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Event Marketing Lives Through Intent Data - Even in a Virtual and Viral World

Mar 24, 2020 | Author Ed Marsh

Tl;dr - Event marketing was a big part of the 2020 growth plan for many companies. While events are cancelled, postponed and moved online that may free up some budget, but substantially challenge marketing teams to deliver. Buyer intent data is often underestimated as an event marketing adjunct, and probably even more so amidst the current turmoil. The right intent data, which doesn't rely on IP address resolution and which does provide contact level detail is a powerful tool in today's Corona Crisis environment.

Sequoia Casts a Shadow

A couple weeks ago, around the time you saw the 197th article in your feed about switching to virtual events, you might have also seen the headline regarding Sequoia Capital's "Black Swan" letter to their portfolio companies.

It advised management to consider cash runway, implications to subsequent rounds of funding, and possible cost cutting. It even called out marketing specifically as a place to cut (why, why, why is that always what investors, bankers and finance people look to first!!??) It also suggested modeling around higher churn (lower lifetime value) and the CAC (customer acquisition cost) metric.

Of course the nature of the crisis (viral illness) is prompting actions (cancelling gatherings and events) which are expensive components of the marketing budget. So to the extent that funds still have to be released, or that refunds are available based on terms of agreement and organizer's liquidity, that's helping to trim the marketing budget naturally.

But what about virtual events? And what about events that are simply cancelled or indefinitely postponed?

I'll leave the question of how well virtual events substitute for the real thing to others. There's been plenty of ink spilled on that topic in the last couple weeks.

But the fact remains that "companies still have a number to hit and that means doubling down on digital" (great article from @Drift's @TriciaGellman here.)

And the original plan included investing in event marketing, and attendees were investing travel and time for specific reasons. So how can companies try to leverage audience reach and still get the attention of folks who are engaging around virtual, rescheduled and cancelled events?

Contact level™ intent data offers some interesting potential.

The Event Marketing Use Case for Intent Data

Intent data can be used for event related marketing in various ways. (more here)

Let's look specifically at use cases in the context of cancelled physical and promoted replacement virtual / online events.

But first, let's quickly unpack how IntentData.io's Contact Level Intent Data supports event marketing in general.

Our data is built on observations of online engagement. That means folks that like, click, share and comment on content which we understand pertains to a topic - in this case an event. That could content including an event name, URL, or hashtag. Savvy marketers also add the key speakers that may draw attendees to their algorithms as well, along with key terms that are pertinent to the material that will be the focus of attendees.

Naturally this works with industry events - for instance Content Marketing World - and for brand specific events - both your own and competitors'.

That creates various use cases for

  • organizers (monetize additional insights as products for sponsors, targeted marketing to more potential attendees)
  • sponsors (competitive event targeting, engage all potential attendees, and those interested in the topics, not just those that stop at your booth)
  • attendees (know who's likely to attend that you might want to connect with.)

And, needless to say, it works with cancelled events as well as online and virtual events.

Event Marketing 2020

Many marketers are scrambling now to hit lead goals because so much of their 2020 plan (and budget!) was built around events.

But even before the virus swept events off the calendar, at least for the first half of the year, there were already changes underway.

DockerCon might not be on your list of key events, but it is for lots of folks, and in Dec 2019 it had already gone virtual for 2020.

It's likely that the Corona Crisis will accelerate some event marketing changes that might have begun begun before we noticed. Events have become so expensive that there's a point at which even branding can't justify the spend.

But whether events are now cancelled, postponed or virtual by design or necessity, marketers still need to connect with likely attendees and those interested. 

Today that could mean those who are lamenting the missed opportunity to attend E3Expo, SNAXPO or others, just as it can also include those engaging with your competitors' virtual events, and those that are rescheduled or still on the books for the fall.

Using Intent Data to Plug Marketing Gaps

In this surreal world one thing is clear. People are spending even more time working online. That means more intent signals - and for creative marketers and sales teams that means more opportunities to use the marketing intelligence and sales intelligence, particularly with contact level behavioral intent data, to interpret where new opportunities might exist and how pending deals are progressing. After all, the 10.2 person complex buying team is even MORE unwieldy when they're all stressed and working remotely.

So it's natural that as other lead generation techniques are disrupted, and paid ad budgets are trimmed, that intent data is getting a closer look from companies that haven't been fully focused on the approach beyond some ABM account prioritization.

That comes with a complication - much of the common intent data relies on IP address resolution which is now broadly impaired. Surges from residential, shared and dynamic IP addresses won't provide the same important account-level insight that they might when prospects are working from the office.

Therefore it's important to make sure that the data on which you will more critically rely actually is able to deliver the required signals in a work from home world.

Bottom line - don't give up on events. The right intent data can still power important event marketing initiatives even if events are cancelled, postponed or moved online. At the same time, make sure that the intent data on which you rely actually delivers when workers are remote. 

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