Like any element of your marketing strategy, events, webinars, and tradeshows lend themselves well to audience segmentation by demographic, firmographic, behavioral, and contextual data. You already have some information about leads at an event or tradeshow from the fact that they’re there at all (a strong behavioral signal of interest), and from their attendance. Let’s take a look, then, at how marketing automation ranks leads generated from tradeshows and puts those rankings in the context of the Lead Lifecycle.
- Attendees – Just by having attended a tradeshow, prospects have an ideal customer profile and are promising recipients of your marketing This group includes everyone who signed up for the tradeshow and these leads count as marketing-accepted leads. They’re in the general neighborhood of your target audience, but they need some screening and nurturing before they’re ready for more in-depth information. Marketing automation uses this information to send engaging email invitations to enter a drawing to win a free prize, receive a free consultation, or see a demonstration of your product.
- Booth Visitors – These leads not only attended the exposition but also stopped by your booth to pick up literature, scan their ID card, or drop a business card in a prize jar. Because you know they stopped at your booth, you and your MARKETING AI® can assume they know your brand and something about you. At this point, these leads roughly parallel the MQL stage of the Lead Lifecycle. By using this information, it continues the nurture process by sending a follow-up email thanking them for their interest and entering them into the weekly MQL-email nurture stream.
- Engaged Leads – People who take the time to talk to your representative at the tradeshow know enough about you to actively seek out more information. They’re highly engaged with your brand, and depending on the conversation you have with them, they may be sales-accepted or sales-qualified leads (SAL and SQL on the Lead Lifecycle chart. These are more than prospects, they’re Your AI assists by immediately sending an email, thanking them for their time and scheduling a follow-up call to close the sale.
It’s this third level of engagement that counts as a success to your MARKETING AI®. Until leads reach that point, they’re placed in the appropriate nurture track designed to supply them with the content they need to get there. By the time your representative speaks with a lead at a tradeshow, your MAI has already amassed a great deal of information about that person so you can give relevant answers and guide the conversation.
You can have meaningful conversations with prospects, even if you haven’t met them face to face, by using webinars, which generate between 20 and 40 percent of B2B companies’ leads — it’s critical to handle them well. From preregistration to sign-ups to the event itself to future downloads from new leads, a Marketing AI turns an already vital aspect of your revenue marketing strategy into a lead-generation machine.
In a sense, webinars are like online tradeshows without any other vendors. You know attendees already have a significant interest in what you’re offering. With this channel, you get in-depth data on leads and have a chance to speak directly to your audience. As with tradeshows, you guide the conversation, but in this case you do it remotely. Moreover, you get to do it repeatedly because webinars last for as long as you have them recorded and available on your website. You’re only able to attend a tradeshow once, but a webinar can funnel well-prepared, highly qualified leads to your sales team time after time.
Your MARKETING AI® not only collects data on webinar sign-ups and attendees, it also administers every step of the information flow before, during, and after the webinar (and delivers new attendees who sign up for the webinar to the appropriate point of the marketing pipeline). Behavioral and contextual data is important when scoring leads. A lot of data flows into the system in real-time, and only a MARKETING AI® can keep pace. To get an idea of how a MARKETING AI® manages a webinar, let’s go through the steps of creating, promoting, delivering, and following up on one.
Choosing a Webinar Topic
Too many companies spend their time and money creating webinars that focus on what they want to say, rather than on what their audience wants to hear and then wonder why they have such small audiences. A MARKETING AI® that has carefully tracked demographic, firmographic, behavioral, and contextual data over time will show you where your audience’s interests lie. The keyword analysis you do for your SEO also applies here, steering you to the topics your visitors search most frequently. Demographic and firmographic information tells you who your potential webinar audience is so you can directly address their needs. When brainstorming webinar subjects, looking at the data your MAI has already amassed will dramatically streamline the process.
If your audience doesn’t know about your webinar it can’t sign up for it. Blog posts and guest posts, newsletters, tradeshows, Facebook events, LinkedIn groups, front page banners, email invitations — all of these are prime opportunities to let people know what they’ll be getting.
Your AI knows which audience segments each of your marketing channels reaches and will guide your promotion strategy. For example, website visitors who find you via an organic search might respond best to a home page banner that features a mention of the keywords they used to find you — and yes, you can customize home pages within your marketing automation system. Your newsletter recipients may respond better to an in-depth article that feeds their desire for more knowledge about the subject of your webinar. The MARKETING AI® also simplifies forms setups. Make it easy for attendees to participate by letting them sign up via Facebook, Twitter, an on-site form, or a custom landing page reached through a link in email. These forms serve a dual purpose: They reserve space for attendees, of course, but they also give your MAI a wealth of new data on leads. As people fill in the blanks, your marketing automation system cross-references and stores the information within each lead’s profile. You’re also able to filter responses; by requiring a business email address for sign-ups, for example, you remove people who are unlikely to become customers from your attendance list.
