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Strategic Event Management: The Field Marketer’s Guide to Measurable Success in 2021

October 19, 2021

As B2B marketers around the globe switch from in-person to online and hybrid events, the need for a nuanced virtual event planning strategy is more important than ever

In fact, a whopping 65% of B2B marketers plan to reallocate some or most of their live event budgets to virtual—and that means you need to realign your event strategy yesterday.

But taking your events online and standing out in a sea of webinars is anything but easy.   

Creating a virtual event your customers and prospects will actually remember starts with a great event strategy—and that’s where this guide comes in. 

We’ve pulled together everything you need to plan, market and measure virtual B2B  events, from how to find out your real ROI to what an effective sales follow-up should look like. If you’re looking to prove the value of your events once and for all, we’ve got your back. 

Ready? Let’s go.  

Table of Contents

  • The A to Z of successful event planning
  • Before the Event: The five pillars of strategic event planning
  • During the Event: Make the big day count
  • After the Event: Measure your virtual event like its 2025
  • Ready to calculate your real event ROI?
  • Take your event action plan to the next level

Strategic event management: The A to Z of successful event planning

Before the Event: Setting the 5 pillars of strategic event planning

Any field marketer worth their weight knows A LOT goes into event planning—but we’re going to make getting started as simple as possible.👌🏽

 

There are five basic elements of planning. Take some time to go through these and write down your answers to the following questions.

Remember, this stage is all about fleshing out your event’s personality. However it ends up, you’ll always need to ask these questions before you move any further with your planning. 

Event Planning Pillar #1: The Goals

Every event has a reason for being. This is what you’re working towards, what gives your event meaning and attracts and converts high-quality leads. 

“Always start with an outcome and work your way backward from there. Sometimes marketers get so excited by a theme or event concept, as opposed to saying, ‘What business outcome am I looking to improve?’ and then determining the best type of omnichannel experience that will get your audience to take the desired behaviors that drive toward that outcome,” says Nina.

Marketing ace and Head of Digital Events at Box, Ashesh Satvedi agrees. He adds:

“Your event goals should be realistic and based upon your overall scope. Answering questions about your goals and audience allows you to build the scope of the event. Based on the scope you can then set realistic expectations and goals for total live registrations, live and on-demand attendees, attendance rate, # of qualified leads and new $-pipeline (for lead gen events),” explains Ashesh.

Ask yourself:

  • What are our end goals? 
  • How can we work with sales to reach those goals? Which accounts should we focus on? 
  • How will we measure our event goals? 
  • What are our event KPIs?
  • How will we act fast to close deals post-event?
  • When will we measure our KPIs? Right after the event? 3 months after? Year-on-year?

📝Action: Write a list of your goals, KPIs and evaluation tactics. 

Event Planning Pillar #2: The Budget

Getting your numbers straight should be at the top of your event strategy agenda. If you don’t know what you have to spend, you won’t be able to build an event worth attending. 

Ask yourself:

  • How much will this event cost?
  • What funds are available to us? Do we need to check in with other teams/management to find more?
  • Do we need sponsorship? Who could we approach?
  • How can we work with other teams (hello sales) to maximize profit? 

📝Action: Create an initial budget breakdown based on the item, amount, description, estimated cost and actual cost.  


Here is how Jana and her team lay out their budget:

  • Revenue
  • Conference Tickets
  • Sponsorships
  • Training or Workshops
  • Expenses
  • Production and Broadcast
  • Platform/Technology/Stream
  • Experiential Elements
  • Production/Creative/Digital Event Management

Event Planning Pillar #3: The Toolkit

Getting your event tech stack right is the gateway to event success.

From marketing solutions to virtual event management platforms, the tools you choose will depend entirely on the type of event you want to create.

For example, for a top of funnel webinar you’ll probably only need a registration page and email marketing provider—but if your angle is an exclusive bottom of funnel event, you’ll definitely want a dynamic content hub for self-service content consumption post-event, plus a CRM and account engagement system.

These are the kinds of tools that can deliver those account-level insights that help you win more opportunities post event. And remember, integration is key, so make sure every item in your event + ABM tech stack fits together seamlessly from day one.

Ask yourself:

  • Which features are most important for the event’s success? (think: breakout rooms, streaming features, automatic messaging, deep analytics, etc.)
  • Do our existing tools have all the features we need, or do we need something else?
  • Do we need to seamlessly send data from our event platform to our CRM? (Hint: Yes, you most likely do 😉).
  • Are we looking for a selection of independent tools or an all-in-one tool to hit all bases at once? 

📝Action: Make a list of every feature you need and compare your options before you choose your virtual event platform. 

Event Planning Pillar #4: The Look

Your event not only needs to reflect your company, it needs to have its own memorable personality. Think: event design, customization, logos and website, and unique event structure.  

Ask yourself:

  • How will we showcase our brand throughout the event? 
  • How can our goals influence our event theme?
  • Do our virtual event tools have the right customization features? 
  • How will the structure of our event reflect our brand? Will we have extra break-out rooms/social spaces/a main stage? 
  • How are we going to market the event? Do we need a website, hashtag or dedicated social platforms? How can we nurture high-level accounts before, during and after the event?

📝Action: Refer back to your goals before deciding on an event theme to make sure it works for you in every way. 

Event Planning Pillar #5: The Team

Your teams are the glue that hold a successful event together. This includes marketing and sales teams, stakeholders, sponsors and speakers. 

Ask yourself:

  • Who needs to be involved in our event?
  • Do we need help spreading the word?
  • Who will speak at the event? 
  • How should sales be involved?  

📝Action: Create a project board, doc, sheet or diagram showing who needs to be involved at which point, then get those people on board and in the right event roles as early as possible.


