Why Events are Essential to Your B2B Demand Generation Strategy
It’s time to add event marketing to your B2B demand generation strategy. Reports from Statista show that “44% of marketers experience a 3:1 ROI from event marketing.” Today’s marketer and demand generation specialist must embrace the tools and tactics that stimulate demand generation and grow sales. Event automation is one of those essential tools, allowing you to customize your events, engage prospects, and achieve marketing goals and increased sales.
Demand Generation Strategy for B2B Marketers
HubSpot defines demand generation strategy as the marketing system and engine used to bridge the gap between your company’s sales and revenue options. Demand generation encompasses everything that generates excitement about your company, products, and services. It includes both inbound and outbound marketing. As a B2B marketer, your demand generation strategy should contain a variety of tactics aimed to produce qualified sales opportunities.
What’s your goal as a demand generation specialist and B2B marketer? To build and nurture quality leads as well as create long-term customer relationships, while establishing your company as an influencer and thought leader in your industry.
Why Are Events Important for B2B Demand Generation Strategy?
83% of B2B marketers are invested heavily in events, according to MarketingCharts. An effective B2B marketing event can range from a boardroom meeting with a dozen prospects to a live webinar or a full-scale tradeshow event with panels, forums, and industry leaders as keynote speakers. An in-person event, regardless of size or venue, gathers a specific, targeted group to acknowledge the common problems faced by businesses or an industry and then offers a solution for those issues.
Common event marketing types include but are not limited to:
- Classroom or roadshow-style seminars
- Webinars (can be presented during a conference or tradeshow)
- Live-streaming demonstrations or product launches
In-person events also may include a breakfast, lunch, or dinner event for a smaller group (less than 20) or mid-size groups that comfortably fit any standard banquet room.
While planning an event does take time, effort, and know-how, in-person events are integral for your demand generation strategy for multiple reasons.
Events Establish Interest
A successful B2B demand generation strategy needs diverse tactics designed to generate interest in a company, product, or service. These may include but are not limited to:
- White papers
- Content-driven blogs
- Digital video demonstrations or testimonials
- PPC (Pay-Per-Click) campaigns
Events offer an additional and proven strategy as an interest-establishing tactic. In a basic lead generation model, events fall about mid-way down the funnel. Your target group has issues that need to be addressed and/or solved and an event is a viable way to share the information needed to resolve those issues. As people and businesses register for the event, interest in your company’s message or solution builds.
Any size or type of event organically grows interest in your campaign as the event develops and the interest reach extends beyond registered participants. As you work to increase the number of event attendees, make use of multiple touch points such as phone calls, letters, email, social media posts, and even text reminders for those who opt-in. Half of all event marketers state that getting responses to the initial invitation is one of the biggest challenges. If communication lags, numbers fall.
Events Create Essential Two-way Dialogue
Many consumers, businesses, and individuals today have become almost immune to traditional marketing techniques. A static image or text-only social media post rarely is enough to stimulate interest. It’s video and personal interaction that command attention and work to move leads through your demand generation funnel.
Targeted audiences respond more favorably to video, which also helps create a stronger, lasting impression. According to Ooyala, about midway through 2015 the rate for mobile video plays surpassed 44%. This number is up a full 74% from 2014 and a staggering 844% from 2012.
An in-person event takes this concept to the next level. It allows you as a demand generation specialist to place your prospects in the same room with influential speakers to facilitate a two-way dialogue through Q & A sessions, hands-on demonstrations, and interactive displays.
Independent, keynote speakers are a crucial component — more than 50% of event professionals state their attendees desire greater interaction with speakers at events. These speakers can present real-life examples of businesses that have failed to find solutions to the problems your company regularly solves, opening up discussion and creating two-way dialogue.
At a B2B event, most attendees were already in or about to enter your marketing and sales pipeline. So, dialogue between your attendee and speakers has the potential to accelerate their journey through the pipeline to a full conversion.
Events Deliver SALs (Sales Accepted Leads)
Dynamic keynote speakers, Q & A session leaders, and expert panelists have the ability to personally connect with your event attendees. With attendees engaged in a successfully open two-way dialogue, your event now has the opportunity to funnel prospects more quickly through the buying process, delivering SALs naturally. For example:
Look to event automation for Q & A sessions instead of having to pass the microphone around for a more interactive, effective approach.
- Attendees ask their questions through a mobile app, which equals zero interruptions during presentation
- Participants see questions and any duplicates, giving them the ability to upvote for question order
- Questions are easily moderated for panelists
- Questions are synced to the asker’s profile for sales lead follow-up
Events also have the ability to deliver SALs via automated polls and session surveys, which help identify qualified leads to your sales team. Event automation can be used for both polls and session surveys. Before the event, create a poll for the speaker to launch mid-way through his or her presentation. This increases engagement and makes it easier for your team to gather essential data regarding audience feedback and interest. Additionally, this type of live polling helps tailor the presentations for later sessions to ensure all delivered content is relevant.
