4 Things you should be doing for a high performance website

Considering your website is your most important marketing channel, do you give it as much attention and investment as it needs? As the host of your branding, messaging, content, lead generation and often also online sales/ecommerce, it acts as the end destination for all of your other marketing activity – so if your website is not performing at its best, the rest of your marketing channels won’t be either.

Optimising your website is critical for your bottom line, especially as we enter a year with continuing remote working and increasing digitalisation and the world’s business will be done online. The smartest companies who will be able to make the most of the post-Covid recovery will have the best websites!

Every brand, value proposition and audience is different, but the key success factors of having a well optimised website are universal. This post focuses on four of these key success factors needed to create a high performance website, whether your core offering is events, subscriptions, membership or community – or a combination of some or all of these.

1. Don’t make your users think (the 5 second rule)

Don’t make me think is well-known adage in the world of website UX. Website users have extremely short attention spans, so when constructing and populating your website, making the user journey as smooth as possible should be a core consideration in your decision making. Slow loading pages, improperly formatted mobile pages, rambling copy, confusing navigation – anything that forces the user to engage their brain to try and figure out what’s going on is an issue makes your website ‘hard work’ for your user. You need to make it very easy for your user to quickly get what they need from your website – whether it’s information, a newsletter subscription or a delegate ticket purchase.

A good rule of thumb is the ‘5 second rule’. Imagine you showed your website to an audience member for 5 seconds, before hiding it again. What would they know about your product/service? And would they have been able to at least have found on the ‘form page’ you want them on e.g. lead generation form or event booking form? They will probably need another few seconds to fill in the form – but if they can’t find the form they’re looking for in 5 seconds your website is not in the ‘high performance’ category!

 

2. Don’t try to make everything stand out – or nothing will

A common pitfall with website design is to try and make too many things stand out.

This can lead to an overwhelming and confusing experience for users, where they can’t figure out what they’re supposed to do next or what is most important about the organisation or product.

This can result from too many CTA (call to action) banners or buttons, links, text boxes and/or images. It can also occur when elements are all made an equal size or visual ‘weighting’ or positioning. Elements that are given more breathing room are generally more likely to be noticed and clicked on.

How do you know what’s important and therefore what should stand out? Consider what primary and secondary objective you have with your website.

For many, direct purchases or enquiries are the most valuable action a user can take, and ultimately the one you want to them to take at some point (even if it’s not during their first visit). This is your primary objective.

The design and structure of your site should place the most importance on content and CTAs that serve this primary objective. The button in the top right of your navigation bar (prime real estate on any website) should be reserved for your primary objective – e.g. ‘Buy now’. The main CTA in your header section should be the same. All content on your site should – in some way – further encourage users to take that final conversion.

For other sites, a primary objective may be lead generation. Filling in a data capture form may be the action you want users to take. Lead generation often works well across a range of touch points, at various levels of the funnel e.g. signing up for a free newsletter subscription, downloading a report advertised in a newsletter and then enquiring about a specific product via a link in the ‘thank you for downloading the report’ email or a link in the report itself.

Even if lead generation isn’t the primary goal, every website should include some form of lead generation as it captures valuable customer data that can be used to enrich and grow your marketing and sales database.

 

3. Build in lead generation intelligently

Lead generation is much more than just sticking a data capture form on our website and waiting for users to find it.

CTAs to your lead generation forms should be integrated as naturally as possible. Is someone viewing the ‘membership benefits’ page? If so, encourage them to download a member case study and ‘enquire about membership’. Are they viewing your event agenda summary? Then push them to download the full version. Work out what you would like your user to do next and point them to that next, desired action.

More generic lead generation opportunities (e.g. ‘Register your interest’) should be accessible from across your whole site, including CTAs and a presence on your top navigation menu. This will ensure users always have a ‘next action’ to take, regardless of where they are on your site. These kinds of more general and ‘low commitment’ lead generation options create an easy way for users to engage with your brand without committing to buying something before they’re ready, but keeps them in your marketing list so that you can further nurture them.

Also consider that visitors may land directly on your lead generation forms; whether from an email campaign, organic URL or social post. It’s important to ensure your lead generation forms/pages provide ample context and persuasive messaging as to why the visitor should surrender their data. What benefit does completing the form give them? A short descriptive paragraph, simple bullet points about the benefits of completing the form and possibly a relevant image (e.g. report cover) are simple but important ways to increase conversion rates.

 

4. Make sure Google can find your site

SEO is an ongoing process and one that is always baked into good website design. Search engines – with the most important one being Google in most regions of the world – want to serve the most relevant and valuable websites. A key factor in their ranking is user experience, which is determined by things like content, time on site, pages visited and device optimisation. Therefore, a good website generally means good SEO.

Also consider your keywords. If your website is for an event about financial technology, then you want to make sure ‘financial technology’ and ‘fintech event’ are scattered across your website content. It’s important this is done naturally within your copy. ‘Stuffing’ keywords – the practise of including the same keyword an excessive number of times on a page – will harm not only the user experience, but also your SEO.

You can also apply keywords when considering more ‘on-trend’ issues. If there’s a new piece of technology that could revolutionise fintech, consider publishing a blog or news article on it with the name included in the headline and within the main body. This will help you rank for a relevant keyword that potential attendees will be actively searching for as it is a ‘hot topic’.

A final consideration is how you can ‘win’ links to your website. Links from other websites (e.g. your homepage URL on a media partner’s site) effectively function as votes for your website in organic rankings, lending authority and trust. Producing great content is a sure-fire way to win links, as users will want to share content they find interesting/valuable on their own sites and via social channels. This should be proactively managed via an advocacy marketing programme that results in your site linking to multiple other highly relevant sites and your content being shared more widely on social media.

The four key success factors we have covered in this blog are important, but certainly not comprehensive when it comes to having a well optimised website! And each of the four factors we have covered could each have their own, very long blog (or even an e-book!).

But, the most important thing of all is to ensure your organisation is investing well in your website. Your senior leadership team must recognise that your website as your shop window – and the shop your users are wondering around in before they agree to buy anything or speak to a salesperson. How your customers and potential customers experience your website could be the difference between surviving and thriving in 2021 and beyond…or becoming a Covid (and digital revolution) casualty.


Get your website optimised

MPG’s website experts can help you optimise your website for optimal performance. Or we can design and build a brand new, high performance website for you!

Whether you’re offering events, subscriptions, memberships or a community – our team can set you up with a winning website.

FIND OUT MOREGET IN TOUCH


Get website optimisation skills into your team

MPG Academy’s trainers can work with your team to ensure they have a strong strategy and the right skills to optimise your website. Download the prospectus or request more information about training and development for your team on website optimisation, as well as other key areas of marketing for communities, subscriptions, membership and events.

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Event Tech Live: Helen Coetzee reveals MPG’s Engage, Monetise, Scale framework

Speaking on the main stage at Event Tech Live 2020 on 5th November 2020, MPG Founder & CEO Helen Coetzee shared MPG’s Engage, Monetise, Scale Growth Marketing Framework.

This framework covers a 3-step approach focused on a strategic and sustainable path to growth for B2B community-focused brands.

Developed from MPG’s experience of working on B2B community marketing strategies for brands in multiple sectors globally, this approach comes of age in 2020 – plotting a path for 2021 and beyond for brands to engage, then monetise, then scale their communities.

