Blog by Marty Huisman, Owner of Markety, France
According to sources like Forrester and IDC TechWatch events are taking between 15 and 20% of B2B marketing budgets.
Events are the last standing remnant of “pre-digital” marketing but are still seen as the most important source for leads, brand awareness and interaction with target audiences. When asked to list the most effective marketing tactics, B2B marketers put events on top with a 75% score (source: MarketingProfs / Content Marketing Institute report 2015).
Despite the importance of events, a stunning 60% of B2B marketers have no clue how to measure their ROI. Meanwhile management pressure to justify marketing investments increases.
We observe a situation with plenty of contradictions: budget is spent on events of many kinds, marketing managers claim that these events are highly effective but are unable to proof that by showing ROI. And because they don’t know the event ROI they feel uneasy to answer questions like: “why should we participate to this exhibition?”, “what’s the use of holding another partner kick off next year?”.
How to turn this into an opportunity?
First let’s take events out of their “world apart” they often seem to exist in and integrate them with all other marketing tactics, acknowledging their position in various stages of the integrated sales and marketing funnel.
Then, develop an event strategy that ensures a measurable contribution of each event in various stages of the funnel. Define the ROI in relation to the events objective and decide how you will measure it. Events are held for many different reasons, from generating leads on trade shows to VIP-meetings with selected customers, from recruiting and training value added partners to product launches.
With all of that done, Eloqua and related apps from the Oracle Marketing AppCloud can be brought in to add real value. I recommend that, even if events require often quick reactions and modifications in the invitation phase, that you lay out the full event campaign approach and prepare ALL the assets (forms, emails, Landing Pages, Shared Lists) and program the event module – if you use it - in advance.
Carve out 2-3 days in your event preparation schedule to take care of this with your Eloqua expert(s), it will avoid mistakes when making changes “on the fly” and it will make you gain time and quality.
Below follow a few ideas that come on top of the regular Eloqua event campaign planning and execution.
- Before the event
As an event manager you are overwhelmed and pressure rises with every day the event comes nearer. Nevertheless: keep calm and plan ahead.
- Create segments with contacts that are in the right “funnel stage”, and who match criteria like lead score, function, Industry. Enrich the segment with contacts in nurturing campaigns fitting the event objective.
- Create the usual event invitation campaign and think about ways to extend its reach:
- Social Media outreach using Eloqua social media functionality. A helpful article http://marketingcube.com.au/2015/07/integrating-social-media-into-your-marketing-automation-campaigns/
- Announcements on partner and sponsor websites, equipped with query strings for tracking
- Providing invitation emails to sales through the Engage functionality of the Eloqua Sales Tools, ready to be send if a sales person talks to customers that fit the profile of invitees.
- Use the event registration form to capture upfront details about session participation or to set up meetings
- Send reminder emails to registrants and tailor information to their event registration profile using Dynamic Content.
- Provide a QR Code or a badge ready for print to speed up the check-in process on-site
2. During the event
Nothing beats in-person interaction to capture the behavior and feedback of prospects and customers. How to transfer this feedback to digitalized info? Here are some ideas that make your company look professional and that add to a memorable participant experience. Attention: make sure that you know upfront what you will do with the data that you collect (enrich the contact profile, spin-off follow-up) and involve your sales team to continue the conversation.
- Streamline registration with QR Code, badge or business card scans: Apps are available from the cloud to help do this
- Capture behavior of participants with specialized event apps like Event Farm, Akkroo or Certain which are tracking:
- Booth visits
- Break-out session participation
- Download of content from kiosks at the event
Ensure upfront that these event apps sync well with Eloqua so that you can instantly use the data they will provide
- Entice participants to leave “digital traces” through games, prize-draws, quizzes etc
- Propose a digital survey before participants leave the venue (and not as part of the follow-up email, which is often the case).
3. After the event
This is the moment of truth. Most event teams consist of marketing and sales staff who have other roles to play in their organizations than just taking care of events. The preparation of the event and the event itself carves out substantial time and energy. That energy is at its peak during the event and vanishes the moment the final participant leaves. The team is tired and takes a few days off, or even worse, stays in bed sick.
This is when leads get lost because nobody cares about follow-up, this is when collected data is left by the wayside because nobody is available to manage it.
How to resolve this?
In my experience this is about a certain mindset and upfront planning. Event teams should prepare themselves to stay “in place” a few more days immediately after the event to ensure that:
- Event attendee lists are correctly loaded into Eloqua for follow-up emails
- Collected data are integrated into Eloqua and the CRM (the data-expert should have this is her/his schedule and the event manager should work with her/him)
- Sales staff is triggered through the CRM system, based on rules set up-front, to re-connect with event participants within the week after the event.
- Immediate feedback is given to management about the results of the event. For objectives like “number of new leads”, “demo versions distributed”, “new partners recruited” reporting can be done immediately after the event. If you need to measure the closing of deals, reporting should be done during the timeframe that it usually takes to win a deal.
The Eloqua-based event ROI machine
Based on my experience in a European B2B context, much of the above can still be improved. It’s in the interest of marketing and sales performance that these improvements are done. Eloqua experts can play a concrete role in it, adding more value than they may think!
Supporting Eloqua classes:
- Basic Event Management
- Events in the Cloud
- Managing Social Media
- Managing Multi-City events
- Eloqua Sales Tools
- Closed Loop Reporting