Digital events have taken precedent in modern B2B marketing, with many organizations turning to virtual platforms to engage their prospects, buyers and partners. Social distancing and the pandemic have only accelerated this.
With events shifting to a strictly digital format, marketers are scrambling to create experiences their target audiences will appreciate. However, the teams running these events often find themselves working against one another, creating a divide brought on by a bevy of smaller hindrances.
Demand Gen Report recently had the opportunity to sit down with Brian Gates, SVP of Marketing & Strategy at RainFocus, an event marketing platform, to discuss the importance of collaboration and communication between teams for success.
In the first of a three-part blog series, Gates shares the three key pitfalls for event marketers to avoid:
- Unfocused processes and miscommunication leading to wasted data;
- Misaligned priorities among internal teams; and
- Misunderstanding the value of an event and falling short of ROI expectations.
Divided Attention Leads To Lost Data
According to Gates, events are a valuable source of behavioral data that could be used to improve a company’s ROI and marketing performance, but is often a missed opportunity due to a lack of workplace collaboration.
He explained that people who attend an event are considered valuable leads because they are willing to spend time attending your webinar, panel discussion or livestream, and that marketers should be immediately placing those attendees into their funnel. However, since marketing teams are not mapping these attendees under the same set of requirements as sales, the behavioral data becomes useless and nothing is gained.
“The mapping of event behavior to the digital marketing funnel is an activity that neither team works on collaboratively,” Gates explained. “The result is that a pool of valuable behavioral event data gets thrown over the wall without a plan on how to use it or identifying what is valuable. All too often, attendees are dropped into a generic awareness campaign that generates super-low conversion rates because they have already progressed well beyond that phase.”
To avoid this, marketing, sales and demand generation teams must collaborate at all stages of the event’s creation, pre-determining which attendees are in their ICP, who is active in the buying market, etc. Collaboration prevents misunderstanding and precise data usage, allowing future marketing campaigns to perform better.
Plan & Coordinate The Event With Purpose
Gates explained that event planning, management and coordination requires multiple parties to work together, but that often these parties are not working toward a unified goal. Event teams put in their part of the work to help create and operate the event, but do not do so with the mindset of serving the company’s overarching needs.
“Ensuring attendees have a smooth, effortless experience with a positive sentiment is of the utmost importance and legacy event technologies require excessive effort/cost to do this,” said Gates. “Event teams often prioritize efficiency over the efficacy and delay understanding event performance until weeks or months after the event has concluded.”
By keeping multiple teams aligned with a unified mindset and end goal, the event is designed with not only efficiency, but purpose. Understanding the purpose of the event ensures that the fostering of new leads, buyer education and increasing brand presence will be more efficient and ultimately improve marketing performance.
Understand The Quantifiable, Long-Term Value
In addition, event marketers often find themselves not harnessing the potential benefits and value of their events.
Event marketers can get caught up in the number of session registrants and the price for entry to the event, but they do not think about how it can benefit their marketing strategies in the long run. According to Gates, there are three major factors that contribute to events falling short:
- No alignment with campaigns: Gates explained that event marketers plan their events completely outside their broader campaigns, which results in post-event efforts and spending with unclear objectives;
- Insufficient data/inability to optimize data: Companies with disconnected meetings and events make it challenging to analyze their year-over-year or cross-event data, which results in difficulties engaging prospects and driving pipeline; and
- Lost opportunities: Event teams focused solely on reg numbers cannot have a real-time view of what is happening at their events or make recommendations, which means they are ultimately not using their event for future success.
“All of these activities lead to the final issue of not understanding the quantifiable value of an event,” Gates stated. “Events consume a massive amount of the annual marketing budget but placing a number on the return is dark art or a fool's errand.”
Aligning an event with the goals of a company’s marketing campaign, analyzing event data to inform their strategies and having a real-time view of potential opportunities from events are the best way to generate ROI. Event marketers need to think about not just how to make an event successful, but also how the event can make them successful.
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