Download Helen’s presentation slides to learn more.

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Topics:

Engaging, monetising and scaling B2B communities: how the experts do it

Author: Helen Coetzee – 29/10/2020

‘B2B communities’ is a topic that has gained serious momentum over the past few months. As uncertainty remains over the continued impact of Covid, businesses are looking to pivot to a business model that will deliver security and growth in the short and long term.

This mirrors the sentiment the very communities these businesses seek to engage and build. Tremendous change is happening in all industries, and the sharing of information and connections within ‘business ecosystems’ is now more vital than ever.

In a recent webinar, we invited three B2B community builders to discuss how they have built and engaged their communities over the past 6 months, and how they plan to proceed in this vein.

Discussion ranged from the characteristics and ideal size and structure of a meaningful B2B community, to practical methods of monetising a community.

You can access all the webinar insights, including the video replay, as well as attendee poll results and Q&A, produced by MPG and the panel.

GET WEBINAR INSIGHTS


Our panel had some firm views on what a community is, what a community isn’t and how to approach building meaningful communities going forward. Here we’ve pulled out 12 of the most interesting quotes from the session:

“Controversially, I would say that an event isn’t a community. Or at least it isn’t ‘community’. It’s just one expression of the community. In the same way, if you have a local village community, the village fete isn’t the community – it’s just one manifestation of it.”

Ashley Friedlein – CEO & Founder, Guild

 

“Communities tend to have quite a clear sense of self, a bit like a strong brand or a strong culture which are quite hard to define or pin down. But you feel it.”

Ashley Friedlein – CEO & Founder, Guild

 

“Waiting for an (in person) event to happen wouldn’t be a great idea right now because our industry is moving so fast. We’re serving our community at the moment by streamlining the process of sharing information and reducing the barriers to communication”

Adam Parry – Founder & Director, Event Tech Live & Editor, Event Industry News

 

“If you haven’t been engaging with your community in this (in-person events) ‘downtime’, you’re going to struggle longer term because you need to remain relevant. You need to remain something that your customers want to go to, regardless of whether physical events are happening or not.”

Anna Knight – VP Licensing, Informa Markets

 

“At the start, we spent a lot of time just listening and talking to the strongest advocates within the industry itself that had already acknowledged themselves as community leaders. We went through all of the data and all of the knowledge that we could gain about that community to figure out our role within it and the new products and other things we could do to bring the community together.”

Anna Knight – VP Licensing, Informa Markets

 

“Professor Robin Dunbar, who’s on our advisory board, is famous for the Dunbar number – which is one hundred and fifty. This is basically the maximum number of people we can really know. When we’re in some communities of many hundreds or thousands, the reality is we don’t really know them. It’s just beyond our brains as humans.”

Ashley Friedlein – CEO & Founder, Guild

 

“Events businesses are really great at that amazing physical in-person experience, but now they’ve had to very quickly get used to digital delivery and all the new skills involved.”

Ashley Friedlein – CEO & Founder, Guild

 

“At the heart of community is conversations and relationships, not content. Sometimes businesses think they can just set up a community, produce loads of content and pump it at people to succeed. But then it’s just a barrage of content that most of us don’t really need.”

Ashley Friedlein – CEO & Founder, Guild

 

“A lot of people rightly think ‘how do we make sure we still keep the core principles of our business?’
Don’t lose sight of that, because that’s what keeps the lights on while you’re exploring new ways of structuring your business model around communities. You could also risk losing the trust of that community if you do it wrong or maybe even try to monetise too quickly or in the wrong way.”

Adam Parry – Founder & Director, Event Tech Live & Editor, Event Industry News

 

“In the next six months we’ll focus on engaging with our community to understand what content they want to see more of, what pain points and challenges they face and what they can do to support them.”

Adam Parry – Founder & Director, Event Tech Live & Editor, Event Industry News

 

“My plan is to think about what the next three years might look like. My strategy is to assume that live events don’t come back. Of course they will, but it’s useful to think about what we’d do without live events. How would I serve this community? What would I do differently? How would I bring them together 365? What do I need to put in place in order to make that happen?”

Anna Knight – VP Licensing, Informa Markets

 

“We did something that was really appreciated; we were the first movers to actually get something out and bring them together. But we also really understood how they wanted to be brought together.”

Anna Knight – VP Licensing, Informa Markets

 

HEAR WHAT ELSE WAS SHARED


Thank you to everyone that joined us live for this session. We have plenty more webinars and written resources in the pipeline, so make sure you’re subscribed to MPG Insights so you don’t miss out.

Want to learn more about building a B2B community?

Join our Engage. Monetise. Scale. Masterclass – an MPG Academy Open Course designed to help you define your community and build a strategy for continued engagement and monetisation.

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The Marketing Mix | October Newsletter

Newsletter • October 2020

Engaging Communities • Project Management • Skills Development

We’re still in very challenging times.

Fortunately, the members of our ‘community of community leaders’ are a resourceful and innovative bunch. We’ve grabbed hold of a host of digital tools to engage with our communities and keep them talking to one another to solve problems in every industry – in virtual spaces.

It has also been an inspiring time. We have some real heroes achieving incredible things. I will never forget the many emails arriving in my inbox in the middle of the night from event organisers working tirelessly to deliver their virtual events. I will also never forget how bravely and smartly some businesses have pivoted to focusing on revenue streams they can rely on while live events are not possible.

In this month’s newsletter we highlight some important areas where marketers make a critical contribution – from building hybrid communities, to generating leads for sponsorship sales teams and owning the project management that enables the monetisation of the products and services we build for our communities.

Enjoy!

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INSIGHTS

Helen Coetzee | 30/09/2020

MPG’s advice and predictions: 2021 – the year of Hybrid Communities

2021 will be another unique year for the world of B2B events, media and professional associations. We warn against taking a product-centric approach at the expense of focusing on the needs of our community. As community leaders we’ve been enabled with an array of tools to serve our communities – from virtual, in person and hybrid events, to digitally delivered business intelligence. We need to use these in the right way to help our communities work together in the fightback against Covid-19. Read more here >

Helen Coetzee | 25/09/2020

10 tips for growing revenue from sponsors and clients

MPG’s latest Insights webinar focused on how marketers should play a key part in identifying and drawing in new revenue from sponsors – especially for virtual events. Marketers should be generating and nurturing leads to help your sales people focus their efforts on those most likely to buy. The content package of webinar replay, slides, full Q&A write up and poll results are all available now for anyone to download (for free!) – get yours here >

READ MORE INSIGHTS


WEBINAR

Building B2B Communities: an Industry Trend Accelerated by Covid-19
LATEST WEBINAR:

Building B2B Communities: an Industry Trend Accelerated by Covid-19

Our latest webinar explored how leading B2B community builders have aimed to best serve their communities over the past 6 months – and how they hope to continue engaging, monetising and scaling their communities going forward.

Webinar guest speakers:

Anna Knight – VP Licensing, Informa Markets

Anna Knight
VP, Licensing
Informa Markets

 

 

Adam Parry – Founder & Director, Event Tech Live and Editor, Event Industry News

Adam Parry
Founder & Director
Event Tech Live & Editor, Event Industry News

 

 

Ashley Friedlein – CEO & Founder, GuildAshley Friedlein
CEO & Founder
Guild

 

 

 

FIND OUT MORE

 


PROJECT MANAGEMENT SPOTLIGHT

Project Management Spotlight
Whether focused on events, subscriptions or memberships, a high-performance marketing function relies on strong project management.

