9 Ways Digital Events Are Transforming Demand Generation Success

August 7, 2023
Kelly Cheng
Kelly Cheng
Head of Marketing at Goldcast

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

From fireside chats and panel discussions to industry-leading conferences and webinars—digital events have become the dazzling disco balls that bring the marketing party to life. 🪩

In the post-pandemic era, virtual and hybrid events have emerged as a key channel for demand gen marketers looking to generate leads, build brand awareness, and drive pipeline.

And in today's competitive market, understanding the crucial role events play in the demand gen marketing mix can unlock a world of revenue opportunities.

The rise of digital events: How top demand gen teams are elevating pipeline growth

Goals for demand teams can vary greatly from one company to the next.

Whether it’s building awareness, educating prospects, or rallying your existing community around a new product or service, there’s a digital event format for every kind of demand gen goal. Here are nine ways digital events are transforming demand gen teams and scoring huge marketing results.

1. Grow brand awareness

In a crowded competitive landscape, a big part of your job as a demand gen marketer is to make sure your audience knows who you are and what you’re about.

For the folks at Waylay IO, brand awareness plays a key role in their demand gen strategy, as Callum Donnelley, head of business development, events and startups explains:

“At the end of the day we want to convert attendees. By giving them that first interaction with the brand and providing a free and informative event, you're already warming people up to create qualified leads.”

Use your event branding to create a bespoke, brand-led experience at every step, including your:

  • Event registration pages
  • Stage backgrounds
  • Favicons
  • Fonts
  • Call to actions
  • Virtual backgrounds
  • Buffer videos
  • Name cards
  • Sponsor logos
  • Chat banners
  • Emails

Often, it’s the subtle brand moments that pack the hardest punch. For experts like Callum, that means it’s all about “boosting brand awareness and giving people the ability to get to know what type of company you are without forcing it on them.”

2. Generate pipeline

Generating pipeline is at the top of every demand gen marketer’s list.

For end-to-end revenue operations platform, Clari, digital events are central to their mission of filling the pipeline with quality opportunities. By curating a series of monthly webinars on a particular topic or use case, director of customer marketing Laura Wille has seen consistent pipeline growth.

“Our number one goal is always pipeline generation,” Laura explains. She’s seen firsthand that the best leads are often those that come straight from their events.

What I’ve heard from our RDR’s is that event leads are the leads they want to work because they know they convert.”

Use your event data to create a clear engagement score, including all interactions via your:

  • Chat
  • Messages
  • Polls
  • Text Q&A
  • Video Q&A
  • Documents
  • CTAs

The power of digital events for demand gen doesn’t stop at generating pipeline. Events are also an excellent channel for influencing and accelerating pipeline opportunities.

“If we look at our entire pipeline, every single opportunity is touched by some sort of virtual event or webinar,” says Laura. “Not only are we able to directly convert leads to qualified pipeline from our event program, we're also able to influence opportunities that are already open and help them progress through the funnel and influence closed-won revenue at the end.”

💰Learn More: 12 Best Practices for B2B Webinars That Drive Revenue and Scale

3. Increase attendance

The importance of getting people to actually show up to your events simply cannot be overstated.

With a 50% lift in attendance since switching to Goldcast, senior demand generation manager at Cognism Ashleigh Frank knows that a big part of that equation is your event technology.

“We've been able to build up a following around our event series,” says Ashleigh. “We’ve never had that kind of repeatable event that people like before. That's a massive win for us.”

So how did Ashleigh and the team at Cognism increase their show rate by almost 2X?

Here are a few of the key tools they used:

By delivering a rockstar production every time, Cognism landed a growing group of repeat attendees who were invested, brand aware, and crucial to a healthy pipeline.

4. Offer brand experiences at scale

After switching to Goldcast, the marketing team at subscription and monetization platform Zuora was able to scale their demand gen efforts while delivering an experience—not just an event.

“The platform we were previously using was more simple—it was a vessel for us to deliver content, but what we needed was a vessel to deliver content and experiences,” says Hayley Ferrante, Zuora’s head of global demand program strategy.

With the ability to replicate events in a click, plus the data insights needed to improve with every iteration, the team at Zuora was able to:

  • Easily identify MQLs to pass to their BDRs
  • Deliver personalized event follow-ups using insights from downloaded resources, poll responses, hand-raisers, and Q&A
  • Pinpoint the content that resonates most with attendees

With a 3% bump in attendance and glowing feedback from field leaders, the team at Zuora now has everything they need to scale their full-funnel events.

"Goldcast has been easy and provided a clean way to surface event attendance and engagement metadata and to scale to more events. It's been a real boost to our events strategy—we’ve been able to collect key information from Goldcast into Marketo to further optimize our event programs," says Hayley.

5. Encourage one-to-one conversations

One-to-many conversations are great for building awareness, but the opportunity to connect prospects with the right solutions in real-time is where the magic of digital events really happens.

