The ongoing COVID-19 situation has had a devastating effect on many industries, but one in particular that faces a particularly bleak outlook is that of corporate events.
Those seminars, conferences and award nights that featured so prominently in many industry calendars are not going to be back in the diary any time soon. Even if you like to live dangerously, your employer is unlikely to sanction something that tends to involve many hours of travel and close contact with an eclectic mix of strangers.
Event organisers spend a lot on delivering an audience to their sponsors and exhibitors and many are already adapting their shows to the digital equivalent in the hope that sponsors continue to support them with virtual versions.
There is one glaring, big problem with this though – most enterprise salespeople will tell you the real value in the big events is not the logo on the programme (even if it does say Platinum Sponsor). It is the opportunity to engage with prospects on the exhibition stand, over lunch, at the gala dinner and indeed, in the venue bar until stupid o’clock.
Digital events struggle to replicate that level of engagement, despite innovations like webinar breakouts and virtual meetups.
If you are sponsoring digital events or running your own webinars, it is important to devise a new way of engaging. How do you create opportunities from half an hour of thought leadership delivered via Zoom?
These are the questions you should review and then plan for when running or sponsoring virtual events:
That last one is the kicker… If you’re just relying on templated webinar invites and follow ups, you’re missing a trick. Registration for a webinar gives you the opportunity to piece a puzzle together. Who are they and what have they been up to on your website and on your landing pages?
This is where marketing automation tools such as lead scoring really come into their own. Of the 100 attendees to your webinar, identify the 5 who have been looking at high value content on your website. I don’t mean other content marketing. I mean product pages, pricing pages, case studies – things they would not look at unless they were interested in the product / service. Armed with this knowledge, you can then target those most worthy of post webinar follow up. Bear in mind this tracked behaviour may also happen at any time. Maybe off the back of sending out a recording/slides. Maybe a week or two later. Maybe before the webinar even took place. Website tracking and lead scoring is the digital equivalent of spotting a serious buyer on your exhibition stand.
In terms of following up on this behaviour, personal calls and emails are, of course, fine in this regard, but if you’re looking to do this at scale, across multiple digital events, an automated campaign is likely to yield better results.
For a natural, no pressure way of approaching that automation, you may wish to consider nature’s very own sequence; Fibonacci’s number.
This elegant, mathematical sequence represents a perfect pattern of growth, with each number being the sum of the previous:
1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144
As marketing automation requires structure, this sequence offer a good bridge between the natural order of things and the cold logic of the machine and your automated webinar follow up sequence should, therefore look something like this:
The above is designed with the complex B2B sale in mind. The sort where it is not something that can just be bought online. If your sales cycle is quicker or longer, adjust the number of days accordingly to your business. If you’re worried about weekend emails, then don’t be, there have been plenty of studies that show C-level contacts, entrepreneurs and workaholics are absolutely in their inboxes at the weekend. Just be careful with calls-to-action like arranging a call that may backfire on Saturday mornings.
You also do not have to limit the above to single channel or method. Mix up plain text emails with full HTML ones. Target them on social channels with matched audience tools. A good, old fashioned phone call in there wouldn’t go a miss either.
Good quality, industry specific ideas and insights will always motivate change within those who wish to improve their own businesses. Aligning your digital journeys with that customer journey is actually easier to do digitally. It is very process driven and does not fall foul of the traditional post-conference ‘fatigue’ that many sales and marketing professionals are susceptible to!
Lastly, I was involved in live events and big conferences for many years. It was hard work, but it was fantastic to see thousands from an industry come together and share ideas.
The organisations that run those shows need your support as they adapt to this digital world, so please do what you can to still engage your industry and to support them with new, digital ventures. With marketing budgets slashed for many, you may just find you can upset the status quo of absent competitors.
For more tips on what to do before and after webinars, you may like to have a look at my most recent webinar about webinars!
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