Digital MarketingIndustry DevelopmentsThanks to intent data, B2B marketing & event marketing have finally collided

Thanks to intent data, B2B marketing & event marketing have finally collided

2020 marked the year that event marketing evolved into a key instrument to be played in the orchestra of B2B marketing.

30-second summary:

  • The alignment between B2B marketing and event marketing has evolved, and event software finally has the capabilities to bridge the gap through speaking the language of marketing through attendee engagement and  intent data, that’s actionable
  • By using attendee intent data, marketers can leverage events like all marketing programs – with the right metrics and measurements – as to directly show event impact on larger company goals, such as customer delight, retention, upselling or first time sales.
  • Event software can integrate with a business’ CRM, marketing automation and ABM solutions, enabling event marketers to work hand-in-hand with the rest of their marketing team and revenue folks to drive the same shared outcomes.
  • Events are no longer one-off campaigns; events and B2B marketers are poised for 2021 to be the start of their journey as a united revenue engine.

Over the last decade, B2B marketing has been morphing and changing rapidly – and so has event marketing. But the two have been on largely different paths, both progressing but with little to no overlap… until now.

In 2020, the worlds of B2B marketing and event marketing have finally collided, thanks to intent data. Here’s more about this intersection, and why it’s a really positive shift for everyone involved.

Alignment between B2B marketing & event marketing

Circa 2010, B2B marketing was laser-focused on lead generation. During this era, leads and MQLs were the gold standard of success but this focus on lead gen eventually gave way to an unrelenting emphasis on personalization and content marketing.

Then, around 2016, Account-Based Marketing (ABM) began to emerge and B2B marketers zeroed in on target accounts and engagement. This kicked off an entirely different model of marketing, in which quantity was eschewed in favor of fewer, but more highly qualified buyers.

ABM has since become widely adopted in the B2B world to the point of its current position as the industry standard.

Today, ABM continues its stronghold as the power of intent data takes center stage. Intent data can either be first-party data (e.g. visitor engagement on your own website or app) or third-party data (e.g. lead or account behavior on websites you don’t own).

This access to third-party data in particular is strengthening ABM’s efficacy even further, providing a window into the interests and intent of target accounts. You could be alerted to the fact, for instance, that folks from a company on your target account list are researching competitors.

This arms you with timely information you can act upon to win them over to your solution. Intent data is making ABM account insights truly actionable, which will surely continue into 2021 and beyond.

Event marketing’s disparate path

Until now, though, there’s been a disconnect between the B2B marketing progression we’ve outlined and event marketing’s evolution. About a decade ago, the focus in events was all about driving people to the event, making the number of registrations the primary measure of success.

What attendees did at an event was less important than the fact that they were simply there. This changed a little bit over time, and when 2013 rolled around, the focus in events was still on registrations, but with added attention on agendas and creating quality attendee experiences.

Event technology evolved during this time, as well, but it was more about event management rather than actual event marketing. This subset of marketing didn’t line up with where B2B marketing was at that point.

As ABM emerged in 2015 and became widely embraced, the divide between events and B2B marketing began closing. Instead of merely aiming for high registration numbers, event organizers realized that engagement matters more. It wasn’t just about leads; it was about what those leads did.

Event marketers began using more technology than ever before and had the desire to put ABM principles into practice. So while progress was indeed being made, event marketers were lacking actionable data to use and remained on their own path, still lagging behind the major strides B2B marketing had made.

B2B marketing & event marketing align in 2020

This year, everything started to change. Event marketers realized that the real goal of an event should be similar to the goal of any other strong marketing tactics, like podcasts or content syndication; engaging your target audience to take the next step in the buyer journey.

That next step may be a consultation, a pricing request or something else entirely. But they have embraced the principle of engagement that fuels B2B marketing and ABM, recognizing that registrations are not the pinnacle, but rather it’s what someone does at an event that counts.

Event software now has the capabilities to bridge attendee engagement and intent data that’s actionable. Event marketers can review behavior by tapping into attendee data before, during and after the show, just as if the event was any other digital campaign.

Scouring the data for increased engagement to surface intent signals is now possible and aligns with the mindset of every modern marketer. Event marketers are finally taking their well-deserved seat at the larger marketing table.

Event data has driven unity & agility

So finally, the era in which events were treated in a silo is starting to end. Events are being recognized as one important part of a larger ecosystem of tactics, and event marketers are being embraced as an integral part of the marketing team.

Events are no longer one-off campaigns, but a key instrument to be played in the orchestra of B2B marketing. Similarly, event software can now integrate with business’ CRM, marketing automation and ABM solutions, giving event marketers the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with the rest of their marketing team.

The result is a unified effort toward the same shared outcomes.

Making the data tactical

In order to make the most of all of this potential, marketers need to optimize for engagement that drives intent.

When you plan a theme, program or campaign, look at the metrics of relevance and plan an engagement journey for the companies or accounts you want to participate.Then when they get to your event, you can segment the audience and drive additional engagement that moves them toward the next stage of the journey.

For example, let’s say a certain segment of attendees at a business growth conference demonstrated interest in a track on financial software. You could then invite this group to an intimate roundtable with experts in business finance so they can dive deeper into the subject.

Or if a segment’s engagement indicates an interest in a vendor’s product, you could direct them to a special breakout session with a case study presentation by a real client who uses that product.

This data gives you the power to move with agility, and serve attendees with relevant sessions and opportunities they’re most likely to care about.

The Future of modern event marketing is limitless

This year has been the one in which events marketing and B2B marketing have finally collided, setting up 2021 to be the start of their journey as a united revenue engine.

As the event industry and B2B marketing as a whole continue to evolve, alignment between all marketers will support ongoing growth. This, coupled with the power of intent data, means that B2B marketing (which includes events) will be unstoppable.

Michael is a product and design-driven serial entrepreneur with more than a decade’s worth of experience in the software industry. As Attendify’s founder and chief visionary, he’s dedicated to advancing the company’s strategic direction and mission to bridge the gap between digital and event marketing. In his spare time Michael collects vintage movie posters from the former Soviet Union — he’s driven by the desire to learn about the artists and help preserve their underappreciated and largely forgotten work — someone’s got to do it!


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