‘85% of B2B marketers say lead generation is the most important organisational goal for the next 12 months’.
– Content Marketing Institute, 2015.
Whether you’re at the helm of an SME, or are shaping the marketing strategy for a larger company, lead generation is likely to feature highly on your agenda.
But what are the best ways to generate leads, and are outbound marketing tactics, like events, dead?
Lead Generation has Changed for Sales and Marketing
With the advent of social media, blogging, webinars and video, potential buyers can now find most of the product information, reviews and expert advice they need online, rather than relying on a sales visit or call. The roles of sales and marketing have therefore shifted, with the marketing function responsible for taking buyers further along the customer journey and engaging buyers for longer before passing high-quality, qualified leads onto the sales team. According to research by Forrester, today’s buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before they seek out a sales person. So how do marketers attract, educate and persuade buyers to progress them along the sales funnel?
‘Today’s buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before they reach out for a sales person’.
The sales funnel below from Smart Insights presents four buying stages: exploration, decision-making, purchase and advocacy, and highlights the various types of content that influence buyers, depending on where they are in that cycle. It’s also important to remember that inbound marketing is a continuous process of engagement and feedback and that everyone who has touchpoints with customers and prospects needs to add value to that process.
Events are a Key B2B Marketing Tactic
‘75% of marketers cited in-person events as their most important marketing tool’.
– Content Marketing Institute, 2015
Events offer a great opportunity to reach specific audiences, generate leads and increase brand awareness. Real world interaction is still the best way of building and establishing an emotional connection, so events will have an important role to play in your marketing strategy for years to come.
Any marketer or CEO knows that attendance at corporate events can be costly and time-consuming, but when planned well, we can maximize the benefits of events to amplify our in-bound marketing efforts and ensure they work in tandem with our content marketing strategy.
What can you do to get maximum value out of your events?
Before the Event
- Use an event hashtag to create a buzz and dialogue on social media
- If planning a trade show, create a profile on the event website and include backlinks to your blogs, social media and website
- Create some short ‘teaser’ videos to promote your seminars in advance
- Interview your speakers prior to the event and share podcasts or videos via your social media channels
- Set up an event landing page so that you can track those who visited it prior to, during and after the event
- Create a sign-up process that asks customers valuable questions
- Ask customers for questions they’d like answered during the seminar and prepare the answers
- Send a series of email campaigns with links to your blog, webinars and white papers
- Create and publicise incentives to visit your stand: competitions; content giveaways; food and drink
- Put together a press pack and also send out a press release
During the Event
- Use a scanner and digital e-newsletter sign-up forms to collect delegate data
- Live tweet and post about the day
- Ask stand visitors what kinds of content they would like to see in future
- Record your own seminars and speaking slots so that you can post the content after the event
- Provide valuable information packs at the end of your seminar as another channel to disseminate your content
- Forge relationships with potential partners, prospects and existing clients to extend your bank of influencers and future content contributors
- Provide some cakes, wine and nibbles to make people feel at home
- Gain new content ideas and research the latest trends by visiting other stands and attending keynote sessions
After the Event
- Segment your delegates into different groups so that you can provide relevant content, tailored for each audience
- Email delegates who attended the event to thank them for coming and add a call to action
- Email those who didn’t attend with a summary/video of what they missed and a call to action
- Email potential partners and telephone to arrange a follow up meeting
- Work with sales to score your leads so that you can separate the ‘warm’, qualified leads from the ‘cooler’ ones. (Eg. Visited stand +10 points; Attended session +50 points; signed up for a trial +70 points).
- Upload photos and videos of the event to your website and other platforms
- Create a blog post
- Review the show to inform future event strategy
- Use social media to engage in dialogues around your industry
The process of lead generation has changed over the past decade or so, with a shift towards buyers seeking out online content and case studies independently, rather than relying on sales visits. Great content that is useful, relevant and discoverable is at the heart of lead generation and it has never been more important for marketers and sales teams to align their processes so that they can bring value to each stage of the buying cycle.
Events are still an excellent opportunity to connect on a personal level with prospects and partners. Combining content marketing methods with your event strategy can increase your ROI, improve the quality of your leads and, by providing better customer insights, intensify your inbound marketing results.
Do you have experience of events? How valuable have events been in helping to generate leads for your business? Leave a comment below!