In-person events have become a critical source of leads for B2B marketing and sales organizations. In fact, face-to-face events account for 18 percent of B2B marketing’s annual spend, according to 2016 Forrester Research. This is a shockingly higher investment than their seemingly more “modern” cousins — digital advertising and marketing technology.
It’s easy to understand marketers’ attraction to events, especially for demand generation. Face-to-face events provide brands with a platform to generate real dialog, go deeper with prospects to understand their specific needs, and tell their brand story in an interactive way. And B2B professionals (buyers) who attend will benefit from more personal attention when doing their research.
All parties come back fired up after an event. Now, the real work begins. It’s time to turn badge scans and event lists into prospects and customers.
This effort starts with developing a follow-up plan in advance of each event. The plan should include a data integrity strategy, a well-understood lead routing and qualification process and a follow-up communications workflow. While it’s not the “sexy” part of marketing, marketers must be able to quickly and efficiently:
Easier said than done.
The challenge starts with the reality that most marketing departments participate in multiple flavors of events: industry conferences, trade shows, seminars, road shows, roundtables, meetups. Because each event organizer uses their own attendee data collection process and unique registration forms, each marketing event’s data must be manually reviewed, scrubbed and standardized to be usable in the marketing database.
The more events and the broader variety of event providers are utilized, the more manual data processing has to be done. Not exactly the best use of marketing resources.
Compounding the challenge is how the lead data is retrieved and processed for each type of event. If it’s a trade show or conference with exhibits, a data collection scanner is typically used where lead files can be retrieved via a spreadsheet from a centralized location.
When marketers host their own events, marketers typically manage and process data directly from their own registration forms. In both cases, marketers often dump all attendee data as “leads” directly into their database with no data governance for accuracy or prioritization data to inform which leads to follow up based on lead type or behavior.