The Power of Conversation: Connecting Offline Events to Online Follow-up

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Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Drift customer Akkroo, an Integrate Company. Interested in contributing content to the Drift blog? Email Molly Sloan at msloan@drift.com.

Online, we’re pretty good at managing new prospects. We’re super focused on leads and contacts, keeping them engaged and moving through the sales process.

But offline, we kind of suck. Sorry, but it’s true. If you go to many trade shows you’ll know what I mean: you speak to someone at a booth, get a quick demo of their product, and then hear nothing back for weeks. And when that email finally lands in your inbox, all you get is a generic “Hey it was great to meet you at the trade show, here’s a link to our product brochure.”

It’s hard to believe that we’ve reached the point where someone hears back from your company faster, and with more relevant, useful information, if they reach out via your website than if they speak to someone in real life at an event.

Great for all us digital marketers (and a testament to all our hard work), but bad for your prospects.

Each Event Is an Island

In this increasingly digital world, events and trade shows offer a rare opportunity to meet contacts and potential customers in-person. Talking to prospects at events is an amazing opportunity to build a relationship and start a conversation about what they need and how your product can help. But it’s hard to sustain that prospect relationship beyond that initial conversation.

Why?

Old tools and tech have created a gulf between the offline world of events and our digital marketing. If you visit a trade show today, you’ll still see reps at their booth collecting people’s details on paper, or using badge scanners that they’ve rented for the day.

The whole event industry lags behind the forward-thinking world of digital marketing.

So how can we bridge that gap, to connect the offline world of events with our sophisticated tech stacks and marketing processes?

Turn Events into the Start of a Conversation

At Akkroo, an Integrate Company, we’ve learned a few things about creating a joined-up experience for prospects, to keep the conversation going after your event.

1) Collect the right data

If you’re speaking to someone at an event, what information do you need to keep that conversation going afterwards?

Their name and contact details, sure.

But more than that, you need a record of what you talked about. What products were they interested in, are they the decision maker, did they mention that their manager would be the best person to contact…

Many of the traditional lead capture methods like hired badge scanners can’t be customized. So you can only collect a predefined set of data about each person, rather than custom info that’s relevant to your business.

2) Follow-up

What’s the biggest conversation killer?

Silence.

Some 2012 research by Salesforce found that a massive 80% of trade show exhibitors didn’t follow-up with their event leads.

What. A. Waste.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but if you collect someone’s details at a trade show, make sure to follow-up after. And follow-up well.

“Generic follow-ups after an event are big turnoffs for prospects. Meaningful comms that provide value, delivered when and how the prospect wants it is how businesses win.”

Stefan Cordery, Senior Marketing Manager, Akkroo

 Here are the three golden rules for follow-up comms:

  1. Personal – this is a person you’re speaking to, not a lead or a prospect or even a business.
  2. Relevant – sending a super generic follow-up message after meeting someone at a trade show? So are the other 20 exhibitors they spoke to. Send something personal and relevant to what you discussed on the day, and you’ll stand out from the crowd.
  3. Timely50% of sales go to the vendor who the buyer hears from first. Don’t make a potential customer wait weeks to hear back from you. With the right tools you should be able to get your event leads into your systems quickly, for fast follow-up.

3) Make it a conversation

If you meet someone for the first time at an event, think of it as the start of a conversation, not a one-and-done transaction. Let me walk you through the way we collect, manage and follow-up with leads at Akkroo:

First, we speak to prospect at a trade show.

Next, we use the Akkroo app to collect their contact details, plus additional contextual qualifying information.

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Then we pass that lead into our CRM (in our case HubSpot).

After that, we send an automatic email, to bridge the gap before our marketing activities kick-in.

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And finally, if the prospect clicks a link in that email, trigger a Drift playbook on the landing page, to engage them in a conversation – just like at the event.

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Adding Drift into our follow-up process makes it even more personal for our prospects compared with the blanket generic emails other exhibitors send. Even better, it makes it super simple for prospects to book their next meeting with our sales team, and speeds up the time to their next interaction with us.

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The Power of Conversation

Your conversation with a prospect shouldn’t start and end on the trade show floor. By combining event lead management with conversational marketing, you can create an end-to-end experience for engaging prospects beyond the event.

Your digital channels are sophisticated and talk to one another. With event lead management and conversational marketing, there’s no reason you can’t provide that same experience with your in-person events.

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