Successful Lead Generation Strategies for B2B Events
Events can be an extremely useful tool in building brand awareness and generating leads. Unfortunately, attendees don’t always equal customers, and closing those leads often requires more effort. Especially if you’re not the one hosting the event, it’s vital to be strategic with your efforts.
Pre-event audience research
Knowing who will be at the event is key in making memorable business connections. But when it comes to B2B, it can be difficult to nail down the exact contacts you need within a company.
For the host
If you’re throwing the event, make sure to look at past registration and attendance lists to get an idea of what companies and contacts have shown interest. Cross-reference this with your company’s target audience criteria and current customer list. Make note of any similar findings, such as:
- What deals were closed as a result of the previous event?
- Who were the main contacts? (List any surprises you may notice about job titles, company revenue, goals, etc. This can help inform any needed directional changes or marketing initiatives.)
- How did they hear about the event? (Lead source)
- How long did the deal take to close? Record any notes left by previous reps.
Tip: Even if you’re not the one throwing the event, there are still ways to obtain attendee information. If you ask nicely, many businesses will gladly provide you with, at the very least, a list of company names. However, most event websites will list their partners, presenters, speakers, and anyone else contributing.
There’s nothing more discouraging than realizing a large number of your contacts have gone bad. If you find yourself in this situation, do some manual labor and take to social media.
LinkedIn allows you to search for people within companies and can be filtered by job title and other criteria. Create a list of people with similar titles to your previous contacts, and try to find their email address (hint: sometimes it’s on the company website).
Tip: Look for any good talking points, such as hobbies or special interests listed on the contact’s social pages. Finding a common interest can help break the ice if you end up meeting in person.
Social campaigns & Google ads
You’re probably already running social ads before the event, either promoting registrations or encouraging a meeting with your sales reps. But, what about after someone signs up? Or during AND after the event?
While advertisements are great for brand awareness, they are even more effective when you can target someone based on their specific action. Google’s Retargeting Ads allow you to show an advertisement to a user based on a previous action. For example, if they visit your event landing page but don’t register, you could opt to show them an ad offering an exclusive discount on the ticket price to peak their interest.
Furthermore, once someone has registered, and even after the event is over, you can continue the lead nurture process by retargeting them with ads promoting your content downloads, a demo, or other offers.
The LinkedIn InMail functionality can be a powerful tool for your ABM marketing strategy because it allows you to directly message users, even if you’re not connected. Utilize this feature to reach out to top prospects directly about your upcoming event, or send them a custom recap letter, thanking them for coming or including event highlights for those who may have missed it.
Rather than sending the same invitation email to your entire contact list, create a custom invite to send to your current customers and long-time business connections. Make sure to include important event information, and make it easy to reach you if they have any questions or want to set up a time to meet.
Tip: Referrals are a major player in any business strategy, and events are no different! Encourage people to bring guests who might also find your product or service of value.
Just because someone registered for an event, doesn’t always mean they will attend. By sending custom reminder emails, your guests stay informed about event details and are more likely to attend.
Real-time social networking
Even if you’re not hosting the event, take advantage of networking opportunities by creating your own, such as:
- At a conference: Group demos and informational Q&A sessions can be a powerful sales opportunity to capture and educate people who aren’t quite ready for a one-on-one meeting. Find a place where you know you can find some space for a small group to gather, such as your company booth or a nearby coffee shop. Share social posts and send emails to your target audience to see who might be interested.
- Before or after the event: Many people travel independently to conferences and are eager to meet people. Consider inviting some of your contacts to get coffee before the event or dinner afterward. Often, this is where the best deals happen.
Remember all of that audience research you did before the event? If you know your sales team is going to be meeting with specific leads during the event, use the information you’ve gathered on their interests and pain points to deliver something of value. For example, if you noticed that a lead’s social profile stated that they love chocolate, giving them some local candy to take away after your meeting can help not only delight them but help to keep you top of mind.
Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up!
At the end of the day, no matter how successful your lead generation efforts were, they mean nothing without proper follow-up. Make sure to reach out to any leads you closed at the event by sending a heartfelt thank-you video. If you’re still nurturing some contacts, include any educational resources that address their pain points and would help to further the buying process.
Tip: Discover how you can use a webinar to create even more leads following an event.