Leveraging Tech to Create Meaningful Connections: Q&A With Ann Handley, Part 2

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In Part 1 of our Q&A series with Ann Handley, best-selling author and Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs, we talked about the eruption of marketing technology over the past few years, and how customer expectations for events have shifted as a result.

We continue the conversation with Part 2 of our series, in which Ann discusses how marketers can utilize data for hyper-personalization and bridge the gap between sales and marketing teams to ensure event attendees translate into loyal customers.

Q: What kinds of data should marketers be thinking about capturing from their customers and prospects at events? What is the value of this data? How should marketers think about using intent data? 

A: Too many event exhibitors still hoard attendee email addresses—they gather and load up as many as they possibly can like it’s an arms race, or a Thanksgiving dinner plate!

A better approach is to ask a preference question or two to start to personalize and segment right from the show floor get-go. There’s a million ways to do this, of course: interactive games, photo booths, giveaways; or 10 minutes inside a pen full of puppies in exchange for a data capture.

Then event planners must begin to think through what happens next. I go to a lot of events. My badge gets scanned at every one of them. Yet, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been offered real value from a follow-up email that always arrives in my inbox a day or a week later.

Put your product in the context of my life. Give me a reason to care. Offer me something I want and would value.

What I rarely get: A must-read newsletter, a useful guide produced with personality, excellent writing and a strong voice, or, a crackin’ podcast you think I’d like.

What I usually get: A lightly customized sales message with a Calendly link to book an appointment to talk about “Your Important Thing.”

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Q: What role do you see technology playing in building a bridge between traditionally siloed sales and marketing teams, allowing them to work together? 

A: Technology can offer greater transparency across the entire organization, and greater transparency equals greater collaboration.

Tech can absolutely help sales and marketing get on the same page by giving them a centralized, universal system of record. The effectiveness of any technology depends on its ease of use and adoption, of course, as well as an agreement on how to use it. Again, easy to say; tough to do.

For marketers to create meaningful connections with event attendees, as Ann suggests, they must use data in smart ways to create personalized follow-up materials that will leave an impression. Customers recognize individualized content when they see it (just like they notice when a company’s communications are stale and generic). With the right data, sales and marketing teams can align on each customer’s preferences in order to exceed expectations and create lasting impact for the business.

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