For a long time, event marketing meant one thing: marketing events. But just as the story of B2B marketing as a whole has progressed and arced over the last decade, so has event marketing. And finally, the two worlds have collided. It’s about time – and it’s good news for B2B businesses.
Here’s why, and how to make the most of this industry evolution.
Circa 2010, B2B marketing was laser-focused on lead generation. During this era, leads and MQLs were the gold standard of success. But soon, this focus on lead gen gave way to an unrelenting emphasis on personalization and content marketing.
Around 2016, Account-Based Marketing (ABM) began to emerge, and B2B marketers zeroed in on target accounts and engagement.
Fast-forward to the present, and intent data is taking center stage. ABM is maintaining its dominance as the B2B marketing strategy of choice today, but intent is strengthening its efficacy even further. What’s more, intent data is making ABM account insights truly actionable, which will surely continue into 2021 and beyond.
Until now, though, there’s been a disconnect between this B2B marketing progression and event marketing’s own evolution. Around 2013, the focus with events was still on agendas and creating quality shows.
Event technology evolved, but it was more about event management rather than marketing in conjunction with the event. This subset of marketing didn’t line up with where B2B marketing was at that point.
But as ABM became widely embraced, the divide between events and B2B marketing began closing. Instead of just aiming for certain numbers of registrations, event organizers realized that engagement mattered more. It wasn’t just about leads anymore; it was about what those leads did. This was progress, but it still didn’t give event marketers anything actionable to use.
In 2020, this changed. Event software finally has the capabilities to bridge intent data, engagement and action. Event marketers can now speak the same language as other B2B marketers, and get access to insights that inform their next best steps.
Of course, the industry has been inching toward this shift for a long time, but it was all just conversation until this year. COVID-19 has wildly accelerated these conversations, and now? The possibilities are actually here.
Previously, events were seen by event marketers as the campaign itself. Everything they did was linked to an event, and their entire role was shaped around marketing the event and managing it, before and after. But now, event marketers have the opportunity to pivot and become a bigger part of the marketing story, thanks to engagement and intent.
Since event software can now be part of the larger marketing system, event marketers can broaden their impact. By using data to drive engagement and action, they can directly impact larger company goals, whether that’s customer delight, retention, upselling, first time sales, etc.
Event intent and engagement KPIs finally enable those in event roles to align with the marketing and revenue organization. Event marketers are able to have a seat at the table because of their important, unified role inside their organizations, as a true part of demand generation.
In other words, events are no longer one-off campaigns; they’re a key instrument to be played in the orchestra of B2B marketing. Event software can integrate with business’ CRM, marketing automation and ABM solutions, and event marketers can work hand-in-hand with the rest of their marketing team and revenue folks to drive the same shared outcomes.
What all this means is that 2020 has been the year of these worlds colliding, setting up 2021 to be the start of their journey as a united revenue engine.
As the event industry and B2B marketing as a whole continue to evolve, alignment between all marketers will support ongoing growth. This, coupled with the power of intent data, means that B2B marketing (which includes events) will be truly unstoppable.
Michael is a product and design-driven serial entrepreneur with more than a decade’s worth of experience in the software industry. As Attendify’s founder and chief visionary, he’s dedicated to advancing the company’s strategic direction and mission to bridge the gap between digital and event marketing. In his spare time Michael collects vintage movie posters from the former Soviet Union — he’s driven by the desire to learn about the artists and help preserve their underappreciated and largely forgotten work — someone’s got to do it!
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