Planning a company’s hosted event is difficult enough without the added worry of whether anyone will bother to show up. Yet the challenge of driving attendance with event marketing is one that all planners struggle with.
When Maurina Venturelli, Director of Demand Generation for Sumo Logic, was faced with marketing a hosted event held in Manhattan, she knew what she was up against.
“If you run events, you know how hard it is to get butts in seats,” she says, speaking recently at the Big Sky Big Ideas 2018 conference, held in Bozeman, MT. She notes that New York can be especially nightmarish for planners: “Traffic is bad, the weather could be bad. The Yankees could be losing and no one wants to go out.”
The key to success was to take a multichannel approach that advertised the event and sent invitations at carefully-timed intervals. Venturelli drew extensively on her experience with “always on” campaigns to craft an integrated strategy that included Tactile Marketing Automation (TMA).
“The idea of integrated marketing or multi-touch nurture means getting the right message to the right person at the right time, using different channels,” Venturelli says. For this reason, she decided in advance that the timing and tactile nature of the event’s direct mail would have critical importance.
What always struck her was “how much people like free stuff,” noting that trade show booths that offer giveaways tend to have the most traffic.
“How do you take this offline ‘free stuff’ thing and put it into the digital world?” she asks. “How do you then take ads and show the same message to the same person as they decide to register?”
Working Backwards in Time
Her first step to creating a multichannel approach was to put the marketing on a timeline, starting with the actual event date and working backwards from there. Most outreach revolved around digital ads and emails, but direct mail also played a crucial role for high-level and tiered account prospects.
“I wanted a direct mail reminder to drop on a person’s desk eight days before the event,” she says. Prior to this, prospects were sent an initial email invitation, followed by a direct mail invitation. Ads regularly cycled during the process to build interest.
In hindsight, what makes Venturelli’s event marketing strategy notable was its simplicity, made possible thanks to integration. Sumo Logic relied on the predictive analytics tool 6Sense to define which ads would go to target accounts, while direct mail was timed through TMA. Both systems were integrated into Marketo.
The final direct mail reminder had particular importance for Venturelli. The final reminder had to be both compelling and timed to capture last-minute registrations. Existing data showed eight days prior to the event was the sweet spot.
“The challenging part of this was working with PFL to determine when we need to push ‘go,’” Venturelli says. PFL was able to time production and mailings so that the reminders were received by targets exactly eight days prior to the event.
TMA Lands a Record Attendance
The results speak for themselves: Sumo Logic recorded its highest-ever registration for any of their hosted event, with more than 200 attendees. It was also the highest attended event for Tiered Accounts – accounts Sumo Logic’s sales team rated especially strong.
Among her takeaways at her talk, Venturelli suggests that a hosted event is an ideal way to test out an integrated marketing strategy. “Starting small” allows marketing teams to see the results of bringing disconnected systems together much more quickly than if they were planning a long-term strategy.
While the idea of integrated marketing can seem daunting, it makes more sense than ever as direct mail solutions are increasingly aligned to account-based marketing. Venturelli’s other suggestions for achieving success with integration (no matter how large or small your campaign) include:
- Determine your goals (registrations, MQL, list build, etc.)
- Plan well in advance (build a calendar, especially for an event)
- Write your strategy out – use if/then statements
- Remember that people are motivated by receiving free stuff (which works well with TMA and direct mail)
Venturelli stresses that those who plan events should use available technology to their advantage.
“If you have an event coming up, get together with your designer,” she says. Integrated marketing makes it easier than ever to create consistent messaging across channels, target the right people, and stay on top of your schedule – while seeing big results at the end.
For more ideas and tips on integration from Maurina Venturelli, check out this video: