Marketing automation and events

February 1, 2018
This is the third in a series that captures leading marketing executive ideas on how marketing automation can be a game changer in customer engagement and campaign effectiveness through a series of real-world use cases.

In the dark ages before the advent of marketing automation, tradeshows and events followed a well-trodden path. Marketers would collect hundreds or even thousands of slide cards from visitors to their booths. The booth staff would diligently hand out shiny four-color printed collateral and trinkets produced in the run up to the event. And studies would consistently show that 95% of that collateral never left the attendees’ hotel rooms.

Back at the office, the marketing team would gather the CSV files for those contacts made at the event and upload them to the CRM system – a process that usually resulted in scores of duplicate, incomplete, and inaccurate records. The team would them post those records as leads for sales and pat themselves on the back for the great results their work at the show produced.

Meanwhile, the sales team would dutifully begin to work those leads. Inevitably, they’d find that a significant portion weren’t up to standard (they would use different language). The contacts they called couldn’t remember the company or the people they talked to. The more time that elapsed between the show and the post-show outreach, the greater the odds that the contact completely forgot the interaction and had moved on. That’s not to say that the show didn’t generate quality leads and that marketing’s efforts weren’t worthwhile. But those diamonds-in-the-rough were buried in the scores of leads that weren’t really leads at all.

That’s the before scenario. Now let’s look at the after scenario that marketing automation makes possible. The marketing team has set up an event-specific campaign weeks in advance of the show. They’ve issued an invitation to the registration list and other contacts in the area to connect with them at the show. They give them a compelling reason to visit the booth. They’ve done blog posts about the solutions and topics they’ll be addressing on site. They’ve promoted any sessions and panels they’ll be participating on. They still have the shiny collateral, but it’s tailored to the event and the audience. There’s a lot less of it in hotel waste baskets and a lot more of it that makes it back to the attendees’ offices.

During the event, the team uploads the slide cards they’ve collected and automatically adds them to the campaign with the right lead source. They don’t have to wait until the show floor closes to upload data. Leads get sent directly to sales immediately for follow up the same day.

Even more important, if the contact already exists in the database or has visited the website, the marketing automation system will score that contact appropriately. Instead of giving sales 500 low-quality leads to follow up with, marketing can give them the top 5 or 10 or 20 people that are highly qualified and ready to talk. In addition to demographic data on the contact, the system has information on the contact’s industry and the size of their firm and any notes on their booth activity. The sales person can see that the contact has visited the website 10 times in the last 2 months, and that they came by the booth with questions in hand.

So, the marketing automation systems has fundamentally changed the approach to events – and has increased the return from all that effort and planning. The marketing team has what it needs to do more promotions before the show and better follow-up after – with the right content. If a salesperson engages with a qualified lead on-site in the booth, marketing can upload that data immediately and ensure that the same sales person is the owner of that lead. Each interaction becomes more efficient and relevant, the ROI from events goes up significantly, and the overall customer experience improves dramatically.

Events and tradeshows are high-profile components of the customer experience. They’re a chance to put a human face on a previously online-only relationship. At the very least, they should offer the same levels of personalization, consistency, and relevancy that companies deliver in other phases of engagement. With marketing automation, event teams can ensure there’s no disconnect between what happens on the show floor and the rest of the customer’s interaction with the company.


Watch for the next blog post that will dive into data, reporting and actionable insights.

Read case #1 – Doing more with less

Read case #2 – Triggered responses
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