Engaging Events states that 30% of the technology created for events for the last two years is live interaction technology.
Post-event surveys can be effective, but with event automation you can launch a survey immediately following the session to gather feedback while the experience and information is still fresh in the attendees’ minds. Launch a satisfaction survey at the end of each session and use the data to adjust the content for improved delivery during later sessions or as points to address for future event organization.
Events Enable Easy Cross-channel Campaign Integration
Events today offer fully digitized experiences through advanced technology. This tech is essential for a truly informative, interactive, and personal experience. Your attendees expect a high-level event and a high-level event allows for easy cross-channel campaign integration.
Whether it’s termed cross-channel marketing, omni-channel, or multi-channel, it’s at the heart of your demand generation strategy. You must engage with prospects through every channel and device for a successful campaign. The event provides an ideal source for feeding relevant content into each marketing channel.
Before and especially during the event, promote across multiple channels:
- Create a hashtag for the event and encourage its usage during all event stages
- Add social media share buttons to every blog
- Automate (if it’s not already) a portion of your social media to facilitate a larger reach
- Offer relevant content downloads such as recorded live sessions from the event through automated email or your website
- Create a QR code for attendees to scan before and/or during the event for relevant content
Effective integration of social media and automated email are just the beginning. Event automation tools not only offer total branding control for your cross-channel integration, but they also enable the delivery of a completely unique and satisfying attendee experience uninhibited by cumbersome registration or scheduling interfaces. Your attendees rely on mobile apps for everything from ordering lunch to booking a flight, now give them the ability to:
- Easily access their personal event schedule from mobile device or laptop
- Access important information for event locations and area points of interest
- Receive up-to-date listings of event activities and times for speakers
- Receive suggestions for sessions, activities, or networking opportunities during the event
- Enjoy event-specific interaction with other attendees
- Provide event feedback easily
Events Position Your Company as an Industry Thought Leader
Hosting an event as part of your demand generation strategy is more than just moving leads through the pipeline or funnel. It’s about positioning your company or organization as an influencer and an industry thought leader.
It all starts with the event invitation. It must be well-written and focused on a relevant topic or theme that directly impacts your target audience — the prospective attendees. Show them your company knows the topic and has the solution to the problem the target audience faces. Even if they’re unable to attend, you’ve now placed your company in a forward position as an industry thought leader with accessible solutions.
During any size event, the demand generation specialist can work to further position their company as an industry thought leader by presenting a qualified solution to an issue or problem as a simple, accessible model. Offer actionable tips and theories, complex or other, tailored to each target audience for maximum retention and usability. Use your expert speakers to help validate and solidify the company’s theory/model/solution.
Events Create a Powerful, Lasting Impression
Events build brand awareness and a successful event also creates a powerful, lasting impression within its industry. Providing your attendees with a viable solution for a problem(s), sharing knowledge, and offering a personalized experience help to create an unforgettable event for all attendees. Because many events of this nature also are attended by members of the media, plan to reach out to these journalists, editors, and industry bloggers in advance. Schedule a meeting, arrange for interviews with your keynote speakers, and provide press packets.
Develop Event Goal Benchmarks Early
For an event to be a successful part of your B2B demand generation strategy, you must develop realistic goals with benchmarks clearly defined. From the earliest planning stage, set a specific ROI (return-on-investment) goal. The overall ROI goal should extend beyond registration and attendance numbers. To do this in the initial event planning stages, define specifics to what and how ROI will be measured as well as when — after first registration deadline? During promos? Throughout the event? After the event? Benchmarks need to be defined clearly and at the earliest stage in order for data collection to begin.
What is your primary objective? Do you have secondary objectives? If your primary objective is to qualify sales leads, then your metrics used to measure the ROI may include the number of actual qualified leads obtained and the total cost per each qualified lead.
If the primary objective is to establish awareness through the event, then the number of attendees does become an important ROI metric. Pre-event and post event coverage plus the number of press/media mentions becomes another important metric when awareness is the primary or even a secondary objective.
As a demand generation specialist, it’s essential to be able to provide quantitative results to illustrate the success of your event.
Are You Ready to Plan an Event as Part of Your Demand Generation Strategy?
Event marketing offers many rewards to a demand generation specialist. When planning, especially that first event, be sure to establish a comprehensive plan, enlist the skills and expertise of other departments, find the balance between staff needed and the attendee number, and never lose sight of deadlines or the budget. Estimate the time needed to plan effectively for an event to be about five to eight weeks depending on the size of event and staff available for coordination.
B2B demand generation strategy that incorporates event marketing works as a tactic to establish interest in your company, product, or service. It also has the ability to attract and secure new leads, enhance your cross-channel integration efforts, and position your company as an industry thought leader while creating an impactful, lasting impression upon your attendees and target audience.