Online events have become a valuable marketing channel for businesses of all sizes, especially during the pandemic, when live events were scaled back. Mining data from online events, however, requires specific strategies to measure intent and move prospects through the funnel.
“Online events tend to draw larger audiences than in-person events — at least that’s our experience — and they’re less expensive and time consuming to produce and attend,” said Marc Sirkin, Third Door Media’s EVP product and technology, at The MarTech Conference. (Third Door Media is the parent company of the conference and this publication.)
“A marketer at a services and consulting firm told me they didn’t think about how to play to the unique strengths of online events, about the specific intent signals that they could gather, and the actions they can get,” said Sirkin. “It just never occurred to them.”
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Here’s how marketers can gain valuable insights when they play to the strengths of online events.
Finding the right data from online events
There are a number of touchpoints at an online event, each providing an opportunity for marketers to gain insights from attendees.
Registration. When attendees register, they can provide firmographic and demographic data. The event host can also ask custom questions during registration. For instance, does this attendee have the authority to make purchase decisions? Are they in the market for the product or service that you’re selling?
“The art here I believe is not asking for too much, but getting what you need and what is useful to understand your audience,” said Sirkin.
Third-party data. The data that comes in from this specific online event can also be filled out by a third-party data firm.
“You can always use third-party data services to augment and enhance that data and then connect it to your CRM to get a fuller picture of your attendees,” Sirkin said.
Event activity data. Some of the best intent signals come from how the attendees navigate at the event.
“Did they watch your session live or on demand, or both?” asked Sirkin. “Some platforms even provide timestamps so you can know if someone watched during off hours, for example, or over the weekend.”
And bigger, picture — did they even attend the event, or did they simply register?
Additional links. At an online session, the event host or sponsor might also have the opportunity to add additional resources alongside the presentation.
What attendees click on from these resources can further establish their intent. They can also help educate the attendee and provide more calls to action. If they are highly interested, they might even sign up for a meeting or a demo.
“A marketing director from a services firm told me that from her perspective, when someone asks a quality question or takes a specific action like downloading a white paper, that’s the person of interest and [you should] take action accordingly,” said Sirkin. “And after all, she said, most people don’t ask questions in the first place.”
Dig deeper: Why do we care about virtual events?
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Organizing the data from online events
The data that comes from online events is a rich source of information.
“You could build specific ABM triggers, for example, that are more personalized than your average drip campaign,” said Sirkin.
Marketers can build scoring models based on the different actions that attendees took at the event. That way, you’ll be able to place which prospects are further along in the funnel.
Who were the prospects who asked questions, either in a comment field during a session or in a survey? Who followed your company on social media within 24 hours after the event? These are all strong signals that become actionable when they are compared with all the other actions taken at the event.
Download the MarTech Intelligence Report: Enterprise Digital Events Platforms: A Marketer’s Guide
Also, establish a formal lead review process with key stakeholders ahead of the event, instead of getting overwhelmed after the event with all the data that comes in. This means coordinating your efforts between marketing and sales.
“A B2B software provider told me after an event sales will typically grab the leads that they want according to whatever that criteria is, and the rest of those leads get dumped into a drip campaign,” said Sirkin. “Engaging them in a kind of generic drip campaign — does that make sense, or is there a kind of a missing part of the process here, almost like a mid-engagement funnel that you could create?”
Once marketing and sales are organized, the data that comes in from an online event will be even more valuable. The trick is to know where to look to discover and mine the data. Then, have a plan in place to take action based on that data.
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