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How to Execute Event Marketing like a Data-Driven Machine

We know you’re a data-driven marketer – a thoroughly Modern Marketing Maven. You have put together a powerful arsenal of marketing tools which include:  

  • Customized emails to nurture prospects through their buying journey, with nurturing tracks and lead scoring to tell you which ones are hot and which are not.
  • Content marketing assets, both static and video to engage, educate and inspire your readers.
  • SEO, pay-per-click and social programs to ensure that your messages are heard by your intended audience.

And of course, you’ve integrated those workflows so that Sales has the information to reach out to the right contact at the right time to achieve their goals and make happy customers out of curious contacts. Because you value data-driven decision-making, you’ve merged the data from each of these channels to inform your actions and evaluate the effectiveness of each campaign.

But what about events? While you and your sales team know events are a great way to interact with current and future customers, you still have no way to use the data collected at these events to drive campaigns. Nor do you have a way to attribute revenue to this resource-intensive marketing investment, or to show ROI from events. Like most B2B marketers, 30% of your marketing spend is allocated to events, but if you’re not sure if you’re maximizing the effect of this critical marketing tactic, you are not making the best use of the data collected with events, and you don’t have line of sight into the impact of these events.

This brings up two important questions: what steps can you be taking so that your event and marketing automation systems are in-sync and you capture valuable attendee insights? And secondly, what are the essential elements of the event lifecycle and how can you measure event success?

To help you answer these questions, we’ve developed an event marketing infographic so that you can see how you can leverage the data from events, prospect data from your marketing automation system, and customer data from your CRM system to accelerate sales, engage attendees, inform your marketing decisions, and demonstrate ROI for events. This infographic illustrates the relationships between systems before, during and after the event, and this information will help you craft your data strategy and attendee engagement approach so that you can do event marketing like a data-driven machine. (Click the link above or this box to view the infographic).

Click to view infographic

Stakeholders work together to define your audience and event objectives

Not all attendees are created equally, nor do they all have the same objectives. So you’ll want to identify your target audience: is your event designed for customers? Prospects? Partners? All of these? “Big tent” events typically include a wide variety of audience types. If this is the case for your event, you’ll want to ensure that you have specific definitions of success for each of those audiences. In addition, different stakeholders within your company may have different definitions of success, so giving yourself plenty of lead time to bring those stakeholders together to agree on success metrics will be critical.

The same can be said of event stakeholders – they may have different definitions of success as well. Stakeholder types for a big event may include: Sales, Marketing, Customer Success, Professional Services, Business Development, Product Management and others. Smaller events may include a subset of these. For either type of event, work with stakeholders to define different buying journeys for the attendee types which are of greatest interest to them. Then, define success for those attendee types.  

For example, Sales will want to convert prospects to customers.  They will focus on prospects who are far along in their buying journey. So, this stakeholder type will be measuring revenue.

Customer Success may be working towards customer satisfaction or cross-selling to an existing customer. Product Management may be seeking customer feedback with the ultimate goal of increasing NPS scores or additional product adoption. And of course, Marketing will likely define success in terms of number of leads.

Deliver a customized pre-event experience

Start with your marketing database of record to segment according to your intended audiences. This could include prospects, existing customers, various partners of all types, event sponsors, VIP’s, event staff and other employees. You will do your segmentation here and customize each message to the attendee type and their pre-event interactions. This is where the richness of your event data begins. Since registrants are typically more willing to share accurate information for an event than they are for other marketing channels, take this opportunity to ask questions regarding their preferences, use updated profile information to refresh your marketing database profiles, track who views your promotional video content and capture custom agenda items as your attendee builds their agenda – these are all interest indicators and buying signals!

Use customized landing pages for each participant type as well. Think about using profile and interest data to define and deliver custom-generated content as well as video to engage your attendees and build excitement around the event. Let your attendees “pre-build” a customized agenda by using a mobile app as a way to personalize the experience and allow you to collect more data prior to the event. Pre-schedule meetings during the event based on this information.

The big day is here!

At the event, collect attendee interest indicators and buying signals. These are collected through the initial badging process, badge scans at sessions, check-ins at pre-scheduled meetings, specific product areas or micro-events, badge scans at booths, at-event surveys at kiosks, polling questions during sessions, and appointment scheduling using your event app. Push this data into your marketing automation system so that you can take action in real time: request a follow-up appointment from the attendee, alert Customer Success of an unhappy user that they need to contact, text Sales that a prospect is broadcasting buying signals and to get to the meet-up location (stat!) to do an on-the-fly demo, notify the attendee of related sessions or assets related to their expressed interest, moving them along in their buying journey.   

After the event

Link your marketing database to your event management solution. Of course, your Marketing Automation system receives all this detailed data from the event management system. Now you have enhanced profile information for your attendees as well as interest and engagement data to use for lead scoring and nurturing as well as for analyzing the effectiveness of the event.

After the event, use all the information and interest signals to move your prospect through the sales cycle.  Do you need to reach out to schedule a demo, offer a related product or service, arrange a little more face time? The information gleaned about prospects at an event add color and texture to a prospect whose needs and interests could be otherwise somewhat opaque.  

So that Sales has all this “profile plus” information at their fingertips you will want to ensure that your marketing automation and CRM systems are synchronized in real time as well. Some organizations structure their marketing data architecture differently and maintain a master marketing database of record outside the operational systems of marketing automation or CRM, and synchronization of all operational systems is to that database. That works too!

Back to your attendee - since you have such good information about your attendees, you can send customized follow-up, rather than a generic “thank you.” Do thank them, but create value by including relevant information, advice, or recommendations.

Finally, do the analysis. What’s the ROI for the event? Because it’s all linked to specific prospects and you have included events in the map of each customer’s journey and tied it to revenue, you can include that event spend into your attribution model with all your other marketing activities. The result is credible ROI than can drive decision for future marketing investments.

Your events are no longer cost line items, they’re investments with a proven return and you have line of sight into the impact of all your marketing programs — whether digital marketing campaigns or face to face events.  So start planning your next event like a data-driven machine!

Since marketing automation is a key part of this data-driven process, download the Marketing Automation Simplified guide to get your machine up and running.

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