Dreamforce floor

Based on the 2013 data collected by the Content Marketing Institute, not only do 85% of B2B enterprise marketers leverage in-person events, but the majority are pretty confident the events are working with 71% citing their effectiveness.

This year at Vidyard we experimented with marketing campaigns for conferences and we want to share some tips everyone can adopt for better return on investment when it comes to booking a booth. To start, we’ll review the campaign goals for some recent conferences including Eloqua Experience and Dreamforce.

Campaign Goals

The goal of any conference is to generate leads We took this a step further and split it into two sub-goals:

  1. Get folks to your booth!First, we drive traffic to our booth at conferences so we can convert visitors into leads in person.
  2. To support our first goal we open a communications channel independent of the conference (i.e. we run a targeted video email campaign).

Some marketers forget about setting up this communication channel for conferences because the primary focus is driving traffic to the booth; however, there’s no guarantee a prospect will have time to drop by to meet you in person. It’s also possible prospects want to talk to you before the event. Reaching out in advance allows you to generate leads outside of the conference itself.

Campaign Assets

To support your conference goals, it’s important to have optimized assets created in advance. There’s two main assets we focus on for a successful event:

A campaign landing page

Dreamforce landing pageWhen creating landing pages for events, we include the following info:

  • Entertainment: Provide a hook to entice page visitors to actually read through the information on the landing page. Including a video has proven to be the best way for us to accomplish this entertainment factor.
  • A summary of who we are and what we do for those who don’t know.
  • An announcement that we’ll be at the conference and what we will be showcasing.
  • A map where we’ll be located in the building (we provide a Vidyard-branded conference map)
  • A summary of any presentations we’re involved with at the conference.

You can see our Dreamforce landing page here as an example.

Video

As mentioned, you should include a video on the landing page. This highly effective piece sits front and centre and acts as the hub for all other information on the page. The content of your video should cover who you are and leverage an optional email gate for lead generation. Sometimes we even have a registration form pop out from the video player as a CTA leads can engage with.

The most important purpose of the targeted video is to provide a hook to entice visitors to read the page and the best way we’ve found to get attention is with comedy. For each conference we find some kind of comedic theme that will resonate with the audience. Here’s an example of the video we made with our sales guy Karl “Farley”. The spoof was a huge hit with folks heading to our Dreamforce booth to meet Karl after seeing him in the video:

For more tips on creating an engaging video see Jen Pepper’s post on designing your video marketing to capture attention faster.

Promotion Channels

Once you have these assets ready, it’s time to release them into the wild! We use the traditional channels: Email, Twitter, Facebook, blog posts, LinkedIn community groups, etc., but we’ve also been experimenting with a few other channels.

Twilio – we’ve been using a service called Twilio as an alternative to a form submit. Twilio immediately connects a prospect to your sales team by phone and this has been very useful in accomplishing our second goal of opening a channel for communication with sales prior to the conference. You’ll notice that on our landing page you have the opportunity to chat with our sales team right away if you’re interested.

YouTube Retargeting Ads – An effective way to drive your message home is by reminding  prospects about your booth at the conference even after they’ve left your page – in this case when they’re on YouTube. We do this by showing them 5-10 second pre-roll ads. These ads are purely for awareness and consist of bloopers or highlights from our main conference video (content re-use for the win!). This retargeting reinforces the main video leads have already seen on the landing page and provides extra branded entertainment without being too invasive.

Automated InMail – Email is a standard communication channel but LinkedIn has overcome its lack of effectiveness. InMail through LinkedIn has a much higher response rate because there’s no inbox clutter and most communication is done through connections with people you know. The major downside to InMail is that you can only send one at a time. We’ve recently challenged this assumption and have devised a way to automate InMails to reach a larger audience through LinkedIn. We aren’t willing to give away the secret as to how we do this, but we will give credit to our very own Growth Hacker, Amar. We should also note that the method Amar has developed is completely legal and complies with all LinkedIn policies. And to answer your question – no, you can’t borrow Amar!

Tips to Rock Your Conference Campaigns

  1. Use Video: First you should brainstorm some video concepts that your target conference audience will love. The goal of your video is to spark enough interest that everyone wants to read the rest of your information pre-conference or meet up with you while there. Overall you’ll find you generate awareness and recognition that goes a long way when generating booth traffic.
  2. Create an optimized landing page: Support your entertaining video with all the info attendees need to find your booth, understand what you do, and become interested in your latest offering.
  3. Offer a method of contacting Sales: Why wait until the big day if someone wants to meet before the conference? Consider including your sales reps contact info in emails or experiment with a service like Twilio.
  4. Provide a branded conference map: Once you know where you’ll be, consider including a branded conference map on your landing page. There’s an opportunity to have fun with the legend and add your own branded twist.
  5. Schedule meetings with customers and prospects that are late in the funnel: Conferences are crazy busy, so make sure that you book in-person time with potential customers who are nearly ready to close. People who are high in the funnel might not find the time to make their way to your booth, but you can always follow up post-event with a reminder email summarizing your conference takeaways.

I hope these tips offer some added insight on event campaigns and that you’ll try out some of our suggestions. If you have any marketing secrets of your own, share them with a comment below.

Joe Gelata