In a world where digital marketing reigns supreme, it’s easy for organizations to forget the impact that in-person interactions can have on their overall success. But when it comes to your customer marketing strategies, making time to touch base with your customers face-to-face can help you build long-lasting relationships that cultivate loyalty and fuel growth.
Customer events can make all the difference when it comes to helping you achieve your retention and upsell goals. They provide a rare opportunity for you to interact with current customers and create a sense of community and buzz around your brand. And if you do your job right, customers will leave your event feeling enthusiastic about continuing to do business with you in the future.
Even better, many of these customers will walk away feeling so great that they will spread the word about the event and what you do. This means you will have managed to secure some very valuable and effective advertising for your organization — and the best part is that it’s completely free. Having a few individuals who are willing to serve as brand ambassadors and vouch for your value can have a significant impact on your demand and lead generation efforts.
But not every event will yield the same positive results. That’s why we’ve compiled the following tips to help you make sure your events are well-coordinated and provide your customers with real value!
1. Provide Important Event Details to Ensure Customer Registration
Regardless of whether you’ve been doing events for a while or they’re a new initiative at your organization, you can’t expect people to attend if you don’t entice your customers to sign up and show up. That means that you should have important details (such as the date and location) confirmed and be ready to spread the word about your event weeks, if not months, in advance.
A dedicated event landing page with an adaptive form makes it easy for your customers to learn what the event is about and register all in one location. You can leverage the link to this landing page through social media and email, inviting your target audience to learn more without having to dig around for event details.
Your work doesn’t end with securing registrants, however. To maximize attendance, keep customers who have already registered in the loop. Sending reminder emails as the event date moves closer helps you ensure that the event doesn’t sneak up on them if they forgot to put it on their calendar.
These reminder emails should include much more than the date and location. You should use these as an opportunity to create momentum and buzz by sharing event details such as an agenda for the day and bios for your presenters. Start by sending a monthly or bi-monthly email a few months before the event, and then become more frequent with your communication as you get closer to the actual date.
A marketing automation tool (such as Act-On) can make the process of promoting your event and following up with registrants as pain free as possible. Act-On enables you to automatically segment contacts as they register for your event and easily implement event-triggered email campaigns and automated email campaigns. This way, customers who have registered for the event will receive relevant information leading up to the big day.
2. Take Advantage of Having Your Customers in the Room and Emphasize the Power of Networking
Customer events provide a rare opportunity for your current customers to connect with peers who are using similar solutions. For people who are part of a small team (or, many times, the only user of your solution), it can be very exciting to network with other customers and share best practices.
But how does encouraging your customers to network help you at the end of the day? While it might not seem obvious at first, creating opportunities for your customers to connect with their peers to share tips and ideas opens the door for them to be more active users of your product or service. That’s because as your customers talk to each other, they’ll discover new and exciting ways to leverage what you provide.
For example, you might have a customer who is experiencing a pain point that they might not know your solution can solve. However, a new friend they just met at the event has the perfect use case for your product or service that will help them resolve their problem. While this customer might have otherwise been inclined to search for a new vendor, this new discovery will remind them how great it is to be your customer.
3. Leverage Your Social Channels to Create Buzz Before, During, and After the Event
Customer events are a great opportunity to create community, but you don’t have to wait to get all your people in a room to get them talking and raving about your brand. Leveraging social media is a great way to get your attendees excited before the event, invite them to share special moments once they’re there, and keep the momentum going long after the big day is over.
To encourage customers to look forward to your event, you should develop a social media campaign sharing the event location, date, and any highlights you think will motivate your target audience to sign up. In these posts, include a link to a dedicated landing page where your customers can go to discover more details and register for the event.
Although it’s easy to create one or two posts to promote your event, seeing the same message over and over again can tire out your audience. To avoid getting unfollowed or blocked by your social media followers, diversify the content of your posts promoting the event and spread them out over time.
Creating a dedicated hashtag for your event is an excellent way to motivate attendees to share moments from throughout the day. You can further incentivize them to share content on their social media profiles by hosting a photo contest or automatically entering them into a raffle every time they post.
Finally, it’s just as important to follow up through social media as it is through email. After your event, make sure to write a post thanking customers who attended your event and tag them and/or their companies if possible. Not only will this allow you to increase engagement on your post, but it’s also a great way to keep the conversation going. You’ll also find that many customers will want to share what they enjoyed about your event. Having their feedback front and center is a great way to motivate those who didn’t attend to register for one of your events in the future.
You might be thinking that managing all the activities I just mentioned is more than you can handle. However, the right social media management tool, such as Act-On’s Advanced Social Media Module, can help you automate most of these activities so you can stay on top of your social media game without having to spend all day in front of your computer.
4. Bring Awesome Swag to Reward Customers for Showing Up
We’ve previously talked about why swag is so important at tradeshows, but did you know it can carry even more of a punch with your current customers? After all, who doesn’t like free stuff? Swag is a must-have because, in addition to putting a smile on your customers’ faces, it’s a great way to spread the word about what you do.
Earlier, I mentioned that one of the biggest benefits of hosting a successful event is that your customers will want to spread the word about how amazing you are, which translates into free advertising. Rewarding your customers with awesome swag is more than just a great way to thank them for their time; it also serves as a good reminder of their experience and, when done right, can be a great conversation starter.
For example, at our recent customer event, we gave customers these fun tumblers (pictured below) with the phrase “I like my leads like my coffee…HOT!” We could’ve handed out a dozen other popular swag items, but we wanted to give them something that they would use often. We also made our coffee tumblers fun and quirky by adding a tagline that would resonate with our customers. We figured this would put a smile on their face and help them get noticed by their peers as they’re carrying it around town.
5. Use These Events as an Opportunity to Gather Important Customer Insights
Your customer marketing efforts shouldn’t begin and end with events. Instead, you should treat these moments like a focus group where you can connect with your current customers and gather important insights that can drive your marketing and content strategy moving forward.
During the event, invite customers to share how they’ve been using your product. This is a great opportunity for your customers to share best practices among themselves and for you to identify customers you can reach out to in the future to collaborate on a success story. You should also take note of any questions your customers have for your presenters because, chances are, many of your other current customers (and leads) are interested in learning more about those same topics.
Make sure to gather as many ideas as possible by asking your customers to complete an online survey after the event sharing what they learned and what they’d like to hear more about.
Gathering all this information can help ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck from customer events. You can share these questions and feedback with your team and use them to shape your events, content, and other marketing initiatives moving forward.
Leverage Marketing Automation to Manage All of Your Customer Marketing Efforts
Customer events can help set you apart from the competition, but, let’s be honest, they take a lot of time and effort. Thankfully, marketing automation can help you eliminate many time-consuming and tedious tasks so you can focus your efforts where they’re likely to have the biggest impact.
The right marketing automation tool can help you do much more than coordinate events. If you’d like to learn more about how marketing automation can revolutionize your customer marketing strategy, we invite you to download our eBook “Drive Engagement Around Your Offerings” (linked below).