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Event Intelligence Series Part 3: Event Intelligence Use Cases for the Offline Buyer’s Journey

Steven Yellen |

Diagram highlighting the offline customer journey Welcome back to the Aventri W.I.N. (What I Need) Series on Event Intelligence. We’ve reached the midpoint of the series. In Part 1, we discussed the basics of Event Intelligence. In Part 2, we elaborated on how to create an effective and cost-effective event intelligence design. For this post, we’re going to zoom in on the specific use case of event intelligence for the offline buyer’s journey.

Event marketing existed centuries ahead of digital marketing. Yet, until recently, the amount of data that is available to digital marketers is more complete, in-depth, and sophisticated compared to the data that is accessible to event marketers.

It's not until recently that event intelligence became widely implemented. Like we mentioned in the previous two posts, the practice of gathering event data was mostly done by early adopters.

This is quite ironic given that about $500 billion is spent on live events globally. In the B2B sector alone, companies allocate 53% of their marketing budget to event marketing:

Line graph showing the leading areas where marketing dollars are spent

Image source

Expect this number to increase over the next few years, driven primarily by the younger generation of clients and customers who put a premium on live, face-to-face interactions.

The Offline Buyer's Journey: Tracking Offline Footprints from Awareness to Purchase

One of the event marketing voids that event intelligence has been able to fill is understanding — with great depth and accuracy — what transpires in the offline buyer's journey. More specifically, it helps businesses to understand how events and experiential marketing help move customers from Awareness to Decision.

Given the money and human capital you invest toward event marketing, there's no reason why you shouldn't track the offline buyer's journey the same way you're tracking your customers' buyer's journey online.

The following are the specific use cases of event intelligence in tracking the offline buyer's journey:

Enriching Online Marketing CRM Data

CRMs are the crossroads where the offline and online buyer's journey meet. This is also a classic example of how businesses can use event data to influence their overall marketing strategy, a practice currently done by  70% of marketers.

Bar graph highlighting how event data is used across the marketing mix

Seamlessly incorporating data culled from events into your customer relations management system will open new opportunities for segmentation and targeting. Whether an event is the entry point of customers into your CRM system or your existing CRM contacts attend your events, integrating event data into the database will allow you to serve specific content, offers, and sales strategy.

Designing an Event Similar to an Online Marketing Funnel

Digital marketing guru Ryan Deiss compares the progression of customers from one stage of the buyer’s journey to how real human relationships develop. One of the ubiquitous questions he asks his audience during live speaking engagements is would you propose marriage on a first date?” This alludes to businesses who serve sales-oriented content to customers who are in the early stages of the buyer’s journey.

Segmentation and targeted content based on the buyer’s journey are indeed the new norms of online marketing.

With event intelligence, we’re excited to see event content evolve to achieve the same level of cognizance to the buyer’s journey. In fact, it is our belief that events should be designed in the same way online funnels are designed.

Online, depending on an email open, a click, a pageview, etc., customers are served different content experiences. Imagine how much more powerful and effective events would be if the same concept is modeled in tracking the offline buyer’s journey.

Let’s say a company, Company X, offers a full suite of events technology solutions to small businesses. To promote the event, you sent a series of 3 emails promoting 3 different sessions to your event:

  • Email 1: Why Businesses Need to Invest in Events Management Technologies
  • Email 2: How to Choose an RFP Software to Help You Get the Best Bids
  • Email 3: They Just Got Smarter: Case Studies of How Businesses Who Used Company X’s Smart Tags Increased their Event ROI

It should be obvious that these 3 emails correspond to each stage of the buyer’s journey. Depending on which email they opened and the session they registered for, you can tell during the registration stage where customers are in the buyer’s journey.

Take the following example:

Diagram showcasing how 2 customers interact with the different promotional emails

Based on how they interacted with the different promotional emails, it can be deduced that Customer A is probably in between the Consideration Stage and the Decision Stage, but is probably leaning toward the former than the latter. Customer B, on the other hand, is at the Awareness Stage, still seeking education about the use of events technology, in general.

