As one of the most used offline marketing activities, events can be used to connect with leads and nurture strangers, and the inbound methodology can be used to turn any event into something that runs smoothly. Here’s how.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes, 47 seconds
Events are pretty much the most offline of the offline marketing activities, but with a little inbound methodology and some HubSpot love you can wring more opportunities from any event.
I’ve been running events for two years using traditional methods, and now two years using inbound, and know that you can run around in circles chasing replies and following up with guests and suppliers. However by using the inbound methodology, it becomes easily manageable. From automated registry lists, to automated communication and logged emails to fall back on with vendors during the planning phase, inbound turns what can be an admin nightmare into a much smoother process.
Overall, apart from the time saving, the biggest point I want you to walk away with is this: EVENTS RUN THE INBOUND WAY DON’T COST MONEY, THEY MAKE MONEY.
Here are some of the biggest mistakes event coordinators make (that you can avoid with inbound tactics):
- Registry lists are always an issue due to the manual processes and keeping up with the data
- Not tracking the leads
- Lack of marketing communication
- Thinking eventing won’t bring in leads and money
- Lack of strategy around how to nurture the leads they obtain at the event
- Not aligning marketing and sales strategy - Smarketing
You can not only communicate with the leads you’re busy nurturing both before, during, and after an event, you can also use the event as an ‘in’ to connect with leads.
So what's the best way to tackle your next event so you turn it into the opportunity-rich treasure chest that it is?
Before you start any of the activities I’ll go into below, it’s important to have an event content and communication calendar to optimise your activities. This prevents last minute scrambling, and worst of all, missing some golden nuggets that could make your event sing.
Attracting the right people to your event
When organising an event you need to attract the most relevant people. How will you do that?
I recommend using inbound tactics to approach the ideal event attendees and capture their details in order to fully nurture them to attend - and beyond this, a relationship with your brand.
This can be done in a variety of ways:
- Sending a segmented and personalised email to your relevant databases
- Social media strategies to promote and create awareness of this event
- Links to register for the event on your website
- Use your blog to write an article relevant to the event topic with a conversion opportunity to register for the upcoming event.
- Keywords on your website and blog will help you to be found organically for this topic - establish your expertise online
- PPC to escalate your keyword strategy and help you to be found faster
Converting people to attendees
It’s vital to have a dedicated online registration page in order to capture all details and to build your registry list automatically. All calls to attend should link to this page. This also lets you track where your registrations are coming from, and which method was the most successful. This data allows you to build on this strategy for future events and optimise your best converting source.
Remember that using the inbound approach allows you to monitor and track behaviour leading to a better understanding of what your leads and event attendees are interested in, what they need and when they need it. This builds trust between you and the lead/attendee as your content reaches them when they need it and gives you the opportunity to engage with them and ultimately close a sale much quicker post event.
Make sure your landing page for the event has the following on it:
- Event topic and description - make this enticing!
- Event agenda
- Registration form that captures all the info you need. I recommend these fields:
- First Name
- Last Name
- Phone number
- Dietary requirements (if you are catering)
- Speaker information to build up the profile of the speaker
Nurture your attendees
This is also a good time to start setting up your HubSpot automation strategies to both keep your event planning running smoothly, and to take advantage of any opportunities for lead nurturing. Here are some recommendations strategies to set up:
- Automatically create attendees as deals in your CRM.
- Automated thank you emails
- Automated monthly communication - if they register to receive further communication from you
- Automate emails or SMSes to your staff when the lead you’re targeting arrives at the event (this can be automated to happen as soon as they complete the registry at the event)
- Based on certain activities which can be tracked in HubSpot, leads can be attributed to segmented lists - for example, by buyer persona, industry, life cycle stages, deal stages, and interests and more. These lists can be targeted with niche communication to nurture them to progress in their journey to becoming a customer.
Once they’ve registered, send the attendees a mail. Make sure it includes the following:
- Thanks for registering and promising to keep them in the loop in regards to the event
- Give them an opportunity to subscribe to your blog or newsletter
- Provide them with helpful and useful information - whether it’s a blog post, or related services. Depending on the action they take, this allows you to evaluate their interests and communicate with them based on their interests.
It’s also best practice to send them a reminder email the day before the event just to ensure they attend.
Taking this to the next level, you could add this event registered contact to your CRM (customer relationship management) system and evaluate if this is a contact worth nurturing to a deal. If so, you could task a sales leader to connect with this lead at the event in a seemingly organic and natural manner, and progress the lead through the pipeline.
This also allows you to evaluate the amount of deals closed by eventing.
See below a graph that indicates the success of nurturing around events:
I’d like to share the data from a client who ran two events in the first six months of 2018. Note the increase in sessions during the months of the events. See the drop throughout when less communication and nurturing takes place. This is why it’s so important to keep the communication going to prevent this drop in sessions.
Delight after the event
Just because the event is over, doesn’t mean your opportunities are!
After the event, send your attendees a net promoter score (NPS) survey. This is useful for the following reason: you can use the information for upcoming events, as well as a way to nurture the attendees and send them the information they’re interested in. NPS surveys are great conversation starters and also an indication as to whether you could approach them for a testimonial to use for promoting your next event.
Once you they have agreed to opt in to communication, never stop your communication with any attendees after an event. Send them useful, helpful and educational content (NOT hardsell content) to nurture them to become customers, but also to remind them of upcoming events. Use the data to guide you on the frequency and the specific content to send them so that you do not overwhelm already busy people.
With HubSpot you can use SMART content based on your lead’s stage of the buyer’s journey, or their interests in your services. You can send them personalised mails with content that automatically changes to feature picture or content that is the most interesting and appealing to them.
Use social monitoring strategies to evolve your relationship with these leads as well as get referrals from them.
As you can see, running events the inbound way can lead to great growth and many opportunities past the event itself.
My biggest wins from running events the inbound way:
- Increase in sales from event attendees as leads are tracked and communicated in a way that they prefer.
- Community growth
- Getting seen as thought leaders in the industry
- Gathering insights on what prospects are looking for allowing for optimisation opportunities for future events and communication
- Analytics on prospects behaviour