How Conference Marketing Can Improve Lead Conversion Rates
Marketers implement strategies that help their brand establish a connection with potential leads and eventually convert them into marketing-qualified leads. One proven strategy is conference marketing, also known as event marketing.
Events can drive engagement like no other marketing strategy because they give brands a podium to personally connect with the target user base. Although the COVID-19 pandemic created friction in hosting in-person events, it has opened up the path for digital events, making it easier to reach a global audience.
Conference marketing is a tactic that helps brands talk about their products or services and also build brand awareness. It helps educate potential leads about the brand and establish a trust that often facilitates lead conversions.
In this article, we will look into the tips, do’s, and don’t’s of conference marketing to trigger lead conversion. Let us start with the top six tips for using conference marketing for lead conversion.
Tips to Trigger Lead Conversion through Conference Marketing
Whether in-person or digital, events are the go-to strategy for brands looking to generate leads. It offers a chance to create a customer experience that propels user engagement and trust while creating unique brand awareness.
However, savvy marketers do not wait for the event to start to implement lead conversion strategies. They create a strategy that leverages each marketing funnel stage to capture and convert traffic. There are four specific elements that marketers design thoroughly to ensure maximum conversion –
- Offering experiences that make users sign up and attend the event.
- Collecting visitor data for pre and post-event marketing. This data is mapped and tracked across the marketing and sales funnel for timely engagements.
- Creating educational content and engaging users in informational activities to nurture and push them down the funnel.
- Defining the conversion steps from the starting point and customizing each step with content that aligns with user interest and behavior.
Once this workflow or process is ready, it is time to leverage the potential of conference marketing.
- Pick the right time to host the conference/event
If you are hosting an annual Christmas Wrap-Up event, it is easy to pick a date – a few days ahead of Christmas is ideal before the holiday season sets in. However, not all events are directly tied up to specific dates.
Choosing the right date for your event can seem intimidating because you want to attract maximum eyeballs but not clash with other global recurring events.
Here are the top 2 things to consider while picking the time and date for your event –
- Your audience: Your audience is always your priority. Choose a date when your target audience will most likely participate in your event. Avoid dates around:
- Seasonal holidays
- Bank holidays
- Political and public events
- Planned public service disruptions like strikes
- Venue and vendor availability: If you have a specific venue in mind or want to associate with a specific vendor to host your event, you must factor in their availability.
- Capture leads before, during, and after the conference
Lead capturing is not restricted to when the event is happening. Infact, it starts before your event has started and continues to post the event.
Your lead conversion and capturing strategy must find a place before, during, and after the event. Why?
- Before: Create hype and excitement around your event so users sign up and register. You continue nurturing them with educational content around the event and their take-aways. For example, GrowthHackers creates a series of educational emails to talk about their annual conference slated to happen almost a month later. It discusses the keynote speakers, what to expect, and a free participation invitation.
- During: You schedule reminders and keep a live update-like flow to ensure your attendees are not missing out on significant pointers from the event. For physical events, this is where you keep the nurturing happening as you tie their offline interactions with their online persona and create personalized messaging for instant gratification.
- After: If you thought hosting and getting a large pool of attendees to your event was overwhelming, wait till the event is over. This is where you start personalized follow-ups to ensure you are not forgotten. Your giveaways and participation incentives help you nurture and trigger lead conversions at this stage. For instance, this email update from YourStory consists of updates and recordings of their event and a link to register [i.e., convert into a lead].
- Tap into Influencers
Influencer marketing is mainstream now. Brands want to onboard popular faces with massive fan bases to market events that give them much-needed attention. This concept is directly tied to the fact that businesses must also be mindful of picking the right influencer for their brand.
Influencer marketing is evolving steadily, so much so that influencer marketing events are now a norm.
One of the ways to leverage influencers is by inviting them as key speakers to the event. This automatically leads to the influencer spreading word of mouth on social and networking portals about the event. This leads to an increase in event registrations and attendees because who wouldn’t want to rub shoulders with the whos-who of the industry, even if it means attending a digital conference?
For instance, Ariana Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global, announced that she will participate in Salesforce’s Dreamforce 2023 event. This is a classic example of how industry influencers can drive registrations.
Holger Sindbaek, who runs a gaming platform WOCG, says, “When we decided to host our first gaming conference centered around Online Solitaire, I knew we needed a game-changer. We brought in a top Solitaire gaming influencer to headline the event. The ripple effect was immediate. Just as a pivotal move in Solitaire can set the tone for the entire game, this influencer’s presence transformed our conference dynamics. Attendees were not just there for the game but for the shared passion and community.”
- Offer incentives for participation
Incentives are always a win, whether it is a digital event or a physical one. When you have brand swags for giveaways or free upgrades and special access to new features, you win users on a personal level. For instance, social media giveaways like coupons or vouchers can greatly incentivize participation.
Similarly, a handcrafted or carefully curated brand swag at a physical event will leave a lasting impact on the attendee. For instance, Figma’s ConFig 2023 has Figmints!