Without effective project management, you miss key campaign opportunities and limit the return on investment from your marketing function.

Well-supported, rigorous and disciplined project management can make all the difference to your marketing performance. Enabling marketers as project managers helps them gain the support and input they need from other team members to deliver effective campaigns, hit deadlines and manage workloads effectively.

Here are some key elements that contribute to good project management in marketing:

  1. Planning – a marketing manager should always work to a solid campaign plan, with key deadlines and tasks visible to all stakeholders. The plan should show the full picture of all channels being deployed, specific timings, key milestones or significant dates – and should always be up to date. Project elements should be broken down into individual project tasks, always with clear deadlines.
  2. Communication – a marketer’s strong communication skills should help bring together a diverse group of stakeholders, drive projects forward and hold individuals accountable for essential contributions to marketing success.
  3. Keeping track of progress and make it visible – regular reports and briefings for stakeholders are an effective way to ensure everyone understands the priorities and progress in achieving marketing goals, while ensuring all contributors to marketing efforts are aligned.
  4. Project management system – when used well, project management tech can be a game-changer! It enables highly efficient and effective marketing planning, delivery and analysis. Clickup, Trello, Smartsheet and Asana are some examples that MPG has seen used well in marketing teams.

To find out more about how MPG’s team of expert marketers use strong project management as a key contributor to the success of the outsourced marketing delivered by MPG, get in touch.


Attracting New Subscribers Masterclass
Join our next Academy masterclass for a deep dive into MPG’s tried and tested methodology to create and optimise a high-performance marketing funnel to attract a strong and steady flow of relevant leads for your sales team.

  • Identify your ideal subscribers: develop personas and map your target market
  • Analyse your value proposition: from the perspective of your ideal subscriber – define your unique selling points and benefits
  • Communicate effectively: develop a powerful messaging strategy and multi-channel, integrated marketing campaign plan
  • Build your marketing and sales funnel: high performance tactics to create awareness, engage prospects and generate good quality leads for sales
  • Measure ROI & improve: track results, analyse and adjust for best outcomes

FIND OUT MORE AND REGISTER


VOICES

An MPG community member’s feedback on a recent Academy training course:

“I recently attended MPG Academy’s Digital Marketing Intensive course focused on the marketing of B2B virtual events. I found it very valuable – a great way to update the marketing knowledge and skills that are so important right now. I would certainly recommend this course to anyone who is hoping to attract a good audience to their virtual events!”

Gurveer Vasir, Marketing Manager, Waterfront Conference Company


We have a big year coming up of ongoing, rapid change. Marketing has such an important role to play in the Covid-19 fightback as we continue transforming our organisations and marketing functions – and start growing again. Please get in touch if you would find it helpful to talk through your marketing plans for 2021.

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How to create an effective messaging strategy for a virtual event

Virtual and hybrid events are here to stay. Questions remain around how long it will take to get the in-person event components up and running again, but one thing is for certain: digitally enabled events are no longer a temporary solution until in-person events return. A sizeable chunk of events in 2021 will surely remain virtual, potentially with some never returning to large scale in-person equivalents.

It is therefore time for marketers to confidently move forward with communicating the value of these events to their audience. We’ve observed a trend of event organisers viewing virtual events as ‘damage limitation’ – something to retain their audience and revenue until things return to normal. This mindset permeates the organisation, and can lead to marketing messages that are almost apologetic of the virtual format, ignoring the very real benefits digital offers.

In this blog we share how to create an effective messaging strategy for digital events. The fundamentals we outline aren’t exclusive to virtual events – they can be applied to hybrid, in-person and even subscription and membership offerings.

 


How to construct a messaging strategy

There are 6 key concepts involved in successful messaging. Use these as guiding principles when putting together your marketing strategy and you’ll be able to consistently push out comms that engage, excite and convert.

1. Relevancy

This is about hitting the right people, in the right place, at the right time and – crucially – with the right message. Missing the mark on any of these 4 ‘pillars of relevancy’ will hamper the effectiveness of your messaging. To understand how to create relevant comms, ask yourself: What is keeping my audience awake at night – right now? What important and current problem(s) of theirs does our event solve? What are we helping them achieve that is hugely valuable and important – now or in the near future?

2. Positioning

Your audience will have a very particular perception of your brand and product. The position of your brand in their minds, when compared to other events and information sources competing for your attention, will have a huge impact on how they engage with your event. You need to ensure your USP (unique selling points) and benefits of attending your event very clearly position your event as ‘must attend’.

3. Brevity

The objective of any piece of messaging is to communicate something. The faster and more concisely you communicate your message, the more effective it will be. In the digital world, attention spans are short and distractions are aplenty. In simple terms: construct messaging that gets to the point fast and leaves readers in no doubt of what you’re trying to say, and what action they should take.

4. Holism

No communication should ever be written in isolation. Your marketing efforts consist of various touchpoints – from a single social post to your website itself – where your audience will interact with your product and brand. Consider how your messaging at different touch points work together to tell the story of your event and create a consistent view of your brand/product and its benefits.

5. Repetition

This doesn’t mean making all your comms identical. Instead, clearly define what your USPs and benefits are and agree a consistent way of presenting them. ‘The rule of 7’ dictates that people must see your message at least 7 times before they fully process and accept it, so bake in your core benefits messaging to all comms.

6. Keep it consistent and simple

Combine all of the above into a formalised messaging strategy captured in an accessible, centralised document. This will allow you and your team to agree on what your key benefits are, how they should be communicated and what tone of voice best fits the brand. A simple messaging strategy structure consists of 3 parts: who your audience is (what’s relevant), who your competitors are (what’s different) and what the messaging should contain (USPs and benefits).

Understanding these points will naturally improve your messaging. A simple, concise and specific message that ‘hits the mark’ with what matters most to your reader right now will beat a generic, verbose message that shows you don’t understand them.


Messaging for virtual events

The important first step in forming messaging for virtual events is to avoid seeing a digital event as temporary ‘damage limitation’ while you wait for live events to return. This mindset will be apparent in your messaging and compromise how effectively you’re able to communicate the unique benefits of a virtual event. Common examples are:

  1. Attend from anywhere – while still getting the same content/insight as a live event
  2. Join and network with a truly global audience – connect with your peers all over the world
  3. Catch sessions you missed on replay – any time, any place
  4. Interact directly with speakers – get your questions answered via easy, online chat

Depending on your event format and audience – there are likely to be many more! Consider what is specifically important and valuable to your audience and highlight how your virtual event will work to serve these needs.

For virtual events, two concepts are important to communicate – particularly if it’s your first online event:

  1. The value of the event
  2. How the event will look/feel

Potential attendees may have reservations about the value of a virtual event compared to an in-person offering, and/or they may be intimidated by the unfamiliar format and technology involved. It’s your job as a creator of event and messaging to clearly communicate the value of your event, and gently educate them on what to expect and how to get the most out of their digital event experience.

Remember: you are still presenting the same brand – a brand which has an established reputation and level of trust within your community. Leverage this to confidently speak about your digital event and turn your community members into advocates.

