Improve Event Marketing ROI with Intent Data

Jul 09, 2019 | Author Ed Marsh

87% of C-Suite Executives Plan on Investing More in Live Events

It's easy to understand why. They provide amazing experiences for attendees, with enormous ongoing benefits for the organizers and sponsors. (Check out this curated list of event marketing stats from Aventri (@AventriSoftware) including the headline stat above from Endless Events.) 

Seriously. How many people with whom you have Zoom meetings display their collection of attendee badges with logo'd lanyards hanging over a bookcase behind them? 70% give or take? Hey, heads up, the event is over and they're already asking for you to commit to next year's event at a deeply discounted price. What's with that collection of badges!!??

Obviously events are powerful. And there's plenty of advice on marketing them like Michael Brenner's recent "15 Event Marketing Tips."

But that means marketing them is going to get tougher. Not only does it seem we might be nearing saturation, but as @GaryVee says, eventually marketers ruin everything. (Think ruin is the word he used? Without a colorful modifier?) So it's time for smart marketers to get creative in optimizing event promotion preemptively, and maximizing events is a great use case of intent data for marketing.

Understanding the Role of Contact Level™ Intent Data

Contact level intent data helps you to identify specific contacts that satisfy your demographic (job title) and firmographic (size, industry, location) ideal buyer profile AND who is taking action online that indicates they are actively researching a certain topic, product, service, etc.

Contact level intent data's most common application is in demand generation, and while it's making new waves in ABM, competitive marketing, remarketing and other disciplines, many of the "digital" and "content" marketers haven't incorporated it into their toolboxes yet. Brenner's piece, for instance, doesn't mention the potential.

So how can it help?

Intent Data Event Marketing Tips for Attendees & Sponsors

As a sponsor your goal is to maximize your ROI by increasing awareness, building relationships and generating leads with attendees. As an industry vendor that's attending without sponsoring, you want to connect with as many prospects and influencers as possible.

Sound simple, but it's tough to do in sprawling venues pulsing with energetic music and packed with over-caffeinated and/or under-rested and hungover attendees. 

If you wait until the event you're going to miss people.

Sure, you can ring-fence the venue and gamble on Facebook ads, and flood your social profiles with pre-event info. But both are rather imprecise. You could, and probably do, have your BDRs hit the phones in advance trying to randomly stumble into someone who might attend. What happened to ROI??!!

Wouldn't you love to share your specific, compelling message in advance, specifically with the people who will be attending and who fit your IDP?

That's the opportunity with contact level intent data. It will provide a list of contacts and accounts who are predicted to attend a specific event. It will also provide insight regarding which of those might be interacting with competitors, and those engaging with influencers or taking action indicating that they're actively exploring solutions to the problems your product/service addresses.

Cool in theory, but how do you do it? And what do you do with the info?

When you build an intent data algorithm from scratch you have the opportunity to track engagements in various ways including:

  • topic and event #hashtags
  • speakers and influencers by name, topic, website and profiles
  • event name, site and profiles

You'll probably also track key terms around problems and outcomes, hashtags and competitors that indicate someone might be "in the market" although not necessarily planning to attend the event. Overlay geographic filters on that and you can identify people who should attend and are in the area.

I've built the intent data algorithm, now what?

First, hand any contacts from high value accounts directly to your sales team for outreach regarding your "event offer." You have one, right? You want to be on their agenda for the event, not simply a lucky coincidence. With full contact details including email address, job title, LinkedIn profile, available Twitter handles, and main phone number, your team will have an easy time connecting.

Second, begin to nurture these actual contacts with paid social.

  • Create lists of custom audiences for remarketing with specific messaging
  • Connect with them on LinkedIn in advance
  • Build social listening plans and Twitter lists for those specific contacts and be sure to actively engage during the event (note that this is distinct from general engagement with the event hashtag on various channels)
  • Focus your event registration discounts on those not yet attending, but near the event
  • Messaging for those who are likely to attend should be tailored to problems they're trying to solve and outcomes they'll learn about from discussion with you - and ensure that your sales team connects in person, in advance, with anyone who does engage
  • Provide a compelling reason to actually visit your booth and shake hands
  • Focus your ring-fence nurturing during the event on those that fit your IDP with advance interest
  • Suppress those with whom you did connect, nurture appropriately after the event to reach those whom you missed

The bottom line is you can know in advance who's attending that you should meet - and you can make sure they know you in advance. 

How Can Event Organizers Leverage Intent Data?

As an organizer, your goals are different. You want to attract hordes of high qualified and energetic attendees. You want to build opportunities to monetize your brand. Intent Data can help you as well.

First, consider the opportunity to sell a "service package" to sponsors to do what's outlined above. I smell incremental sponsor revenue beyond breakfast, badge lanyard and urinal screen sponsorships (yes, someone pays for those) and pole wraps.

Second, drive registrations by using data to identify leads whose personal and firmographic details match your likely attendee profiles, and who you observe taking action that indicates they're engaged in researching problems and solutions to which your event speaks. You can also identify those engaging with competitive or cooperative events, your scheduled speakers (or similar speakers and influencers.)

Third, collect media "leads" based on similar engagement. Hand these off to your colleagues in PR/communications.

Fourth, identify possible sponsors who aren't in your database but whom you observe engaging with competitive events.

You'll follow up with each group differently. In fact within each group you'll likely tailor your approach to the details of their profile and the engagement you observe with each. You might highlight certain sessions/speakers based on the problems you see them trying to solve; or use testimonials to nurture those considering competitive events. You could offer different registration discounts depending on the value you perceive from attracting particular job titles, industries, geographies, etc.

That customized outreach will be adapted to both direct sales outreach by your event registration and sponsorship sales teams, as well as to nurturing through paid social channels.

The bottom line for event organizers is that you'll know who's taking action that indicates they're likely attendees or sponsors, and you'll be able to reach them with the right message at the right time.

Stepping up Your Competitive Intelligence (CI) Around Events

There's another element to event marketing:  Contact level intent data. Your competitors are likely spending substantial portions of their budget on it. Would it be helpful to understand with what impact?

Contact level intent data is a powerful competitive marketing tool and can be used to mine insights from your competitors' event marketing. How?

First, to provide an early account level alert (for tracked accounts like competitors - also customers and target accounts) that they are sponsoring an event.

Second, it allows you to create an effective list of who's attending for analysis. This will help you understand what industries, company sizes, job titles/roles, geographies attend their event. This insight, along with observations of engagement before, during and after an event, can provide value competitive intelligence.

Third, help your colleagues in other marketing and sales disciplines by highlighting which contacts from your current target accounts and customers are attending a competitor's event. They'd probably benefit from a bit of preemptive engagement by your team!!

Aligning Marketing Functions and Revenue Growth Departments

The competitive marketing example above highlights another opportunity. There's potential to use buyer intent data focused on experiential event marketing to provide insights and value to marketing colleagues in other functions including account-based marketing (ABM), demand generation, competitive marketing and even conversational marketing. And the benefit extends further - it can help bridge the silos of marketing, sales and success.

The same data that improves event promotion, registration and engagement can also help with complex sales and target accounts, and aid success in reducing churn and increasing up and cross-sell opportunities.

Interested in other use cases for intent data across your entire customer lifecycle? There are more applications in marketing, sales and success.



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