See this stack of business cards? These belong to a sales rep I used to work with. Each of these cards resulted from a connection he made at a tradeshow. He was great rep and in no way would I diminish his value. My challenge was I could never tie his value, and the revenue and opportunity he generated, to the actual event effort of my marketing organization. This was a problem for me, and it eventually became a problem for him when the company decided they were going to cut events in the next fiscal year. The majority of his demand generation, nurturing, and relationship building occurred at events, but we had no evidence, other than a stack of business cards, to support his argument.
Many companies face a similar challenge. Other than measuring pre-event and post-event engagement, organizations often struggle to define hard metrics around true event engagement. Even badge scans provide little more insight than traffic through a booth. Understanding true event interaction, and then taking action on that activity, is a goal for many manufacturing companies. Manufacturers invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into events every year, but most cannot directly attribute revenue to that investment. Certain is an event management platform that can now solve this problem.
Start With a Plan
It's imperative manufacturers identify their tradeshow goals, and that requires specificity. "Driving awareness" or "launching a new product" are not measurable. Clearly defined KPIs will align your organization, guide decision making, and allow the company to determine the true success of an event. You may state your goal as "talk with 10 industry analysts", "identify 15 new potential channel partners", or "generate 50 new sample opportunities". For many manufacturers, this required counting business cards or scrambling to collect data through other manual processes.
When planning your event strategy it's advised to consider all available channels. Use mailers, emails, hyper-sites, social media, and the phone. But also make sure you have processes in place to capture analytics against all channels. Understand what works and what doesn't. Traditionally, capturing engagement at the actual event is tedious and sometimes impossible. Successful engagement begins with personalization and with Certain you can deliver personalize event experiences designed to increase attendee engagement. You can recommend sessions, make connections and use tools like mobile applications to engage attendees with real-time session ratings, Twitter feeds and other social media integrations. Manufacturers can also provide attendees with access to personal agendas, event locations, venues and relevant content. It also provides the ability to interact, connect, and build relationships with other attendees and speakers as well as provide event feedback.
By enhancing the experience for attendees, manufacturers will see a measurable increase in engagement, and that engagement can be used to score and segment individuals into campaigns. Manufacturers can use this real-time data capture to funnel opportunities into the appropriate follow-up campaign. They can immediately add contacts into sample/trial campaigns, prospective partners can be added into channel partner recruitment campaigns, and disengaged partners could be added into a channel partner engagement campaign.
End With a Plan
After the event it's best practice to debrief and conduct an After Action Review. Each event stakeholder should provide 3 sustains and 3 improves. This may include select channel partners as well. Using the Certain event dashboard, manufacturers can evaluate the type of event, completed status, session attendance, session ratings, participant demographics and profiles, and cost. This data allows companies to truly measure against the defined KPIs. By analyzing these metrics manufacturers can evaluate how they compared with previous event benchmarks, what approaches, channels, and content resonated, and what product requests were made.
Because entry into follow-up campaigns can occur on the event floor, manufacturers can also begin to track the velocity of opportunity against trial and recruitment campaigns. This allows for a more complete post-event report containing successes, opportunities for improvement, analytics, leads, lead follow-up, and recommendations for future events. And because Certain provides automation capabilities, it's easy to incorporate, and then replicate, all those lessons learned into future events which saves time, resources, and money.
Manufacturing marketers can now support their sales organization, demonstrate return and savings to the business, and save a few trees by eliminating the business card pile and drawing on true engagement data.
How are you evaluating event engagement?