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.
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 strategic planning in event management. Take some time to understand 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 process.
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.
📝Action: Write a list of your goals, KPIs and evaluation tactics.
Getting your numbers straight should be at the top of your strategic event marketing agenda. If you don’t know what you have to spend, you won’t be able to build an event worth attending.
📝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:
Getting your event tech stack right is the gateway to event success.
From marketing solutions to virtual event management platforms, the tools and services 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 to develop 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 ensure you win more opportunities post event. And remember, integration is key, so make sure every item in your event + ABM technology stack fits together seamlessly from day one.
📝Action: Make a list of every feature you need and compare your options before you choose your virtual event platform.
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.
📝Action: Refer back to your goals before deciding on an event theme to make sure it works for you in every way.
Your teams are the glue that hold a successful event together. This includes marketing and sales teams, stakeholders, sponsors and speakers.
📝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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
Once you’ve chosen the attribution model that makes the most sense for you, it’s time to get heavy with the numbers.
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:
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:
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.
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 provide real revenue for the business.
Ready to take strategic event management to the next level? Industry leaders like like Microsoft, Github and Drift are already using Goldcast to hold measurable B2B events. Find out why with a free demo today!