After prospects fill out the necessary reservation forms, your MAI also initiates an email sequence that starts with an autoresponder thank- you message. This note is a small but critical step because it verifies your lead’s information and serves as a reminder to attend — and you do want attendance, not just sign-ups. Your MAI knows who has signed up and knows who hasn’t. Therefore, it will continue to communicate reasons to register to your non-respondent audience and send a reminder to attend to current registrants. As the optimal numbers of emails are delivered, the AI will manage each email deployment. The importance of registering and then attending is extremely high. We find that when a registrant attends one of our webinars she is about 60 percent more likely to become a customer than a registrant that didn’t attend, so you don’t want them to miss out on the presentation.
Should a lead register for a webinar and not attend, you still have a chance to make an impact on that lead. Allowing registrants who miss the webinar to download a recording of the event from a third-party source affords you an excellent opportunity to ask for more information and to refine that lead’s qualification status.
Even with a thank-you for signing up, attendees sometimes forget about a scheduled webinar without the occasional reminder. Depending on how far out the event is your MAI schedules an email reminder a week in advance and another the day of the webinar. The timing of reminders varies from industry to industry and person to person. As with every aspect of your marketing strategy, your MAI can track historical data and reveal what the most effective reminder schedule is for your audience.
From your MAI’s standpoint, the webinar itself is the easy part. It records attendance, tracks whether people stay for the entire presentation, and prepares an autoresponder thank-you message for attendees. A marketing automation system also integrates with popular webinar software to create and organize slides for a sleek, compelling presentation. If your webinar’s presented live, allot enough time for audience questions; if it’s recorded, consider implementing a chat messaging service that lets new attendees communicate directly with your representatives.
A timely, organized follow-up after your webinar delivers higher conversion rates, and an MAI excels at coordinating follow-ups and reminders. Your first step is one you’ve already read — sending a thank-you via autoresponder. You and your marketing team can choose to send out a general thank you to all attendees, but you can also fine-tune the responses to send different messages to leads depending on what questions they asked in the Q&A or how long they stayed with the webinar. Historically, attendees who stay for the entire event have far greater conversion rates than those who leave early, so your AI sends a direct mail offer and arranges a telemarketing call as part of the follow-up process on these highly qualified leads.
Having tracked the behavioral and contextual cues from attendees during every step of the process, your MAI has also been scoring these leads so it can channel them toward the correct nurture flow. Some leads may have reached the SAL or even SQL stages by the end of the webinar, while others need additional input to arrive at that point. Either way, your marketing automation system can schedule emails and phone calls to maximize the ROI on every webinar lead.
Sorting and Scoring
Some of your most valuable leads come from events, tradeshows, and webinars, yet the cost of procuring and nurturing these leads is higher than it is for many other marketing channels. To keep the return on your investment of time and money as high as possible, it’s imperative to put verified, qualified leads on the appropriate nurture track, while weeding out false signals of interest. It would be impossible for a human on your marketing team to go through all your records, cross-reference them with attendee records, eliminate dead ends, and put valid leads on the right nurture program. For your MARKETING AI®, it’s a routine task.
A certain number of false signals appear in event, tradeshow and webinar attendee lists as students and members of the press. Although they’re there to learn about you, that knowledge rarely translates into sales. Often, would-be leads are competitors who want to see what they’re up against or learn a few new ideas. Even the friendliest competition will never buy from you, and your marketing automation system knows that. It’s able to spot these false signals and filter these results out of the nurture process so you aren’t handing your competition tools they could use to leverage their own success.
When people sign up for a webinar or tradeshow, they’re already sending a strong signal of interest, but sometimes it’s a challenge to see just where that interest lies. Let’s take a look at SEO Schematics for a quick example. The company has landed a booth at FOLIO, an annual publishers convention. The tradeshow draws tens of thousands of attendees ranging from content marketers to website developers, but only some of them will be specifically interested in the SEO software solutions the company provides. SEO Schematics’ Marketing AI can filter attendees by interest, demographic data, and firmographic information. By filtering leads by score and sorting the most promising prospects into differentiated nurture streams, the company is able to turn every possible lead into a sale and maximize every dollar it spent on attending the tradeshow.
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