4 Marketing Automation Tips for Events from a MarTech Veteran

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Henrik has had a significant run in B2B Marketing Automation as a Freelance Consultant – 8 years and counting! He has hands-on, certified experience with Salesforce, Salesforce Pardot and HubSpot, and have extensive experience with Oracle Eloqua, SharpSpring and Net-Results. Helping clients set up their event marketing automation is something he is well-versed on and he’s seen the good, the bad, and the ugly – which is why I asked him to share a few of his tips from the field!

Intro

Events are enough work as it is. I know as I have organised, automated and attended many myself. The textbook marketing cycle for events is well-documented and discussed constantly. But, time and time again, I see marketing teams forgetting the basics, or ignoring tips that can save them a hell of a lot of time.

How you can put your marketing automation tool to use doesn’t have to be complicated – it has to be intentional. This post will cover 4 of my best tips for event marketing from almost a decade in B2B Marketing Automation, including: calculate the real cost of attending, going ABM on your database, and ensuring it’s all replicable at the close.

Note: Throughout the post, I will make references to help explain concepts. I specialise in SaaS businesses, so you’ll find my examples stem from that market; however, you can most definitely apply these tips to any other B2B use case. Also, since this is a Salesforce blog, I’ll be referring mostly to Pardot. You can no doubt replicate some of these tricks in the tool of your choosing, including Marketing Cloud.

Tip 1: Worth your time? DON’T GO unless you’ve done the math.

The first tip isn’t specific to marketing automation, but it’s crucial, nonetheless. It’s very easy to go with your gut and attend every cool sounding event you can find. That’s a great way…to waste your time and money.

Even if you’re pretty sure about which events make sense for your business, be intentional:

Don’t spend time attending an event if you’re not exactly clear about what you’re trying to get from it.

A classic example of this is attending a 3rd party event to ‘create awareness’, to show the market that you exist. That’s a respectable goal, but it’s not tangible.

Whenever I go, I want to make sure I get a measurable return on my investment. That’s why I always set a specific lead goal for each event. How many leads do I need to return with to make this event worthwhile?

After all, attending an event costs:

  • Productivity loss, being out of the office and not doing other work (multiply that if other colleagues attend as well!).
  • Hefty sponsoring fees.
  • Other costs, eg. flights, hotels, etc.

Do the math before you run off in your enthusiasm. Some question to get you crunching numbers:

  1. What’s the total cost of the event? Include a number that accounts for time away from the office (make an educated guess, if you have to.)
  2. How many leads does sales usually need to close a deal?
  3. What’s the average deal size?
  4. How many leads do you need to break even on this event?

In my experience, having marketers do this maths injects them with a dose of realism. Events are fun, but it’s easy to waste money. You might be able to afford this approach if you’re part of a large business, but for the rest of us: laser target your best events.

Tip 2: Invite your own prospects and customers – even if it’s a 3rd party event

Here’s the bottom line: don’t rely on the organizing party to market their event.

You should be promoting your presence at the event to your own contacts – it’s the perfect excuse to get some face-to-face time with prospects.

 

Here’s what you do:

1. Create a segment from your database

These will be the people you’d like to talk to, that fit your target persona, but also, consider who would be a good fit for the event itself! That’s often forgotten in favour of maximising reach.

2. Create a nurture sequence for this segment

Use Engagement Studio to create a nurture sequence. Why Engagement Studio?

  • Explain why it’s worth their time with tactical content. This means branching the sequence to send the most optimal content for them and avoiding generic blanket promotional emails.
  • Keep front of mind in the run-up to the event. This means sending emails on an appropriate timeline/frequency.

Engagement Studio will support you to do both of these.

3. Make it stupidly easy for them to sign up.

If you put in the work and sell that event to them, don’t fall at the hurdle of getting them to sign up. Will this be through a Pardot form & landing page? A 3rd party website?

4. Use engagement indicators

Use engagement indicators, such as email opens, link clicks, etc., to branch them off into different email flows that gets them fired up for the event and for meeting you there. Otherwise, you will bombard the wrong people, who will steer clear of your booth or event!

There are few things more valuable than face-time with actual prospects. Getting time in with customers is vital if they’re going to stick with you. Customers and Prospects need to see you out there, being proud of your business.

Tip 3: ‘Go ABM’ on the attendee list

Before you say: “ABM?! We’re not that advanced yet!” – just hear me out.

When I say “ABM” (Account-Based Marketing), I mean nothing more than this: get specific about which personas you want to talk to at that event. Who are the influencers on the client-side that will seal the deal? Who is likely to be your internal champion? Market to those folks, as specific as you can get.

Make the email as personal as possible. Use Dynamic Content blocks based on Pardot fields such as ‘job title’, ‘department’ or ‘seniority’ – whatever is possible according to the quality of your data. For content, don’t beat around the bush. Tell your prospect in plain language that you’re attending the same event. Tell them you think they’re a particularly good fit for your product. Tell them exactly why that is. Tell them you’d love to meet them.

Don’t be sales-y about this. Nobody likes cold emails, unless they are specific and valuable. You are likely to get more engagement that way, especially at the Executive level.

Tip 4: Make sure it’s Copy + Paste

You’ve seen a couple of marketing automation features pass by in this article:

  • Nurture drips leading up to the event (Engagement Studio)
  • Personalised email templates & Dynamic Content blocks
  • ABM (segmented) Pardot lists

Make sure not to invent the wheel twice. You’ve gone through the trouble of setting these things up once, make sure you can locate (through tagging assets and automation rules), copy+paste, and only make small amendments for the next event. Seems obvious, but come next month, next quarter, or next year, you don’t want to scramble around finding everything!

This is marketing automation, after all!

 

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