Based on this event intelligence that you culled during the registration stage, you can then tailor fit all the succeeding content experiences that these customers will get.

During the event, you can send live notifications via SMS or a mobile app to encourage Customer A to sign up for live demos on how your RFP software works. For Customer B, you can prompt him to participate in other educational content such as smaller break out sessions.

Below is an example that we used in Part 3 of the Offline Buyer’s Journey Series, which talked about how to optimize the event experience. For this post, we used an example of a weight loss supplement brand holding a consumer event:

Digram highlighting how event content changes at different stages of the buyer's journey

Aside from the event registration, you can get the same data during the event itself. If you have access to real-time data, you can create a personalized event content path for your participants based on where they are in the buyer’s journey. If you can only access this data after the event, you can tailor fit your post-event communications to match.

Lead Scoring: Adding Event Data into the Mix

Another use case of event intelligence in helping businesses understand where their customers are in the buyer’s journey is with lead scoring.

As you may already know, lead scoring follows one simple concept — the “bigger” the action a customer in your CRM makes, the more points he/she earns. A customer who attended a webinar will get more points compared to a customer who downloaded a whitepaper. These points are added up to come up with a customer’s overall lead score.

The higher the lead score, the “hotter” the lead is.

But come to think of it:

Isn’t going to an event a significantly bigger investment compared to attending a webinar, downloading a whitepaper, and opening an email combined?

Customers who attend events clear their schedule and spend on transportation (which could include flying out from somewhere) and accommodation. If it were us doing the lead scoring, a customer who attends an event will receive 10x the points versus a customer who downloaded a premium content online.

How will following this lead scoring model change your marketing and sales strategy?

For one, you can follow up more aggressively on customers who attend those events. You can also target them with specific content that will accelerate their progress in the buyer’s journey.

Likewise, if you’re doing lead scoring in real-time, you will know during the event itself who are the hot leads. You can then mobilize your sales team to engage with these attendees to close the sale on-site.

Multi-touch Attribution: Knowing How Different Event Interactions Contribute to a Goal Achievement

In online marketing, multi-channel attribution is defined as “the process of determining which marketing channels ultimately lead to a sale and giving each channel the appropriate amount of credit per its role in the sales cycle.”

In Google Analytics, it could look something like the example provided by WordStream below:

Google Analytics Assisted Conversions Report

Image source

If we’re going to look at the first row in this example, it could be hypothesized that exposing customers to display advertising first, followed by paid search, and followed by a direct visit to the site is the most effective conversion path.

Why is it important to know this?

According to Salesforce, it takes approximately 6 to 8 touchpoints to generate a viable sales lead. Since face-to-face interaction is more compelling, the lifecycle could be shorter for events. Nonetheless, it is important to track which combinations of event content and elements are the most effective in hitting the event goals so you can drive more participants to these paths.

Let’s go back to our example of Company X, the events technology provider. With event intelligence, Company X could find out that the customers who attend an RFP writing session, a breakout session on strategic meetings management, and a product demo on real-time event analytics produced the most sales. In the future, Company X could design an event that would attract more attendees to these sessions.

It’s Time to Pay Attention to the Offline Buyer’s Journey

Just to be clear, it’s not a choice between tracking the online buyer’s journey versus its offline counterpart. If you’re doing events, it’s necessary to track the offline buyer’s journey in order to get the most value out of your event marketing investments.

Just to reiterate, none of the use cases that were discussed above would materialize without having a solid event intelligence strategy built on carefully thought out event goals and the KPIs that represent these objectives.

That’s it for Part 3 of the Event Intelligence W.I.N. Series. In the next post, we will be talking about how to implement event intelligence. At the center of this is choosing the right event intelligence technology. Keep an eye out for that post as we will finally be talking about technology.

The Future of Event Marketing_CTA1

This Post was Written by Steven Yellen

Steve Yellen is the vice president of product strategy at Aventri.

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