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Getting the Most Out of Trade Show Investments


Find the best leads in your database
Find the best leads in your database
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Building Pipeline
Published 10/30/19
5 minutes read

We are in the middle of conference season and Marketers are hard at work promoting events, building booths, crafting meeting spaces, selecting swag and giveaways, and polishing their messaging. Needless to say, trade shows and conferences require large investments of time, energy and resources from Event Marketers.

According to a recent webinar jointly hosted by SummitSync co-founder and president Al Torres and Conversica Director of Global Partnerships Amelia Farber, an average of 21 percent of organizations total B2B Marketing budget is allocated to events. Depending on the size and stage of the organization, this budget dedication can balloon to 30 percent or even 50 percent. Overall, $570 billion is spent on attending, sponsoring and hosting business-to-business (B2B) events each year.

It’s clear that events, trade shows and conferences are big spends for businesses. Which is why it’s crucial that organizations are certain they are reaping the greatest returns on their investments.

Below we will cover three levers to pull to get more out of your trade show investments including improved pre-event and post-event outreach powered by AI Assistants, as well as better ROI measurement strategies to inform decision making.

Pre-Booking More Meetings with AI Assistants

One of the biggest advantages of in-person events is that they allow for face-to-face meetings between customers and prospects. In fact, 47 percent of executive leaders say that this is the most critical Marketing channel to achieve key business objectives.

Knowing this, it only makes sense for B2Bs to pre-book more meetings. Regrettably, the push to drive more pre-bookings is ignored or downplayed simply due to time and energy constraints.

The solution to this common challenge? Integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) into your Marketing and Sales mix to reap greater results without putting more on your to-do list.

The SummitSync platform works to identify the best prospects to target ahead of an event while the combined SummitSync solution and the Event AI Assistant powered by Conversica reaches out and attracts leads to the event via emails and text messages. Handraisers, those interested in booking a meeting, are elevated to the Sales staff or provided a link through the SummitSync platform to schedule and manage meetings to allow more time for Sales to prep for these conversations.

This AI-driven strategy accomplishes three objectives:

  1. It identifies the most appropriate targets to go after.
  2. It autonomously reaches out to each target and motivates them to pre-book a meeting.
  3. It schedules meetings on behalf of Salespeople to ensure smooth operations.

If you are looking for a real-world example, Extreme Networks, a customer-driven enterprise networking solution, saw great results from using the SummitSync platform and the Event AI Assistant powered by Conversica. Since Sales and Marketing team are focused on organizing and preparing for events, little bandwidth is available to personally reach out to leads to boost attendance. Using the Event AI Assistant, Extreme Networks was able to contact 340,000 names across more than 150 companies. Depending on the event itself, the organization saw four to 20 percent engagement from work leads, one to five percent hot leads from all worked, and 10 to 35 percent hot leads from engaged.

According to a statement from Extreme Networks, “It really allowed us to cover way more ground than we would ever be able to do with Salespeople alone.”

Robust Follow-Up During and After the Event

Leads contacted within five minutes of a trade show meeting have a chance of qualifying 21 times greater than leads touched after half an hour or longer, showing what a difference just a few minutes makes. Of course, this is beyond the capacity of most Salespeople who are likely juggling multiple meetings and duties during the event.

Luckily, AI Assistants have near-unlimited bandwidth to follow up with 100 percent of leads within those first five crucial minutes. More follow-up meetings result in more deals won. It’s as simple as that.

If the lead doesn’t respond within those few minutes, that’s okay. The AI Assistant continues to follow-up after the lanyards are retired and the jetlag wears off. This Intelligent Virtual Assistant will politely but persistently continue its follow up for days, weeks or even months until intent is determined or the lead opts out.

Here’s how post-event follow-up worked for the Sacramento Kings:

  • 250+ names contacted
  • 10 to 25 percent of work leads became engaged
  • Two to six percent hot leads from all worked
  • 10 to 25 percent hot leads from engaged

With the three-times increase provided by the AI Assistant, the Sacramento Kings saw millions of dollars added to their pipeline.

Somewhat surprisingly, only between one and 10 percent of leads collected from events are followed up with. That’s a huge gap that leaves many prospective customers ignored and untouched. Which translates to missed opportunities and lower returns on investments.

Great Visibility Into Event ROI

Good Marketers are driven by data that helps inform their decisions. But unfortunately, event Marketing often lacks proper visibility into where investments are really paying off. Event Marketers are sometimes forced to rely on tradition (what they’ve done for years) or speculation (what they believe are the most popular conferences) to determine their next move. Luckily, there’s a better way.

SummitSync provides two primary avenues for determining event ROI. The first is a simple equation to understand how much money you spent on each lead. This is what SummitSync calls “Return on Event” or ROE.

To calculate ROE, you need:

  • A stated goal or objective
  • Pre-event data
  • Post-event data
  • And the total cost of attending

Consider the following example:

Calculating Return on Event (ROE) Example
Goal: Generate 50 leads through pre-event meetings and sign-up forms at the event Total Cost: $8,500
Pre-Event: 5 sign-ups Divide the costs by the number of leads generated to get cost-per-lead:
Post-Event: Generated 75 leads through sign-up forms $8,500 / 80 leads = $106.25 per lead

By comparing the newly calculated cost-per-lead to your other Marketing channels or different events, and Marketers enjoy greater clarity regarding how trade shows and conferences fit into an overall strategy.

The second way to gain greater visibility into your event ROI is to leverage the attribution model baked into the SummitSync platform. This powerful tool gives you a quantitative analysis on which events drive the most revenue by weighing a number of variables (such as pre- and post-event connections, follow-up meetings and other non-event touchpoints) to determine the ROI driven by the event-specific Sales meeting.

One of these reasons this is so attractive is that Event Marketers can inspect individual or team performance and the revenue generated without having to track down your Salespeople to log meetings. Not to mention it’s much easier to use than a clunky manual spreadsheet.

The takeaway? AI-driven solutions from SummitSync and Conversica do a better job of identifying potential leads, following up with those leads and calculating event ROI.

For more informative and actionable tips, watch the Making an Event Marketer’s Dream Reality with Artificial Intelligence webinar today!

And while you’re at it, explore the Maximizing Trade Show ROI eBook!

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