Topics:

Don’t take marketing skills for granted: they’re precious and need investment

When I started in my first marketing job, straight out of a marketing degree at university, I quickly discovered my theoretical understanding of marketing concepts wouldn’t be enough in the real world. My knowledge had to be paired with practical skills, especially those involved in digital marketing.

Ansoff’s matrix won’t tell you how to create an effective PPC campaign, but a fellow, experienced team member who has successfully done so for numerous organisations certainly can. It’s this kind of ongoing on-the-job training, coupled with ongoing learning via online resources and events, that has enabled me to continue growing my skill set.

And my marketing training will never come to an end. As an inbound marketing-focused specialist, I know that the constantly changing digital landscape will make me a ‘lifelong learner’, and that’s one of the things that makes my chosen career so rewarding.

At MPG, I am lucky enough to be surrounded by my (currently virtual) team of fellow inbound specialists, as well as MPG’s experts in other areas such as data, analytics, martech, website, marcomms strategy and campaign planning. It is this highly complementary combination of people and skills, brought together by our strong project managers, that enables me to apply my skills in order to deliver a strong marketing performance for our clients. The position I am in means I am constantly improving my skills and learning new ones.

This should be the story of every marketer in the digital age. Unfortunately, the breadth and depth of skills and expertise now needed in a single marketing function is usually underestimated by even the most astute business leaders.


The need for ongoing training and development

Every marketer should have the support from their organisation to learn new skills. This is essential if they are expected to perform well and deliver a good return on the marketing budget they’re managing.

Even the most experienced and accomplished marketer needs training.

This can be in anything from specific skills around content marketing, to more technical digital skills to ensure a particular channel like a website or PPC will work best, or even to gain the know-how to market relatively new types of products, like virtual events.

The ever-evolving nature of marketing demands up-to-date knowledge. New marketing tools and techniques come along every few months, and with competitors fighting for your audience’s attention, having the latest knowledge is essential for gaining a competitive edge.

Often organisations have stronger marketing potential hidden in their existing talent pool, they just haven’t unlocked it – yet.


Generalists plus specialists: a winning team

Don’t expect to be able to train a single person into some sort of marketing ‘superhero’. The breadth and depth of marketing is too much for a single person to handle. Inhouse marketers, who tend to be generalists, need strong, broad knowledge of how all elements of marketing can – and should – function. However, you can’t expect them to develop or maintain in-depth knowledge and up to date skills in specialist areas such as martech, data, analytics and PPC.

MPG’s own marketing managers are generalists – experienced experts in strategy, planning and project management. Every one of them started off working directly with digital tools – going through MPG’s programme of marketing training – giving them practical, foundational knowledge. This is routinely topped up by internal training and specialist colleagues always ‘on tap’ to share their knowledge. This gives the marketing managers the understanding of, and the confidence to, deploy the latest skills and tools for the best results.

But this well-balanced kind of marketing function, with the full range of skills needed, can be built by any organisation. The starting point is ensuring your own, inhouse marketers have the skills – and ongoing skills training – that they need.


What is holding back marketing skills growth?

If you expect your marketers to rapidly and frequently grow their marketing skills, here are the key questions you need to first answer:

  • Does your organisation’s culture encourage and cultivate ongoing learning and development?
  • Are marketers encouraged to learn new skills to help the business become more successful?
  • Is knowledge sharing within your marketing team, and with their marketing peers in other organisations, common and encouraged?
  • Are marketers given sufficient guidance on where their skill gaps are and how to develop, or gain access to, the skills needed to ensure their marketing delivers a strong ROI?
  • Do they have access to (and time for) the resources and training that will help them grow?
  • Is self-learning recognised and rewarded?

As the Covid-19 pandemic has developed, there are many distractions from applying usual best practices in running a business. You may have found that for the past few months it has been difficult to find the time and funds to provide support for your marketers in the right way. Many of them may have been on furlough and are now completely ‘out of the loop’ on latest developments.

So, now is the time to take a step back from what has probably been a very manic phase of business strategizing and rapid ‘pivoting’. You now need to seriously consider how well your marketers’ skills are matched to the challenges ahead.

Either you need to provide structured support and investment in your marketers’ skills development, or you need to outsource your marketing to a team that has the skills you need and will stay on top of latest developments. The logic is clear: poor skills = poor delivery = poor results.


MPG’s marketing training journey: we’re moving forward with our community

When MPG was first launched in 2014, due to popular demand, we ran a training academy. We ran various inhouse and public courses, training marketers from a large range of organisations focused on B2B events and subscriptions.

About five years ago, we decided to rather focus on hiring, training and developing our own team to best serve our fast-growing list of clients from all over the world who have invited us to be their outsourced marketing function.

We have now decided to re-launch MPG Academy to better serve our community –

  1. To address the urgent need for all marketers within our community to have strong marketing skills in new areas such as virtual event marketing and lead generation
  2. To make our expertise in these areas more accessible to more organisations who need it at a time when budgets are tight

Re-launching MPG Academy is one of the ways in which we are responding to the impact that Covid-19 has had on our community. We don’t intend to become a training business, but we do hope to be able to share our unique expertise and practical knowledge with many inhouse marketers around the world. In many ways, this is creating competition for ourselves, but we’ve looked beyond that to what really matters: we’re all in this together, and together we need to find the best, most positive way forward.

Academy Register Interest

Topics:

MPG’s advice and predictions: overcoming the crisis and winning in the new world

The last two weeks have been very busy for my team. Not because we’ve been swamped with new business enquiries, unfortunately. I hope these will come in in a few weeks once the world has worked out that nobody can ever cost cut their way out of a crisis in customer confidence. Especially if most of those cuts are in marketing investment!

So, what have we been so busy with? The phone has not stopped ringing. Clients and others in our network have been calling us to ask the following three questions:

  1. What is everyone else doing with their live events for the rest of 2020? Are they still running them or cancelling them? Or making them virtual or hybrid?
  2. Do you think we should be planning for virtual or hybrid events?
  3. What tech should we buy to ‘digitize’ our events?

 
And in response to these 3 questions, I have said three things:

  1. There is very little, if any, precedent here. So, whatever advice we give you will be based on our best judgement and what we think is logical and sensible. Anyone who claims to have the absolute answers right now is probably someone writing a blog to flog a virtual event platform (I almost got taken in by one of these very well-disguised pieces just this morning…it was the ‘request a demo’ at the end that gave it away…)
     
    AND…
  2. You may be asking the wrong people, and…
  3. You are most certainly asking the wrong questions!

But before we proceed any further: it’s important we’re clear about our very strong views on the future of events. Events will HAVE to either be fully virtual or hybrid in 2020. And from 2021 onwards, anyone who wants to continue running their events in the same way they did before Covid-19 is being at best unambitious and at worst oblivious to how much our world has already changed.

If you’re planning to run live events in late 2020 or early 2021, your PLAN A should be to run these as hybrid events. So, keep your in-person offering on the table and build livestreaming (for content-led events) and digital directories (for tradeshows) into the fabric of your event, making it clear to all stakeholders that all content, showcasing of products and many of networking opportunities will still be available digitally alongside the in-person experience. And also make it clear you have a strong PLAN B to just run with the digital event, should it suddenly become impossible to host large gatherings, or gatherings of any size due to a further ‘waves’ of the virus making more lockdowns necessary.

