How Do Live Events and B2B Digital Marketing Work Together?
Translating live events into the digital realm so it can reach more people is something companies can do to make more out of the cost they are spending at live events. With hundreds of trade shows, conferences, and meet-ups happening every year, events tend to “die” once they are over.
Some have argued that attending conferences and tradeshows are a waste of money in the digital age, yet thousands of attendees still go to live events every year. While some companies are frustrated by the lack of visibility at the large shows due to not receiving speaking slots or not getting the right foot traffic, AdWeek reports that 67 percent of those polled have found that smaller industry shows are better for reaching customers. Identifying the right events for your business depends on your industry and goals for the events.
No matter the goals, you can leverage your in-person activities with what you are doing online. Repurposing a live event into digital content can keep it fresh in users’ minds, leading to more conversations, engagement, and even sales.
Act-On Software reports that the majority of event attendees say going to live events is good for business goals and helps establish thought leadership. Below are some of the areas where live events and digital marketing can work together to create a cohesive presence for B2B brands.
Bring Conversation to Another Medium
Part of doing both B2B digital marketing and live events is to get your brand in front of more people. In person, you might be exposed to a whole new audience where foot traffic can hear more about your offerings. Online, you can put your best foot forward and showcase your products while also offering content, resources, and more opportunities to connect through mediums like free webinars, e-books, and social media.
Combining these two has multiple benefits. This two-way relationship allows your business to cast a wider net and translates your messaging through different channels, which gives you more of an opportunity to reach more people.
One way that B2B marketers are successfully translating in-person events to online traffic is by offering something online to event attendees. This could be a gift card giveaway by signing up for the email list through a connected tablet at the event, following the brand on social media for a free t-shirt, or having a custom hashtag that attendees can use to get into an exclusive after party or happy hour.
Besides offering physical perks for connecting online, like a t-shirt or iPad, offering a digital good may also be lucrative to event attendees (especially because they don’t have to tote it around for the rest of the event!). Consider offering an exclusive white paper with industry findings, a free extensive e-book, or useful templates they can use over and over again.
Because people are stingy about giving out their emails, InfusionSoft recommends ensuring you have a high long-term value proposition to continue to provide value to the user. If they don’t know what it’s in it for them, they won’t be inclined to give their contact information or continue to engage with the company.
Some companies will set up appointments with conference attendees ahead of time or offer in-person demonstrations so customers can view their products physically instead of simply reading about them online.
Casper, the direct-to-customer mattress company, was a great example of this at South by Southwest this year. SXSW had about 70,000 attendees in 2017 across their two-week presence in Austin, Texas, and Casper teamed up with The Standard Hotel and Tesla to offer $99/night rooms on the Standard’s One:Night app at a boutique hotel during SXSW with car service from Tesla.
The reserved rooms had Casper mattresses and hotel guests could also take 45-minute naps in Casper rest rooms. In addition to hotel rooms at 50-90 percent the cost of a regular hotel room at SXSW, Casper also repeated their stunt from last year, which was to outfit a camper with napping pods so attendees could try out a Casper mattress right there and then.
Even though Casper is a B2C brand, their SXSW presence offers a few lessons for B2B marketers. By offering convenience, Casper was able to remove some of the initial hesitance that some attendees may have felt when it comes to interacting with a brand.
One of the reasons why brands have argued that live events don’t bring in the customers they used to is because many attendees are using the same old approach that they’ve been using for decades. Why a presence at SXSW worked so well for Casper is because they thought about how customers could experience their products in a new, fun, and interesting way.
If your brand has a booth at the tradeshow or vendor area, instead of using the “same old table and banner with free pens” approach, think about how you can creatively approach engaging your customers in a way that is useful and fun. This will lead to more in-person conversations with potential customers that can lead to more engagement online (through attendees talking about your event presence through social media or blog reviews) and eventually sales.
Consistent Branding and Messaging
No matter your online or in-person incentive to get people to engage with your company, it’s important to have consistent branding and messaging across all mediums. Any banners, marketing materials, or information should all be consistent with what a user can find out about your company online. Having two totally different branding palettes or messages can create confusion and make customers feel that brands are untrustworthy. If you are looking for banners that match your online advertising, it may be having a look at this website here. You will be able to see the different banner designs, including teardrop banners, that these types of businesses can offer you. These banners could be used at trade shows and events to promote your company, whilst you can rest assured that they match your digital and online marketing schemes.
