A reader asked for my thoughts on running Events with Marketo the other day correctly pointing out that I hadn’t written about it much on this site.
Today we’ll focus on live, in person events, often known as Roadshows or Tradeshows. Webinars are covered on other posts. To me, an Event serves two major purposes:
- Bring like-minded people together to network.
- Bring your company’s story and people to life.
The old saying goes that “people buy from people they like and know.” What better way to establish “liking” by running an in person event, shaking hands, and handing out some food or small gifts? What better opportunity do you have for salespeople to have a fairly “captive” audience of several companies at once, rather than one by one?
The caveat is that events like this are relatively expensive compared to other Channels and Offers you have in your arsenal. Thus, ROI is often critical to continuing the program, yet often hard to ascertain. As a marketer, you have an excellent tool with Marketo to improve ROI tracking on events (This was one of my early drivers to buy Marketo for event tracking!). As a marketer, you also have responsibility to spend that money on prospects that will have the greatest impact on Sales. Let’s be real: students and junior staff are often not targets for these events.
Using Marketo, we can manage a great deal of this responsibility in an automated fashion while collecting the right data to prove our event works (or doesn’t). Before we get too far into the details, let’s define our event types.
I define these as Company Owned events that are an Offer to see our staff and likeminded industry people in a private setting. Often these are at a restaurant, hotel, or private venue with a company expert, salesperson, and sometimes an industry expert. Industry experts or other panel members can be paid an appearance fee. I often find non-commercial organizations are happy to either host or provide their experts at no cost. Remember, everyone likes publicity especially if you do the work for them.
The format can range from
- Company Expert speech.
- Third party expert interview of Company Expert.
- Small Panel with local industry group or a Consultant.
- Customer Interview of some type.
I find many firms get into trouble by making the Roadshow too much about them, or too much Sales and not enough insight. The buyers who are willing to trade 2-3 hours are usually in a later stage, higher level staff. You may not get the SVP or C-level, but you will get their direct subordinates.
If you really want the top executives, try inviting that person to speak at the event!
These are third party owned platforms that are a Channel and sometimes also an Offer. The company pays for space and a speaking slot and we get a wider reach, but less 1-1 time. Many firms will work to generate secondary Lunches (Roadshows) around the Tradeshow or invite key people to VIP Meetings.
It’s important to distinguish between Roadshows, Tradeshows, and any ancillary minor events for tracking purposes, creating “Event in a Box” and creating Program Templates in Marketo. Each event type may be run differently and paying for a Booth vs. paying for a hotel meeting room are different kinds of activities to track separately.
Checklist of Marketo Items to Run an Event
Marketo Docs site contains a fairly good overview of some of the Program components you may use with Marketo. That’s only a start because each event you run will be different than the ones I run. To get a sense of the principles and Statuses involved, here is how I think of these Programs.
Here is the basic workflow for any event requiring Registration.
Building this out in Marketo can be done in a Program Template to clone for each event. Marketo has pre-built Program Templates you can Import. Be careful because those are useful for understanding, but not always right for your systems.
Roadshow Events Program Channel Design
Roadshows will follow the above workflow. Roadshow Program Channels can cover a variety of event types like:
- Lunch and Learns
- Tradeshow Special Registration Events
You will need some components and Program Statuses. I suggest learning how to manage Program Channels and Statuses first.
- Statuses and Confirmation Flow
- Post Event Assets and Flows
This is a typical setup, however, each event team has slightly different needs. You may want to tokenize all the flows and emails and pages, or you may not. There are a lot of advanced considerations to make this a true “event in a box” template. I suggest Ed Unthank’s tokenization posts for help.
In my Marketo Course, I delve into this Program Setup in much more detail, including live campaigns and tokenization.
If you have worked with basic autoresponder campaigns for whitepapers, the principles here are exactly the same, however, the information you convey will be different. But the Program Statuses become MUCH more important to a successful event since you need to monitor Registrations and Attendees very closely.
Standard Program Statuses and Campaign Setup
Each campaign flow in the Template will have a setup similar to the outline here. Sometimes it is a good idea to preschedule Reminders and Thank Yous, but be careful! I’ve seen a lot of mis-sends when using auto-reminders.
Basic Smart Campaign Triggers for Registration
The single critical step is to get the Registration campaign flow working. In this example, we trigger off the Form+Page combination while excluding Competitors from receiving a Confirmation. It is very important to Change Program Status to Registered as well as send a follow up email with an ICS Calendar button.