But to get back to the issue of ‘are you asking the right people the right questions?’…

The conversations I’ve had over the past few days have gone something like this in terms of my response:

“Before you called us, how many of your customers did you call?

Of these customers, how many were in your ‘end-user audience’ i.e. the ‘core’ of your community as attendees, visitors, delegates to your events – the people you attract to your events to buy from your sponsors and exhibitors?

And for those end-user conversations you did have, did you ask them the following questions?

  1. What do you think you’ll need in the coming months in terms of learning, knowledge sharing and networking?
  2. How can we help you get what you need here?
  3. If we were to run all or part of our events in digital format, possibly alongside some in-person events – how do you see yourself participating and benefiting?”

My team and I will always encourage you to ask the above three questions of your community before doing anything else.

And then we will offer you the following six pieces of advice that we think could help you not only save your events and your business, but more importantly, help you take advantage of the immense opportunities facing B2B media and events businesses in becoming ‘community first’ brands:

  1. Make understanding the shape, size and needs of your community your #1 priority.
     
    By this, we mean ‘end-users’ – that valuable audience that you sell on to sponsors, exhibitors and advertisers. Because we tend to ‘follow the money’ and most of this tends to come from vendors selling to our audience, we’re putting the cart before the horse by starting with tactical responses to their needs.

    This can degrade our content and the value we’re creating for the valuable members of communities who make up our audience. Audiences WILL disengage and they will disappear. And then what do you have to offer your clients?

  2. Don’t think about your events just as events. ‘Events’ are just a format. Think about what goes into your events and what makes them valuable.
     
    Ask your core community members what they value most and work out how to serve this up digitally – to replace in-person experiences in the short term and be the ‘core’ of the events product in the long term, with in-person experiences then added on (not the other way around!).

    We’re working on some strategic projects where clients have seen great opportunity in either rolling digital event content into their subscriptions product to create a more community-focused membership offering, or launching a membership with digital event content they’ll be creating (and in some cases have already started delivering).

    The thing to do here and now is to ‘think different’. Essential innovation happens by turning your current formats inside out and upside down and shaking them about to see how you can get the most valuable stuff out and serve it up in a way that gives your community what they need – digital for now, then digital-first with face-to-face added on in the longer term.

  3. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Keep your valuable content and networking opportunities you can facilitate, in-person or online, front and center.
     
    What is hugely valuable right now and potentially unique, is the relationships you have with the ‘biggest names’ and senior decision-makers in the community you serve, along with their confidence in your content and ability to help their businesses move forward.

    Continue to invest in these relationships. They are the key to collecting valuable knowledge from these ‘top minds’ and then curating and packaging up this up for your community – along with facilitating important connections and discussions between people who really need to talk to one another right now.

    You hold a privileged position and have an important role to play in helping your community face their current challenges and identify potential opportunities that may present themselves in the coming months.

  4. Only choose your tech once you’ve worked out what your new value proposition needs to be, based on what your community needs.
     
    Tech companies have fantastic salespeople who usually won’t ask you what you really need before they sell you their kit. So, it is up to you to first figure out what your value proposition should be, then what your requirements are, and only then evaluate what is out there in terms of tech solutions.

    And remember – it is the content you put in to the tech, how you manage the data and customer journeys around and in through the tech and how your people make the tech work for your communities and clients that matters most. No tech can make up for poor content or bad operational delivery.

  5. Double-down on marketing. Invest in the skills you need to make content marketing, marketing data and marketing technology work in the way you need it to.
     
    Of course, I do have a vested interest in recommending this. But the truth is that now is not the time to be cutting investment in the internal people and external partners who probably understand how to make digital events work better than anyone else in your business – the marketers!

    You need strong marketers now more than ever to make your 2020 events portfolio work. Digital and hybrid events need even smarter and a higher volume of digital marketing than traditional live events ever did. Getting your audience to notice, commit to and engage with your virtual and hybrid events will take strong marketing skills and lots of hard work. If you under-invest in marketing over the next few months, you’re making a fatal mistake. Your delegates and sponsors won’t want to invest in your events going forward unless they can see you’ve invested first. And what more obvious way to show them you’ve invested than with good marketing – which stakeholders will notice. And they will certainly notice absent or bad marketing even more.

    Looking ahead to 2021 events: it’s nearly May! If you want your large annual events in the first half of 2021 to succeed you have to start working on the marketing now. Start now in building the strategies, databases and pipelines of sponsor, exhibitor and delegates leads if you want to make 2021 events a success. If your events in 2021 fall flat after the pain you and your event stakeholders have experienced in 2020, you’ll most certainly enter the dreaded ‘event death spiral’ that is almost impossible to reverse.Not investing in planning and marketing your 2021 events – starting now – could cost you everything in the long term.

  6. Help your clients – sponsors and exhibitors – understand and realise the value of digital event formats.
     
    What they may lose in the ‘intimacy’ of in-person events they will almost certainly gain in scale. The digital reach of your events will be far greater than your live events could ever be (if you invest in marketing of course).

    Also consider how you can help sponsors develop and execute their strategies to qualify, nurture and convert leads generated by digital event formats. Instead of taking direct enquiries, orders or doing deals in the live event format, as they’re used to doing, sponsors and exhibitors will have to work out how to identify and engage with their most likely future customers in different ways. So, take the initiative! Set up a ‘sales and marketing taskforce’ to help your clients build and optimise their lead funnels so that they end up with a good and measurable ROI from your events.

We all know that most of the money in the world of B2B events comes from clients. It will take some time to shift our models towards the safer subscriptions-led, recurring revenues. You will notice in our list of top six areas to focus on – I have still put ‘clients’ last. Because that is how the value chain works. Whatever you do, don’t let short term tactical moves to ‘keep our clients happy now’ sabotage the strategic priority of putting your audience first and in so doing creating and looking after your community.

Play the long game. Focus on delivering community-first value and hold your nerve. Don’t let the bumps in the road and inevitable setbacks knock you out of the premier league of the smartest and most valuable B2B community organisations. Like top athletes, winning is about being determined, intelligent, psychologically resilient and laser focused on the end goal.

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Focusing on lead generation? You need a community map!

Virtual, hybrid and live event organisers are currently facing an unprecedented challenge in sustaining their event revenue, both in the short and long term. Monetisation via spex sales and ticket revenue are under threat, and many organisations are quickly transitioning to digital event formats without a robust plan to protect this income.

The game has changed, so to speak, but there’s one tool that remains as relevant and valuable in the digital space as it was in the physical environment. A tool that we recommend all events undergoing any sort of transition to the digital space employ.

What is a community map?

Simply put, a community map (sometimes called a market map) is a tool for understanding the composition of your end-user target market, which is essential if you’re going to work out how to best serve this audience and thereby build the right kind of monetization model.

Creating one will help you engage effectively with your community to maintain and grow brand trust, as well as retain and grow your sponsorship and exhibitions revenue in the coming months.


How do we create a community map?

There are 3 steps to creating a comprehensive and accurate community map:


Step 1 – Make sure you understand who your community is

Make sure you can broadly define your end-user community in one or two sentences, and that you can easily identify who the ‘core’ group is that matters. Then ensure your whole brand team is 100% aligned on this.



