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Published in Content Marketing category on (04/28/2016)

Marketing Automation Best Practices and Keys to Event Success

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How EventStream Creates Effective Marketing Automation Implementation and Enables Marketing Automation Best Practices

Welcome to the second part of Marketing and Event Automation 360: Our 3-part series on marketing automation and event automation integration. Join Mike Earley, Certain’s Product Manager, as he discusses marketing automation best practices, ways that event and marketing automation can eliminate these pain-points, and how the launch of EventStream™ simplifies the marketer’s workflow and leads to event success. This 3-part feature will kick-off our Event and Marketing Automation Benchmark report, where we provide detailed industry metrics on how marketers are currently using event and marketing automation.

Take it away Mike!

Previously, I covered the 7 Top Challenges that Marketing Automation Eliminates and how marketing automation gives you a true 360-degree view of the buyer’s journey and customer lifecycle. Now that you understand how messy data, too many systems, and IT dependence can hinder the success of marketers, I want to dive into best practices in order for your marketing and event automation systems to work well together. Then, I’ll discuss next steps, and inform you of the ways that you will be able to use EventStream to further streamline your workflow.

B2B companies that have successfully made the transition to strategy-based marketing — driven by a well-organized marketing operations team that has a repeatable set of business processes that enable them to execute ideas with maximum efficiency — are going to be well-positioned to take on event and marketing automation. If your data no longer scares you and you see it as the digital rocket fuel that runs your marketing machine and you are ready to get everyone on board for adapting their business processes to align efforts, you have the right mindset to achieve those goals. If you have all that, you are on your way to intergalactic success, with the right planning in-place.

Here are the strategies that you need in place in order for successful marketing and event automation implementation:

1. Define Your Goals

Whether it’s generating leads, more customer outreach, or increasing brand awareness, your planning starts with defining what you want to do.

Take the time to work with your team to talk about where the business is going and how your efforts can help the organization get there. Work backwards from large to small: initiatives to strategy to tactics to individual pieces of content.

You will want to have concrete measurable goals set for each event that you do.

2. Determine Who Your Audience is

If customer outreach is one of your goals, have you included them in your event marketing campaigns?  Have you created a set of messaging that is specific to pre-existing customers?  Defining your audience will allow you to build a content strategy that is appropriate.

You should be able to take full advantage of all the data in your marketing and event system for audience segmentation and for tailoring the experience for each group you are going after. Doing this starts with deciding “who.” “Who” comes from your goal planning.

Develop a specific content strategy for each audience you wish to target.

3. Capture and Record Everything You Possibly Can

If marketing automation is about “digital body language,” event automation is about actual body language! Every single interaction can and should be captured.

Start with at least the following:

  • Event registrations
  • Event attendance (it all counts, even no-shows are telling you something)
  • Booth visits
  • Appointments and other meetings
  • Session registrations
  • Session attendance (again, even no-shows tell you something!)

And remember that every time you capture an interaction, the interaction itself is a data point, but each interaction provides you with the opportunity to ask more questions. Try to work brief surveys and polls into as many places as you can without burdening your audience.

Hint: there are tools that are very good at making all this easy for you.

4. Use Your Marketing Automation and Event Automation Systems Together

You can fully-automate the event invitation process by integrating your marketing automation platform and your event automation system. While your marketing automation system is likely sending out your event invites, your event system is likely capturing event registrations. Did you know that your event system can “tell” your marketing automation system when people are registered, so it can automatically suppress sending invites to those people that are already registered? This is just one example of many that can be automated and streamlined when you have integrated these two critical systems.

Plan on setting up a bi-directional integration with a minimum of the following:

  • Sync your target audience from marketing automation into your event automation system. This can help keep your database clean and also help streamline the event registration process by allowing you to pre-populate forms and focus on progressive profiling.
  • Sync all registrations captured by your event automation system back into your marketing automation system. You will very likely have picked up some net new leads, but have also picked up some new data points on records you already had in the system — in fact, you should have done this on purpose.
  • Send the granular level interaction data back into your marketing automation system: event attendance, session attendance, etc. to leverage for scoring and nurturing, etc.

