Using Technology to Improve Event Outcomes

As an event marketer for over a decade, I am sick and tired of hearing that events are a “fluffy” marketing channel.

SEO, digital advertising, dynamic content delivery; this is where the “sexy”, “serious” marketing is happening. But not events. Events are associated with day-old pastries, hit-or-miss networking and long-winded keynotes.

Yes, I deal with caterers and booth vendors and salespeople for branded bottle-openers – but I am not your momma’s luncheon planner. I live and die by the same kind of lead generation metrics as every other marketer that’s worth their salt.

I evaluate events – whether attending, exhibiting, hosting or sponsoring – using the same lens you might look through to determine the viability of any other marketing channel. Is this a lead generation opportunity? Will this increase my brand visibility? Is this a chance to nurture my relationships with current customers? This is not about free drinks at the sponsored happy hour (though they don’t hurt) this is serious marketing business.

Technology for event marketing

Marketing technologies that support my event marketing

Pre-show

While events are a largely offline experience, a surprising amount of my work is actually done with the help of technological tools. I will often use Marketo for email campaigns to drum up interest in my company before the event – the nature of these campaigns will clearly vary based on whether I am hosting, attending, exhibiting or sponsoring.

I don’t want to leave meeting the right prospects up to chance, so I will try and do as much proactive outreach as I can before the event begins. I’ll often try and get the attendee list from the company organizing the event so that I can connect with new leads and if there is no attendee list, I might target our database based on the geographic location of the event.

On-site

Once my team is at an event, we use a mobile event app to continue our marketing efforts and maximise the lead generation opportunity. If we are exhibiting we might post in the app to drum up excitement and increase traffic at our booth. Many event apps have lead-scanning capabilities, so I can scan attendee badges and take notes about relevant prospects.

If we are attending we might go through the attendee list in the app and try and proactively reach out to professionals that might be interested in doing business with us. And if we are hosting, I will use the app to engage with my attendees at every point of the event using surveys, push notifications, live polling and targeted messages to enhance the experience and increase their exposure to my brand.

Post-show

Post event I use Salesforce to import all of the new leads I captured and run reports using the data I was able to collect about prospects. I will often benchmark this data with other events I have attended, measuring my event outcomes against the total cost of the event. In fact, at DoubleDutch we developed a whole event ROI model to ensure we are properly evaluating the successes and failures of our events, helping us make smarter event marketing decisions.

Using technology to measure the success of your event

But many event marketers have yet to fully capitalize on event technology and its role in the marketing software stack. A recent study by Hubspot and Eventbrite actually revealed that 59% of marketers struggle to measure event ROI. So that’s why I am going on the road to help marketers reclaim events as a “serious” channel. I’m heading to Amsterdam first and then to London where members of my team will talk about how mobile can impact events, delegates, sponsors.. and your bottom line. Marketing professionals from American Express, MCI, Zurich Insurance and iOSX Enterprise Summit will talk about event technology best practices and the ways they have used mobile to boost business.

And there is NOTHING “fluffy” about that.

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Victoria Makras

Victoria Makras

Senior Event Marketing Manager, DoubleDutch

Victoria runs the global events team at DoubleDutch, the leading provider of mobile event apps. With over a decade of event experience, Victoria sponsors and produces upwards of 65 events a year. She built the DoubleDutch event marketing strategy from the ground up and has implemented a company-wide standard to improve the way DoubleDutch participates in and evangelizes its technology at events.
Victoria sits on the Young Adult Professional Committee of Make-Wish-Foundation as the Events Chair, raising money to help make wishes come true for children with life-threatening medical conditions. When not planning events she enjoys hiking, traveling, cooking and drinking champagne.

April 8, 2015

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