+ 1. Brainstorming, developing ideas and deciding the strategy
No digital marketing campaign will ever succeed without clear goals and a strategy to achieve them. The first step in preparing your event plan is to identify your target group, message, goals, timeline, KPIs and appropriate channels. At the same time, you also need to define the opportunities you have. Will there be speakers at the event? Do you have a stand? Who are you planning to invite? Will potential clients be there? Based on this information, the next step is to make a digital marketing plan that is divided into activities before, during and after the event. In this, it’s important to think unconventionally; to set yourself apart from your competitors and so get yourself noticed among the crowd. See the following example:
+ 2. Spot-on-targeting in your approach to the event
There is a clear move away from mass reach in favour of targeted marketing. This is thanks, among other factors, to the targeting opportunities now made possible by digital channels like social media. These enable you to target your communications narrowly, at a specific group of current or potential clients, with, of course, the aim of increasing your chance of success and maximising your ROI. At Valtech we call this spot-on-targeting.
During a campaign, we use a customer-centricity matrix to identify particular groups of people. This matrix, which we create with the client, details the contours of their target group (for example, roles, functions, geo-location, drivers and characteristics). Based on this, we then determine how we can best reach the audience. Below are two examples of effective targeting opportunities that we regularly use at events, particularly in conjunction with LinkedIn advertising:
- Location-based targeting (Facebook, Twitter) lets you push a message to a specific audience in a given location. We regularly use event location in our targeting. Think of major events like the Olympics and the Tour de France, but also smaller B2B congresses and fairs. To make the targeting more specific, we combine the location of an event with other interesting targeting options.
- Custom Audience targeting (Facebook, Twitter) enables you to create your own target audience by uploading a list of email addresses, phone numbers or Facebook IDs. And this becomes even more interesting when you combine these with your visitor data, such as clients and/or guests for whom you have information. It can also be interesting to use remarketing techniques like Custom Audience to reach visitors to your event page for a second time. Through this, you can create a new touchpoint with someone who has already been to your website or seen your social content.
+ 3. Use engaging visual content integrally
An event-based campaign should hit all touchpoints, both online and offline. We’re talking integrated marketing: spreading a customised message via various channels. Think of newsletters, social media, online video, brochures, landing pages and so on. The aim is to seamlessly connect experiences across different marketing channels. At Valtech, we prefer to work as visually as possible, because visual content enables you to have a bigger emotional impact and makes it easier to explain complex B2B messages.
B2B content is often seen as boring and unappealing compared with B2C. Fortunately, B2B content is becoming increasingly engaging. Here are some examples of engaging visual content we used during eDay. This e-business conference in the Netherlands formed part of the campaign to rebrand eFocus as Valtech.
During eDay, we captured images of the event and our stand with a 360-degree camera. The unique thing about 360 content is that it makes people feel as if they were at the event themselves. 360 content is a revolutionary way to enjoy online content and provides opportunities for your target audience to experience an event in an innovative way.
Facebook Canvas is an ad that makes it possible to tell your brand story and, within this, showcase your products. It’s actually a mini-website for mobile users comprising slideshows, videos and carousel ads in a scrollable interactive interface. During events, you can use it to promote your event or make a sort of mini event page with information about the event in question.
Make sure you also think about a post-event touchpoint. It’s crucial to carry on ‘feeding’ your new contacts after the face-to-face contact, and so build a relationship with them. For example, send an e-book, an infographic or an invitation to an upcoming webinar. Or how about a video with an impression of the event? This can provide a great way to add some emotion to your product/service.
If you’re planning to use video, make sure you have attractive visual content to work with, and that you combine this with the right message and a well-thought-through call to action. Combine this with spot-on-targeting and you have a kick-ass mixture.
+ 4. Lean marketing during the management of the campaign
We often create multiple touchpoints for an event, depending on its type and size. These multi-touch campaigns begin by selecting the channels that will create maximum impact. Below are the channels we regularly use for B2B events:
- Online advertising (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter)
- Campaign pages (eg, an event page)
- SEA advertising
- Display advertising
During the campaign, we use A/B testing and multivariate analysis. This way, we can determine what works and what doesn’t, and optimise the campaign based on these insights. As a result, we can take a flexible approach to the media budget, adapting our spending to focus it on the most effective channels. This in turn improves the campaign ROI and online lead generation, and explains why it is important to continue learning throughout your campaign, using a lean marketing approach.
+ 5. Activate employees
Activating your employees and colleagues is very important. When they share your messages, you reach into their networks, networks that often include current and potential clients and other stakeholders. To encourage this, we employ tools that make sharing easier. We regularly use Social Seeder, for example, a tool that converts your social messages so they can be easily used by your ‘ambassadors’, which makes sharing a message as easy and fast as possible. This offers interesting possibilities during events. Consider promoting a post about a session or workshop, announcing a product launch or new developments, or communicating where to find your stand during the event.
+ 6. Optimise the conversion funnel
Converting high quality visitors to your website into leads demands an effective lead generation strategy. In many cases, a lead in B2B comprises someone leaving their contact details, the registered downloading of content or clicking on a specific part of your site. It is vital to identify every step on the road to conversion and collect the data that accrues. Having the data enables you to optimise your conversion funnel. In addition to generating offline leads during an event, you can also generate online leads. Think, for example, of offering a registered download on the event page.
No more B2B events without a clear digital marketing plan?
Offline, face-to-face contact remains a powerful and valuable means to create an emotional relationship with your current and potential customers. But combine this with digital activities and you increase the likelihood of success and maximise your ROI.