Better Tools and Personalization Can Boost Your Event Marketing

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Define your ideal attendees. It can be through key target accounts, verticals, titles or roles. Then develop a thoughtful strategy around how you want to reach them, engage them, and, eventually, convert them.

That's one of the biggest takeaways from the 2018 State of B2B Event Marketing, a report from the event-automation firm Certain and Heinz Marketing. Here are more takeaways from the popular report:

Meet with sales early to smooth the process. "The lead hand-off to sales is arguably the most critical point in an event's lifespan," says the report. "However, over half of B2B professionals report that this hand-off is ineffective. When leads are either lost or inappropriately assigned to sales, it hinders marketing's pipeline accountability, prevents the sales team's ability to close deals, and affects the likelihood of future events."

Employ better tools. When asked to rate the effectiveness of the mix of technologies and resources being used to plan and manage events, only 25% of B2B pros ranked their mixes as effective, with a majority ranking their mixes as somewhat effective. However, B2B professionals who use an event mobile app and event automation platform rank those tools as very effective.

Use your social media and your speakers'. During an event build-up, hashtags become marketers' favorite tactic, and other options, such as event apps and social content are used more frequently. For their 2018 Social Shake-Up, Access Intelligence's PR News marketing team designed email HTML, social media graphics and text for each partner and speaker to distribute to their lists. Discount codes were also assigned to track conversions. Read more about that here.

Automate as much as possible. Surprisingly, nearly 50% of B2B professionals report having to manually upload lists of contacts to their CRM or marketing automation platform. A manual task like that puts one's entire event strategy at-risk. Sales not only has to wait for the list to be uploaded, but also has the added concern of whether or not the data was uploaded correctly.

Send personal invites to key prospects and customers. This can greatly impact your registration and attendance rates. Use your data on what the recipient has interests in to provide suggestions for sessions to attend, activities to sign up for or content that may interest them. 

Personalize follow-ups. Next year's event marketing begins quickly. "Use the data you captured at your event to personalize your follow-up and sales tactics," the report urges. Kristina Dorsey, client director at CQ Roll Call, told us once that she sends handwritten thank-you notes for high-dollar clients—something she learned from her mother. "I realized pretty quickly that this goes a long way," she said.

Take the lead on a topic. Your event follow-up presents a good time to "demonstrate thought leadership... Close to 50% of people use content marketing in their follow-up to event attendees, and of those 50%, 2 in 3 find it highly effective in continuing the conversation and leading to new business" and next year's conference.

Build relationships after the event. "Achieving ROI from events is not [just] about attending the event as much as it's about growing those relationships post-event. B2B marketers with a comprehensive strategy for nurturing post-event are better able to tie revenue to events," said Ardath Albee, CEO at Marketing Interactions. Create a webinar on the event's most attended topic. Use your forum to keep the conversation going. Event marketing has become a 24/7 business.

You can download the full report here.

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…