Tips for Using B2B Marketing Automation Before, During, and After Events

You spend weeks, months, maybe even a year prepping for a huge event. You’ve got the fancy trade show booth, a perfect elevator pitch, slick new collateral, and matching polos for you and your team. But what happens beyond the expo hall?

Your event marketing strategy doesn’t end after you’ve shaken all the hands and run out of business cards. But following up on leads post-show seems time-consuming and costly.

Well, you’re in luck. Marketing automation is here to save the day (and all those new relationships you sparked, you go-getter). Read on to learn how your B2B event marketing strategy can benefit from marketing automation before, during, and after your event.

Before the event:

Jump-start the customer journey.

Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report shows that 84% of customers say being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business. So sure, you can blast your entire email list with a “Find us at booth 274!” email. Or, you can create the personalized communication experience that business buyers expect.

By using marketing automation, you can build a 360-degree view of conference attendees’ needs and characteristics based on existing data you might have at your disposal. For example, you could send a dynamic email with content related specifically to a prospect’s interests (based on their previous engagement) the week before an event.

Get social.

If you’ve been to a trade show recently, you’re likely familiar with the onslaught of emails flooding your inbox before a big event, with unknown brands announcing their presence and begging you to stop by their booth. While email can certainly make a first impression, social media advertisements can cultivate more authentic brand recognition before an event even begins.

Use social media to market your brand or your conference booth to attendees that open or engage with your email content. Following up on this initial interest will deepen the connection and lead into a seamless brand experience for your event leads. (For bonus points, consider promoting a special contest or giveaway via social to entice people to visit you at an event.)

During the event:

Ditch the manual sign-in sheets.

Capture lead information efficiently with Pardot’s kiosk mode. Data imports directly into Pardot, so you can follow up immediately and get to nurturing those leads before the day is even over. Automatic data entry will save you time and headaches.

Break through the cluttered program.
During the event, consider sending out reminders to check out sessions your team is hosting or sponsoring. While an attendee may just glance over the conference or trade show program, giving them a chance to see your content individually could boost session attendance, and thus give you more valuable brand exposure.

Take it one step further by using your marketing automation software to tailor your emails to individual interest groups.

Expand opportunities for touchpoints.

Trade shows can be a zoo of eager salespeople and crowded booths. Your marketing automation software can use geotargeting and event data from name tag scans and sign-ins to show you who you missed at an event.

If someone engaged with a pre-show email but didn’t get their badge scanned at your booth, you can use that information to follow up with a personalized offer for a 1:1 meeting. Communicate your interest in a personal meeting with an offer to grab coffee or drinks. Or, you can follow up with a link to an e-book or other freebies prospects may have missed at your booth.

After the event:

Import your leads.

First things first! Take all of those precious leads you worked so hard for and gather them into your marketing automation platform. From there, the platform can help you segment them based on past engagement, demographics, or other criteria. If you used Pardot’s kiosk mode during the event, you’re one step ahead.

Qualify your leads.

Not all leads are created equal, but you probably don’t have time to sift through thousands of data points and determine which customers you should focus on.

This is where our friend Einstein comes in. Artificial intelligence software can score your leads and let you know which accounts you should spend your time pursuing. Lead scoring will help you get to know your most important prospects and what they may be looking for — a key tactic in any account-based marketing strategy.

Follow up. Then follow up again.

To drive conversions from your event, it’s important to maintain the connections you made. Nurture your leads to conversion by starting individual customer journeys that go beyond a “thank you” email.

Make sure your sales and marketing teams are aligned, and hold your sales team accountable for follow up. Your company likely dropped big bucks on your event marketing strategy, so don’t let those valuable leads slip through the cracks.

See how you did.

Use closed-loop ROI reporting to evaluate success from the event. Tailored data from your marketing automation stack will evaluate what worked, what didn’t, and what to do differently next time.

Oh, and just in case you need to justify your efforts to some executive folks (wink wink), reporting will also arm you with hard data to show how valuable your event was.

In event marketing, personalization is the name of the game. How can you engage each business buyer individually and efficiently as they wind through a tradeshow hall? Pardot makes it easy to nurture your leads before, during, and after the big show.

Learn more by checking out some of these resources: