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8 min read

Event-driven marketing: How to turn attendee engagement into revenue

Event Marketing

Exploring event-driven marketing strategies is essential for any organization looking to enhance its revenue generation. It's a strategic way to leverage these opportunities to foster brand awareness, engage directly with audiences, and drive meaningful business outcomes. 

I’m Darya Krakaviak, the Brand and Communications Lead at N.Rich, and my experience has been deeply rooted in integrating events into our comprehensive marketing framework. 

In this article, I’ll share insights into how we at N.Rich approach events, the challenges and opportunities we navigate, and the metrics that guide our decisions, ensuring we maximize the impact of each event on our path to growth and customer acquisition.

The evolving role of events in marketing and revenue generation

The impact of COVID-19 on the marketing landscape, especially regarding events, can’t be overstated. The shift toward online events introduced a plethora of tools for better tracking and engagement analysis, something that was more challenging with offline events. 

Previously, I worked for a hardware company where offline events were a significant channel for lead and pipeline generation.

The transition to online events, necessitated by the pandemic, provided a more comprehensive understanding of attendee engagement and follow-up actions.

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This transition has undoubtedly raised expectations for event outcomes, driving a more data-oriented approach in planning and executing both online and offline events. The need for hard data to measure the success of brand awareness and demand generation efforts has become more pronounced. 

Today, in the Martech B2B sector, there's a strong emphasis on ensuring that events serve dual purposes: Enhancing brand visibility and contributing to demand generation. This approach holds true for both first-party and third-party events, indicating a broader industry trend toward maximizing the value of events in marketing strategies.

Hybrid events: Combining the best of both worlds

The concept of hybrid events, integrating both in-person and online elements, represents a significant evolution in the events industry. This format allows us to capitalize on the strengths of each approach. 

Keynote sessions and main activities often benefit from the energy and presence of an in-person audience, while breakout sessions and content tailored to specific groups find a wider and more engaged audience online. 

The digital component of events, already on an upward trajectory, was accelerated by the pandemic. It's likely that the shift toward a blend of in-person and online experiences will persist, offering a balanced approach that caters to diverse preferences and needs.

Data collection in event marketing

The move toward digital events during the pandemic introduced marketers to a wealth of data, providing insights into participation levels, engagement duration, and attendee interaction in ways previously unavailable. 

This data has proven invaluable for prioritizing sales follow-ups and understanding audience engagement with content. As we gradually return to in-person events, the challenge lies in bridging the potential data gap that might emerge.

The richness of data gathered from digital platforms set a new standard for event analytics.

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Nonetheless, advancements are being made to ensure offline events don’t lag behind in terms of data collection and engagement tracking. Technologies like live scanning apps at trade shows are evolving to offer deeper insights into attendee behaviors and preferences. 

While it's clear that event data collection is in a state of flux, with online platforms currently leading in data capabilities, the expectation is for offline event technologies to catch up. This development will likely focus on enhancing attendee interaction, data segmentation, and overall collection methodologies to maintain the depth of analysis marketers have come to appreciate from digital events. 

The exact trajectory of these advancements remains to be seen, but the momentum toward richer data integration in offline events is unmistakable.

Evolving event strategies at N.Rich: A blend of third-party and first-party events

Upon my arrival at N.Rich, I noticed that the company's engagement in events was sporadic, often dictated by available resources or specific opportunities that arose. 

Recognizing the potential impact of a more structured approach, I set out to develop a comprehensive event strategy, despite the initial challenge of limited data to guide our decisions. I started the process by experimenting with various event formats, primarily focusing on third-party events to gain insights and establish a baseline for our engagement.

Key considerations in selecting events included the attendee profile, the industries represented, and geographic focus, aligning with our B2B sector emphasis. The goal was to shortlist events that promised the highest alignment with our target audience and strategic objectives. 

The metrics and KPIs guiding our event participation have remained consistent, emphasizing pipeline influence, opportunity generation, and the value of these opportunities. We also monitor the close-win rates and the resulting value these engagements bring to the company.

A significant recent development has been the incorporation of customer acquisition cost (CAC) analysis into our event evaluation, thanks to our Revenue Operations Manager. CAC offers deeper insight into the efficiency of our event-driven customer acquisition efforts, reflecting a holistic view of our marketing strategy's impact.

