This article was updated in July 2022.
B2B events including in-person events, virtual events, and webinars are an effective channel for making the most out of your lead generation strategy. Unfortunately, event attendees don’t always equal customers, and closing event leads often requires additional, strategic effort.
Here are our top tips for getting the most out of your B2B events. Read on to learn how effective event marketing can be a top channel for lead generation.
Conduct Pre-Event Audience Research
Knowing who will be at the event is key to developing a well thought out lead generation strategy. When it comes to B2B events, it can be difficult to nail down the exact contacts you need to invite within a company.
Review past events
Look at past event registration and attendance lists to get an idea of the companies and contacts that 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.
There’s nothing more discouraging than realizing a large number of your contacts have move on or are no longer part of your target audience. If you find yourself in this situation, it may be time to do some manual research.
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 the best way to contact them.
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.
Launch Social Campaigns & Google Ads
You’re probably already running social ad as part of your event marketing, either promoting registrations or encouraging a meeting with your sales reps. But, what about ads for after someone registers? Or during AND after the event?
Get the most out of your advertising lead generation strategy by targeting your audience based on a specific action they took. 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 product 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.
Send Personalized Event Emails
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.
Don't Forget Event Reminders
Just because someone registered for an event, doesn’t always mean they will attend. By sending custom event reminder emails, your guests stay informed about event details and are more likely to attend.
Real-Time Social Networking
A key to effective event lead generation is to 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 event lead generation strategy was, it means 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.