What’s one of the most powerful content marketing tools used today? Event marketing. 58 percent of marketers consider conferences, trade shows, and other events to be important for improving the customer experience. For B2B marketers, the appeal of in-person marketing is even higher. 67 percent believe events are their most effective content tool.
According to Forrester, event marketing makes up the largest portion of B2B marketing budgets, about 20 percent. Approximately $108 billion is spent on event hosting each year – in the US alone.
In-person events, i.e. human interaction, simply have more impact than all the social media posts and email newsletters in the world. This is true both when they happen and afterward with the event echo effect. When you take part in the best marketing conferences, you have a real opportunity to build interest, generate burning hot leads, and make a few sales on the big day. But the biggest boon comes after the fact when you repurpose your event content and grow your brand community post-event.
Here are the major benefits of event marketing that you should be taking advantage of.
Get an Authentic Buyer Perspective
The knowledge gained from face-to-face interactions with customers is critical for creating – and leveraging – accurate buyer personas. For B2B brands, in particular, customer interaction may be limited to emails, brief online chats, and an occasional phone call.
With real-time, human engagement, the quality of the feedback and insight you’ll receive will be tremendously valuable for enriching your buyer personas and improving the experience and products you offer your customers. You may discover a problem with your product or services that is the root of unexplained customer churn. On the other hand, you could uncover strengths you didn’t realize you had, which your brand can now better capitalize on.
- Talk with clients or interested prospects at a conference over coffee.
- Take notes during the interactive Q&A session.
- Encourage attendees to reach out to you or your team directly with questions or concerns.
- Use a branded mobile event app to encourage interaction with your attendees, to launch discussions, and to send out survey requests.
Enhance Customer Loyalty with Real-Time Experiences
Sue Duris, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience for M4 Communications, explains the rich benefits of experiential marketing, which includes events as well as other live, personalized experiences such as real-time webinars.
“These live experiences connect consumers to brands in a personal and purposeful way. Customer experience and experiential marketing converge in the creation of dynamic, rich, and emotional connections with consumers that can generate brand loyalty.”
Customers appreciate the commitment of brands who offer events. A 2016 report on experiential marketing found that 72 percent of consumers view brands who offer quality events in a positive light. They also say they are more likely to make a purchase after attending an event.
Boost Your Social Media Engagement
Another advantage of event marketing is how it can drive social media engagement. Become the brand that everyone is talking about by building up excitement on your social channels pre-event, posting stats, quotes, and even live streaming during the event, and sharing highlights after it occurs.
- Offer discounts, prizes, or other perks to social followers to claim in the lead-up to your event.
- Encourage attendees to sign up for your business’s social sites by running a contest on one of your social platforms, such as the attendee that shares the best picture, or finds the answer to a riddle (something that can be only solved at the event) first.
- Let people know with fliers or announcements that post-event news, photos, and insights will be shared directly on social media.
- Project your brand’s live Twitter feed at the event to motivate more social posts.
Encouraging more social engagement will help to build your brand’s community. The people who attend your events are likely to be your long-term customers, as well as your brand advocates. Get them connected with your business on social media so they can conveniently share your riveting blog posts and inspirational podcasts and vlogs in the future.
Increase Organic Traffic with an Event Calendar
Your event can even help to increase traffic to your site and boost your brand’s search engine rankings. One way to do this is to use an interactive event calendar. By using SEO optimized images, RSVP information, social media connections, and metadata, you are effectively offering search engines a rich list of quality information to index.
As a bonus, if your event calendar integrates with your marketing software, it can also be used to gather customer information, improve your segmentation, and learn more about how your customers interact with your event listing.
Speaking of inbound marketing, you can repurpose your event content into months worth of high-quality content. Fill up your blog schedule with value-driven posts related to the event. Conduct interviews with speakers and share on your social media channels. Post pictures, videos, and standout quotes.
You can also create an event survey to gather data for an original report covering current insights in your industry. Especially if you have a large attendee list, this can be an excellent way to collect valuable market information, which you can then repurpose into a white paper to share with your existing customers or to offer on your website to attract leads.
Become a More Meaningful Brand
Event marketing works. As those winning event metrics keep coming in, brands are going to continue offering more in-person experiences for their customers. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts the event industry to grow by 44 percent from 2010 to 2020!
While the ROI for events varies – big budget brands claim they see a return that exceeds 5 times their investment for live events, while about half of brands across the board put their return between 3 and 5 times what they invested – the majority of companies who use events believe the impact in terms of lead generation, sales, and customer loyalty is worth it.
Consumers are gravitating towards more meaningful brands. The ones that offer real value. That can improve their lives. And that can step through the wall that traditionally stands between consumers and business to offer something human.