Keep your branding fresh and modern to show credibility: the key is to create a seamless experience between someone’s experience with a company in-person and online. Remove any potential use roadblocks (such as a clunky mobile experience or an app that keeps crashing) before your event to make it easy for a customer to further interact with your brand after the event is over.
Consistent messaging is also crucial to building credibility. While you can extend exclusive offers in-person that not all users may get online, make sure it’s better than a deal they can get somewhere else. For instance, if your 3D printers are always 20 percent below MSRP and your tradeshow booth is offering them for only 10 percent off, users will feel slighted and taken advantage of. This could have long-term effects that go beyond just not making a sale.
According to Retail Leader, customers in all industries are just as likely to share bad experiences with their network as they are good ones. In addition, when they are unhappy, they usually don’t voice the complaints to the business itself, they simply tell others about it and choose not to use that company again. HelpScout reports that only 4 percent of dissatisfied customers actually reach out to the company to voice their complaints; 91 percent simply don’t come back. A negative experience offline or online can translate to less interaction and sales across the board.
Capturing the Event in Real-Time
Having an offer for in-person customers that is hard to refuse is part of making live events worthwhile, but B2B brands should also capitalize on being at the event itself to create content. This could be video interviews with speakers or industry influencers at the event, photos that showcase trends and happenings, or sharing the information learned in sessions and at keynotes. This type of media is something many B2B marketers have yet to fully harness, and by being one of the first to do so in your industry, you are at a unique advantage to become known as a thought leader in the space.
Recorded media is so beneficial at live events because it can provide content long after the event is over—having 10 interviews and publishing one a week can offer over two months of new video content. Video can also be repurposed into podcasts, audio recordings, and written transcripts.
Event recaps are another easy way to get content out of a live event because the recap posts can be made using social media (to pull insights from others using the event hashtag) and your own notes from speakers as you listen to their presentations.
SEMrush, an SEO and digital marketing platform for keyword and competitor research, does a great job of this. Their event recaps (like this one about Digital Summit Atlanta) not only provides a service to their B2B audience by offering insights from an event they may not have been able to attend, but it also shows the audience that the SEMrush team is regularly learning to keep their industry knowledge fresh and up-to-date.
If you have several team members attending a conference, consider dividing and conquering to get the most bang for the buck. Have team members alternate between recording interviews, taking notes in different sessions for the recap, and creating other types of media or content.
Other types of media that can be created include live streaming at tradeshows or keynotes, if the event organizers allow it. Obviously, no event organizer would want their entire conference live streamed for free to anyone online, but if there are free events or you have their permission, it may be worth bringing a tripod to capture some of the event live. The event video can also be saved and repurposed later on your company’s YouTube or Vimeo channel. If live streaming on Facebook or Twitter (through Periscope), it gets automatically saved in the video library.
If you are doing professional video interviews, you could also live stream an interview that is also being recorded on a traditional camera. This teases what’s to come with more industry interviews, and gives you some content from the event instantly, without having to wait for professional editing.
Many attendees and brands live tweet during the event. This can provide your online audience with event insight that they can put into use immediately, while also showcasing your presence in the industry. Figure out the event hashtag and tag all the tweets and posts on social media so it can be found by event goers and be seen on your timeline.
Look for your "2016" Modifiers. Watch when these searches start and then start optimize for 2017. Low hanging fruit. @wilreynolds #pubcon
— Shelly Fagin (@shellyfagin) October 11, 2016
And even though it says “tweet” in the name, don’t limit your live tweeting to just Twitter. Post photos and videos on Facebook and Instagram, if your brand is active on those platforms. Many companies get so wrapped up in attending the event they don’t think about how they can share it online.
When it comes to crossing between live events and B2B digital marketing, it’s just important to keep both mediums top of mind. Make photos, video, and content creation a priority at events: it should be just as important as a focus on networking and making sure you have your laptop and other technology with you on the trip.
By keeping the digital medium as part of event goals, you will find more benefits from live events, such as meeting more people, driving more conversions (like sales or email subscribers), and growing your industry network.
Likewise, leverage your digital presence to promote the live event before it happens. Share which of your team members will be attending, what they’ll be learning, and how to connect with them as the conference.
If your company will have a booth, share what attendees can get by stopping by—is it a giveaway or free template suite? In all promotions, sharing what the customer will get by interacting with you in person or online can set expectations and produce a better experience all around.
Photos via Pixabay.