During the Event: Make the big day count

Congrats, you’ve just smashed your big picture event plan. 👏🏽 

Now it’s time to focus on the details. 

When it comes to the big day, you’ll need a focused stage-by-stage plan to get you through the day in style. But as a data-driven B2B marketer, you already know what it takes to drill down on traditional event deets and pull out the insights that matter to the rest of your team.

So let’s skip the small-talk and dive straight into the top most crucial virtual event trends to help you make every minute count: 

  • Collect minute-by-minute attendee data: Make a plan for how you will collect crucial attendee data and account level insights. (Hint: A smart event management tool is super useful at this point). 
  • Knuckle down on your partnership with sales: Involve the sales team as much as possible. Get them hosting sessions and checking in with high-quality leads, in the least sales-y way they can. 😉
  • Focus on high level accounts: Offering personal break-out room links can level up in-event engagement and help build relationships with key contacts. 



Bottom line? If you and your team are going to put your blood, sweat and tears into a killer virtual event, you need to make sure it succeeds in building the right relationships, the right way.

After the Event: Take your event metrics from ‘meh’ to ‘wow!’

The great thing about the rise in virtual B2B events is that event analysis has never been easier (or more important!). 

With the right tool, you can keep tabs on who attended your event, their likes and dislikes, who they spoke to and what questions they asked. It’s deep, account-level insights like you’ve never seen. 🕵🏼

Here’s how to use your event analytics to drive ROI and influence future marketing decisions.

  • Check in with sales to remind them to follow-up with high-priority contacts. Remember, nailing down the right post-event action plan is everything.
  • Check in with your event goals—which ones did you hit? Hopefully you hit all your goals, but if not, where did you miss the mark? And why?
  • Send follow-up event surveys to all attendees to find out what worked (and what didn’t). 
  • You can also use a Net Promoter Score (NPS) to get an in-depth view of how your event went. 

Your attribution model has a big part to play here. You’ll need to know exactly how to track your event metrics back to your goals before you can start wowing the pants off your leadership team.

Ottavio Dattolo, Account-based Marketing Manager at Terminus, explains how he uses insightful metrics and attribution models for robust follow-ups: 

“In our latest closed-lost ABM campaign that involves our Sales team, we identified 300 closed-lost opportunities that we wanted to retarget for Q4 and generate new pipeline for in Q1 2021,” says Ottavio. 

He then broke this set of accounts into two tiers: 

  1. Roughly 100 high-value Tier 1 accounts
  2. Approximately 200 Tier 2 accounts

From there, he used additional data to segment them further based on geography and past touchpoints.

Once Ottavio and his team identified their high-value accounts, they used their findings to create targeted marketing campaigns for each.

“The sales team was expected to add their newly identified contacts into a pre-made Outreach sequence that they would run their contacts through. We then sent out packages, our sales reps received an automated alert via Sendoso, and our reps jumped into action to make sure their contact had received their package and event invitation. After the event, sales continue the conversation with their selected contacts and nourish the new relationships they’ve formed,” explains Ottavio.

Ready to calculate your real event ROI?

Once you’ve chosen the attribution model that makes the most sense for you, it’s time to get heavy with the numbers. 

Your event ROI must-haves

There are a ton of must-have metrics to calculate your return on investment (ROI) and win your seat at the revenue table. But to make your data measurable, these need to be gathered consistently and tie in with sales KPIs and company-wide data. 

Before you get started, check in with the type of info your company already collects and decide how your data can best support the bigger picture.

Here are the top three tried-and-tested KPIs to prove your event ROI:

  1. Influenced pipeline: First off you need to know how many times leads engaged with your event content. Think: document downloads, break-out room choices, and answered polls.
  2. Net new pipeline: Next, you need to know exactly how many new leads came from your event. (If you’re a Goldcast user, this info will be right there on your visual dashboard.) 
  3. Velocity through pipeline: Take a look at your pipelines and note how many MQLs became SQLs from the event. Further down the line you’ll even be able to calculate the closed-won revenue those SQLs brought in. 
Other event metrics to look for:
  • Account level insights (prospects)
  • Account level insights (customers)
  • Velocity through pipeline
  • Closed-won opportunities
  • Closed-won revenue

As well as knuckling down on your KPIs, you need to know what your attribution models will look like. 

Here are some of the most common attribution models:

  • First-touch / Single-touch attribution: This attribution model is best for events that will acquire new leads or have super short sales cycles. Think: webinars, sponsorships or partner events.
  • Last-touch / Single-touch attribution: This gives the conversion credit to the last touch-point. Your lead may have taken various steps in the customer journey (i.e., read a blog, attended a webinar, etc.) but you give all the credit to the moment they actually converted.
  • Influence attribution: This is best to see how an event has influenced or engaged leads throughout an event. It takes into account every touch-point to show you how influential your event was. 
  • Multi-touch weighted attribution: This one is similar to influence attribution but works best for longer sales cycles and multi-channeled marketing programs. 

Remember, data is everywhere and some metrics are too important to miss—so don’t be put off if you don’t have hard numbers to start with. 

You can also take data gathering one step further to make even your qualitative data actionable. For example, if you measure what questions attendees ask, you can tally up how many people asked what type of questions to create a custom engagement score and arm your sales team with a hyper-personalized follow up strategy. 


Take your event action plan to the next level

Events in the future will continue to look very different—so you’re going to need a very different approach to ace them from the get-go.

“The most important thing to think about when setting event goals is creating seamless digital experiences for our community,” says Jana.

From the registration page your attendees land on to how you choose to measure success post-event, nailing your strategic event management plan will help you run consistently awesome virtual events that continue to drive real revenue for the business.

Ready to take strategic event management to the next level? Companies like Microsoft, Github and Drift are already using Goldcast to hold measurable B2B events. Find out why with a free demo today!


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