Step 2 – Divide your community into segments and identify the most important ones

Once you’re confident in the community you serve and its core group, it’s time to break the community down in to further segments and identify the most important ones. To do this:

  1. Consider the different groups your sponsors want to most engage with
  2. Define parameters of each group in terms of sector, company type, job function and seniority.

Group your segments into tiers to make the hierarchy clear and improve internal efficiency in understanding, using and growing your database and other routes to market. Then as you work through your marketing comms plan, your plan becomes as simple as “we need to grow our Tier 1A database and reach them with a 4-stage email campaign” and “our next LinkedIn advertising campaign needs to target Tier 1B”.

There are several other benefits to segmenting and targeting your community in this way:

  1. Close new sponsorship deals. Being able to share exact figures on your community’s composition is a powerful leveraging tool to use on potential sponsors who are looking to engage a very specific audience.
  2. Retain more partners. In a similar vein, existing sponsors will become addicted to you if you’re feeding them valuable audience insights, as well as consistently growing the segments that matter most to them.
  3. Improve your marketing. Segmentation enables deeper, more personalised targeting of comms. Serving each group of your community with the content that is most relevant to them is an important step in engaging any community.
  4. Perhaps the biggest benefit is that it enables the most important step of all…


Step 3 – Size your key community segments and analyse your current database to identify gaps

Knowing the composition of your database is one thing, but avoid viewing it in a vacuum. Having your most valuable segment make up 80% of your database looks good on paper, but you could only have > 10% of the total contacts available in your core market.

This may look good in isolation…

…but when you look at the wider market, the gaps become clear.

If your most important segment is HR directors at the world’s 50 largest banks, and your database only has 20 of them – that means you’re reaching less than half of your most important community members.

To fill these gaps you should conduct database research where data privacy rules allow. If your research is small scale, try conducting this internally; your teams may be able to identify relevant contacts via social media and company websites. If you have a large pool of contacts to identify, consider employing an external agency to do the heavy lifting at pace and cost effectively.

If this is not allowed due to privacy regulations in your target region, or there are still contacts left to identify, you can move to outreach such as PPC and organic social media to try and draw your contacts to your website via inbound tactics. LinkedIn ads will allow you to target based on useful parameters like job title, industry and even individual companies – you just have to make sure your ads and website are effectively encouraging them to share their data (and grant consent for comms) via a lead generation form.


Wrapping up

Community mapping is a vital tool for any business to survive and thrive. In a recent blog post, we outlined why understanding your community, and their needs, should your #1 priority – read the full article here.

At MPG, we’ve been creating community maps for the world’s leading B2B media and events brands for years. To find out more about how we do this for specific markets, please do get in touch.

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13 key learnings from MPG’s webinar on postponed events

Following the forced postponement of most events in the first half of 2020, we ran a webinar for conference and B2B tradeshow organisers on key marketing considerations needed in this unique period of time. Over 100 CEOs, MDs, department heads and marketers from across B2B media and events attended our two instalments of the virtual event.

Here are the 13 things we learned about marketing postponed events that we’d like to share with our community:

Ensuring success for your next event…

1. Collaboration is key

The events industry is moving into a new era. Close collaboration between all stakeholders will be vital in forming a winning strategy for the months and years ahead.


2. This is a great opportunity to build new digital formats

Digitally-enhanced and fully-virtual events started running successfully some years ago, but it is clear that the current crisis is a catalyst for a very rapid digital transformation of events businesses. Winning event brands will leverage tech to engage their communities year-round, not just at the events or in the immediate run up to an event.


3. Longer lead time is an opportunity

For all the doom and gloom of the situation, longer lead times and the opportunity to generate more digital engagement with their audiences presents a wonderful opportunity for marketers. New digital formats and creative approaches to comms will push some of our marketeers out of their comfort zones initially; but they will build up their knowledge and confidence in the right areas quickly – they will need to!


4. Engagement and lead generation must be the focus

In times of great uncertainty, events revenue is hugely challenged. Maintaining the interest of prospective delegates online and over a longer time period is essential in securing revenue over the long term. With this in mind…


5. Content marketing is now the magic ingredient

Knowledge banks, resource centres, speaker Q&As, podcasts, interviews, webinars, whitepapers – all of these will serve your community well in the coming weeks, keeping event stakeholders and audiences engaged and trusting in your brand
Read more >


6. Now is a good time to grow your audience and database

Having more time to engage with your audience presents a great opportunity to add more relevant names to your database. Whether you decide to invite them to your event or invite them to take out a subscription – having more of the right prospects’ details on your database can only help you! More downloadable content on your website will allow you to capture contact details of key contacts. Your marketers can also start engaging with more media partners to extend your reach further. And adding more contacts to your database via targeted research will really pay off.


7. You should aim to make your events even more valuable

Prospective delegates, speakers and sponsors will applaud if you use the extra time you have to enhance your product. Enhancements could include virtual event formats, digital add-ons, new speakers and the aforementioned content production.


8. Newsletters are likely to make a comeback

How do you communicate the evolving nature of your product (without pushing the ‘hard sell’) and get people to buy tickets when they’re not yet sure if they’ll be able to attend? A simple newsletter could be the best way to keep your audience informed, engaged and well served with useful product updates and content. And if the newsletter is valued by your community this could be the start of a new subscription product and a new way to generate revenue.


9. Monitoring results is more important than ever – ‘test & learn’ will be critical!

Where there is uncertainty, hard numbers and data are your guiding light. Keeping track of everything from website traffic to the channels driving revenue will enable informed decisions on how to approach your marketing – one week at a time. If your marketing team is going to be trying new things – you’ll need to know if they work.


 

Looking long term…

10. 2021 events may have a shorter cycle due to later 2020 events

Events organisers will need to think carefully about how they approach this challenge. Don’t underestimate the impact a short lead time will have on your content production timeline, as well as how your marketing and sales team will need to adjust their approach to generate required levels of revenue. Start working on your 2021 event before your postponed 2020 event to get ahead!


11. Will digital enable expansion?

Virtual events can be attended from anywhere in the world, meaning the reach of your event is now truly global. The size of your event is also no longer restricted by the size of the venue, and the increasing logistics and catering costs that come with scale are not an issue in the virtual world.


12. Will this spark more creativity in the sector?

Hardship breeds resourcefulness, ingenuity and innovation. The event organisers that respond well to this challenge by adapting fast, developing new models and ways of engaging with and serving their community will define the way we approach events for the coming decade.


13. What are the skills needed in 2021 and beyond?

As digital comes to the fore and businesses try to understand their new place in the world, agile and tech-savvy teams will be needed. The shift to year-round community engagement will require marketers who can think long-term, instead of focusing on short-term results. It will also mean that people who can learn quickly and move forward fast and confidently are likely to be the stars.

Find out more about how to win in the new world here.


To see more on what was discussed in our webinar series, you can watch the full webinar below.

The webinar slide deck is also available, including answers to questions on numerous challenges and issues highlighted in the webinar Q&A.

ACCESS WEBINAR SLIDES

We will be running more webinars soon on the challenges event organisers are facing, as well as how B2B media and events brands can get stuck into building and engaging their communities better with digitally delivered content and virtual networking opportunities. If you would like to suggest a topic or issue for us to cover, or if you would like to contribute a case study, please get in touch.

