The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is known for hosting one of the largest conferences in the US, featuring over 650 sessions held across six hotels. The conference is also live-streamed for virtual attendees, attracting thousands of participants. Recently, the organizers received praise on Twitter for creating a seamless conference experience. However, AERA is not alone in its success. Over the past decade, numerous organizations have scaled their events to this magnitude, recognizing the value of events as a crucial element of their marketing strategies.
As we enter conference season, event marketers are busy preparing for their sales teams’ attendance. It is essential to evaluate whether the efforts put into endless badge scans at these events lead to measurable business outcomes or if they are simply a waste of marketing resources.
In this article, we will cover various topics related to incorporating events into your B2B marketing strategy. These include using events to enrich your marketing efforts, gathering valuable behavioral data from events, selecting the right metrics to measure success, achieving marketing goals through events, and tactics to avoid when incorporating events.
Events are often seen as expensive investments, but they are necessary because they attract prospects and generate business. However, measuring the impact of events is not always straightforward. The leads generated at events may not convert immediately, or at all. This does not mean that events are a waste of effort, but rather indicates a failure to align events with overall business KPIs. It is essential to prioritize events as opportunities to build community and strengthen consumer relationships, not just as a means to drive sales. Evaluating brand awareness, behavioral data, and feedback from prospects are crucial for maximizing the benefits of events.
Event marketers should be willing to take calculated risks in their event marketing strategies to optimize returns. Being aware of the current event landscape and adapting accordingly can lead to positive outcomes. For example, Harbor Wholesale, one of our clients, transitioned their traditional in-person trade show to a virtual event. Although they were initially concerned about losing vendor confidence and missing out on sales, this strategic adjustment helped them increase sales by 35% compared to their previous in-person event. In addition to increased sales, they were also able to expand their reach, save costs, engage more effectively, and collect valuable first-party data.
Data gathering is becoming more challenging as the use of third-party cookies declines. First-party data has become crucial for marketers to understand their consumers, position their products and services effectively, and close feedback loops. Hosting events provides an excellent opportunity to capture data from attendees who are already familiar with your brand or are seeking solutions to their challenges. By leveraging the right event technology, you can streamline data collection and analysis, making it easier to track and measure data at multiple touchpoints.
To make the most of your events, it is essential to utilize various touchpoints throughout the event. These include using registration forms to collect attendee information, tracking individual user journeys, monitoring attendance, conducting polls and surveys, reviewing chat room activity, and analyzing session attendance. These touchpoints provide valuable insights into attendee engagement and preferences, helping you tailor content and experiences for your target audience.
One of our recent success stories involved working with Metaschool, a Web3 startup. They wanted to launch their program to a larger group of web developers and decided to create virtual boot camps. By leveraging the vFairs platform and implementing a comprehensive strategy, they were able to increase attendance by 60% and grow their participant pool by 35% per session over 11 months. Their success demonstrates the power of delivering tailored content through events.
Events also provide a platform for nurturing existing relationships and forging new connections. By inviting existing customers to events designed specifically for their interests and needs, you reinforce customer loyalty. At vFairs, we host an annual user conference called DiscoverNext, which focuses on issues within the event technology space. By inviting both clients and prospects, we generated a 13x ROI based on registration numbers. Additionally, events offer the perfect opportunity to unveil new products and services to potential customers, leaving them with a positive perception of your brand.
While events can be beneficial, they require proper planning and research. Hosting events without a solid plan often leads to disappointing results. In-depth research helps identify your target audience and their pain points, allowing you to create personalized experiences and content that resonates with them. It also helps determine the right event format, whether in-person, virtual, or hybrid, based on your audience’s preferences and limitations. Proper research enables strategic decision-making regarding session formats and interactive elements to enhance the impact of your event.
In conclusion, events are a valuable component of a B2B marketing plan. By aligning events with overall business objectives, gathering and analyzing data, and delivering tailored content, you can maximize the impact of your events and achieve your marketing goals.