Customer Marketing Meets Events: 5 Types of Events to Engage and Delight Your Customers

April 12, 2023

Meisha Bochicchio, Senior Content Marketing Manager at Goldcast

If you’ve ever been on the “making” end of a B2B buying decision, you know it’s no simple task. With multiple stakeholders depending on you to make the right choice, one bad decision can lead to major internal headaches.

Of course, this pressure also trickles through to the vendor side. Once you’ve earned a relationship with a new customer, you’ve got to go above and beyond to keep it. 

One of the easiest ways to deepen your customer relationships, while increasing loyalty, product adoption, and upselling opportunities, is through targeted customer marketing events.

Customer event marketing is all about creating experiences for your customers that go beyond user support. It’s about building connections and communities that turn your customers into champions for your brand.

The case for customer events

Why are events a golden opportunity for customer marketers? According to the Customer Marketing Alliance, the top three responsibilities of a customer marketer are program management (33.3%), customer feedback collection (33.3%), and customer conferences and events (11.2%).

Digital customer events support all three of these key areas and more. Here are some of the top benefits of customer events:

  • Engage your customers. We’ve seen widespread adoption of an “always on” digital engagement strategy among B2B marketers. Using digital events to engage with customers on a regular basis helps you keep a pulse on account health and get real-time feedback on key programs all while driving increased loyalty.

  • Expand your relationships. Events help keep your customers in the loop on the latest company news, product features, and important industry developments. Better yet, they can open two-way communication channels with your customers, helping you generate direct input for your product roadmap, feedback on key beta programs, and more.

  • Build a community. Your customers are likely facing similar pain points and strategic challenges. Customer events give them an opportunity to connect and share solutions and best practices.

No matter which way you look at it, events are a versatile customer marketing channel that can help you crush your retention, adoption, and upselling goals by offering your customers an elevated experience with your brand.

Digital vs. in-person customer events: The pros and cons

What’s more effective for customer marketing: in-person events or digital?

It’s the age-old answer — it depends. Both event formats can create an excellent experience for your customers when done well. Let’s take a closer look at some of the pros and cons of each.

Here are the benefits of digital customer events vs. in-person:

  • More affordable: In-person events can be expensive for both organizers and attendees.
  • Wider reach: A physical event location hinders accessibility to attendees who lack the budget to travel.
  • More convenient: Your customers have jobs and lives. Even if they live in your city, a digital event is much easier for busy professionals with packed schedules. In fact, convenience is the number one reason attendees like digital events.
  • Easier content access: In-person events have a fixed schedule and attendees have to choose between sessions. Virtual event attendees often have access to recorded sessions afterward.
  • Fewer health and safety risks: Many attendees are conscious of the risks associated with large in-person gatherings.

And here are the areas where in-person events typically shine:

  • Natural networking opportunities: 67% of attendees like the social aspect of events, and it can be easier for attendees to mingle and chat in person.
  • More immersive experience: It’s harder to achieve a high level of engagement with digital events, since attendees can become distracted more easily.
  • Fewer technical issues: Tech can still cause hiccups at in-person events, but depending on the event platform you choose, they may be less common than with digital events.

At the end of the day, there is value in both customer event formats. It all comes down to your goals. Do you want to build hype around an annual, in-person event? Or will you see better results from regularly engaging your customers with convenient, digital events?

Today, some of the best customer marketing strategies do both

And it’s a good thing, too, because attendee preferences are leaning toward digital. Our recent attendee survey found that 81% are more willing to sign up for hybrid and virtual events compared to in-person.

The good news is, event marketing technology has come a long way in the past few years and digital event experiences are now more dynamic and interactive than ever.

5 types of versatile and engaging customer events

In the same survey, 72% of respondents said having the right technology is what makes a virtual event excellent.

The tech you use for your digital customer marketing events is the number one factor that can make or break the experience for your attendees. Here at Goldcast, we thrive on helping our clients overcome the challenges that make customer events anything less than seamless.

Here are five of our favorite types of customer marketing events to help you take engagement to the next level.

1. User conferences

An exclusive event for your users — whether in-person, digital, or hybrid — user conferences help customers take product adoption to the next level. 

By helping your customers get the most out of your product, you show them you’re invested in their success long after the sale — building affinity, creating brand advocates, and increasing retention with every session.

Of course, this event is also a golden opportunity to showcase your other products and services, which can also help you expand existing contracts.

To make this happen, you need an agenda jam-packed with engaging sessions. Keep attendees entertained by filling five-minute time gaps with short videos promoting your company and your partners.

You can also create buzz by including some ‘just-for-fun’ non-traditional sessions. For example, our friends at Smartling treated attendees of their Global Ready Conference to a live performance by The California Honeydrops. In the middle of a pandemic, they pulled off a virtual event that blew their goals out of the water, bringing in 1,400+ registrations with a 42% live attendance rate.