For the demand gen team at traffic management decision-making platform NS1, replicating in-person sales conversations in a digital event environment has historically been…tricky. That is, until they found a platform partner with all the tools needed to make digital event planning a breeze.

With the right event platform behind them, the team was able to:

  • Make sense of attendance rates with session-level view rates to reveal true event engagement
  • Create opportunities for sales to engage in 1:1 conversations in specific demo rooms and booths
  • Gain data-driven pipeline visibility including impact on net-new and influenced

By creating a virtual expo hall and exhibitor booths within the event, the team at NS1 lowered the communication barriers and made it easy for attendees to approach the team with questions.

6. Boost retention, cross-sells, and upsells

Creating that initial spark isn’t the only job demand gen leaders have to worry about — keeping the spark alive with existing prospects and customers is also high on the list.

For the process automation experts at Onspring, generating leads wasn’t the primary goal of their Connect event. Instead, the focus was on showing customers the many ways to use the product to solve real business challenges.

With an 87% engagement rate and an average viewing time of 8.8 hours, Onspring’s digital events are a crucial component of their demand gen strategy.

A central analytics dashboard allowed the team to see:

  • How many total sessions each person attended
  • Who stuck around until the end of the sessions
  • Which sessions attendees dropped out of

Using streamlined HubSpot and Salesforce integrations, Onspring was able to tie Connect back to key metrics like upsells and cross-sells influenced by the event for an impressive 183% ROI.

“It was great to have one place for our customers to log into but then we could offer all these different types of experiences for them once they were in there,” explains Megan Guerra, director of marketing at Onspring.

7. Increase product awareness

Product demos are the virtual equivalent of a hands-on experience that enables customers to “touch and feel” the value of what you’re offering.

But when it comes to the incredibly complex field biotech R&D software Benchling operates in, product demos aren’t just helpful—they’re essential.

Working alongside their sales team in a targeted account based management (ABM) strategy, the team runs four webinars per year to drive product awareness, transforming their approach to educating (and acquiring) current and potential customers.

The result is $6.1 million in pipeline across 406 opportunities within 90 days of each webinar.

For outcomes like that, the demand gen team at Benchling relies on:

  • Video production tools make it easy to deliver quality content-rich webinars
  • High-quality media that can be easily shared and always available on the platform
  • Intuitive polling and chat to boost audience participation and provide valuable data for lead scoring
  • Event data that flows seamlessly into Marketo and Salesforce, routing hand-raisers straight to the sales team

Head of community and customer marketing Maryann Ibrahim says, “Webinars have been a really great way for us to take some of the things we’ve done in-person and make them more accessible to everyone.”

And with the right event data at hand, she’s got all the proof she needs to back it up.

8. Elevate pipeline influence

Depending on which attribution model you use, one or multiple teams can claim the credit for that all important closed-won. But in reality, generating marketing influenced pipeline can and should be a team effort.

“We know it doesn't just take one touchpoint to create or close an opportunity,” says director of worldwide field marketing at GitLab, Leslie Blanchard.

To help track engagement throughout the pipeline, you need the right event data, including:

  • Registration numbers
  • Attendance rate
  • Booth and discussion room attendance
  • Event engagement score
  • Engagement times
  • Resource downloads
  • Event and booth CTA clicks

Top-tier demand gen teams like those at ThoughtSpot use seamless data integrations to drive (and claim attribution for) a whopping $4.27M of influenced pipeline from their digital events.

“What's really great about having that virtual component through Goldcast is that we were able to reach prospects and scale lead gen,” says Katie Dunn, senior demand generation manager at Thoughtspot.

9. Improve lead scoring

Showing you’ve influenced an account is one thing. But showing how much you’ve influenced them, including scoring them and achieving that all-important MQL status, is a whole other ball game.

Because it’s the account-level data that takes you beyond ‘prospect X attended the event and interacted on five occasions’ to actually showing how that prospect interacted.

Use your event data to simplify lead scoring using event data like:

  • Questions asked
  • Resources downloaded
  • Sessions attended
  • Booths visited
  • And more

The right event platform will make it easy to create touchpoint thresholds that put the most engaged prospects to the top of the sales team’s agenda.

From there, the team can use that account level data to craft the type of personalized, need-meeting follow-ups that actually convert.

“We do all of our lead scoring through Hubspot. We just take our campaigns, sync them to Goldcast and Salesforce, and update all campaign statuses through workflows in Hubspot,” explains Candace Gregg, senior director of global demand generation at Bloomreach.

For her and the rest of the demand gen team at Bloomreach, having instant access to attendee data meant that their BDRs didn’t have to waste time trying to understand which accounts were most in need of answers and support.

Transforming demand generation, one event at a time

The function of demand gen teams is often misunderstood and undervalued.

But digital events have changed that perception. Because with next-generation event features and data, demand gen marketers can drive (and track) way more than registrations and attendance.

Digital events are uniquely positioned to create immersive experiences for prospects, with the data to back it up. The only question is, how will you use them to your advantage?

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