EMS 2016 was an exciting event, especially for B2B event marketers. For the first time in many years, we could see a shift from traditional branding at events to understanding event ROI from a revenue pipeline perspective. Our Jifflenow team was quite pleasantly surprised to see that event marketers are more and more moving towards quantifying the impact of their event marketing activities and exploring how they can use smart event technologies to build a stronger sales pipeline.
With the advent of digital media, events have evolved into powerhouses that generate sales revenues and considerably shorten sales cycles. In this blog post, we explore some of the key takeaways of the Experiential Marketing Summit 2016.
1. The digital facet
Digitization has become more of a norm than a trend off late. There is a need to focus on strategies that shift the spotlight from product orientation to customer needs and expectations. Digital marketing has become a primary priority. CMOs are now focusing on digital marketing as a direct source of revenue and lead generation.
There is a need to re-evaluate the impact of social media on customers. Social media forms a strong link with customers and marketers. By being receptive to social media interactions with customers in the B2B space, marketers are able to understand what customers expect and how to better position products to acquire leads and generate pipeline. A prior digital handshake can enable a smoother event interaction and can help customers prepare for the meeting well in advance.
2. Restructuring the conventional model of events
Previously, events were modelled around booths, though they are more than just arenas to showcase products. Booths form an integral part of brand interactions and are considered good tools to develop businesses. However, they don’t’ allow measuring event ROI. For event marketers, it is impossible to measure the magnitude of potential return on investment against the potential of opportunities missed.
To address this dilemma, pipeline generation becomes the primary emphasis of the event. Events can now establish the magnitude and impact of meetings through a pipeline centred approach. Linking CRM data is also crucial to keeping a track of pipeline and potential opportunities. With this approach, not only is a marketer able to understand the effectiveness of each meeting, but can also understand how to better nurture leads and forge strong customer relationships. There are three phases to sales meetings – building new pipelines, nurturing existing pipelines and building existing relationships.
Build new pipeline
- Schedule your prospects for a 15 or 30-min conversation with sales reps or SMEs
- Convert badge scan data to qualified CRM data
Nurture existing pipeline
- Plan meetings well in advance
- Fix minimum number of confirmed meetings as a criterion
- Over time, increase investments in meeting spaces
Build existing relationships
- Get the account management team to meet customers at events
- Include senior leadership and SMEs in these meetings
- Create easy check-in experiences for customers
3. CMO priorities
Calculating event ROI can be a challenging task for marketers. With events at the helm of things, there is a need to rethink events from an investment and return standpoint. Customers are now well informed of product offerings and so it is imperative that marketers curate solutions to address specific customer requirements and concerns.
CMOs have become increasingly investment oriented and have taken a hands-on approach to accountability. According to Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey 2015-16, 73% of marketers share P&L responsibilities with an additional 18% planning on sharing P&L responsibilities within a span of 24 months. This says a lot about how CMOs have prioritized customer experience and event marketing strategy.
Tips for a better meeting experience:
- Gauge meeting volumes well in advance.
- Send meeting requests at least 4 months in advance.
- Ensure consistency in meeting requests.
- Utilize digital marketing tools to invite potential customers.
- Link CRM data to the event.
- Collect meeting reports so that customers and attendees are educated on meeting agenda.
Over the years, event marketing has become an increasingly complex process with the priority now on the experience rather than on the brand. With digitalization becoming a prevalent trend, it is important to quantify the impact of sales meetings on B2B marketing. The focus has ushered the need to focus on event ROI as opposed to keeping events strictly brand building initiatives.