According to Forrester, on average B2B marketing organizations spend 18% of their budget on in-person events (conferences, trade shows, summits, field events, etc.). And Certain’s Event Marketing Benchmark Report put this percentage even higher at 25%.
Even if we go with Forrester’s more conservative estimate of 18%, this still indicates B2B marketing teams spend more on events than on any other demand generation or marketing technology investment. Yet, as we all know, prepping for, managing and following up on events remains one of the most manual, task intensive elements of demand generation marketing.
In fact, 70% of marketers say they’re not satisfied with the time it takes them to follow up with leads after an event (Certain) and 75% of leads are never followed-up with after an exhibition (The Marketing Donut).
One Of The Best Webinars I’ve Seen On B2B Event Marketing
Yesterday, Emily Wingrove of Synthio, Frances McCutchon of PFL and Kate Athmer of Integrate put on what in my opinion was an extremely insightful, helpful webinar on how to get more out of your marketing events. You can access the on-demand webinar here.
Further, Kate plans to write a follow-up post that dives deeper into answering the number of great questions asked at the end of the webinar. You’ll want to look out for that.
In the meantime, I thought it may be helpful to jot down the webinar’s primary takeaways and what I thought was the most helpful advice.
Mobilizing Your Target Accounts, Prospects & Customers
While all three presenters had differing tactics for reaching out to target audiences, prospects and current customers, they all agreed that it’s critical to have a clear-cut, cross-departmental plan well before the event.
Events are certainly a good place to generate net-new leads, but more importantly, they allow you to get the critical face time that likely does more than anything else to move prospects down the funnel and create opportunities and increase sales pipeline. Both Synthio and PFL have great products and services that help with precisely this concern:
- Synthio appends data to the attendee list that most event organizers provide, making the data far more actionable so you can personalize pre-event messaging and engagement tactics to get the much-needed face time.
- PFL helps act on these personalized strategies, mixing physical mail with digital tactics to give you a leg up on all the vendors competing for attention in the weeks before the event.
The main idea here is that events are just as important for mid- and low-funnel conversions as they are for generating net-new demand.
Who Should Attend Events?
One of the webinar polls showed that 89% of webinar participants sent sales reps to events, 72% sent marketers, and 54% sent executive team members. However, only 41% sent reps from product/development team, and a mere 15% sent a customer success practitioner.
Now, “customer success” is relatively new team designation; so that may contribute to the low response. But Emily, Frances and Kate all agreed that ensuring that someone in this role (i.e., a person who works with customers on a daily basis, troubleshooting and working through common technical issues) is consistently the most important person to have at an event.
As Frances noted, her customer success rep frequently uses the line, “I’m not the sales guy – I’m the guy that’s going to make you successful.” And I know from personal experience, that Integrate’s main customer success guy, Justin Eisner, is typically the most important person we send to events.
Making The Most Of Your Time At The Event
Remember Your Event Goals
Your goal shouldn’t be the number of badges you scan, or even qualified leads. Rather, your goal should be creating sales opportunities. This includes everything from generating net-new leads to converting contacts into new opps, and planting seeds into current customers about additional products or services to getting customers to intro you to other accounts. In each of these cases, obtaining the right data is key, which leads to the next point…
Take Notes…And Handle Them Like Winning Lottery Tickets
We’ve all been there; on the first day, we’re gung-ho, jotting down information like a 1950s beat reporter. Then all the booth preparation starts paying off, the drinks start flowing, we become inundated with all the people around, and we immediately go into just-scan-as-many-people-as-possible mode.
All these scans may look better on the immediate lead file we get at the end of the event, but it’s all superficial data. And there’s no way you’re going to remember every conversation you had. The notes are what allow us to correctly prioritize, route and follow-up with the individuals we meet.
A few great ideas for ensuring you obtain and don’t lose all the important info you gain:
- Have a list of questions, relevant to the event and your marketing team’s specific qualifiers, ready and in the hands of each team member before the event.
- Have the tools to take the notes. Most events have scanners, but you usually won’t have enough for when it gets busy at the booth. Either get a backup scanner, bring tablets or even just index cards to ensure you have something to take notes on. PFL has these pretty cool business card holders that have space on the back for notes and a check box of various profiling questions.
- Have a system for prioritizing contacts. Emily at Synthio discussed how they use an academic scoring system (e.g., A, B+, C-, etc.) for prioritization, which helps them route leads to the right nurture track or sales follow-up queue.
It’s a good idea to have all this planned out in advance, and make sure that every attendee (from each department) understands the tactics and tools at their disposal.
Refining and Routing Event Data To Make It As Actionable As Possible
So, you scanned as many interested, non-swag-grabbers as possible and took enough notes to make your freshman year world history professor weep with pride. Now what?
Cleaning The Data
There may have been some great conversations that led you or others on your team to scan certain people, only to later find out that they’re outside your target audience (e.g., wrong geo, company size, title, etc.). Or, you have to deal with duplicate lead data and how you want to leverage. Injecting any of such data blindly can muddy the waters of your database, skew conversion metrics and basically just make everyone’s job a lot more difficult. Ensuring that incorrect or duplicate lead data doesn’t get into your database is tiresome work, but it must be done. Integrate’s software helps with this, so it’s always a good idea to check out our Events Solution if this is consistent problem for you.
Enhancing The Data
The notes you take are extremely helpful, but it usually won’t get you everything you need. Appending contact info with firmographic and social data can really help you correctly prioritize, route and follow-up with leads, which in turn will increase sales pipeline value and event ROI. Both Synthio and Integrate can help here.
Following Up With Contacts
Rethink the “Thanks for coming email” and instead work to ensure your follow-up is relevant, personalized and scalable. PFL has a great solution to help with this, sending physical mail packages to once again make sure your post-event impression is a cut above the rest.
Further, more than just the messaging itself, it’s important to have a set nurturing process set up in advance. Here’s Synthio’s, which is sophisticated, but not overly complex.
The points above only scratch the surface of what was discussed during the webinar, so if you have the time, I recommend watching. Emily, Frances and Kate dove pretty deep into different ways of measuring event ROI, which merits a blog post of its own. More to come so subscribe to the Integrate Blog here if you haven’t already.