Have you ever heard of the “missed connections” section on Craigslist?
If you happen upon this corner of the internet, you’ll find people sharing stories of missed opportunities. Whether it was love at first sight or a failure to thank a stranger for an act of kindness, people post here hoping someone might read their story, reach out, and connect.
In short, whether those connections happen or not is entirely up to chance.
Like those posting in missed connections, marketers can sometimes feel like they’re shouting into the abyss when following up with a lead from an event. Many marketers struggle to get this follow-up right.
Yet, events are one of the top demand generation methods, next to nurture campaigns and webinars. So, nailing the approach in the aftermath of these high-quality lead generators is critical. And success depends, in part, on marketing, sales, and customer success teams working in lockstep from the beginning.
With so many people involved in the follow-up process, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that leads are humans. To establish authentic, meaningful connections with them (and ultimately turn them into customers), you’ll need to keep your audience’s wants, needs, and motivations top of mind.
Want to orchestrate an effective lead follow-up process and ensure a high return on investment (ROI) for your events? Read on for eight tips on making the most of the leads generated from your event invitation lists.
Tip #1: Plan ahead
Your approach here shouldn’t be an afterthought.
Rather than leaving it all to chance, capitalize on post-event momentum by making sure lead follow-ups happen quickly. Involve key stakeholders –– content, operations, email marketing, sales, and other relevant teams –– in the planning process from day one.
Kick off these collaborations by meeting with each stakeholder to discuss how collective preparation and execution can be mutually beneficial –– and ultimately lead to better business results.
Together, you can develop and document a streamlined follow-up strategy and set expectations with all teams before the event happens.
Tip #2: Assemble your tech stack
Once you have the team’s buy-in, connect your event tech stack to existing sales and marketing tools. Seek to fully understand the lineup of tools your broader team uses –– look for platforms like Salesforce, Marketo, HubSpot, Eloqua, and others.
Making sure all your relevant tech platforms are linked beforehand sets you, and your team, up to drive a positive ROI.
On the other hand, a fragmented array of tech tools (or a slew of messy spreadsheets and documents) that don’t mesh well leaves room for error.
It’s easy to make mistakes or misinterpret data when your documentation is disjointed. That’s why an integrated tech stack –– and appropriate stakeholder access to those tech platforms –– is so important.
Failing to pair your collaborators with your tech tools could delay the follow-up process and lead to ineffective communication with potential customers, so connect on tech needs early.
Tip #3: Personalize your approach
A 2020 Salesforce report noted that 92% of customers and prospects expect a personalized experience, so avoid a one-size-fits-all approach.
Sure, you could send a simple “thank you for attending,” but focusing on interactions based on known interests, behaviors, or motivations adds a decidedly personal –– and human –– touch. By seeking to understand what event content attendees consumed, you’ll have a sense of what matters to them and why.
Make sure you’re being thoughtful with this knowledge and sending the right messages to the right people by segmenting your leads. To do this, break your audience into groups as follows:
- Attended: Registrants who showed up for the event and stayed for the majority of the time
- Registered but didn’t attend: Interested folks who registered but weren’t able to make it
- Prospects, customers, and open opportunities: These can be two separate groups — those who attended and those who didn’t
- Attended specific sessions: This is a savvy way to segment if you’re targeting a group based on their topic of interest
- Showed varying engagement levels: Identify people who were particularly interested in your content by determining:
- Who was active in the chat
- Who stayed past the Q&A sessions
- Who networked throughout the event
- Who stayed for the entire event
- Invitees who didn’t register: Take the opportunity to understand why some folks didn’t register and potentially segment them into a category for a future event about a different topic.
Keep those buckets in mind as you tailor messaging for each audience. Depending on your segmentation, consider if follow-ups should be sent from specific people within your organization, such as:
- Top-level executives: Send a personal follow-up from one of your company’s executives.
- Members of your customer success team: Send follow-ups from customer success team members instead of account executives given the highly relationship-focused nature of the customer success function.
Pro tip: Confirm that your tech stack can handle a dynamic workflow where the message isn’t always from the account owner, but instead from someone who is the best fit for the follow-up communication.
