The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that from 2010 to 2020, the event industry will grow by 44%. And Forrester recently reported that trade shows and events are the second most effective tactic in a marketer’s mix. All this growth means it’s an exciting time for event marketers, but it also means the stakes are bigger than ever before.
Are you rising to the challenge, or will you take your chances that the same old event marketing program will suffice in the coming years? Hopefully you’re rising to the challenge, but don’t wait until 2020. There are plenty of quick wins to implement now that can bring your program to the next level in 2017. It’s all about using data to your advantage. Here’s a few of our favorite ways to do so:
Develop Customer Personas. Chances are you probably already know a lot about your customers – existing and ideal. So why not put that valuable information on paper and share it company-wide? Do some research on demographic information, include common questions or pain points customers have, why your production or solution can help and anything else that may be valuable to know about a customer. Do some social listening, get demographic information from your website and social media channels, and speak to customer service and sales representatives in your own company. The better you understand your existing and ideal customers, the more accurately you can create a customer persona.
A well thought out, documented customer persona can help in determining which events to attend, what to highlight about your product or service when speaking to customers at an event and much more. Just make sure the personas are data or fact-based, otherwise you may not be speaking to the right audience.
Look at Past Budgets. It’s always a good idea to pay close attention to a budget before and during an event, but there can be a lot to gain from looking at past budgets, too. Hindsight is 20/20, so what did you learn from the budget of each show in the past year? Were you budgeting too few funds for activation costs? Find yourself getting killed by additional fees during the event? An event marketing program that went over budget (or vice versa) can have a significant impact on overall ROI. Evaluating the entire cost associated with past events can help you determine what needs to change to hit your goals.
Cost Per Lead. Speaking of looking at past budgets – while you’re at it, take a look at the cost per lead (CPL) for each event in the past. Every customer or sale is not created equal, so it’s not enough to have one CPL for your entire event marketing program. Consider CPL by specific events, locations and more. Armed with that information, you’ll have plenty of specific data to understand the full CPL picture of your entire event marketing program.
Website Traffic and Keywords. Take a look at your website and dive into the data there – it can tell a pretty great story. Do you see a spike in traffic after an event? You may be able to tie increased traffic to specific events. Look at what keywords may be driving traffic to your site. Do those have anything in common with specific events? Your website is chock full of data – it can help answer a lot of questions!
Set Goals. Do you have goals? No, we’re not talking about the overall company-wide yearly sales goals, we’re talking about specific event marketing goals. If you don’t have set goals and KPIs that the entire event marketing team is aware of, that should be number one on your 2017 to-do list. Too many event marketers rely on gut feelings alone to determine success. With the abundance of data at your fingertips and a growing event marketing industry – gut checks simply won’t cut it any longer.
Consider Revenue Attribution. Event Marketing Institute reports that 87% of consumers said they purchased a brand’s product of service after an event – at a later date. That could be up to 6 months or a year later. Can you be sure that those sales are attributed to your event marketing programs ROI? Make sure you understand the overall sales cycle and implement a lead tracking strategy to make sure you’re attributing revenue correctly.
Look at Successful Events. So you haven’t paid attention to CPL, ROI, goals or anything else this year? It’s not too late. Start with your gut and determine what you feel was the most successful event year to date. Then, start digging into the data. What about the event made it successful? Was it the addressable market? Was it a great location? Did you feel your display really stood out in a crowd?
You won’t have success relying on your gut alone to determine what success and failure looks like, but that doesn’t mean you should count it out completely. Use your gut to tell you what events or what specific strategy was most successful, and then dig into the data to validate it!
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