However, incentives are not always restricted to gifts or takeaways. Offering an unmatched experience is also an incentive good enough to make users want to come to your event and continue being part of such events.
This is precisely what Salesforce’s Dreamforce event does. It creates an unforgettable experience for Salesforce teams and attendees, so much so that you want to be there in the next one.
That’s a great incentive for any event.
- Leverage social media for word-of-mouth
This is a given.
Social media offers instant gratification for your event. Social media is the ideal place to spread the word and generate leads, from announcing the date and agenda to inviting users to register and interact or sharing updates from the event live and later posting snippets of what happened. After the event, you also have the perfect opportunity to connect with participants on LinkedIn, engage with them, and generate new leads via their network.
The best part about social media is that anyone attending the event becomes part of the discussion and joins the trending hashtags associated with the event. As more and more people talk about your event, you create a buzz even before the event has started.
Take, for instance, Figma’s #ConFig2023. Whether LinkedIn, Instagram, or Figma’s website – this hashtag helped users connect with the event and share everything around it before, during, and after. This helps build brand awareness and educates users of the experience the event promises to offer.
- Create email drips with exclusive offers
Everybody likes exclusivity. Why not tie it with your lead conversion campaigns, especially in emails?
Emails are the most widely used marketing channels to promote events and brand messaging. While many may argue email marketing is dead, it is the opposite of that. Infact, you can rephrase it as email marketing has evolved.
Personalization is the key. No one likes blunt, cold emails anymore. Reports show that 99% of people check emails daily, so you are missing the mark if you are not tailoring your event campaigns to align with the user intent.
There are three things to keep in mind –
- Segment your audience correctly. Send out event invitations that align with your audience. For instance, if you are hosting a webinar for founders and investors, don’t send the email campaign to a newbie who has just started working with a tech firm.
- Include exclusive offers. Early bird registrations, exclusive one-to-one meetings with influencers, free upgrades to new features, and such can be a great way to trigger event registration and attendance. Here’s an example from ABM.
- Follow up diligently. Email marketing drips should not end with your event. Neither should it end with sending a recorded version of your event. Continue educating your users and talking about the key highlights of the event. Share downloadable checklists or guides that sum up your events or invite for post-event webinars. In short, keep the post-event engagements going on.
In addition to these tips, there are a few do’s and don’ts that you must know when implementing conference marketing to generate genuine leads.
To-do’s Before Hosting an Event
- Set clear objectives
You must clearly understand why you want to host the event and what outcome your business wants. Outlining your goals will help you align your event’s messaging and communicate clearly.
If you are not defining your goals and objectives, you will spend more than you can recover with no gains at the end of the day. That is just bad planning.
- Create personalized experiences
Meaningful experiences can drive brand loyalty like never before. When you plan your event, incorporate ideas to make the event experience worthwhile. Your attendees must associate the experience with your brand, making them mini-brand evangelists.
A bad experience will spoil the chance of capturing leads and taint your brand name. And thanks to the internet, you know a bad experience will forever be live on the web pages once people start sharing and talking about it.
- Plan an omnichannel nurturing strategy
Your users hop from one channel to another. Make sure your event marketing and lead conversion strategy is omnichannel. From social ads to YouTube videos, landing pages, email campaigns, and mobile messaging, ensure you are tapping into all the essential channels for your users.
The second part is creating content that will trigger interest and retain the same. Ensure you are consistent in your messaging across all content forms and channels. Pro tip: Use event management tools to align all efforts seamlessly.
4) Automate lead conversion tasks
Incorporate automation wherever possible. For instance, you cannot manually follow up with every participant after a big event. Also, manual intervention will reduce the personalization that automation tools can offer.
Automation tools will tie the online persona with social profiles, event behavior, and past behavior to segment them appropriately.
To-do’s After Hosting an Event
- Measure the success metrics
There is nothing more important than understanding if your event drove the kind of results you wanted it to. Measure your event’s success by measuring the number of final participants compared to the registrations and invitations.
Measuring the success metrics can help you gauge the investment to success metrics and decide if you will host more such events.
- Keep your promise with incentives
Offering incentives is a great way to drive registrations and participation. Post-event, ensure you meet your promises and share the incentives on time.
This creates a healthy image of your brand. Simultaneously, it also paves the way for more participation from the same audience in your future events.
- Add surprise elements for participants
Creating experiences beyond gifts and keynote speeches stays with your users for a long time. Adding surprise elements to boost the whole experience can go a long way in lead conversion. For instance, you can have surprise competitions, quizzes, and quick giveaways in digital events. In physical events, you can have cool tags or photo booths for participants to enjoy the event.
Conference marketing capitalizes on the idea of selling to interested people. When done right, conference marketing can multiply lead conversions and amplify your brand’s image.
There are 4 major things to remember:
- Understand your users’ intent
- Recognize the incentives that will matter
- Automate lead conversion campaigns
- Focus on creating an experience for your users
Your events are an extension of your branding and content marketing activities. Make your events engaging and fuel lead conversion with these tips and tricks.