How to utilise Events to enhance your Marketing Automation

April 20, 2017

For many B2B companies, hosted events and tradeshows are one of the most critical marketing activities in driving sales. Naturally I therefore often I get asked the question, “How can our marketing automation platform work for events?”, generally with a pre-empted expectation that it should be able to replace our existing events platform, in handling registrations, hotel bookings and so forth.

In truth, it probably could but nowhere near as neatly or efficiently as the tens of providers who create platforms solely for this purpose, and marketing automation platforms (MAPs) don’t claim to do so.

But that doesn’t mean the two systems should be completely isolated from each other and, by integrating your marketing automation and event platforms through an API, a number of benefits are opened up:


Pre-event & in-event email communications

At the heart of marketing automation is email marketing, so by syncing your marketing automation and events platforms, there’s information captured at events that can enhance your email marketing strategy. A simple example of this is a lead for whom no country or region information was previously available before they registered for an event. With this information now feeding into your MAP, it can be used to help localise communications with them.

Similarly in-event, never is a lead as likely to engage with your brand’s email marketing than if one drops into their inbox as they leave the event, which increases the importance of delivering relevant content. Therefore, tailoring what is sent based on any interests captured a few hours earlier is a no-brainer to maximise engagement.

Post-event communications

Sticking with the theme of relevance, having invested thousands of pounds on an event it must be considered within the context of the broader marketing strategy to ensure integrated communications. Events potentially offer a rich source of information and detail about leads, such as one-to-one conversations which uncover individual interests and this can feed into your MAP to drive follow-up nurturing, such as triggering a lead to enter an interest-specific email nurture campaign post-event.

Scoring & lead follow-up

The whole concept of marketing automation revolves around nurturing leads across multiple channels and then passing that lead onto a salesperson at the critical point in time when they’re deemed ‘hot’ (or as the marketer calls it, an ‘MQL’). Therefore, attendance at an event should contribute to this holistic view of a lead through its scoring, alongside web activity, interaction with email campaigns, content downloads and so on.

Furthermore, any lead who requests a follow-up meeting with a salesperson post-event can be fed into your marketing automation lead flow process by scoring that request high enough to trigger them as an MQL and hand them over to sales seamlessly.

Information for sales

Further to this point of nurturing leads across multiple channels (including events) and ensuring they are handed over to sales at the critical point in time, by bringing events into this holistic view of what contributes to a lead’s readiness for sales, when follow-up from a rep does take place, a view of events attended and any further relevant information captured can only help in guiding the conversation.

Up-to-date information

The final point is simple. Job titles, job levels and contact information change all of the time, so one of the biggest challenges in marketing automation is keeping your database up-to-date with the latest information about your leads. Therefore, a direct feed from your events platform with updates captured during the events registration process or on-stand is a useful and reliable additional source to do so.

It’s quite clear that there’s a lot of genuine benefits from bringing your events and marketing automation closer together. Leads and customers who you get to meet face-to-face will be some of the hottest going, so pulling as much usable information about them into the rest of your marketing activities is pretty critical to help close those deals. Let me emphasise the word “usable” here…

It’s easy to go away and think “Great idea! Why didn’t we do any of this before?!”, review all the data fields in your events platform and then start pushing everything over into your MAP. But first, question what would we actually do in our MAP if this information was there now? If you have trigger nurture campaigns ready to start blasting to leads with interests aligning with those captured at events, then super-duper(!), get this data synced over ASAP… but if not, what actionable value will having that in your MAP database actually have? I know it’s tempting to assume every bit of data in your lead database has value, but the reality is that your MAP co-ordinator is the only person who ever sees probably 60-70% of it.

Instead, if your company falls into the later category here, I’d challenge you to go away and strategise how you should be dealing with this information where you have it, by developing and building nurture campaigns for these key interests. Once you have them set up and ready to trigger, then there’s most certainly value in prioritising your resource’s valuable time to sync this information across from your events platform.

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