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How to find new sponsors & exhibitors with smart marketing

How to get new sponsors & exhibitors to invest in your event

Sponsors and exhibitors are essential to the profitability of an event, but too often sales teams rely on the same few clients that return year-after-year, neglecting the opportunities available in ‘new business’.

Why acquiring new sponsors and exhibitors really matters

Events need a variety of partners to work. Attendees expect to see new companies each time they return. Part of the value proposition of a successful event is that the event presents new and innovative suppliers and vendors in the sector. Mixing up old and new faces also protects your event long term; even the most reliable clients can change their marketing objectives and end their commercial relationship with your event, putting a key source of revenue in jeopardy.

Why sales teams neglect new business

Sales teams’ natural process doesn’t usually focus on sourcing and nurturing new business – especially for an established event. Most go first to their tried and trusted contacts to renew their contracts and secure quick wins. It’s often only when the event looks like it might miss its targets, that the urgency arises to reach out to new prospects. But by then it can be too late to source, nurture and convert clients before the event happens. This can be compounded by sales teams lacking an established process to generate new sponsorship leads.

How a sales lead generation process can deliver a 500%+ ROI

What is the solution to the ‘new business’ challenge and this often missed opportunity? You need to invest in good ground-work and forward planning in sponsor and exhibitor lead generation. This can often generate faster growth than pushing harder on your delegate marketing. Specific marketing programmes focused on generating new leads for sponsorship and exhibition sales could deliver as much as 5x on your marketing investment, based on the KPIs we have been tracking on events MPG has supported over the past year or so.

Here are the steps we recommend you take:

1. Define the sponsor value proposition

Be clear about the USP and benefits of your event from a sponsor or exhibitor’s perspective, especially the key gains for them if they commit at an early stage many months before the event.

2. Define your target market and decision making unit

The decision to sponsor or exhibit at an event is usually made by a group of people. CMOs or CEO’s may be the final decision-makers, but senior sales people and marketing managers are also key influencers. You will need to reach and convince them all that their presence at your event is worth investing in.

3. Build your marketing database & inbound channels for lead generation

Map the market, deciding the ideal size of business, geographical location, sector and job titles. Then research your database, ensuring you include all the decision-makers within one organisation. Consider how you can quickly build your database to reach out to them, using data research for rapid growth and by also feeding engaging and relevant content in to your inbound channels and optimising your website for maximum ‘enquiry form’ completions.

4. Set up your marketing funnel

For outbound marketing, plan your email campaigns, with tailored messages for different audience segments. Get your inbound marketing working well by pushing compelling messaging and content via the obvious inbound channels – PPC and social media. Optimise your sponsorship landing page (with enquiry form) on your event website and also offer carefully crafted sponsorship options and event attendee profile PDF’s behind forms for lead capture. Optimise the rest of the website to direct sponsors who land anywhere else on the site to your sponsorship page.

5. Leverage your delegate marketing

Add sponsorship and exhibition lead generation elements to your delegate marketing by including in delegate emails and on delegate focused web pages some calls-to-action pushing people to the sponsorship opportunities page. Also consider adding to all lead generation forms on the website – including those focused on delegate marketing – the option for people to tick what they are most interested in (e.g. attending, speaking, sponsoring or exhibiting) before submitting the form. Those who choose sponsorship and exhibition options are clearly very good people for your sales team to call straight way.

6. Nurture your leads

Use marketing automation to track incoming sponsor leads and set up a nurturing programme. This is an easy win as you are earning more revenue from the investment you have already made in your marketing automation systems for your delegate marketing.

7. Incentivise sales teams

Monitor how quickly sales teams follow up on marketing generated new business leads. Offer enhanced commission rates for acquiring brand new clients to reward the extra effort, or nominate one person in the sales team as the new business specialist.

8. Learn and fine-tune

In the first year, measure everything and find out which types of leads convert fastest and for the highest average order value. Consider how profile (e.g. company type, country etc) and engagement behaviour (e.g. what they downloaded or clicked on) when ‘scoring’ leads. Even if you can’t convert a new business lead for the event it was generated for, you still have a good chance to convert it for the following year’s event.

It is important to consider that generating leads for your sponsorship and exhibition sales team requires a different approach and skill set than what is required for delegate marketing. You might need to set up a specialist marketing team to generate sponsorship and exhibitor leads, or consider engaging an agency to initially run a pilot programme for you to assess how to proceed longer term for further investment in lead generation for your sponsorship and exhibition sales teams. A steady stream of new business leads is bound to make any sales person happy!

About the author

Helen has over 2 decades’ experience in the B2B events space. She is now the proud CEO and Founder of two high-performance marketing agencies – MPG and AGNC – designed to address the most pressing exhibition and conference marketing challenges facing organisations today.

Kirsty is MPG’s Marketing Director for events globally, and a seasoned event marketing campaign manager, strategic expert and marketing function leader. Her team of conference and exhibition marketing pros deliver outstanding, high performance full-service campaigns for some of the world’s most prestigious events and brands.

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How Event Marketing Can Build – Or Break – a Trusted B2B Media Brand

What nearly all of the most successful community-focused and subs-led brands have in common is a strong and growing events portfolio – where their subscribers (or members) can come together to learn and network with their community across a range of event formats. It is at these events where subscribers also come face-to-face with the information brand they rely on, reinforcing trust and building loyalty.

And it is also at these events where much of the lost advertising revenue has now re-surfaced as income from sponsors and exhibitors – now often called ‘spex revenue’. A combination of strong delegate and spex revenues from events can drive highly profitable, high annual growth for a B2B media brand.

But events present a much greater strategic opportunity – or risk – for B2B media brands, depending on how the marketing of these events is conducted.  

Event marketing can be a frantic, siloed, highly tactical exercise (often done on the cheap) focused only on attracting the largest possible number of attendees in a short space of time to satisfy internally driven or spex-driven quotas – an approach that severely compromises the quality of communication and the audience. This is very dangerous for a brand that relies on the trust of its subscribers.

Or event marketing can be strategic – with brand trust as the starting point for developing an effective strategic marketing communications plan that, when executed well, leverages and reinforces brand trust. As with building effective and sustainable subscriptions marketing campaigns, strategically approached event marketing requires longer term thinking, planning and investment.

The best kind of event marketing not only fills venues with high quality delegates representative of the brand community, it also attracts new, high-quality subscribers, thus growing the engaged brand community.

 

The 5 areas brand leaders should invest in to ensure their event marketing builds brand trust and overall brand growth:

1. A good database and CRM

A well implemented and organised database in a good CRM will enable segmentation by demographics, behaviours and transactions – meaning communications can be personalised and made relevant. In addition to ensuring event communications are relevant to an individual’s role and challenges, it is very important subscribers are treated differently to non-subscribers.

When managing data through an event marketing cycle, the best set-up of systems and processes will also enable the identification of potential new subscribers, and push them in to the subscriptions marketing funnel.

2. A strong inbound marketing engine for events

Inbound marketing should run all year-round, driving event awareness via social channels, and shared email and event leads via a well-optimised website – while building overall brand awareness and strengthening brand positioning.

Subscriber engagement and brand-trust will often be positively influenced by what they see in social channels, especially if reinforced by a third party via likes and shares, while potential subscribers will often be drawn in by a compelling event-specific message.