If you prefer to Waitlist people and cherry pick attendees, you can do so. Just make sure your copy and thank you pages are clear that the person should expect a final confirmation. And use the Status of “Waitlisted”. You will have to manually adjust each Waitlisted person to “Registered-Confirmed”.
Tradeshow Program Templates
Tradeshows aren’t much different in most cases. However, the use of Program Statuses will be different to ensure clearer attribution. Remember that Tradeshow attendees will be Scanned at Booth, Get a Demo, or Ask for Follow Up. You may have separate Dinners and VIP meetings to be managed in a separate Program. And you may also get pre and post show lists.
Here is just one example of how to handle Tradeshow attribution.
Other Neat Tips and Tricks for Running Amazing Events
Refer a Friend and Get a Prize – most referrals wins.
I’m not the biggest fan of this tip, yet it’s pretty cool idea and could be repurposed in various ways. To increase the number of Registrants, offer early Registrants an Offer Code/URL that they can share with their colleagues. If the Colleagues registers, the Original Referrer gets credit for the Registration. If the Registrant and the Colleagues all Attend the Event, the person with the highest number of Referred Attendees wins a prize.
On the Thank You Page, the unique URL is generated for the Registrant, who can then copy/paste it. If you are very slick, you could send the Confirmation email with that URL as well (be sure to turn off Marketo Tracking though!).
The challenge is in downloading and matching up the Referrer and those who signed up later with the Code. A bit of vlookup can help with that.
My personal experience with this is mixed. I’m not a big fan of bribing people to show up; I’d rather rely on the content to be the draw.
Charge a Fee to Increase Attendance Rates
This is my Number 1 tip that I know works: charge a small fee to register for the event. This works very well with higher class events with premium speakers that can offer a future insight into an industry. The fee can be about $35-75. Any more than that and you are essentially running a tradeshow. (Could be a great way to test early tradeshow concepts!).
In Marketo, you will need to choose a couple of paths to operationalize this.
Option 1: pass Lead to EventBrite and waitlist
In this option, we allow the person to Register and change their status to Waitlisted – Not Paid. Then the Form Redirect goes to an EventBrite page (or similar service). The lead then pays using a credit card.
Each day you will download the paid list from EventBrite and then manually go to the Program > Members and change Status to Registered – Paid for each person you accept.
One other reason to collect payment is that you will self-fund expansion of your event programs. Positive ROI keeps these alive.
Option 2: integrate with Payment Service or Event Tool.
In this option, you integrate with a payment tool or event service to ensure a seamless experience for the lead and automatically move them from Waitlisted – Not Paid to Registered – Paid.
For either option, you should have several Statuses such as:
|Invited||Sent an invitation|
|Waitlisted – Not Paid||Pending payment|
|Waitlisted – Error||Issue with payment or other|
|Registered – Paid||Paid and confirmed|
|Registered – Guest||Unpaid guest|
|No Show||Did not show|
As you saw above, you can uses Program Statuses to manage the RSVP process. At many events, we want to block Competitors or certain people from showing up. Perhaps some events are Customer Only and we need to ensure a prospect isn’t slipped in. All you need to do is adjust your Registration trigger to Change Status to Waitlisted.
You can still provide a Thank you Page and Confirmation email where you explain their RSVP is pending review and they will receive a confirmation with the date, time, and location information. Be sure to setup a daily Scheduled Smart List to the Event Manager to review the requestors.
At Show Automatic Emails or SMS
While mostly used at large Tradeshows, you can also use triggered emails and SMS to welcome guests to the event once they Attend. There are a few ways to manage this.
Essentially, you decide on a set of messages to send each day or in a 2-3 hour span to drive traffic or engagement at a large event.
Keep in mind that the setup time involved is high. Be sure you want this experience and have enough events or Leads opted in to make this worthwhile.
I never see this enough — use Progressive Profiling on event forms. Most of the time you are inviting people from the existing database. Use this opportunity to ask one more question to improve targeting and Registration rates.
Sales Agent Credit or Source Credit
Firms will setup competitions between Salespeople for most Registrations. You can also do this with a nice temp field and a URL parameter that uses a hidden field.
temp field: salescredit
Add this as a hidden field to your Registration Form.
This works well for tracking third party partners who may want to know how well they did, or how much you need to pay them per lead.
A longstanding request of marketers is to cap registrations and automatically stop accepting new registrants. Marketo itself can’t do this natively, however, there are some tricks people have shared over the years:
- Waitlisting (simplest, but you need to pay attention)
- Third Party Event Platform