver value for organizations, we focused on highlighting industry leaders who spoke about:

  • The Rise of Community-Driven Business: The era of community-driven business is here. Community is a key competitive advantage and the future of successful brands. How can organizations leverage community to its fullest potential?
  • Charting the Community Path: Community is carving out its own distinct department and seat at the C-suite table. Learn how today’s community professionals are paving the road for tomorrow.
  • Community, Culture, and Innovation: Creator communities. Cryptocurrencies. Diversity, equity, and inclusion. Belonging. Get a front-row seat to see how community is driving innovation across business and culture.

New Faces on the Scene!

Attendance for CMX Summit continues to grow year over year, and this year the upward trend continued. This year we had a whopping 5,600+ RSVPs from 99 countries. This was our most global CMX event EVER. For 80% of our attendees, this was the first CMX Summit they attended. Congratulations to all our brand new CMX Summiteers – welcome to the coolest club in the community industry!

This year’s Summit was hybrid, and our in-person component was local watch parties and networking events being hosted around the world by CMX Connect Hosts. We were able to tune in with our Chapter in Madrid, Spain LIVE on our mainstage. It was so great seeing CMX’ers in Madrid come together. I got chills (and major FOMO) when Beth was chatting with our Connect Hosts, Valentina Ruffoni and Angela Jin. Ahhh, I loved it!

The Best Event Tool in Town

This was the second CMX Summit we hosted on our very own Bevy Virtual Conference platform and we couldn’t be prouder of the tool our team has built. With our main “Theatre” stage, multiple session stages, sponsor booths, networking tables, and super engaging chat features, we gave our attendees the most epic “choose your own virtual conference adventure”!

We made it easy for attendees to join our community right from the conference too, with a one-click link at the top of the page. In the three days of CMX Summit, we welcomed 162 new members into the CMX Community. Welcome to each and every one of you!

Getting your Feedback

This year, we changed our survey strategy. Instead of only presenting attendees with a survey after the event, we also had a two-question NPS survey available to take during the event. The link was at the top of the page on the Bevy Virtual Conference platform, making it easily accessible. We also decided to incentivise folks to fill out the NPS survey during the event, with a gift – everyone who filled out the survey got a free copy of The Business of Belonging by David Spinks! We had 495 people fill out the NPS survey during the event, which blew our previous survey response rate out of the water!

Lessons learned:

  • Make your survey available throughout your event, not just after
  • Keep it really short to get more live responses
  • Offer an incentive

Our post-event survey was sent in three emails after the event finished and was much longer with 15 questions to give us deeper insights into how the event went for attendees. We incentivised folks to fill out the post event survey with a chance to win a CMX Summit Swag box! The post-event survey closed on September 17, and we had a total of 290 responses.

With both the NPS survey during CMX Summit, and the post-event survey after, we had a total of 785 survey respondents, 601% increase from CMX Summit 2020!

Thank you to everyone who filled out our surveys. It was so inspiring to read about everything you learned at CMX Summit. Just like last year, we’ve taken stock of all the CMX Summit feedback to identify what worked, what didn’t work, and where we can continue improving. How did we do? Read on to find out.

So, How Did We Do?

The overall event had a Net Promoter Score of 67, a new record for CMX Summit!

Here are some of the things attendees said they loved:

Seth Godin

How could you not?! Hip, hip, hooray! Three cheers for our closing Keynote. The conversation with David Spinks and Seth Godin was the highest rated and most loved talk in our feedback form. Seth drilled into community-driven marketing and left us all incredibly inspired and hungry for more. Hey Seth, when are you coming back?!?

The two most highly-rated talks after Seth’s were Jessica Falkenthal’s workshop, Bringing Engagement Back with Unconferences, and Tiffany Oda’s session, Showing the Value of Community Operations.

SWAG

Wow. You all LOVED our swag giveaways! We had multiple giveaway opportunities before, during, and after Summit. We gave swag away live on stage, we gave swag away on a Summit Scavenger Hunt, we gave swag away on social media, and we had so much engagement on our social channels because of it! Some folks even won a CMX Summit lunch on us, and many of you snagged your own copy of The Business of Belonging by David Spinks, brought to you by our partners at Discourse.