“We didn’t just want to give people a high-quality event,” says Smartling former Head of Marketing Adrian Cohn. “The goal was for them to watch the event and say, ‘Holy smokes, this is what Smartling is capable of doing.’”

📈 KPIs to watch: Renewals and expansions

2. Product launch and education

After months of developing a new product, it’s pretty exciting to hit the big green “Live” button. And what better way to drive instant adoption than with a product launch event for your existing customers and power users?

With a well-planned product launch event, you can give your current user base an exclusive look at your latest and greatest features. It’s also a great opportunity to teach them how the new feature works in tandem with their existing favorites to help make life easier.

Product launch events are typically digital to help up the convenience factor and lower the barriers to entry. Busy users can drop in to see what your latest product is all about, then get on with their day.

So what’s on the agenda at a high-impact virtual launch event? Your attendees want to see the product in action, but don’t stop the storytelling there.

Spend some time at the beginning of your event illustrating the problem your new product solves. Why did you develop it? Why now? Why were other solutions on the market not solving that problem well? This will help your customers identify their own use cases and build more excitement to start using your latest offering.

📈 KPIs to watch: Product adoption, pipeline + revenue (renewals and expansions)

3. Field events

It doesn’t get much more hands-on than field marketing. Field events are a crucial way to deepen your customer relationships and create brand advocates.

Traditionally, B2B field marketing happens at conferences and trade shows. But digital field events can also be a super effective customer marketing channel, while helping you reach a much wider audience. The trick is to identify the right customer segments. This is usually a joint effort between marketing and sales.

Once you’ve identified your top accounts, create an intimate, invite-only experience just for them. Some of our favorite field events are customer case studies, virtual award ceremonies, and VIP networking events. These exclusive events will make your customers feel seen on a personal level.

Of course, your event doesn’t have to be strictly business. You can take a page from the traditional field marketing playbook and offer your customers an experiential event, like a wine tasting or live music set.

📈 KPIs to watch: Pipeline + revenue (renewals and expansions)

4. Customer advisory boards

A customer advisory board gives you direct customer relationships that many marketers only dream of, and it’s a great way to boost retention.

By holding regular events with your board, you'll get deep product feedback straight from the customers who matter most. In the process, you’ll build deeper relationships that lead to genuine brand advocacy.

Don't be afraid to get into the weeds. To show your customers that their input truly matters, keep your events highly interactive, with breakout sessions and one-to-one engagement. Then, be sure to close the loop by updating your board on how their feedback has influenced product development.

Clari is an end-to-end revenue operations platform with a customer marketing team that is dedicated to maintaining a category-leading position.

The team hosts regular Customer Advisory Board events, invite-only deep dives curated for a small group of pre-selected customers. Board meetings cover detailed product feedback via structured two-way communication.

“We’re always thinking about how we can leverage events to educate customers on how to use the product,” explains Laura Wille, director of growth marketing. “We also use events to share new use cases and introduce Clari to new personas to help generate net new expansion pipeline.”

📈 KPIs to watch: Engagement + participation

5. User groups and communities

In their 2022 State of Community Management report, The Community Roundtable reported that 61% of community managers are able to directly connect community participation to business outcomes like customer loyalty, product adoption, and revenue growth.

A community-based virtual event is the ultimate way to increase brand awareness, shape product development, and invite users to dive even deeper into your product. This type of customer event can even help you build a better product for your core audience and increase 'stickiness' among current customers and power users.

Think building a tight-knit community in the digital realm sounds tough? Well, the more niche your community is, the more it makes sense to take things online. Just ask Kong, a software company that provides open-source API gateway and service connectivity platforms.

Their event marketing strategy revolved around industry events until the pandemic canceled most of them. Almost overnight, the event team pivoted to digital, bringing together their existing community of industry partners to host Destination: Decentralization.

Tapping their community allowed them to quickly pull off a successful event. And by hosting the event on Goldcast, they were able to improve the experience by delivering multiple opportunities for engagement.

“It really opens the opportunities for both learning and sharing what we and our partners know,” says Melanie Flores Salman, partner marketing and corporate events lead. “We all have goals to expand our brands and to share our messages with relevant audiences. This feeds both our goals, the partner goals to grow and the attendee goals to learn.”

📈 KPIs to watch: Engagement + participation

The future of customer marketing is digital

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re huge fans of digital events for customer marketing. They empower you to reach more customers in a cost-effective way, while making the experience truly engaging and memorable.

To create meaningful customer events that help move the needle on pipeline, the right event platform is critical. Learn more about how Goldcast customers are increasing attendance and influencing pipeline with digital customer marketing events.

Prove your event ROI. Try Goldcast for your next event.

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