Event Marketing

3 Strategies to Maximize the ROI of Your Next Event

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Did you know that 24% of global marketing budgets were spent on events in 2017? That’s almost a quarter of your budget going to events such as:

While events can be powerful for driving engagement and adoption of your brand, it can often be tricky to get consensus and clarity on how to measure the ROI of an event.

In this blog, I’ve put together 3 strategies for how to get the most out of your events as you plan your marketing strategy in 2018.

1. Get Your Stakeholders Buy-In

Before investing the time and resources required to pull off an event, regardless of the size, it’s important to set the right expectations with all major internal stakeholders (sales, customer success, marketing, etc.) so that everyone is in alignment with your vision.

This includes reviewing and answering the following questions:

  • Goals:
    • What are we trying to do with this event?
    • What messaging or themes should we consider?
    • How will this event benefit the company 3-6 months from now?
    • How much budget and internal resources are required to execute on this event?
    • Who needs to be involved in the planning/promotion process?
    • What agenda would appeal most to our audience?
    • What kind of speakers/presenters do we need? Should we consider customers?
    • Will this be a customer event? Prospect only? Or mix?
  • Promotion:
    • How much lead time will we need to “get the word out” about our event?
    • Who or what organization can we tap into to drive registration?
    • Are we giving away passes or charging guests to attend?
  • Measuring ROI:
    • What does success look like?
    • What are the key metrics we need to consider and track?
      (E.g., customers vs. prospects | pipeline vs. won deals | commercial vs. enterprise | registration vs. attendance)

Getting clear with your internal team on the above questions will help you identify potential gaps in your event strategy and where to course correct. Also, by having your goals well defined and agreed upon it makes it easier to keep teams accountable especially during the next phase: promoting your event.

2. Develop a Comprehensive Promotion Strategy

At this stage of the game, you’re 50% there. You’ve shared the vision and have your internal teams buy-in for moving forward with your event strategy, you’ve created the agenda, identified speakers, and have all the sales and marketing assets ready to go.  All you need now are butts in seats. Your promotion strategy can in many ways make or break your event, so it’s critical to think beyond just email when it comes to driving registration and attendance.

In the Engagement Economy, buyers and sellers WANT to be engaged in unique and personalized ways. And for that reason, we did our own experiment during our last Marketing Nation Summit conference in April. At the time, we had a lofty goal of driving 500 CMOs to the conference with less than 3 months of lead time. Because of everyone’s cross-functional effort in promoting this initiative coupled with compelling content that would appeal to executives, we were able to drive nearly 1,000 CMOs to our conference.

How’d we do it? By putting together a jam-packed agenda coupled with an integrated cross-channel marketing strategy that focused on the below areas, we were able to get the word out in a short period of time.

  • Customer channels (advocates, customer communities)
  • Influencer channels (executive networks, social media influencers, etc.)
  • Partners & agencies (technology partners, resellers, etc.)
  • Demand gen (email, web, social, paid, etc.)

When thinking about your promotion strategy, consider the above channels to help you drive attendance.

3. Get Clear on Metrics & Reporting

So after your event is over, what’s next? Recap and reporting. But how do you tie back the fantastic feedback and anecdotal stories from customers to hard numbers and metrics? What do you even look for when classifying an event as “successful?” This is why having well-defined goals, agreed upon by your internal stakeholders ahead of time, makes all the difference.

Consider the following areas when assessing the success of your next event:

  • How much did we spend? (budget vs. actual spend)
  • How many sales meetings were booked vs. confirmed & attended ?
  • How many new customer stories or assets were captured? (events can be significant opportunities to obtain case studies and video testimonials from clients)
  • How much awareness and demand did we drive for the event? (registration vs. attendance | pipeline vs. lost/won deals | customers vs. prospects | commercial vs. enterprise | social media amplification)
  • What did attendees have to say? (surveys, anecdotal stories, etc.)
  • What did internal stakeholders, especially executives have to say about the event?

So to summarize, to fully maximize the ROI of your next event in the Engagement Economy, today’s marketer must align internally on the vision and goals, craft a compelling omni-channel promotion strategy, and measure success through agreed upon data-driven metrics.

What strategies have you used to maximize your event’s ROI? What metrics measure success for your company? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Summit CTA 2018