Marketing automation for events

Planning an event can be stressful. Whether you’re planning a tradeshow, dinner or mixer, there are a lot of details to nail down. The one thing you can’t control? The exact number of people who will attend. I can’t give you a way to guarantee that 100% of your confirmed guests will attend; however, I can offer an additional method of communicating your invitation – marketing automation.

The purpose of marketing automation is to continuously nurture and engage your leads. This means developing a content-heavy strategy and sending content to your leads on a tactically defined cadence. What many people don’t realize is that you can use this same kind of strategic campaign to target your event invitees.

How would this work and why would it be important to take advantage of? Well, you may mail 200 physical invitations to your invitee list, but how do you know your intended invitee actually received this piece? It may get lost in the mailroom or their administrative assistant may toss it aside. If you’re relying solely on the physical invitation, then the likelihood of having a high attendee rate is relatively low. By adding marketing automation to your event strategy, you are upping the chances your event will be a success.

There are two marketing automation event strategies we suggest: private and public events. If you’re holding a private event, like a dinner reception, then you should already have a defined guest list. In this case your campaign should consist of four pieces. The first piece you will want to send is the physical/formal invitation. When creating event invitations, I would suggest creating a RSVP landing page. In our digital world, it is now expected that everything can and should be done online. This brings us to the next campaign pieces–creating two email blasts containing your invitation and RSVP information. The sequence of these emails will depend on your event timeline, but you should wait a week between each send. These emails should be sent through your marketing automation platform and your RSVP landing page should contain a form that feeds into your marketing automation tool. This way you can track your invitees as they interact with your pieces and determine if they are really interested in your event. You’ll also have a built in list for future communication. The last piece of your private event campaign should be follow-up phone calls. Often, invitees do not pay attention to the RSVP deadline. For this reason, it’s always important to follow up with a personal phone call, which adds a human touch and usually provides a definite answer.

Our second event strategy centers around public events, like tradeshows. This strategy is a little more complex than a private event. Here you are trying to reach a broader audience, but in a targeted fashion. For a more public event, begin with a Google AdWords campaign targeting the specific industry and region for your event. You should also begin promoting your event throughout your social media channels. Make sure that you have created a landing page with an incentive or gated content form within your marketing automation platform that your AdWords and social media efforts will direct to. Once leads begin filling out your form in order to receive their incentive/gated content, you will begin collecting their contact information, including their email address. Use this list of newly acquired email addresses to send a series of email blasts containing more information on your company and an invitation to the event itself. Most likely, you will not have phone numbers for these contacts, so follow-up calls will be difficult to do. For public events, we suggest increasing the number of email blasts to four instead of two vs. conducting follow-up phone calls.

Using marketing automation as part of your event strategy will ensure that you have nurtured your invitees and made them aware of the event. The more touch points before the event that you can provide, the more likely they are to attend the event.

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