Driving Growth Through a Data-Driven Event Strategy

September 24, 2021

Generally speaking, startups and scale-ups underestimate the value of an effective events strategy. This is likely because events are not measured in the same way as, for example, performance marketing is. However, in the post-COVID era, there’s a whole new set of opportunities businesses and their creative marketers can capitalise on within this field.

RocketX’s Head of Partnerships, Beer Zandt, had a fireside chat with the founder of The Next Web, Patrick de Laive, to talk about this topic in more detail and discuss the importance of integrating an events strategy into your marketing. Here are some of the key takeaways and golden nuggets of advice from Patrick for those looking to scale and drive growth.

Measuring performance: A different approach

Events are less measurable for a business than performance marketing due to the latter being 100% driven by data and continuously optimised. But how to make sure that companies can have a data-driven approach to events?

Firstly, you need a strategy that says to your potential customers: ‘This is who we are, this is our service, and this is how we do our business’, and for events, you should build on top of that - in the same way that you do your online performance marketing.

“These can be events that you host yourself or through a third party, but the most important thing is that you measure it,” says Patrick.

While this can be a very time-consuming exercise, he recommends that with your CRM software - whether that’s Salesforce or HubSpot - ensure you’ve trained the employees that you have going to and networking at your events to use the software to input and tag the contacts they’ve spoken to, so you can measure it over time.

“In order to bridge the gap from offline to online, you need to train your people and have a protocol in place to extract that data into the CRM, Patrick explains. “This is not going to pay back immediately, but we can measure over six or eight months from now, where that lead went to.

Over time, as you train more of your employees to utilise this structure at various events in different locations, the idea is that you can filter out the events that are working for you.

Define your tactics

When creating and organising your event, it’s important to understand how best to structure it. For example, if you’re creating an in-person, high-touch event that’s curated to a specific audience, and typically smaller in volume but a more intensive programme, you should use it as a tactic to accelerate deals in the pipeline, at the bottom of the funnel.

But, in this instance, what would be the metrics to judge the persistence of certain events? One way, Patrick explains, is the number and qualification of the leads. 

“Over time, of course, you’ll want to see a return on investment, so the leads you have picked up during that event need to be converted into customers.

“For a payments company, for example, you know that customer acquisition costs can be especially high, like 50,000 Euros in some cases. However, the revenue you make out of it could be in the millions per year.

“So the metrics that you work with - your customer acquisition costs, the higher these are, the better B2B works for you. That’s the general rule.”

The Dos and Don’ts

For those people that want to start building your event strategy, there are a number ‘dos and don’ts’ businesses should keep in mind, according to Patrick. Here are just a few:

Know your customer and your event

Be well aware of what you're organising. Don’t organise an event on a topic you know nothing about, or it will be destined to fail.

“Figure out who you are, who your customers are, and organise something that is of interest to them; think about what they like, what they would want to see and understand their pain points,” Patrick recommends.

Set goals

Goal setting is important for both startups and scale-ups when organising events.

“Nearly everybody attending events takes a moment to write down ‘what do I want to get out of this event?’, you should go for that goal,” says Patrick. “This can be done on a personal level, company level or team level and is super important.”

Always measure

Know how you’re going to measure your goals. Analyse your event, for example, how many meetings you’ve had and which ones you’ve added to your CRM system to track where you met those contacts.

“This way, you can track whether it was a new contact or somebody you already had in our pipeline but accelerated the deal, and then come up with a formula that weighs up the value of these touchpoints. Then, measure it,” Patrick adds.

Don’t expect it to be easy

A lot of people can make the mistake of thinking events are easy to create and manage, but this is because they don’t fully think through the reasons why people wouldn’t show up.

“Most events are free to attend, and because of this many organisers believe that automatically equates to people showing up,” explains Patrick. “In the end, what you're asking from your attendees is more valuable than money; it’s time. So even if it's free, it might not be enough.

“Make sure that your event is one that you’d want to go to yourself.”

Final piece of advice

As a business building an events strategy, it’s inevitable that you will make mistakes. What is important is that you learn lessons from them. For Patrick, when scaling up The Next Web, one of the biggest lessons learned was not to underestimate the power of events.

“See events and communications as a true part of your marketing strategy, and address it like so,” he explains.

“If you have a CMO who is 100% purely performance-focused, then make sure that he or she hires somebody who understands the importance of events, so you can cover the full spectrum of instruments at your disposal.”

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Let's shape the future. Together.

Let's shape the future. Together.

Let's shape the future. Together.