According to a recent Event Marketing Institute study, more than 80% of respondents agreed that event marketing is important to their organizations – and more than 40% consider it critical. But while cross-channel marketing plays such a critical role for B2B companies, just 29% of companies say their event marketing initiatives are very integrated with their other marketing campaigns.
That’s a lot of missed opportunities. Here are 10 tips for making the most of events:
1. Establish your event marketing goals. You could choose specific, measurable goals such as generating qualified leads or identifying key decision-makers, or less-measurable goals such as brand awareness or building good will.
2. Send invitations. If it’s your event, decide how, where and when to distribute invitations. The nature of your event, the time frame for the event and your target audience will all play a role in the invitation process. Your choices include email marketing, social media and direct mail. Whatever you choose, make sure you can track invitations against your database.
3. Manage the registration process. Most event registrations take place online – and those that don’t probably should. When you set up landing pages for your event registrations, be sure to have a system in place for tracking the source of each registration. Custom landing pages and tracking codes are ideal for this sort of task. Be sure to use a system that allows you to close the registration process automatically. This allows you to enforce registration deadlines and prevent misunderstandings with attendees.
4. Send event confirmations and reminders. These are useful for any live event, since they allow you to keep your brand front-and-center; you also get a chance to engage in personalized communications with each attendee and to extend other content or product offers. Here, too, it’s important to use tools that automate this process, so that your team isn’t overwhelmed by the task of tracking and sending reminders.
5. Establish your lead capture process. Event registrations and on-site activity (such as scanning business cards or badges) can be a source of robust and accurate lead data. It can also be a colossal waste of time and effort unless you focus on two important tasks:
- Move quickly. Whether you’re gathering data from an online registration form or scanning business cards, your lead data should enter a marketing automation or CRM system in a matter or hours or even minutes – not days or weeks.
- Put the pieces together. It’s vital to have a system in place that can keep your prospect data accurate and up to date. This includes, for example, the ability to append incoming lead-capture data to existing prospect records in your marketing database or aCRM system.
6. Score and prioritize the registrants from each event. Every B2B marketer knows that the leads generated at live events can run the spectrum from red hot to ice cold. That’s why it’s important to have a system in place that can evaluate leads based on key business criteria (job title, company name) and prioritize them for follow up. Better still, a robust lead scoring system can compare incoming leads against an existing database and identify other relevant behavior (such as content downloads or web site activity). Such a system can then decide whether to route a lead directly to sales, place it into a nurturing campaign, or discard it as irrelevant.
7. Plan a nurturing strategy for the contacts you connect with during events. Lead scoring, of course, also yields data that feed lead nurturing campaigns. Leads generated at online or in-person live events should be nurtured with appropriate content and well-timed touches. A webinar attendee, for example, could be offered additional webinars or white papers in a follow-up email, while a CEO attending a trade show could receive an invitation to an exclusive executive dinner or panel discussion.
9. Leverage social marketing. A “save the date” social media campaign should be timed to happen before you launch an email marketing campaign with specific registration or speaker information. Always monitor social media during and after your live events, and be sure to supply a Twitter hashtag for each event. This will give you an important real-time source of feedback on your live events, and in many cases you might even be able to respond during the event to address complaints or requests from your attendees.
10. Select your metrics and analyze your results. If the objective of an event is to generate leads, for example, then the number of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) compared to the total number of attendees is an important metric to track. You’ll want to track how many of these leads convert in the sales pipeline, how long they take to convert and how much revenue they generate – all key metrics for establishing ROI for your live events.
The more you do to integrate all of your marketing activities – and to employ closed-loop reporting with your sales team – the more visibility you’ll have into your ROI, and the more success you’ll have with your events.
For more thoughtful tips, we recommend the whitepaper “Introduction to Integrated Marketing: Online and In-Person Events.”