Looking for Superior Post-Event Lead Follow-Up? It’s Time to Get Customized
It’s tough to build a strong relationship with potential customers on the phone or through email. You have to meet in person and make a personal connection. Your customers and prospects need to feel like you care about them. That’s where trade shows and events come in.
Face-to-Face Meetings and Digital Event Programs
EventMobi recruits a lot of new customers at trade shows, but we also use these events to physically meet with existing clients whom we only know in the digital world. The human touch is crucial: while your product may have an edge over your competitors, it’s normally only a fractional advantage. A personal connection with a sales rep can make all the difference.
As our name suggests, EventMobi works in the event space. We launched ten years ago, with a simple proposition: We wanted to get rid of paper programs because they were so inefficient. You can’t change anything on a program after it’s printed, and once the event is over, it becomes another piece of paper to toss or recycle. So why not get rid of it entirely?
Thanks to improved technology, we have expanded our platform beyond event-apps to incorporate digital registration systems, digital signage, on-site notifications, and live polling.
As our company’s marketing and events manager, I do 90% of my work in front of a laptop, but 10% of my job requires me to be onsite at trade shows, handling logistics and meeting people face to face. It’s easy to manage everything in a spreadsheet as you get ready for such an event, but once you’re on the tradeshow floor—and everyone you meet is a potential lead—things can get messy.
USB Sticks and Little Black Books
In the past, we used the badge scanners provided by trade show organizers to collect information about leads, but it was complicated, to say the least. I would have to pull contact info for every visitor from the convention center’s platform, or ask convention center staff to put the information on a USB stick for me.
We also had a clever—but very analog—hack back then. We printed notebooks that contained the same contact forms and note fields we would input into our CRM. I had our sales reps fill them out and submit them to me at the end of every show day.
It was a smart idea, but it wasn’t very streamlined, and it ran counter to our mission as an organization. I mean, we were asking our customers to switch to digital event programs, but we were using paper to capture their information? Also, notebooks got lost or misplaced, and there was never any guarantee that the information collected was accurate or complete.
Either way, I ended up spending every night manually entering lead data into our CRM after the show floor closed. Not exactly the way I wanted to spend my evenings.
The Right Time to Find a Better Way
We wanted something smoother, and so we tried to build our own lead management solution using our previous CRM. We created a landing page where our reps could enter contact information, and then make it available to everyone else on the sales team.
But then we switched CRMs and also adopted Marketo to automate our marketing communications initiative. By this time we were tired of hacked-together solutions and decided we needed to adopt a proper lead capture system: Akkroo.
It was a smooth transition, since Akkroo was thorough with their onboarding. Their team made sure everyone here knew how the platform worked. It also helped that we had a specific project in mind. We weren’t just rolling out Akkroo at our next trade show, we were going to use it to create a visitor experience that extended beyond a simple demo.
Enhancing Trade Show Booth Conversations
We rolled out Akkroo at IMEX Frankfurt in 2018. We wanted to do something at our booth that created value beyond merely presenting our product.
Our team created an Event Experience Map, printed it out, and mounted it on easels. It was a visual representation of the way a typical event is produced and the stakeholders involved at every planning stage. We trained our reps to use it as the foundation of their presentations. They didn’t just talk about our technology, but they also discussed ways EventMobi could improve event planning and management before, during, and after a trade show.
As the conversation unfolded, they asked visitors to place a sticker on the map showing where in the event management process they could use technology to better plan events. At the end of the presentation—if everything had gone well—they asked the visitor to take a selfie with their rep in front of the map. After the visitor had left the booth, our reps would also photograph the map itself.
I created a custom form in Akkroo and asked reps to upload both of these images, along with the visitor’s contact info, and any notes about the conversation. Via an integration, all of this was automatically fed into Marketo, and Marketo generated a personalized email.
About an hour after their visit, a lead would receive an email thanking them for meeting with us. It included the selfie they had taken, and a download link to the map they had made. The picture with the rep meant they remembered who they spoke with. The image of the map ensured they had a valuable takeaway. Compared to a standardized follow-up email, it was incredibly personalized.
Scanning Business Cards and Sending Out Slide Decks
We also used Akkroo to follow up with visitors who attended panels and talks given by members of the EventMobi team. It is customary for anyone attending these sessions to present a business card upon entry, and so they are a valuable touch point for lead generation.
We created a field within the Akkroo form that said we met that person at the presentation. We then added a drop-down menu with quick codes for individual sessions. At the end of each day, we would use Akkroo’s mobile app to scan the business cards we collected. Marketo would then generate a thank you email that also included the slide deck used during a presentation.
The process is highly automated. We even set up a rule that flags email addresses that bounce more than twice. We can then verify the scans, and correct any mistakes.
The response was amazing. In general, we get a 56% open rate for emails we send out to trade show leads, but it was 74% for the Event Experience Map, and 80–85% for the slide decks.
On a personal note, I was able to enjoy my evenings for the first time. It took next to no time to snap pictures of business cards instead of entering the data manually. After a tiring day, it was nice to put my feet up.
World Class Features and Outstanding Support
Later this year, at IMEX Frankfurt 2019, we’ll be using Akkro’s check-in functionality for the very first time. This will allow us to upload lists of expected visitors and to then confirm their arrival, which will further streamline the event management process.
If we already have a guest’s contact info, we’ll know not to input it again. We’ll also be able to track the number of invitees who actually show up. This will help us to further refine our marketing strategy and to better manage future guest lists.
Another thing I really like about Akkroo is how it standardizes the lead capture process. Everything runs on templates. You generate a form, train your staff how to use it, and then add custom fields for specific events.
This is a crucial feature for a company like EventMobi. I manage marketing and events for our European office in Berlin, whereas my colleague Danielle handles North America. Despite the continental and cultural divide, we can mirror each other’s work and share best practices through Akkroo. It really does take the guesswork out of capturing and integrating leads.
Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment
In my experience, the key to getting the most value from Akkroo is integration. Combining Akkroo with a CRM or marketing automation platform like Marketo can open up a whole new world of customer communications.
I’ve already offered a couple of hacks: Take a picture during the lead capture process; wait an hour before sending a customized email, to make it feel more personal and not automated.
Also, make sure that your sales reps are fully present when they’re talking to trade show visitors. There’s nothing more annoying to a potential client than a rep thumbing notes and contact info into a phone as they’re talking. Have your staff ask for business cards instead, and instruct them to add notes after the prospect has left. They can further speed things up by using voice-to-text.
When that human contact can make the difference in a sale, let technology come in with the assist.