Championing Events: How Zendesk Drives Pipeline and Revenue Through Digital Experiences

October 4, 2022
Kishore Kothandaraman
Kishore Kothandaraman
Co-Founder at Goldcast

Maximize Your Marketing ROI

Join 10,000 other marketers already getting the best tips on running engaging events that boost pipeline and create raving fans.

With the world moving to remote and hybrid, the best B2B brands have figured out a way to build relationships at scale digitally with their prospects and customers.

Sarah Reed, Senior Director at Zendesk and award-winning event marketing leader, shared what she has learned through 2+ years of hosting digital events for 20,000+ attendees.

Enjoy Sarah’s session on-demand, and check out our top takeaways below ⤵️

Takeaway 1: Digital events have evolved from “nice to have” to essential demand generators

Ten years ago, digital events were mostly webinars. If we did something cool, marketing threw it on a live stream. That meant we concentrated 99.5% of our efforts on the physical event. The digital was solely a last-minute thought—“let's just throw it on Facebook Live and see what happens.”

That is not the case anymore. For one, you can tell that digital events have changed dramatically because three years ago, there were essentially two digital platforms out there (and they had not iterated on their products in about ten years).

Digital events have changed because we have started to think of them as demand generators. Not just that, they are also seen as an opportunity for brands to connect and build relationships with customers.

But if enough people don’t attend your event, how do you not get demotivated? What's the purpose of it all?

First, it’s important not to get too fixated on the vanity metrics—how many attendees, how many registrations, etc. It’s more helpful to focus on tracking who's actually watching, why they are watching, and what value they are getting from it.

At the end of the day, if you look at the numbers, there's a significantly greater ROI with digital events than what we were getting from physical ones.”

Takeaway 2: Think about events as part of a larger integrated campaign

Sarah and her team approach every one of their digital events with a “What else can we do with this asset?” attitude. They create content in a more modular format where everything created—whether live or prerecorded—is repurposed for something else that ties into a larger campaign.

Look at everything you’re planning and think about how it can work for other assets or channels.

A quick example is chopping the event session into individual clips for social media. You can also put these assets into your “event kit,” something like what Zendesk sends out to all of their regions. And you can use these assets for follow-up experiences, in-person or digital.

Don't get discouraged with that “one and done” approach—because that's a misnomer. Everything you create as digital has a lifespan afterward; you just have to be prepared to put in the work and actually use the assets.

Takeaway 3: Embrace data to showcase the ROI and impact of events

What metrics should you track after an event? Go back to ROI, the actual pipeline, and the bookings per attendee. All these are really important depending on the personas you’re targeting at your event.

Everyone might not be ready to buy at that point—and that’s ok! But if you have the right folks showing up to your event, that’s a definite win.

You’ll need to make sure that the post-event follow-up journey is thoughtful. The right leads must make it to your sales organization as quickly and efficiently as possible. The marketing ops team can be super helpful here.

As we mentioned earlier, events used to run parallel to campaigns, and the two were not properly integrated. That worked at the time. But since going all-in on digital, we have realized there’s more power in integrated campaigns and how this approach impacts the ROI.

We have made campaigns more dynamic and engaging through events. And we now see events driving anywhere from 35% to 75% of all campaign pipeline.”

This is a number you can swing your way in discussions with your CMO or CFO while they are making budget decisions. It’s also a number you can use while planning your portfolio strategy for next year.

Takeaway 4: Digital + highly targeted in-person is the future of events

Speaking of strategy, you should plan a mix of in-person and digital. While there’s a lot of pressure to come back in person, do not throw away your digital strategy. Come what may, digital is going to be driving more pipeline, more bookings, and a higher ROI.

Use the “sticky effect” of digital events to narrow down the funnel. Then, you can put together in-person field events, like targeted account-based events. This will help you accelerate and close deals.

But everything boils down to the budget. How do you get the senior team’s buy-in on the budget before you have the data to back up your strategy?

Takeaway 5: Lean on your community for support

The good news is—you're not alone. Someone has always done it before you. Reach out to others in your space. The more we all share those metrics and ROI behind the events we’re pulling off, the more giant leaps for the industry as a whole.

Reach out to peers, understand what’s working for them, and see what their budget is like. Talk to at least five people, so you can go back and say, this is what our industry is doing.

You can support this industry research of sorts with an analysis of your own attendees—ask them what they want, what they’re willing to do, etc.

All these are great starting points if you’re looking to bank on data to shore up your success with events!

© 2024 Copyright Goldcast, Inc. All rights reserved.