You now have the technical capability to integrate just about every piece of data you are capturing — and you should take full advantage of it.

5. Iterate and Refine

You can capture a very detailed log of every single interaction that a person has with your business before, during, and after an event. You can map that data from your event automation system back into your marketing automation system. You can also use data to create more personalized content, for lead scoring, and for passing it on to the sales team. Really, the list is endless, but you must decide and make a plan for using it, otherwise it is just data sitting there doing nothing.

Sometimes it can be difficult to narrow it down when there are endless possibilities. Experience and time will help you refine what is meaningful to your business so that you are focusing on the most high-impact data. Iterate and refine!

6. Analyze Past Event Data

A good place to start is by looking back at what data was useful in previous events. A very good practice is to institutionalize the “event post-mortem” and use it as an opportunity to pull out your learnings so that your next event is always better than the last one. A good blend of event practices will include a combination of tried and true learnings with a little innovation mixed in every time. Did something not work so well? That’s ok! You learned. Try something else. Something worked well? Double down!

At a minimum, you should be using your event data to:

  • Capture new leads and pass them along to your marketing automation system.
  • Qualify and score every single event registration/attendee — either by using it to augment your existing scoring approach, or by setting up an event-specific scoring model.
  • Trigger custom content/nurturing in your marketing automation system using event specific data.

7. Downstream CRM Integration

Don’t forget about your CRM system! 99 times out of 100, marketing automation systems are integrated with CRM. Be sure that the data flowing into your marketing automation system from events is going to trigger the downstream flow to CRM. Very often this just means setting a flag on qualified records that CRM integration programs can pick up. At it’s most complex, it may mean updating lead scoring values, which when they push a lead score past a certain threshold, indirectly drop a lead into a CRM integration flow.

8. Simplify Your Event Workflow with EventStream

This week, Certain made an exciting announcement: we launched the first comprehensive event app suite for marketing automation solutions called EventStream. This collection of apps will be available by fall of this year. Here are some of EventStream’s features that will help marketers seamlessly integrate on and offline marketing campaigns:

  • Certain EventStream enables marketers to manage all marketing automation aspects of their events and leverage rich event data without ever having to log into Certain.
  • Marketers can easily launch pre, during, and post-event nurture campaigns within their marketing automation system, using rich campaign templates and best practices.
  • Using richly branded event templates created in Certain, marketers can quickly create events from within their marketing automation system. The events are immediately created in Certain for event professionals to manage, while the events are ready for marketing automation within their marketing automation system

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EventStream cuts down on the time that marketers have to spend switching between applications and replicating campaigns and empowers the marketer to have full-line of sight into all aspects of their event lifecycle. This is the first example of an app suite featuring a full integration between marketing and event automation and will help marketers optimize their workflow, thereby directly increasing their productivity and event success.

With the proper marketing and sales alignment, strategies, iterations, and analytics in place, you are well on your way to successful marketing and event automation implementation. By fully integrating your marketing and event automation systems, marketing and sales teams can gain valuable insights by rich attendee data, improve future events, and drive Event ROI. EventStream further optimizes your marketing and event automation integration, enabling marketers to make updates and changes on-the-fly so that they can work quicker and smarter with a robust set of tools that set-up their business for event success.

Want more insights into how to take your company to the next level in terms of fully integrating marketing and event automation to lead to event success? In the third part of our Marketing and Event Automation 360 series, I’ll give you tips on how to accelerate your sales pipeline and drive revenue from events using event and marketing automation integration. Stay tuned for our final installment, where we will also release our Benchmark Report, so you can see where you measure up alongside industry leaders and data-driven marketers!

Ready to make Certain work for your events?

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