For many businesses, events have been a great way to grow their pipeline. Meet people face to face, discuss the hurdles businesses face and how your solution can help you get there (and more). It is a place where people share experiences, thoughts and here and there a smile. As Mastercard would say… PRICELESS.
Many companies I have spoken with over the past eight months have had a hard time as in-person event marketing has been a vital part of their marketing mix. Digital Ads, Content Marketing, SEO, SEA, SEM, PPC, Email, etc. are all great – and can be very effective in growing your business – but companies need to build relationships (especially B2B SaaS). These companies need to build deeper connections and that’s when they turned to in-person events.
But with no face-to-face events since March, businesses must seek alternatives. Marketing leaders and chief marketing officers have been forced to throw their 2020 strategy in the trash and start from scratch. Many companies cut their marketing budgets early in the pandemic due to uncertainty and the economic impact.
While this was probably a wise move at the time, it is not sustainable in the long run. With the churn rate increasing and pipelines drying up, you need to take steps to attract new business.
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as shifting budgets from in-person events to, say, PPC. In general, each channel has its limits and cannot be scaled to infinity (otherwise you would have already, right?).
Event planners, including us at TNW, need to help educate the market on how businesses can make the most of their presence at digital events.
The alternative to in-person events are the digital equivalents, BUT here’s the problem. Not all digital events are created the same.
You really fuck them, while others are really awesome and valuable – the problem is, you can’t tell which ones are which from their landing page. Thousands of digital events have sprung up, and just like in-person events, most of them aren’t worth your time, let alone your precious marketing dollars.
But that aside, the opportunity for your business to participate in and sponsor digital events is enormous, arguably equal to or even greater than in-person events. Why? Well, the presence of digital events is adapting better.
Think about it: no travel costs, no hotels, no travel time, much cheaper to participate. You can actually participate in multiple events with the same team on the same day. It is IF you nail your digital events strategy.
We hosted five Couch Conferences in May and June, as well as The Global Boardroom in collaboration with the FT in May, already bringing together over 100,000 people at our digital events.
The results for our partners are really promising, especially when they have a clear plan of what they want to accomplish, and there is a lot more room for optimization. We have also advised partners on their own client events and helped them implement and execute their digital events strategy (if you want more details, contact me on Linkedin).
Just like with in-person events, you need to have a battle plan: how you’re going to get the most out of the online event, how you’re going to capture leads, how you approach people, how you position your product on the market. digital events platform.
You also need to decide what story you are telling at the event. For example, are you launching a new product? Or there to catch up with current customers? Perhaps you are testing a new market or a new product? Or are you looking to hire new digital talent?
Based on this, you need to determine who are the most suitable people to join your team’s event to execute your battle plan, and how you are going to follow up after the event.
Event planners, including us at TNW, need to help educate the market on how businesses can make the most of their presence at digital events. I believe digital events are here to stay, even when they return in person. This belief also means that there is a business model that supports it and that works for all parties involved: exhibitors, sponsors, but also event organizers and participants.
My advice to take or leave
- Decide (and write down on paper!) If and where digital events fit into your customer acquisition or retention journey.
- Do your research and go beyond an event’s landing page before deciding to attend, exhibit, or partner with them.
- Define your KPIs: what outcomes are you focusing on that can be measured?
- Create a battle plan for digital events.
- Host an internal workshop with your sales and marketing team to discuss KPIs, responsibilities, and best practices.
- Implement KPI Tracking: Make sure your conversations and leads are logged in your CRM and other tools.
- Go out and test with some digital events to try out your new strategy. Costs for digital events are lower, so it’s easier to fit more into your event budget.
- Evaluate the results and adjust if necessary.
Note: If you are unsure or in doubt as to whether digital events should be part of your marketing mix, a a good starting point is to attend a few events (start with the TNW conference) with a small group of people – at least with marketing and sales – to experiment and see what can be done and how digital events can fit into your marketing strategy.
At TNW2020 we have tickets for all budgets available, I personally recommend a Business Pass (to have a good view you want to have networking features) which currently only costs € 99 excl.