The Secret To Getting Better Results From Your Events
March 26, 2019 10:27:40 AM | By Matt Benati
For B2Bs, events and trade shows are a key part of the go-to-market strategy. This is particularly true for virtual companies and those that do most of their business over email and phone. Meeting company owners and representatives in-person helps prospects connect your brand with real people, solidifies relationships, and is a prime opportunity to meet new leads.
But simply showing up isn’t enough. Actively engaging prospects and customers before, during and after the show is critical to getting the most out of any event. Careful planning is necessary to set goals and develop a strategy for communicating with multiple segments of your audience. For example, a hot lead you want to schedule a meeting with at the show requires a different message than a brand-new prospect you need to follow-up with back home.
While trade show marketing experts agree that a smart mix of mediums – email, social media, text, phone and in-person – is ideal for your communication strategy, email is still the preferred platform; it allows you to easily segment and personalize messaging at a relatively low cost. As a bonus, today’s automation technology allows you to pre-plan your communication strategy, drop leads into the appropriate lists, and auto-trigger multiple campaigns as leads engage with your content before, during, and after the show. This allows salespeople to spend more time on the floor engaging, while still receiving timely alerts when they need to follow-up on a hot lead that’s converted on a campaign.
But what happens after you send an email? Where Out-Of-Office and Left-The-Company replies used to be considered a nuisance and promptly deleted, we now realize how much valuable intelligence they contain – about both individual leads and accounts as a whole. Mining reply emails has become a staple solution as part of many organizations’ email strategy. Savvy marketers and salespeople are realizing the benefits of mining replies when it comes to event email management. Why? Because while the typical email campaign returns 1 – 2% replies, this number rises around events when multiple people at the same account are out of the office.
And more auto-replies equal more intelligence, and ultimately a more successful event.
Here’s how to leverage the power of reply emails as part of your event email management strategy.
Before The Show
If you build it, they will come. Right? Nope! Even if you’re participating in a well-known and high-traffic event, you still have to promote your presence. If you have a booth at a tradeshow, a certain amount of traffic will naturally come. But to get the most from the show, you must proactively reach out to your prospects and customers and invite them to come see you — sharing your booth number, incentives, etc.
Pre-show email campaigns are a great way to do this. You can start them well in advance, and build on the message (and excitement!) as the event draws closer.
What about the replies that come back? Let’s take a look at a couple scenarios:
#1 – You send a prospect an email personally inviting them to your booth. You receive an human reply asking a question or two.
- Route the email to the appropriate lead owner who can answer their questions and even schedule a meeting at the show.
#2 – You send a prospect an email personally inviting them to your booth. You receive an Out-Of-Office (OOO) reply.
- You now have your prospect’s cell number and can add them to your SMS marketing list for pre-event communication.
- You’ve expanded your reach into the account and have a new alternate contact. Reach out and introduce yourself, ask them to opt-in, and invite them to your booth.
#3 – You send a customer an email asking to schedule a meeting at an upcoming event to discuss their renewal. You receive a Left-The-Company (LTC) reply.
- You have the timing advantage of knowing your lead left the company before a hard bounce was put in place. Reach out to this person and invite them to visit your booth as part of their new role.
- You have a replacement contact and can reach out ASAP to invite them to your event.
- You can schedule an in-person meeting before the new contact starts shopping around for a new solution.
During The Show
When your event is in full swing, you want to keep prospects and customers abreast of happenings. In addition to social updates, ‘live’ videos, and text updates, use email to stay top of mind! Remind people where you’re located, what kind of information and promotions they can expect when they visit you. Also include reminders for any special events or speaking engagements you’re participating in.
In addition, start sending your new prospect emails right away.
If you send them an introductory/nice-to-meet-you email while they’re still at the event, you may even get an Out-Of-Office on the spot! An OOO will likely contain their cell phone number and title – key pieces of information for personalizing content and having another contact method. It may also contain an alternate person or two to contact in their absence. You can add these new contacts to the account and ask them to opt-in to receiving communication from you. With today’s B2B buying decisions now requiring input from multiple people within an organization, the quicker you identify the decision makers and influences, the quicker you can close the deal.
With a little planning, you can have any cell phone numbers mined from OOOs during an event go straight into an SMS marketing list. The contacts will automatically receive a text where you invite them to visit you, schedule a meeting, win something for participating, or otherwise take some specific action. The key to mid-event messaging is to create some urgency and excitement among current attendees.
After The Show
After the show it’s critical to follow up with people that wanted more information, new visitors, and those who could not spare the time to visit. Email is the preferred platform in this case, as you can include attachments, links to schedule appointments and demos, and other personalized information based on the lead’s level of interest and discussions at the show.
Particularly with new leads you met at the show, their email replies will be vital to helping you learn more about their role, and for expanding into new accounts. For example, if you met a prospect whose company perfectly fits your ideal customer profile, you will be eager to discover additional influencers and decision makers within the account. But short of directly requesting this information from your one lead, how do you expand your reach and find those additional contacts?
Measure, Rinse, Repeat
Hosting and attending B2B events can be a costly investment. It needs to be worth your time and money to engage with customers and prospects face-to-face. But success at these events is a demand generation dream come true. Not only are you capturing new leads on the floor, but if you’re also emailing new and existing leads about the event, you’re netting new alternate and replacement contacts from OOO and LTC auto-replies. Additionally, you’re mining critical pieces of data, such as cell phone numbers and titles from email replies, which improves the relevance and accuracy of your marketing efforts in the short- and long-term.
The result? More leads, increased pipeline, and improved database health. And that’s just from one event. Adding email mining as part of your everyday email strategy has proven effective at multiple organizations, and has many benefits, including:
- Enrich and cleanse existing leads – significantly reducing the 70% annual decay rate that B2Bs typically experience
- Adding 20% net new contacts annually – the majority of new leads come from OOOs and LTCs
- Winning deals 5x more often – when you’re the first in as the result of a trigger event, such as a Left-The-Company
The intelligence mined from reply emails can’t be found anywhere else. You could spend valuable human resources researching your target accounts, but the results won’t be nearly as accurate or timely as the information in replies that are coming directly from the leads and accounts you’re already engaging.
Event email management is different from your everyday email strategy. It’s specific to your company’s goals before, during and after the show, and timing is everything around events. You can’t afford to let replies clog your inbox when you know there are new leads and valuable intel buried in them.
Want to properly manage your event? Start with your email. An automated email mining strategy is the fast, simple, and affordable solution for managing event email.
Want to see examples of the most common types of email replies event marketers receive — and the kind of data LeadGnome uncovers? Download our free Revolutionary B2B Marketing Operations eBook today.