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How to Make Events Work Harder

By Jun 30, 2014

By Betsy Zikakis

The nature of live events creates unique problems for marketers. Events are one of the few marketing channels that have yet to be fully digitized. However, on average, they represent 28% of the total marketing budget. That’s a lot of investment going into an area of marketing that is often overlooked in the marketing mix.

Marketers can make these dollars work harder by integrating events like other marketing channels—in the process, realizing some key outcomes:

event marketingUsing existing data to transform the event experience and streamline processes, optimizing sales and marketing follow-up, gaining real-time insight into attendee behavior, engagement and interest and effectively measuring the ROI of event spend

To accomplish these goals, marketers need to integrate event management technology and marketing automation in a way that allows them to do what they do best: segment audiences, deliver targeted messages, drive attendee behavior and track overall results.

How do Event Technology and Marketing Automation Work Together?

As marketers tap into the information stored in their marketing automation systems, they discover what is relevant in affecting the results of their events. They can uncover where each attendee is in the buying journey, expand demographic profiles for each attendee, and reveal attendees’ true interests.

Marketers can achieve these results by collecting such data as:

* Prospect or customer status
* Specific interests in products, uses or best practices
* Products already purchased
* Current target or customer segments
* Company size
* Company industry
* Individual areas of expertise
* Customer advocacy

With attendee data pulled into the event management platform, marketers can effectively engage each individual attendee and actively direct behavior to help attendees take the “next best step” during the event.

Let’s take a closer look into how marketers are getting events to work harder for the attendee’s goals and the goals of the event manager or organizer:

1. Managing multiple attendee types

There is no longer a one-size-fits-all mentality for events. Marketers are managing attendees on an individual basis, sorting by such defining characteristics as size, industry, customer type, engagement, and interests.

2. Target desired attendee behavior

For each attendee type, marketers can determine the desired behavior that will benefit both the attendee and the organization. For example, a customer may be looking to further his business processes and can do so by upgrading to the next tier of a product line or by adding additional functionality. Another attendee may be looking to simply get acquainted with available solutions and will require a different track of sessions and connections.

3. Guide attendees through the event

Once marketers have targeted the desired attendee behavior, they can facilitate that behavior by guiding each attendee to relevant sessions and connecting them with the right individuals, partners, or sponsors.

4. Understand the impact of the event

Marketers are able to understand the real impact of their event by tracking actual attendee behavior. Were they successful in driving the necessary behaviors and actions to move prospects and customers further along in the buying cycle? Based on the information gathered at the event and shared with marketing automation, each individual can be channeled into the appropriate post-event follow-up process. The resulting follow-up can then be directly related to the bottom line providing a true ROI of the event.

Once marketers know the event’s real ROI they can strategize on how to get the next event to work that much harder to contribute to their marketing efforts with less direct effort on their part. Fully digitized event processes are key to realizing the value of marketing efforts and the full potential of events themselves.

Marketers can make events work harder by tapping into relevant information stored in their marketing automation systems. This information should help them understand the defining characteristics of each attendee, where an individual is in the buying process, and what they’re truly interested in.

With this understanding, marketers can leverage an integrated set of tools to engage attendees and actively direct their behavior, helping individual attendees take the best ‘next step’ in their journey.

Betsy Zikakis is vice president of Marketing at Certain. She can be reached at bzikakis@certain.com.