Event experience ace Nina Butler has done it all.
She’s mastered a vast variety of event-based industries in her career so far: food and beverage, floral design, weddings, creative arts... and, now? The corporate gifting world, at Alyce.
We caught up with Nina to find out how she uses experience-driven virtual events to drive product adoption at Alyce, while elevating events to become the second-highest pipeline creating channel for the company.
Pen at the ready? You’ll want notes on this one. 😉
If a decade in restaurant management and hospitality events taught Nina Butler anything, it’s that she lives for the instant gratification of creating memorable moments for customers.
But over time, Nina realized the unpredictable hours in hospitality just didn’t fit her lifestyle anymore. She wanted something more stable — without straying too far from events.
The answer? Startups.
“I went into startups because they evoked that same ‘high-pressure, high-reward’ feeling as I experienced in hospitality. It was the fast-moving environment that I had come to be really comfortable in… but also with a bit more predictability.”
For the past seven and a half years, Nina has lived the startup life, the last two and a half with Alyce.
“About two years ago we went to market with a new category: Personal Experience. The DNA of Personal Experience is to transform as many transactional touches with your prospects and customers as possible into really memorable moments, rooted in this concept of emotional resonance and personal bonding.”
And with 300% year-on-year growth in 2020, and a $30 million series B in April 2021, Nina and her team at Alyce are clearly onto something.
But while engaging new customers is important — building on your existing relationships is where the real value comes in. And that’s exactly the route Nina took with her latest virtual event strategy.
To build on Alyce’s awesome momentum, Nina set out to bolster the company’s relationship with their existing client base. The question was simple: “How do we help transform our existing brand promoters and make them loyalists?”
For her, the key to a successful virtual event was to build better relationships through personalized experiences. Just like receiving a gift.
“The charter of marketing is to create as many experiential moments as possible with buyers, to increase their intent signals, to then give our sales team the greatest likelihood of receiving a response. When we think about what channels are at our disposal to create those memorable moments, events are one of the ultimate ways to do it.”
Nina’s first step was to get crystal clear on her audience.
“Before you put pen to paper, you really need to think about who this experience is best fit for, and who the experience is not designed for. That way the experience is all about the attendee and not about you as the host company.”
But the prep work didn’t stop there. The final pre-event decision for Nina was to decide her event KPIs.
At Alyce, events are a cornerstone of the demand gen strategy — and the entire demand gen function is completely tied to revenue.
“The two biggest KPIs we care about are pipeline created and closed-win business,” she explains. “Depending on the channel or campaign, it can be challenging to tie things back on a one-to-one basis with revenue, but events are actually a pretty logical place in which you can.”
But there is a caveat. Nina and her team are clear about their two diverse types of events: revenue-creating events vs. revenue-influencing events.
Here’s how she and the team define their core event types, based on revenue goal:
"Pipeline influence is the metric we look at to make sure these events are contributing to that overall logo growth, either on the acquisition or expansions side. But it doesn’t necessarily mean we look at last-touch, don’t see that directly attributed pipeline and say, ‘Ah, events aren’t working!’”
As part of her mission to turn existing promoters into loyalists (and secure all the revenue benefits that come along with that), Nina and her team set a big goal for their virtual events: Re-create the feeling of being on the sales floor.
That’s how the BDR Gifting Power Hour was born.
“That idea was sparked from our end users of Alyce which generally are business development reps or SDRs missing the camaraderie of the sales floor. There used to be these beautiful organic meetups that happened inside our customer accounts where BDRs would get together in a conference room from 1 to 3pm and do all their Alyce gifting. It was a really fun, common experience.”
Nina and her team wanted to bring those moments of bonding and levity back to their audience, while driving product adoption.
With her audience defined, her event KPIs locked in, and her theme nailed down — Nina was ready to make a big impact with her next virtual event. But first, she knew she’d need the right platform.
Virtual doesn’t have to mean distant. With Goldcast’s unique technology, Nina created a personalized connection for audiences across the country.
Nina knew that to take their events up a gear, she’d need a virtual events platform that was capable of capturing deep data insights.
So she turned to Goldcast. “One of the reasons we brought Goldast on is because we’re data hounds,” laughs Nina. The way she sees it, lack of data is one of the biggest blind spots a marketer can have.
“For us, a blind spot that we had in events was just the data. Who are we capturing? How do we thoughtfully and correctly put them into the customer journey pre-event? How do we then get them back after the event?”
Then of course, there’s the challenge of getting all that information synced into their marketing platforms and connected straight to their sales systems so that their AEs teams know exactly who to follow up with, and just what to say.
It was a lot of connecting the dots, but the payoff was worth it.
Today, events are Alyce’s second-highest pipeline creating channel behind inbound.
Here’s how Goldcast helped Nina create a fully streamlined approach from event registration to follow up:
Nina and her team use attendee status — which gets synced seamlessly from Goldcast to Marketo and then to Salesforce — to inform segmentation and follow up, and make event attribution easier to track.
According to Nina, this type of post-event framework “...helps us understand what types of experiences are moving the needle and what could be improved.”
Last, but certainly not least, Goldcast helped Nina nail event scalability with the simple click of a button. By ‘cloning’ her next BDR Power Hour, she saves hours of time each month.
“The team behind Goldcast’s platform is next to none. I feel really confident that the actual experience itself will be hosted and executed properly. You can't put a price tag on that.”
As every field marketer knows, it’s what happens after the event that truly defines your success.
With deep account-level event data at her fingertips, Nina and her team are able to segment event attendees into three groups, with a tailored follow-up strategy relevant to each individual’s journey.
Here’s a glimpse into how she segments event attendees for follow up:
For Nina, the result is a seamless post-event workflow to get appointments booked for their sales reps. “These are tangible benefits we’re creating, we’re not just hosting a party,” she jokes.
But her results are dead serious. At this stage in Alyce’s growth journey, the ability to scale is crucial. With the right workflows in place, events are now one core aspect of the company’s demand gen strategy that has reached peak scalability.
“We host these events to drive product adoption, and so we needed to understand if our monthly attendees were actually increasing their product adoption. With Goldcast’s insights we could say, ‘Here are our attendees month-over-month, and here's their product usage’. What a powerful thing to be able to say without hours of manually stitching that data together.”
Data-fueled personalization achieved? You bet. ✔️
And we know Nina’s just getting started. So if the sky’s the limit, what’s on the horizon?
Nina has her work cut out for 2022, doubling event output and navigating a post-pandemic era where hybrid events are set to become the norm.
And after a successful year with Goldcast, events will continue to lead the charge for Alyce.
Covid may have changed the landscape, but Nina is set on continuing her virtual event strategy well into the post-pandemic era.
“Brands were forced to figure out how to replicate that in-person sentiment and virtual events were one of the most effective ways. Those who prioritized that are now seeing the benefits and, even as in-person events return, virtual events can amplify those experiences.”
Alyce is the AI-powered B2B gifting platform that’s redefining direct mail, swag and gifts with its scalable, sustainable, hyper-personalized approach to account-based marketing. Alyce builds real, personal relationships that deliver up to twice the named account penetration and drives 5x pipeline versus traditional approaches. Alyce makes B2B gift-giving simple, effective and measurable.
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