It’s no secret that plans have changed and in-person events are no longer a key part of B2B marketing strategies – at least in 2020. Though it’s unclear where we are headed in the upcoming year, it’s essential for marketers to start thinking through the reallocation of their event budgets to maintain touchpoints with their customers and prospects. Money that was originally earmarked for delicious food, speaker gifts and a cool venue for in-person events can now be reallocated to online event promotion, impactful follow-up and other digital tactics in your overall marketing strategy.
If you’re considering making the shift to online events, below are tips for developing an impactful virtual events marketing program, as well as recommendations and resources for reallocating your in-person events budget to digital tactics to help maintain and nurture personal relationships with your audience.
Why virtual events
Effective B2B marketing strategies use in-person events to connect with prospects and develop personal connections that help facilitate a sale. However, if you’re not able to host in-person events, it’s imperative to maintain those touchpoints in one way or another. Many marketers have started to shift their strategies to find new ways to connect with their audiences through virtual marketing events.
Virtual events allow businesses to connect with their customers while sharing engaging content to help promote their brand. While not traditional, hosting events online helps companies continue to build community while connecting with their attendees as people, rather than as businesses.
Virtual events also give you easy access to measurable data to help you calculate ROI. From event registrants and attendees to activities and touchpoints after the event, you’ll be able to measure the success of each event and scale appropriately. In addition, these metrics will help your sales team best engage with prospective customers post-event and will allow them to foster a connection with ease.
How to host a successful virtual event
Now more than ever, your organization’s marketing strategy hinges on your ability to virtually connect with prospects and customers, and online events are a great way to do this. But, successful online marketing events require a strategic approach, flawless execution and personalized follow-up.
In our newest resource, 12 Steps to Engaging Your Audience with Virtual Events, we guide you through setting up an impactful virtual events program. Running a virtual event is an entirely different ball game than in-person events and requires a solid strategy and a mix of the following:
- Goal setting
- Effective technology
- Engaging content
- Successful outreach and follow-up strategy
Pivoting your entire marketing events strategy to a virtual platform seems daunting. While it’s more cost-effective and easier to facilitate, there are a lot of moving pieces, and it’s essential to have a solid framework in place to see success. Learn more about the necessary steps to running an impactful virtual events program here.
Budget reallocation recommendations
As you begin to think through how you can transition your in-person events budget into virtual touchpoints, it’s important to think beyond just hosting online events. While some of your budget can go into running a virtual events program, the remainder should go toward impactful follow-up, lead nurturing and digital marketing tactics.
When thinking through where to reallocate your budget, it’s important to keep ROI in mind. Here’s where we recommend spending some additional money to make the most of your online strategy:
- Impactful event follow-up: After any event, follow-up is key. And while email is very traditional, try to think outside the box. Can you swing a personal mailer? If so, be sure to ask for your attendees’ addresses upon event registration. Surprise and delight goes a long way when everyone is working remotely, so be thoughtful in your follow-up.
- Lead nurturing: Post-event follow-up, along with nurturing your event attendees and your general leads, is a key part to an impactful marketing strategy. If possible, put some money behind this and nurture your leads outside of your email channel. Retarget your leads with ads after they’ve visited your website. Connect with your leads on LinkedIn. Conduct research on your leads and send them actionable content that addresses their pain points.
- Digital marketing tactics: Before putting more money into your digital marketing strategy, redefine your business goals into realistic measures to generate a positive ROI. Put some additional spend into paid social (LinkedIn in particular) and target leads that you’ve engaged with in the past, as well as additional target companies, with messaging specific to their industries. Remember to maintain an empathetic message throughout and promote content that is helpful and insights-based. Reallocating spend into your digital marketing strategy will help you generate demand while promoting a positive brand image. Be sure to track everything and take a look at your strategy weekly to measure success.
Reallocating budget while making the pivot to online events is a big undertaking, but you’re not alone. Here are some resources to get you started:
- B2B Marketing Budget Calculator for Adapting Channel Allocations – Use this resource to help you figure out your new budget and visualize where to best reallocate your resources.
- How to Adapt to Change — Why Constant Retrospectives Matter – As you reallocate your budget and adjust your strategy, holding retrospectives will keep you honest and help you measure the success of these changes. This blog post walks you through how to run an effective retrospective and how to make them work for you.
- ABM: From Strategy to Execution in 10 Days – Running a successful ABM campaign to your target accounts is a great way to continue to build momentum and, hopefully, revenue. Planning has to be quick and accuracy has to be spot-on. Read this blog post to learn how to run a successful ABM campaign in 10 business days.
- From C-Suite to Sales Team: 3 Ways to Align on Marketing Goals – When reallocating your budget and restrategizing, alignment on marketing goals is critical to success. This blog post walks you through how to use data to get your team on the same page as you enter uncharted waters.
- How to Increase Leads by 70% in 90 Days – Lead flow cannot stop, no matter the circumstance. When focusing on digital marketing tactics, there are multiple channels you can use to bring in new leads. This resource walks you through how to generate leads in a short amount of time.
With the right approach, marketers can still foster personal relationships in an online setting to generate impactful results from virtual events and subsequent online touch points. If you find yourself needing more assistance with reallocating your marketing budget or shifting your marketing efforts to set your B2B brand up for success in the future, get in touch today.