With the aftermath of 2020, a tremendous 90% of event marketers plan to invest in virtual events moving forward (Bizzabo, 2021). In a digitally-focused world, there are countless online platforms to build your brand, through social media, webinars, content, blogs, advertising, and so on.

The challenge for virtual events? It’s hard to replace the power of live experiences, interactivity, and building connections in person.

The primary goals of B2B marketing events are brand awareness, lead generation, and sales acceleration. But without the power of live experiences, can we achieve our goals in a digital world and build something even bigger? As marketers, we need to create a solid strategy with positive business outcomes that allows us to stand out from competitors.

We did the obvious thing: turn to ABBA, then assemble a cheat guide. Here’s how ABBA can help answer our marketing SOS!

1. If you want to be a winner and take it all, stand out

Whether it’s B2B events or trading pokemon cards in the playground, the winner will take it all. You need to know how to differentiate, how to be competitive, and how to be the winner.

So, get creative with videos, interactive games, activities… anything to capture your attention and encourage your audience to sign up to your event. Get them curious about your brand and work with people’s emotions.

Personalization is important here as it makes your ideal attendees feel cared for from the very start leading to higher signup rates (so…more leads) and a headstart on maintaining a strong connection. The best way is to create this connection early on is through personalized event invitations, communications, and pre-event experiences. For VIP attendees at ABM accounts, send a personalized invitation. Send personalized direct mail to different audiences or personalize your marketing materials – anything to make your audience feel special.

Your customers winning means you are winning, so you don’t want to be the loser standing small!

2. Why would they take a chance on you?

The typical KPIs for B2B events include attendee engagement and satisfaction, sales pipelines, and lead generation. This hasn’t changed, despite things moving increasingly online.

We know that highly satisfied attendees from events are most likely to become future customers. The tricky part is, how do we keep our lovely attendees satisfied and happy, especially online?

A big reason why events are so successful is the creation of a community – this is a key concept in lead generation strategy. By making attendees feel comfortable, we can build trust and a strong connection.

Attract, convert, close, delight. We’ve heard it all before. So, here are some top tips to ensure those virtual attendees take a chance on you:

  1. You want to make sure their first point of contact with the brand leaves them with a positive impression. You need to wow them. This means getting your most energetic and charismatic customer success and salespeople to support your brand.
  2. Make sure there’s a clear path to take once leads have been converted (content with additional value, online sign-up for demos, arrange virtual meetings, etc.) You haven’t put in all this effort just to lose them at the final stage.
  3. Have demonstrations of your product ready to show to any leads. If they have queries or doubts, you need to be able to answer them easily and show them how to use your product or service.

It’s important to keep in mind, would you take a chance on you?

Image courtesy of abbavoyage.com

3. Don’t let them slip through your fingers– be interactive

Event attendees want more than just average, dry B2B marketing. Get them involved – the more interactive the better.

Nobody wants to listen to hour-long lectures all day long. Instead, you should ensure that you plan activities which involve active participation.

Encourage your participants to ask the hosts questions and have conversations with one another. By giving your attendees a voice, you automatically bring the business to them. This is where discussion rooms on video calls can become more and more useful. Make yourself open to conversation and you can maintain a firm grasp on this new online world!

Once you have set your business goals and target audience, gathering audience data via social listening and content analytics can come in handy here – you can understand their interests and encourage potential attendees to suggest specific event speakers, topics, or questions.

By looking critically at the social media posts, content, and email messages you plan to send from the point of view of the recipient, you will be able to better gauge whether this event would be something they care about. If it is a weak message it is unlikely to break through the noise.

These measures can help you personalize the interactive elements you build into your ultimate event to ensure that the content of your event will resonate with and engage with your audience.

Take a page from ABBA’s book who certainly aren’t letting anything slip through their fingers by scheduling virtual performances of themselves for their London shows in 2022. Talk about a re-entrance in a truly digital, and interactive style.

4. Super social media

You need to be creating some amazing social media content to promote the event. Fun, eye-catching, and informative posts will go a long way, and this needs to start early (not the week before).

Social media directors recommend having a campaign rolling long before the tickets for the event are even released. Around 3 months before is when you should start planning, and you should begin posting 6-8 weeks before the event date. By the time the week of the event rolls around, there should already be some awareness and hype built up about your presence.

Three ways you smart marketers can have super social media:

  • Use the event hashtags to gain more reach for each post – also means you reach competitors’ audiences too!
  • Don’t reveal everything that’s planned for the day on social media beforehand – build some buzz and tension to get people curious about the event, this gives your following base an incentive to attend the event or follow the live-streams on the day.
  • Make use of Instagram and Facebook’s “live” features to stream the event, speakers and campaigns for followers who didn’t make it. This allows you to keep them involved and reap (most) of the benefit as if they were really there.

Social media can be extremely powerful to generate buzz if used well. For example, to kick off their 40-year comeback, ABBA played a piano rendition of their 1976 hit ‘Chiquitita’ which started the ‘Chiquitita Challenge’ and allowed them to resonate with audiences of all ages.

5. Money money money (ROI)

The most triumphant businesses are spending 1.7 times the average marketing budget on live events and proving very successful ROI. This highlights that, if done correctly, marketing events are worth the investment, as they can significantly impact your company’s success.

Don’t follow the cooked spaghetti approach (throwing a bunch of stuff at the wall and hoping it sticks). Do plenty of research and have a well-planned and specific strategy. At the end of the day, you can only track data that you are set up to track. From the moment you decide to host or attend an event, create a strategy and set out SMART goals.

Act fast – immediately after the event is the prime time to measure your data and show off your ROI. By calculating accurate ROI, you’ll not only understand what works and why, but you’ll also be able to plan better for future events with more confidence, and less guesstimating.

Most marketers (31%) believe that event marketing is the single-most effective marketing channel (Endless Events, 2018).  So follow ABBA’s lead and give your community the time of their life!

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