In an effort to educate and engage, many organizations develop programs that offer Continuing Education Units (CEUs) or re-certification credits. These are not industry professional organizations. Oftentimes they are manufacturers offering CEUs to engineers, architects, technical professionals, or clinicians. Many manufacturers recommend that their products are installed by certified specialists. Training sessions from these companies are normally awarded CEUs.
Manufacturers like Bernard Dalsin Manufacturing Co., Hargrove Manufacturing Corp., Travis Industries, Inc. and Hanley Wood host educational workshops at events, conduct onsite hands-on training, or conduct virtual training. The attendees can learn about the product offerings of the company, train on how to use the product, and also earn credits towards their certifications. The manufacturers increase their opportunity to engage, provide helpful how-to information, and also establish themselves as a partner in the industry.
But for many manufacturers these practices remain siloed in university-type departments and not integrated with the marketing and sales organization. Below are 6 practices that will unify educational programs with sales and marketing initiatives.
- Capture CEU Event Registration Details: Because of the requirements of many associations responsible for certification, tracking of contact information, specifically the state in which they practice, is essential. Some regulations even dictate what can be spent on each attendee, and attendees from various states can fall under different policy guidelines. Event coordinators may have to report on travel, lodging, and catering costs for each of those attendees.
- Capture CEU Requirements: Understand the licensing and certification requirements for each attendee. Many associations have different certification levels requiring varying credit hours. Have the attendee specify what certification they have, when they were initially certified, when their annual credits must be submitted, and how many they’ve earned to-date. This will allow you to segment your communications appropriately, reference credit level and opportunity using dynamic content in communications, and time notifications to potential attendees when most relevant to their certification lifecycle.
- Capture Attendance Digitally: When conducting sessions at events, far too often I see people place a pad of paper at the front of the room and ask attendees to sign in. Many attendees overlook the paper and forget to sign-in, or the information provided is illegible or incomplete. Through digital sign-in you can immediately capture attendees in your marketing automation and CRM systems. Sales can see who attended each event and marketing can deliver real-time follow-up confirming attendance, awarding of credits, and delivery of follow-up communications.
- Automate Post-Event Follow-up: Whether you have 5 people attend an event, or 100 people attend, providing real-time follow-up will result in increased engagement. For many companies, it's difficult to remember each conversation and deliver relevant content to that attendee, days after the event occurred. Using an Eloqua Cloud App like Certain, attendees can automatically be entered into targeted post-event nurture tracks. Ask for event feedback as well as suggestions for future events. By providing real-time event follow-up you can increase engagement, further relationships, and ultimately generate new revenue.
- Nurture Event Relationships: It's important to nurture event relationships by providing relevant content in the weeks following the event. Provide content associated with topics covered at the event. This can be in the form of articles, blogs, reports, white papers, infographics, and video. Offering valuable content and providing an opportunity to select subscription preferences, or opt-out of such communications, is a best practice.
- Don't Forget Non-Attendees: It's important not to neglect those who could not attend the event. Offering digital content from the event, like videos of speakers and presentations, as well as the post-event nurture content, can result in new opportunity for the organization. You should include information about upcoming certification courses and provide opportunities to register for a certification series, as opposed to one-off courses.
By incorporating these 6 tips, you can better automate communications, capture information for future segmentation and understand the preferences of your audience. This insight will allow you to more effectively communicate relevant content and foster relationships, resulting in a more positive experience for the attendee, and ultimately drive revenue.
If you're an organization that executes these programs, what best practices do you exercise to get the most out of the program and deliver the best experience to the attendee?