Content Variety

This year we had 70+ sessions and workshops, which meant there was truly something for everyone! 93.5% of our respondents found half or more of the presentations valuable. Many of you loved the theme this year and thought it was highly relevant to how the community industry is developing.

Our Speakers

There was lots of love for our speaker lineup. You especially noted the diversity on our stages. CMX Summit is an incredible opportunity to elevate a wide range of voices. This year, 45.2% of our speakers came from underrepresented groups—another new record for CMX Summit.

Meeting Each Other

Our industry loves to network and meet new people that they can learn from. We had multiple opportunities to do so and heard about the wonderful folks each of you met at the event in the feedback form. A lot of you noted that the chat was as valuable as the talks because of all the incredible insights attendees were sharing.

Our “Fun” Sessions

Everyone loved our unofficial mascot of CMX Summit 2021 – the chicken. ‘Learn How to Raise Backyard Chickens’ was a huge hit. In my time as a virtual event planner, I have not seen so many people pumped for a session. This year, you also loved Drag Queen Bingo, Big Al Caricatures, Yoga, and the DJ sets.

The Bevy Platform

We are so proud of the tool we’ve built and were thrilled to see how much our attendees loved to use it! We saw a lot of positive comments on social media, as well as in the event chat itself. We were ecstatic to see that 92.2% of our survey respondents said they were satisfied or extremely satisfied with the Bevy Platform!

 

What We Can Do Better

We love when CMX’ers share their honest opinions with us, and while there was a lot of good feedback about CMX Summit 2021, there is always room for improvement. Here are the key areas we’ll work to improve for future CMX Summits.

Longer Sessions With Even Deeper Dives

You want to dive deep. In the survey responses, we heard that folks wanted longer sessions to give them more time to get into the nitty gritty. We will plan to have more workshop programming and longer sessions at CMX Summit next year. It is worth mentioning that we created our CMX Masterclass series specifically for this reason! The Masterclasses bring you in-depth sessions all year round. Check out our upcoming Masterclasses!

Content Not Aligning with Abstract

There seemed to be some confusion with talk titles and abstracts not lining up with the content in sessions, or content not advertised as expected. We hear you on this and will work more closely with each speaker to make sure that talks closely align with their titles and descriptions.

Overlapping Sessions and More Breaks

Summit is a lot to consume. We get it. As we plan future events, we can do more to spread out sessions, reach different time zones, and have purposeful work breaks so you can enjoy a session, then get some work done in between. We always hope that folks take these days away from work to fully immerse themselves in CMX Summit but understand that this isn’t feasible for everyone.

More 1:1 Networking Opportunities

Folks loved the networking programming we provided but wanted more options for 1:1. This is one area we will continue to work on, as we know that 1:1 networking within our community is important. We want everyone to be able to meet with others at any point during the conference.

Talk About Failures!

People want to hear about what can go wrong, how they can fix it, and what success looks like afterwards. Talking about failure is something that a lot of folks don’t want to do, but we’re here for it! Let’s talk about failure! Is this you? Have you failed? Are you interested in speaking at CMX Summit about failure? Hit me up!

When asked “What was your favourite part about CMX Summit?”

That’s all, folks!

CMX Summit 2021: Rise was an incredible ride, and I am so proud of the Bevy and CMX team. This event wouldn’t have been possible without the tireless effort from the marketing, sales, customer success, product, engineering, and design teams at Bevy, and of course the CMX Community team. Big thank you to our CMX Summit sponsors, speakers, production team, and emcees. And of course, the reason we do it – YOU! Thank you CMX’ers for making this CMX Summit the most memorable.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you CMX’ers!

‘Til next year!
💖Ann-Marie

Did you miss a session at CMX Summit? Have no fear! CMX and Chill with CMX Summit 2021: Rise.

Ann Marie Pawlicki Dinkel