Utilize marketing automation to maximize your event's successNowhere is marketing automation more important than in event marketing. I’m not talking about marketing automation as in mass email programs or invitations to watch your demo. Where marketing automation and event marketing meet and thrive is in behavior-based or event-based marketing automation programs.

Events are hyper-personalized marketing activities, and that’s why a generic follow-up campaign is not enough. This is where automation comes in, to produce follow-up campaigns based on a lead’s interest, behavior, activity, and/or conversation during the show. From my experience in marketing operations, combining trigger-based campaigns with events will help bring the most bang out of your marketing bucks.

Here are 3 ways you can get started:

1. Look forward to seeing you there!

Your marketing campaign must begin weeks ahead of the planned event. This phase of the marketing program is about driving booth visits and/or announcing to your known contacts that you’ll be attending or hosting the event.

Search your database for leads who may be attending the event. A few questions to ask yourself when setting up a successful pre-event program:

  1. Consider Your Audience

    1. If this is a sponsorship, are the leads from prior years available for you to send an email to?

    2. Do you have a large number of leads who live in the area who may know about the event? Will they benefit from a free ticket? How do you help get them to the event, and then to meet you?

  2. Consider Your Promotions

    1. What types of campaigns, besides email, can you launch to attract more people to your booth or event?

    2. Are there any giveaways or promotions you can start informing them about?

    3. How do start to familiarize your brand to event attendees even before the event starts?

    4. How do you take this opportunity to generate new leads at the event?

Even before the event starts, there is a great opportunity for you to engage with potential event attendees. These small campaigns may not look like much in terms of size, but their personalized nature is sure to drive your conversion through the roof!

2. Personalized Follow-Up Communications

During the event, you encourage your team on the ground to take furious notes during the show to gather valuable information on each lead. Now what? My bet is that you boil down the info to “hot” or “cold”, load them to your CRM, and then you think about a follow-up campaign. Think again.

The key to effective follow-up is to hone in on the micro-interactions your team made with each lead, and leveraging these interactions to solidify your relationship.

It’s important to follow-up immediately after the event so that you remain top-of-mind for the relationship you just created. Events are all about relationship building, so this timely follow-up process will help you solidify your relationship with the lead while you are still top-of-mind. For example, within 24 hours after the event, ask your ground team to connect with everyone they met on LinkedIn.

An even more powerful approach is to segment your leads by your desired follow-up action. Existing customers and partners should get a note to thank them for stopping by, and perhaps introduce them to key team members. Hot leads should be followed up with immediately, whereas cold leads should be added to an engagement track. How about the leads who showed interest in your pre-event promotion but didn’t meet you? Don’t forget to send them a “Sorry we missed you!” email, and offer them a free piece of content anyways. Adding this personalized element, even to your stone-cold leads, will let them know there is a human on the other side, and not just a robot.

How about the notes that your crew took during the event? Most marketing automation tools will allow you to record customized data to a lead, and then adding that string to an email. In Marketo this can be done through tokens and variables in Hubspot. When you send follow-up emails, tokens and variables make it easy to insert the name of the rep who spoke to the prospect, as well as a nugget of information from the conversation straight into the email. As long as your booth staff enter their notes knowing that it will be planted into an email, your messaging should line up perfectly. Below is an example of a spreadsheet with Columns 5 &6 containing data that we’ll use in follow-up campaigns.

Here’s a sample of how you can use the data to make a more personalized message:

Hello Marlin!

I hope you had a great time connecting with professionals in your field at the event this week. I spoke with Jack and he told me you spoke on Tuesday about learning more about the solution.

I’ve included a free video below for you to watch, and hope that it will help answer some questions for you. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out and let me know!

3. Adding to multi-touchpoint campaigns

There isn’t a need to create custom campaigns for your new leads. It’s crucial to keep nurturing these leads beyond the initial event follow-up so that your relationship with them builds over time.

Offer free versions of your latest eBook, a fun infographic, an invitation to an upcoming webinar. Got a local event your company is sponsoring or hosting? Add them to the program. Did they seem interested in learning all the industry trends and indicated they love your content? Send them a bunch of assets! In this era of “Netflix-style” marketing, it doesn’t hurt to send people packages of content that you think they’d like.

Did all the hyper-personalization programs make your head spin yet? I can see the swarms of marketing programs managers shut their brains when I started to describe the status-based follow-up campaigns. The beauty of this process is that it only takes the first program to run, and then all following events can adopt a similar path, with little to no adjustments going forward.