How PFL Uses Tactile Marketing Automation to Boost Event Marketing

Filed in Event Marketing on December 11, 2018 by

Event Marketing is Critical for PFL

Event marketing delivers the bulk of our most qualified leads. Tradeshows, co-marketing events, webinars and local events generate the leads we need to keep our marketing machine well-oiled.

Event marketing is also expensive. Industry events, such as Dreamforce, can easily cost a marketing team a minimum of $50,000.

Despite the expense, plenty of people are willing to shell out the money. Dreamforce 2018 had over 170,000 attendees.

dreamforce facts

To stand out, we use our own solution: Tactile Marketing Automation. We use tactile marketing to help boost attendance for:

  • Tradeshows
  • User groups
  • Webinars
  • Sessions and workshops
  • Private events

Tactile Marketing Automation + Pre-Event Marketing


The mere word can make a marketer break out in a cold sweat.

Chances are, you’re just like us: one of the millions that participate in this massive show every year, either in person or via live streaming. Every year Dreamforce grows larger, consuming more of the Bay Area – and more of our marketing resources.

It is a challenge to stand out, but worth the effort because Dreamforce overflows with people meeting our ideal customer profile, so we can’t pass up the opportunity to connect.

In addition to sponsoring portions of Dreamforce, PFL also hosts a range of side-events such as private meetings with prospects and existing customers, after-parties and sponsored dinners. These side-events are often the most successful for us so we prioritize them accordingly.

Below is an example of one of our private dinner invites. This is a small cutting board with a custom card attached. We’ve used this piece for several shows. Using Tactile Marketing Automation, we can take Marketo program tokens and feed that personalized data into the template, allowing us to print high-quality invitations.

The tactile marketing piece doesn’t exist in a silo – it is sent in the midpoint of a digital campaign that uses email, retargeting and phone outreach.

PFL dinner invite tactile marketing idea

We empower our sales teams with Personal Marketing Center to make it easier for PFL business development reps and account executives to add hot prospects and existing customers to the dinner invite campaign with just a click. We like to think of it as crowd-sourcing our marketing team.

Campaign Flow and Results

After months of testing, we found that tactile marketing works best as the third touch in our campaign flow, converting 24% of recipients into RSVPs. Of that segment, 13% actually attend the event.

Tactile Marketing Automation + Tradeshow Meeting Campaign

Setting up intimate, 1:1 meetings with our customers and prospects is a core goal for PFL’s tradeshow marketing strategy and it is where we’ve done the most iteration, testing, and improvement. Today, our Meeting Maker Campaign is almost entirely automated, personalized and measured through Tactile Marketing Automation. The Meeting Maker Campaign is also a very popular use case for our customers.

Campaign Flow and Results

Here’s how we execute a tradeshow Meeting Maker Campaign with Tactile Marketing Automation.

Note: PFL uses Marketo as our marketing automation platform, but the same flow will work with any marketing platform.

  1. We create a lead list.
  2. We score the lead to see if they fit into our ideal customer profile, or are one of our ABM targeted accounts.
  3. If the lead scores as an ideal customer, or is with a target account, we validate mailing address information using the PFL Address & Append Service.
  4. We then send the qualified leads direct mail with industry-specific collateral. If the lead is not an ideal customer, we place them in a digital-only flow.
  5. High-value leads that received the direct mail are flagged by our technology once direct mail is delivered, further triggering outreach from our BDRs, retargeting ads, and a few more email invites.

In the past, we’ve offered a reward for meeting with PFL, usually a trendy tech item such as an Amazon Echo. As we’ve moved into different industries, where gifting is either frowned upon or simply not allowed, we’ve shied away from offering a reward for a meeting.

The shocking part?

Not offering a gift is just as successful, with nearly identical conversion rates. The key is sending a high-impact tactile marketing that provides relevant messaging. For example, we’ve done a video card paired with an industry guidebook and a box with the recipient’s name on it.  