In addition to third-party events, we began hosting our own first-party events. These events, although fewer in number due to the typically slow season, are subjected to a similar rigorous analysis.

Metrics for first-party events include not only those used for third-party engagements but also additional data points like registration numbers, attendee quality, and the registration-to-attendance rate. 

While these aren’t directly tied to revenue metrics, they provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of our event marketing efforts and the engagement level of our target audience.

Leveraging both third-party and first-party events is central to N.Rich's evolving strategy. It aims to maximize our visibility, engagement, and, ultimately, our impact on the company's revenue generation capabilities.

The role of events in the marketing and sales cycle

From my perspective, events play a critical role at specific stages of the marketing and sales cycle, particularly during the problem awareness and solution awareness stages.

These stages represent key opportunities for engaging with our target audience, providing them with valuable insights and solutions that address their needs and challenges.

When it comes to third-party events, especially the larger ones, precisely measuring and predicting their impact on these stages can be challenging without first-hand experience. While pre-event data and discussions with event organizers can offer some guidance, nothing substitutes the insights gained from attending the event personally. 

First-party events, on the other hand, afford us greater control over many variables, including the attendee list, promotional strategies, and the messaging about our offerings, which enables us to more effectively target the product-aware stage, ensuring that our content and interactions are highly relevant to the attendees' interests and needs.

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While tapping into the top of the funnel through events is common and often beneficial, it's crucial to maintain realistic expectations regarding the outcomes.

Events, whether third-party or first-party, should be strategically selected and planned with a clear understanding of their potential impact at different stages of the buyer's journey, enabling us to to maximize the value of our event participation and ensure alignment with our overall marketing and sales objectives.

Integrating events into the marketing mix and ensuring team alignment

Events, as a marketing channel, isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s a strategic tool that complements other channels and tactics within a marketer's arsenal.

At N.Rich, we approach our marketing planning on a quarterly basis, aligning each department's activities with the company's overarching goals set by our founder to ensure that every initiative, including events, directly contributes to our key priorities and objectives.

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When deciding whether an event is the right approach for a particular marketing activity, we consider various factors like upcoming product updates or significant milestones.

If an event aligns with these moments, it can serve as a focal point around which we can build comprehensive marketing campaigns, incorporating blog articles, social media posts, and other content to amplify the message. 

However, it's crucial to recognize that events aren’t the default or optimal channel for every situation. Their inclusion in our marketing mix is always the result of careful consideration of their fit and potential impact relative to our goals.

A pivotal aspect of our success with events and other marketing initiatives is the close alignment and regular communication within our revenue team. Engaging in bi-weekly team meetings and frequent one-on-one syncs ensures that everyone is aware of the specific KPIs related to events. 

A collaborative environment facilitates the collection, analysis, and reporting of data, significantly enhancing our ability to measure the success of our events and, by extension, our marketing strategy as a whole.

This approach underscores the importance of transparency and cooperation across departments. When we maintain clear communication about our objectives and performance metrics, we empower each team member to contribute effectively to our collective success, optimizing our efficiency and impact in the market.

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The future of in-person events in marketing

There's a palpable shift in how individuals and companies are approaching in-person events. The initial surge in enthusiasm for these events, driven by a collective yearning for interaction beyond digital confines, is evident. 

However, this excitement also brings with it a more discerning attitude toward event participation. People are seeking substantial reasons to attend in-person events, looking for quality interactions, valuable insights, and meaningful engagement that justifies stepping out of their comfort zones.

An interesting trend to note is the increased selectivity in event attendance. Individuals and companies alike are weighing their options more carefully, seeking assurances that their investment of time and resources will yield the desired returns. This cautiousness is partly due to experiences during the immediate post-pandemic period, where some events struggled to attract attendees at pre-pandemic levels.

The future of event marketing will likely embody this blend of enthusiasm for in-person engagement and a strategic approach to participation. The challenge for event organizers and marketers will be to create experiences that not only draw attendees back but also exceed their heightened expectations for value, engagement, and insight.

Written by:

Darya Krakaviak

Darya Krakaviak

Darya is the Brand & Communications lead at N.Rich. She has 8+ years of experience, which primarily lies in packaging and communicating the value of B2B products via both online and offline channels.

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Event-driven marketing: How to turn attendee engagement into revenue