B2B events are an effective way to build brand awareness, engage with potential customers, and generate marketing qualified leads. However, they can be expensive and time-consuming to execute. To ensure a positive ROI, it’s essential to have a complementary outbound strategy to allow attendees and prospects to easily request meetings and continue to engage with your company’s products or services after the event has ended. In this blog post, we will discuss how to design and execute a killer outbound strategy to complement your broad event strategy.
Step 1: Define Your Campaign Goals
The first step in designing your outbound strategy is to define your goals. What is the natural path of progression for the prospect or customer post event? What marketing activities help move them further along the buyer’s journey? How can your outbound strategy help you achieve those goals? Some common post-event goals include:
- Highlight your company’s thought leadership or research
Just because the event is over doesn’t mean the education stops. To make your event investment worthwhile, you want to ensure continuity in your marketing programs and campaigns.
- Nurture existing customer relationships
Because customer meetings are the heartbeat of an organization, if you did a good job at the event creating those opportunities for engagement, you will want to make sure you continue to cultivate the relationship.
- Book Expert Meetings or Sessions that complement programs and engagements attendees participated in at your event
Because the average B2B sales cycle takes several touchpoints to close a deal, you can’t think of the event as a one and done process. Instead, look for the next opportunity to engage your audience.
- Nurture contacts or accounts you didn’t get the chance to engage with at the event with webinars, sessions, or other content
Since it’s impossible to meet with every qualified company or account at the event, you’re leaving potential opportunities on the table if you don’t have a plan to engage those accounts post-event.
Step 2: Segment Your Audience
The next step is to segment your audience so that you can funnel them to the right program or campaign. For the leads you engaged with at the event, you’ll want to separate them into qualified and non-qualified groups. For the qualified group, you’ll want to further segment them into the right stage of the buyer’s journey. Are they ready for sales or do they need further nurturing?
You will also need to segment your audience by the accounts you didn’t get to engage with at the event because the follow-up message will be different. You can use a different outbound marketing campaign to engage those qualified accounts that you may have missed.
Step 3: Create Valuable Content
The core of any good outbound marketing strategy is valuable content that feels personalized. You need to create content that your target audience will find useful, informative, or entertaining. This content can take many forms, including traditional mediums like blog posts, videos, infographics, webinars, and e-books (similar to content you might use in an inbound campaign). Outside of these traditional mediums, you can also think about content in terms of live engagements or virtual events. This can be anything from webinars and information sessions to demos or even product specific education.
Thinking about content in this way helps you consider the holistic buyer’s journey, and lets you bring together the right content to maximize engagement post-event and continue any momentum you have already created.
Going back to your segmentation, you can create programs or content that help direct prospects or customers to the right place post event and add value to their journey. Consider mapping content to the buyer’s journey stage. For example:
Top of the Funnel
This is the very beginning of the prospect’s touchpoint with your company. He or she may not be problem aware or know of your company’s product or offering(s) at this stage. Contacts or accounts from the event that you didn’t meet may fall into this group. The type of content most appealing at this stage is designed to make the prospect more problem aware.
Awareness and Education
Prospects at this stage of the journey may have some awareness of your brand, product or service, but still require more education to create interest. Prospects from the event who may have been scanned at your booth, but didn’t invest time in an onsite meeting or demo may fall into this group. A webinar or information session may be appropriate content for this group and can serve as a great follow up while your company is still top of mind.
Evaluation and Purchase
Prospects at this stage of the journey are well aware of your company’s products or services and are moving toward the decision stage. The segment from the event that participated in a live session or demo may fall into this category. At this time, any information that can further reinforce your offering(s) as the right choice will aid in the decision process. You will want to position content like case studies or perhaps expert sessions that dive deeper, beyond just the initial value.
Existing customers are also an important segment that shouldn’t be ignored. Events offer a way to extend the relationship as well as evaluate if more value can be forged from the partnership. Content focused on customer education or new products may be a good fit for this group. Finding a way to show the customer hidden value (and education that showcases that) will also win bonus points.
Mapping content according to its stage in the buyer’s journey will help you position the right content for the right audience.
Step 4: Leverage Your Existing Programs
You don’t necessarily need to create content from scratch if you can leverage your existing programs. Think about your evergreen campaigns and programs…perhaps it’s a recurring webinar, a customer education series, or an ongoing technical demo with your sales engineering team.
In any case, if you are managing multiple types of engagements, programs or sessions, do yourself a favor and invest in a good automated scheduling platform designed to handle multiple campaigns at once. This will streamline all of your programs and reduce manual effort from coordinating availability, matching internal experts to engagement types, and much more.
An advantage of a solution like this, is that you will be able to embed one form across multiple campaigns, allowing prospects and customers to self-select the program that makes the most sense for their journey. These embedded pages can be used across both your inbound and outbound campaigns, saving your team time and effort.
Step 5: Implement Email Marketing
Email marketing is a great way to nurture leads and build relationships with potential customers and customers alike post-event. It also works in tandem as a good outbound channel to complement your post-event marketing campaigns.
Create an email campaign that targets the different segments of your attendee event list. Then craft personalized messaging for each group with a strong CTA that maps to the right content for their stage of the journey. If you’ve mastered the tip in step 4 for a streamlined landing page with embedded form that can let people register for their selected engagement type, you can make the setup process for your campaigns much easier. It will also give prospects and customers the option to request and/or self-select the topics or sessions that interest them.
Step 6: Measure Your Results and Optimize
Finally, it is essential to measure the success of your campaigns. Use analytics tools to track website traffic, pull marketing automation reports to get email open and click-through rates, and analyze your landing pages for registration rates. These data points can help you to determine what is working well and what could be improved. Use this information to refine your topics and programs and outreach efforts for your next big event.
Designing and executing a killer outbound strategy to complement your events takes time and effort. However, it is an essential part of ensuring a positive ROI for your events. By defining your goals, identifying your target audience, creating valuable content, leveraging existing programs, implementing email marketing, and measuring your results, you can create a holistic strategy that engages attendees once the buzz of your event has worn off.