PFL dinner invite tactile marketing idea

Here are the results for one of our recent Dreamforce Meeting Maker campaigns:

  • 7.2% Conversion Rate
  • 20 meetings out of 279 direct mail sends
  • 16 SQLs
  • 5 won deals
  • $118,235 first year return
  • 8X ROI*

*costs include meeting space rentals, food, travel for PFL, and direct mail production and delivery

Key Learnings

The list is critical! Tradeshows typically don’t give you attendee lists prior to the show. You need to try to figure out who might be attending to fine-tune your list. We’ve accomplished this in the past with various tactics:

  • Contests/Sweepstakes run two months prior to an event, often done with partners. Those who engage are likely going to the event.
  • Look at past attendance if you’ve done the event before.
  • Consider event location – which prospects and customers are located in or near the event.
  • Look at email and digital engagement with pre-event promotions. 
  • Furthermore, warm leads are more likely to commit to a private in-person meeting. Consider this when creating your list and try to maintain a healthy balance of cold accounts and warm accounts.

Timing is important. Warm your contacts up with digital ads and emails one to two months before the event, then plan for the direct mail to land two weeks out.

Persistence pays off. Make sure you have a direct mail follow-up cadence in place. We recommend sending an automated email when the tactile marketing asset is delivered, follow with a sales call within 24 hours of delivery and then a mix of sales calls, emails and LinkedIn messages leading up to the event.

Personal Marketing Center and Event Planning

Your sales team needs samples, swag, and collateral for their on-the-floor efforts at events.

How many hours have you spent rounding all of this up, shipping to the right location and sorting it? 

Personal Marketing Center

One of the many ways we use our own solution, Personal Marketing Center (PMC), is to make it easier for our sales teams to prepare for a tradeshow.

PMC houses both customizable and static assets. These assets can be either digital, such as emails, or physical such as of PFL’s cool tactile marketing kits. Our reps, or the operations person planning the event, can easily select the swag & collateral they need, personalize it for the tradeshow (such as changing dates, tradeshow names and more) and deliver it to themselves or the event location. All of the assets you see can be personalized, printed and shipped with a single click. Personal Marketing Center has cut our event planning time by half in the last year, and this is only a tiny fraction of what we use the PMC for within our Sales and Marketing teams. Here’s a screenshot of the PMC in action:

PFL PMC interface example

Tactile Marketing Automation + Post Event Marketing

The days following a big tradeshow, like Dreamforce, can be just as chaotic and stressful as the weeks leading up to the event. And they are just as crowded – think about your own inbox after a major industry event. Even if you didn’t attend, your poor inbox is likely on fire. Overwhelmed prospects often go on email delete rampages just to stay afloat. This opens up a big opportunity to stand out with tactile marketing and move a relationship forward.

Campaign Flow and Results

Currently, all of our leads from the show go through the following flow:

  • Immediately validate addresses, which takes about 4 days for high volumes of leads.
  • Trigger a tactile marketing kit, which takes two days to fulfill and ships via two-day delivery.
  • Tactile marketing lands a week after the event (giving contacts time to catch their breath).
  • Marketo automatically triggers a follow-up email and a Salesforce Task for the opportunity owner upon delivery of direct mail.

In the near future, we are going to A/B test sending tactile marketing only to our most valuable leads and create a better process for measuring lift.

PFL kit example

PFL marketo email send

Tactile Marketing Automation + Webinars

Webinars deliver a consistent stream of leads for PFL. As we become more devoted to ABM ideology, our webinars are also becoming more focused to appeal to our target accounts. Even with highly-targeted content, it is a challenge to convert sign-ups into actual attendees.

We use tactile marketing to drive attendance and follow-up with high-value attendees.

Campaign Flow and Results

We drive more live attendees with a pre-webinar tactile marketing send that is personalized, despite being rapidly produced and very affordable We use a flat mailer that has a packet of instant coffee or popcorn attached. 

  • Tactile marketing is sent to people who registered 7 days prior to the webinar.
  • All webinar Tactile Marketing Automation programs use token-driven templates.
  • Marketo tokens are used to personalize the copy and imagery on the tactile marketing asset.

Results? We are still A/B testing our webinar campaigns, but many of our customers ask to replicate this coffee-campaign. It’s a very easy way to dip your toe into the personalized Tactile Marketing Automation water. 

webinar pre show mailer from PFL

popcorn mailer door opener

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