One of a marketer's biggest frustrations comes from all the effort spent to organize and execute an event with little or no return on investment. But even the greatest event ever planned will not be successful if it is not promoted properly.
A big marketing budget helps to promote your event, but this doesn't guarantee success. Some of the most successful events have maximized grassroots marketing using e-mail, Web, and social channels to build buzz.
As planning gears up for fall and spring marketing events, let's focus on developing a promotional strategy using e-mail that will fill your B2B event.
The best way to pack an event is to know what your audience wants and then pull out all the stops to give it to them. Ask yourself the following questions when planning your event and your e-mail-marketing promotion strategy for the event:
E-mail is the perfect channel to promote how your event will address the topics above and to perform reconnaissance regarding relevant content as you are planning your event.
The following are some steps to consider as you plan and execute your event e-mail marketing strategy:
Step 1: Include Survey Questions in Your E-mail Newsletters
Use e-mail as a planning tool well before your event. Begin with pre-event survey questions placed in your regular e-mail newsletters and other communications to gather information on current customers' and prospects' wants and needs, hot topics, and industry trends.
These questions will help you understand your audience, including their wants and needs. Place one question in each newsletter to collect key customer insights over time. Use the survey feedback for multiple purposes during the planning process, including driving content for event sessions and helping to identify your unique selling proposition.
Step 2: Poll Customers and Prospects About Their Event Plans
Begin promoting your event to your customer and prospect base in your regular e-mail communications at least 45 to 60 days before the event.
As a part of this promotion, include a poll that asks if they plan to attend the event. Answers should be "Yes," "No," or "Maybe." Use the answers you collect to segment your event promotion e-mails.
Step 3: Promote Your Event
Begin promoting your event via e-mail at least 30 days before the event. Design a series of relevant messages that will give recipients a reason to attend your event.
Message 1: Focus on what's new and featured at the event.
Message 2: Differentiate your products/services to stand out from the crowd.
Message 3: Promote special event content.
E-mail content and messaging should be versioned based on whether the recipient answered "Yes" or "Maybe." Suppress mailings to recipients who indicated "No," because the messaging will be irrelevant. Use "Maybe" as the default content for recipients who did not answer the question.
Cross-pollinate the event messaging in social channels. Post event information in Twitter tweets, in discussion groups and forums, on your Facebook page, and in your corporate blog. Encourage your subscribers to share their attendance plans on their personal Facebook walls, Twitter accounts, LinkedIn groups, and other public forums.
Step 4: Follow up promptly and nurture.
The most important step that is often overlooked is the development of an organized, systematic approach to follow up with event attendees.
Design an e-mail program to follow up with event attendees within two to three days, and thank visitors for visiting your booth/events. Then add the visitors into a lead-nurture program to assist sales representatives with their lead follow-up efforts.
The Last Word
With a sluggish economy and tight marketing budgets, it is more important than ever to get the most return on your event marketing investment. Designing an e-mail-based event promotion program that taps into your customers' and prospects' wants and needs will help you fill the seats and maximize your investment.
Finally, prompt follow-up with event attendees using a systematic approach to lead nurturing will go a long way in helping you turn event attendees into paying customers.
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Mike Hotz is a senior strategic consultant for Responsys, working with clients to design, develop, and execute cross-channel digital marketing strategies that contribute to their cross-channel digital marketing success. As an industry veteran, Mike has worked in e-mail marketing since 1998, designing, building, and executing e-mail and multichannel direct marketing strategies focusing on increasing customer engagement, nurturing leads, supporting sales organizations, and driving revenue for companies such as CDW, OfficeMax, Grant Thornton, and Digitalwork.com.
March 19, 2014