The impact that the presence and engagement of high profile and well-respected speakers, sponsors and other third-party event stakeholders can have on a brand’s social channels should not be under-estimated.

3. An event website that reinforces a brand’s positioning, while integrating the event with the subscription value proposition

A strong event website helps customers extract more value from their subscriptions by engaging with event content before, during and after the event.

Highlighting and serving up unique ‘subscriber-only’ event-specific content and networking opportunities via your website is a good way to drive subscriber retention and acquisition. The FOMO factor is powerful, especially if what sits behind a paywall is highly current and relevant, as with event content.

4. A well-managed event marketing and sales funnel

An optimised funnel also ensures marketing qualified leads are followed up by sales people in a timely manner with relevant communications. Team members skilled in delegate sales, as well as solution and value-focused spex sales people, can make a significant contribution to brand building.

And if you can incentivise sales people to prioritise subscriber renewals and acquisitions over chasing down delegate and sponsor revenue, you’ll have a winning formula.

5. Ongoing measurement of engagement and conversions

It is important to understand how deeply subscribers and potential subscribers are engaging with an event, and then how customers are engaging with a brand beyond the event.

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”, as the famous Peter Drucker said. The tools are now available to every business to put meaningful metrics at the forefront of making decisions and driving results.
 

Events are powerful. The way in which events are marketed, all year-round, is equally powerful. The impact of events can be extremely positive for a B2B subs-led brand, or can destroy a brand by quickly eroding customer trust.

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Event Marketing Strategies to Drive B2B Media Brand Growth

MPG Breakfast Round-Table - Event Marketing Leaders: Strategies for High Performance Teams

MPG recently hosted a round-table event for some of the most senior and experienced marketing leaders in multi-platform B2B media brands. The discussion focused on how a successful portfolio of events, that are well marketed, can and should support strategic brand development.

Discussion participants were all senior marketers who oversee marketing functions that support a number of revenue streams – including subscriptions, memberships and advertising, as well as event sponsor, exhibitor and delegate revenue.

Chaired by marketing guru Ashley Friedlein (Founder of Econsultancy and most recently founder of the new professional networking app Guild), this elite gathering uncovered the key challenges and opportunities in how events are marketed, taking into consideration the role events play in growing a multi-platform B2B media brand:

Event marketing investment trendsEvent marketing investment trends

  • Overall, investment in the marketing of events is increasing – both in terms of people and direct spend, as the successful marketing of events is more resource intensive than other types of product marketing.
  • As marketing investment increases, heads of marketing are expected to provide more granular marketing budgets and better measurement of the return-on-investment of various marketing initiatives.
  • Subscriptions marketing generally requires less investment than events, relying mostly on SEO and other forms of inbound marketing – usually delivered by digital agencies. The high quality of this web traffic in turn supports events and overall brand growth.
  • As the return-on-investment on email marketing, PPC and social media becomes more transparent, event marketers are investing more confidently in digital marketing.
  • However, direct mail and telesales continue to earn their place in the event marketing funnel and spend mix – used for the nurturing and closing of prospects already engaged via digital channels.
  • Direct mail is still an important part of the marketing mix for events – especially when highly targeted and creatively deployed to achieve cut through. By matching sales data to marketing data, a return-on-investment can be ‘assumed’ (if not completely accurately measured). A well-executed direct mail campaign, showcasing an excellent event, has a positive ‘halo effect’ for the whole brand.
  • LinkedIn has become the important social channel for most events and continues to grow in importance. Building LinkedIn groups are no longer a focus, while targeted sponsored posts are becoming more effective and efficient in driving web traffic, leads and bookings.

Data, technology and the much-prized single customer viewData, technology and the much-prized single customer view

  • The discussion on data and technology centered on the need for, and benefits of, a single customer view – particularly for multi-platform brands. Senior decision-makers seek visibility of how customers are engaging with the full range of events and subscriptions products. For many B2B media brands, only a small proportion (approx. 10%) of subscribers become event delegates and vice versa, which is concerning when brands are seeking deeper engagement with their customers.
  • Some B2B media brands have achieved the tech stack and data flows that give them the much sought-after single customer view.
    • This has allowed marketers, sales people and those in product development to gain real-time information about how an individual customer, or defined group of customers, is engaging with and consuming content, products, marketing and sales.
    • This should enable co-ordinated, relevant and personalised delivery of communications and content to each individual via all touch-points with a brand.
  • In many cases, the single customer view is still elusive, with many organisations grappling with costly and lengthy tech and data projects. However, there was consensus that a single customer view is needed – even if it is not necessarily as straight-forward to deliver as tech vendors have promised, or as essential to effective marketing and decision-making as the ‘hype’ around a single customer view insists it is.

Event marketing skills and team structuresEvent marketing skills and team structures

  • There are two commonly used marketing team structures in B2B multi-platform media businesses:
    • A brand-led structure – where all products within a brand’s portfolio (subscriptions, events etc.) are marketed by the same team, usually led by a ‘brand manager’
    • A product-led structure – where distinct marketing teams exist to promote different product types, i.e. the subscriptions marketing team is separate from the event marketing team.
  • The brand-led structure is usually deployed when an organisation is aiming to be more customer-centric. However, this approach has distinct operational disadvantages as event marketing tends to dominate the marketing team’s time and focus due to the high volume of activity and the hard deadlines associated with events.
  • The group agreed that either structure can work, as long as marketing teams are well resourced and managed, and the required marketing skill sets are in place.
  • The greatest challenge faced in event marketing is the lack of specialist marketing skills required to get the most out of digital channels and data.

Most event marketers in situ and newly hired tend to be generalists who struggle with the technical and analytical aspects of ‘data and digital’. Generalist marketers are usually good at strategy, planning, messaging, project management and stakeholder engagement. They tend not to focus on mastering data and digital-focused skills due to a lack of time or interest.

Round-table participants tabled a number of possible solutions to this dilemma:

  • Hiring dedicated data and digital specialists into an event marketing team
  • Upskilling and refocusing willing generalist marketers to become more adept at digital marketing and data-related work
  • Working with external partners, usually agencies, to provide the expert delivery of ‘data and digital’ marketing elements.

Overall, participants face very similar challenges in ensuring all aspects of marketing a multi-platform B2B media brand are resourced and optimised with the right people, systems and processes.

Strategic investment in event marketing is essential for success and growth. Marketing leaders are being held more accountable for the return on this investment, which is important if marketing wishes to move up the organisational value chain. We look forward to being part of this next chapter in event marketing’s journey!


Round-Table Discussion Chair:

Ashley Friedlein, CEO & Founder, Guild; Founder & President, Econsultancy

Ashley Friedlein

Ashley Friedlein

CEO & Founder, Guild; Founder & President, Econsultancy

Round-Table Discussion Participants:

MPG Round-Table Discussion Participants

Jemma James

Jemma James

Pageant Media

Paul Gilbertson

Paul Gilbertson

LSX Leaders

Gareth Pike

Gareth Pike

Faversham House

Jonathan Perry

Jonathan Perry

PEI Media

Sophie Eke

Sophie Eke

Incisive Media

Yetunde Akinwale

Yetunde Akinwale

Last Word

Jemma James

Nik Dinning

Retail Week & World
Reail Congress

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