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Driving virtual event attendance

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By the numbers: Marketing and sales software provider Marketo Inc. invited 350,000 prospects to the November virtual launch of its new marketing ecosystem, a tool called LaunchPoint. More than 10,000 marketing and sales professionals registered for the event, and about a third of those registrants attended the live sessions. The conference, the company's second in the virtual arena, outpaced its predecessor and successfully engaged at least 2,600 previously passive members of the Marketo database. “It would have been impossible to do something on this scale at a physical event,” said Jon Miller, VP-marketing content and strategy. “For less than the cost than having 100 people at a hotel room, we were able to speak to thousands.” Promotion: Marketo used a targeted email and voicemail campaign to drive registration, basing its approach on the same principles that the company uses to generate engagement around everything from webinars to road shows. “We put together a four-wave promotional strategy,” Miller said. “Each wave had testing of the messages and took a different tactic.” The company applied fine segmentation to the list and also bought advertisements on Facebook and sponsored messages on Twitter. A voicemail campaign targeted 1,000 high-value prospects—a tactic that historically has boosted attendance rates by more than 15%, Miller said. Those in-house efforts drove 8,000 registrants. Organizers also enlisted the help of the more than 60 partners who exhibited at the event, waiving participation fees in exchange for support in driving attendance. Those partnerships yielded an additional 2,000 registrants. Execution: Marketo followed the same protocols and invested the same amount of time to develop keynote and session content that it would for a live event. “Even through it's a virtual trade show, the amount of work is the same,” Miller said. Attendees arrived to view content and to visit exhibitor booths, and Marketo was able to track that attendance in real time. “We were able to trigger a follow-up action automatically,” Miller said. “Mission critical is a quality, timely follow up. Make sure that you are the first.” The click-to-open rate is 2.5 times greater for the first, rather than the third, email that an attendee receives after an event, he said. “It's a little early to say [how much revenue it drove in the pipeline],” Miller said. “I'd like to see that I get at least a 10-times ratio of pipeline to the amount spent.”
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