Tip #4: Prime your colleagues for success
Before the event, seek feedback from your team on the content that will be sent to leads. Ask those who will be executing on the follow-up for their ideas on how to create a smooth and impactful experience. Connect with:
- Customer success managers who follow up with current customers
- Account executives with open opportunities and target accounts
- Business development representatives with prospects
- And executives who are in contact with specific customers
Sales or customer support representatives who attend your events should also aim to return with talking points from the experience as those nuggets can help make follow-ups more authentic and genuine. If notes aren’t available, provide the team with access to event recordings.
Tip #5: Provide clear expectations
Setting a clear lead follow-up timeline before an event ensures nothing falls through the cracks.
A timeline involving multiple departments might look like this:
- The first email is sent 24 hours after the event and will come from marketing.
- From there, the account executive will follow up with a personal note within 48 hours.
- Then, customer success will touch base within 10 days after the event.
Once the event has wrapped, consider using a sizzle reel or in-case-you-missed-it opportunity to share on-demand content with your attendees. The goal should be to create people-first nurture campaigns and sequences that truly speak to your audience.
Tip #6: Deliver added value
Go above and beyond by providing potential customers with valuable add-ons in your follow-up. This could be:
- Relevant content
- Exclusive access to paid materials
- Early access to future experiences
- Or something else altogether
For instance, if an attendee provides product feedback in your virtual event platform or mentions a need for something in the chat, those messages will show up in event chat reports and can trigger notifications to an account executive. Then, the account executive can pass that feedback to relevant teams for follow-up.
Here’s a possible scenario: Let’s say an attendee provided some product feedback on a virtual event’s networking feature in the event chat. That chat report could be sent to an account executive who might discuss the feedback in a marketing meeting. From there, it could travel to the product team where someone could reach out to the attendee to discuss their suggestions.
Not only does the attendee feel heard, they also become part of the bigger picture by helping to influence product development. And because this act sends a powerful and personal message, it often results in a more meaningful commitment from the attendee.
It’s also common practice to solicit feedback during the follow-up process. Take it a step further by making sure your tech stack enables you to send that feedback to your customer relationship management platform (CRM), so your sales team can review and proactively reference it on a call or email.
Tip #7: Rally speakers to create connections
Oftentimes, folks attend an event to hear from a specific speaker –– and those speakers tend to carry influential weight. Lean into this idea by asking speakers if they’re willing to share additional content from the event and the recording of their session across their networks.
Better yet, send them specific verbiage or statistics on the event’s success and invite them to share that information on social media.
You could also ask them to record a 60-second snippet of what made this event outstanding. Include a registration link for the next event or a link to the organizer’s site where viewers can learn more. Then, you can share these posts with potential customers from your segmented buckets.
Tip #8: Lean on content to expand your reach
If you want your event to have a lasting impact, it's essential to keep the conversation going after the experience is over. By continuing to engage with your audience, you can expand your reach and deepen your relationships with attendees.
There are many ways to do this, but one of the most effective methods is to use resources from your event.
Make use of your recorded event content by:
- Adding recordings to your resource center
- Transcribing them and creating additional editorial content inspired by them to expand their impact in organic search results
- Promoting recordings of the most popular sessions
- Posting event content on social media to broaden your event’s reach beyond registrants
- Creating a video mashup or sizzle reel highlighting event sessions that you can share with marketing, success, and sales teams
- Including recordings in follow-up communication sent to your database or the target audience who didn’t register
Pro tip: Make sure you have social sharing platforms, like LinkedIn, connected to your CRM. Linking features like InMail and your CRM to an event-related campaign makes tracking much easier.
Above all else, remember that leads are people
Leads are people, so take a human-first approach when interacting with them. Make them feel something, provide them with valuable information, and keep their pain points in mind. It’s critical to deliver a thoughtful and efficient follow-up process tailored to their event journey.
Understanding the right cadence for following up with leads is one thing, but aligning your team and your technology can truly help those follow-ups go the extra mile. Taking the time to integrate the entire customer journey into your tech stack allows your team to be more personal and ultimately foster closer relationships with potential customers.
If you’re interested in how we support you throughout this process, reach out to one of our dedicated specialists.