Attending conferences virtually over the past few years forced companies to shift their definition of what made a conference attendance valuable and how they could leverage these events to align with the demands of the market.
Quick adoption of technology and the task of remaining engaged over multiple hours or days in front of computers presented challenges and shifted how attendees could network and generate business opportunities within virtual events. Webinars and virtual conferences are still very much present but there has been a big shift to in-person events since Q3 of 2022.
How can you strategically plan to not only maximize your conference attendance ROI, but also use analytics and insights to create an impact before, during, and after the event?
Here are some of our top tips:
1. Set KPIs and develop a strategy that includes tangible and actionable goals. Building out strategies that not only align with overarching business goals, but also create specific conference tactics will help to optimize outcomes. A strategy that can be used to set KPIs is to work backwards with company goals, for example: Business goals - $5 million in new business revenue > assign 10% to new business generated from each conference attended > identify 30 qualified prospects to connect with onsite.
2. Research sponsors/speakers, vendors – get to know your audience and identify where your time will be spent once onsite. Using an attendee list or the event site, stake out potential partners and clients to connect with at the event. Looking for speakers and breakout sessions that cover content relevant to your industry can be a great place to identify upcoming trends and offer an opportunity to network with those sharing the same interests.
3. Create an omnichannel marketing plan that includes conference strategy. Having a united digital and onsite campaign can deliver an engaging customer experience and lead to better onsite exposure. By having consistent marketing messages in both digital and onsite conference tactics, you can build your brand identity and awareness.
“Omnichannel has become a permanent part of B2B sales, with e-commerce, face-to-face, and remote videoconference sales all a necessary part of buyers’ experience. According to a 2021 McKinsey survey of US-based B2B decision makers, 94 percent of respondents view today’s B2B omnichannel reality as being as effective or more effective than before COVID-19” What is omnichannel marketing? | McKinsey
4. Use of event technology to connect - event technology has become increasingly significant since the start of the pandemic and is now a critical component to the event experience. Digital touchpoints supported by technology offer the opportunity to increase engagement and gain insights before, during, and after the event.
5. Post event analysis - Ensuring that a post conference plan is in place will allow you to look at ROI, leverage your CRM to continue to engage with potential clients, and bring takeaways to your team. Performing a KPI and cost analysis post event can translate the impact of the entire conference strategy into measurable outcomes to align with business goals.
Overall, attending conferences can be a valuable experience for gaining insights and expanding your network. By setting clear goals, developing an aligned marketing strategy, capitalizing on event technology, choosing sessions wisely, and utilizing post event reporting, you can maximize the benefits of attending a conference.