7 Secrets to Events That Outperform Expectations
Since events are such a large part of your marketing mix, you want to make sure that you are thinking about all the details. Here are 7 secrets to make sure that your events are consistently outperforming expectations.
1. Set realistic and targeted goals up front.
ROI is not just something you consider after the event, you must plan for ROI from the outset and continue measuring ROI after the event. Your goals should not be limited to only registration and attendance models. The best goals will get into pipeline and revenue impact.
Build a model up-front to understand the sensitivities of your event ROI based on various metrics. For instance, if you hold an event that is well-attended by the wrong people, you will increase your costs without impacting revenue. Your model may show that the percentage of qualified attendees tends to be a high indicator of success (this sensitivity may only be relevant for physical events, as virtual events are less costly).
You also want to use the model to understand potential scenarios, ie., best case, worst case, and risk. By preparing for all of these, you can proactively identify and manage risks up front. The best event programs incorporate intentional measurement strategies in advance, that means you should define what, when, and how you will measure during your initial planning phase so you have a benchmark to work with.
2. Incorporate a strong theme and be creative.
Whether you are partaking in a virtual or physical event, delivering a cohesive look and feel helps create a seamless brand experience. Even with a virtual event you will have to think about how your booth looks, how you present your collateral, and what sort of contests you might want to incorporate. Hold a brainstorming session with your team to come up with viable ideas. And remember to think about all of the potential elements such as booth staffing uniforms, promotional materials, swag, and other collateral.
It’s not enough to just have a presence at an event. In a sea of vendors, how do you make your booth a smashing success? You want to create a presence that compels someone to stop, not just walk by. Consider using games or interactive tools as a way to pique the interest of attendees. Cool swag giveaways are also a great way to entice someone to enter.
3. Include multiple touches in your promotion.
When putting so much time and energy into planning your event, you want to make sure that you do the promotion right. To generate the highest amount of registrants, you need a mix of email, social, public relations, and other types of paid promotions to get the biggest bang for your buck. By communicating with your audience early and often leading up to the event, you will have a better turnout as your event will be top of mind for your attendees.
Finding the right number of times for email promotions for an event has a great deal to do with the type of event you are promoting. For a larger tradeshow you should send a series of promotional emails starting roughly a month before the event, and spaced a week or so apart from one another to allow people to plan accordingly. Take a look at a sample event multi-touch promotional schedule:
4. Segment your promotions to reach the right audience
No matter what sort of promotion you are using, segmentation is vital to getting the right attendees registered for your event. Make sure you spend time on data quality to ensure that the lists can be reused in the future. For segmentation you want to focus on demographics like:
- Job title
“The most overlooked strategy when segmenting promotions is the testing of marketing messages. Test a variety of different messages before pushing out your entire campaign. Will your audience respond better to messages about giveaways, educational clinics or product testing? You don't know until you test.”
- Teri Ross, Digital Marketing Strategist, yourCMTO, @yourCMTO
5. Include Social Media in Your Event Plans
Being active on social networks before, during, and after your event is crucial for success. Since events are in real-time, attendees often use social networks to engage with other participants in a live environment. Here are a few channels you should think about engaging attendees through:
- Twitter: Twitter is a powerful tool for not only marketing and promoting your events, but also engaging and connecting with the attendees in real-time. You will want to set up a hashtag, schedule a series of tweets, build twitter lists, and remember to live tweet.
- Facebook: Because Facebook is so visual, it is a great place to promote your events using eye-catching graphics. Begin posting 2-3 weeks before events and use a mix of custom graphics, memes, and images taken at the event to encourage attendees to register.
- Google+: The Google+ events feature allows users to send out customized invitations and syncs with Google calendar when a user confirms. You can also leverage Google Hangouts to get influencers, prospects, customers, and other attendees in the same place discussing event highlights.
- LinkedIn: Use LinkedIn to promote your registration page and use LinkedIn groups to get some additional traction.
- Foursquare: Leverage foursquare at en event to drive traffic to a physical location while using gamification to build buzz.
6. Be the first to follow-up with attendees and non-attendees alike.
Making sure of proper event follow-up will set you apart from the competition and keep you fresh in the minds of your prospects. Always plan your follow-up strategy before the event begins—email follow-ups should be written and designed, offers should be decided on, and any other call-downs should be planned.
Here are the steps you should consider when designing your follow-up campaigns:
- Lead List and Qualification: The lead list is a critical aspect of any event and lists should be created either directly after the show or every night after the exhibit hall closes.
- Email Follow-up: All email follow-ups should be written before the event takes place. Reading event synopsis, session descriptions, and blog posts will help you craft the email messaging.
- Lead Nurturing and Scoring: Lead nurturing and scoring are critical for a comprehensive event lead management strategy. Continue engaging event attendees through lead nurturing, and score new leads appropriately after events.
7. Base measurement around proving ROI.
When it comes to measuring ROI, every company is unique in their level of sophistication and what they want to track. But where do you start? Below are three different levels of measurements.
Good: Basic Progression Measurement
By measuring the progression statuses of your attendees, you can determine metrics such as invited, registered, attended, and no show. Make sure you are measuring these basic metrics, if nothing else.
Better: Leads by Category
In addition to your basic progression statuses, you should be measuring leads by where they are in your revenue cycle and lead category. In other words, how attractive are these attendees to you? In the chart below you can see that there were 1,433 attendees to one of Marketo’s recent Roadshow events. Of those, 669 were people we considered in-profile prospects worthy of pipeline development, 32 were current leads, 130 were current opportunities, and 408 were current customers. The ROI of the event will be different for each of these categories: pipeline creation, deal acceleration, and up-sell/retention.
Best: Pipeline Measurements
Of the people who attended your show, you ideally want to determine how many opportunities were created, how much pipeline, how many were closed/won and for how bookings, and cost per opportunity (CPO). The event should only get credit for pipeline if the opportunities were created after the event attendance dates. Bookings should only count if the deal was won after the attendance dates. And the ultimate event marketing success measurement is pipeline-to-spend—how much pipeline can be allocated to the event divided by what you invested in the event.