How to Use Automation to Get the Most Out of Your Events

Best Practices, Event Analytics | 9 min read


Let’s come right out and say it, just because you have a marketing automation system, doesn't mean you have marketing automation. MA has become more commonly used as jargon than an actual practice. In a world filled with “automation” technology, it's surprising how few people using MA realize they're not fully utilizing the automation half. 


Proper automation for event leads includes capturing lead information at the event, segmenting your data, and routing leads into different automated follow-up actions, such as entering a nurture program, being sent collateral, or receiving an appointment request. So, where do we begin?


Post-Event Goals: Get Your Money's Worth

Before planning for your next event, consider your goals and how you’ll reach them. Let’s take a Memento* approach and start at the end of this process (other acceptable movies references here: Fight Club* or Pulp Fiction*). A high-tech security solutions company named Big Brother Protection has wrapped up a great week at Dreamforce. As their booth gets packed up, their MA system is sending out three sets of emails. The first is an internal alert to the sales team about 5 hot leads for personal follow-up within the next 48 hours. The second is a targeted follow-up for event attendees who requested a demo. This email includes a link to request an appointment with a sales rep. The last email is for the rest of the booth visitors. The email thanks them for visiting, provides a little bit of follow-up information and plunks them into their standard marketing nurture stream. By the time the booth is packed away, and the event staff gets back to work on Monday, these three processes will be in motion, letting Sales concentrate on the hottest leads, and Marketing Ops and Event Planners focus on event analytics and planning for the next one.

How did Big Brother Protection do this? The short answer is they determined criteria for each of their post-event streams, they set up their event lead management system to make sure they could capture that criterion on the event floor and they had already set up the nurture content in their MA system. The MA system took it from there.


Let's take a look at how you can do this.

For example, if you decide that purchase readiness is your key differentiator, you can set up the multiple email routing streams that will deliver different content to leads in each stream based on when they’re currently considering making a purchase. With that criteria in mind, these could be your three streams:

  • Stream 1: Leads that are less than one month away from a purchase
  • Stream 2: Leads that are 1-3 months away from a purchase
  • Stream 3: Leads that are 3 or more months away from making a purchase


Pre-Event Goals: What Do You Want?

Alright, now let’s look at the pre-event stage. How do you prep before starting events? To make automation work for you and get your money’s worth, you’ll first need different routings for your leads as I’ve mentioned. Are you sending everyone to sales? Be sure to make separate criteria triggers that determine which leads go to sales and which do not. Next, take it a step further with other triggering events set up within your CRM. Consider any trigger event that you can prep for ahead of time to help move a lead closer to making a purchase. For example, consider your company designs and constructs custom decks and your primary goal is to get a lead to sign up for a consultation. But if a lead in your nurture program only clicks on articles about smaller DIY projects or deck treatment tutorials and nothing else from your emails, you may have that lead switched into a secondary nurture stream that’s more focused on your companies deck management and treatment solutions. The goal is to make this entire process automated so you can focus on building relationships, having conversations and setting up for your next event appearance.

If you want Marketing Automation to work for your company, you’ll need to set it up to do just that by:

  • Figuring out your key routing questions and/or criteria
  • Be consistent with your routing questions in your lead capture

If you don't know the criteria on which to base your lead qualification and routing, work with your sales department to get that information. Collaboration across sales and marketing can mean the difference between having automated tools and making the most of them.


At-Event Goals:  Standardize Event Lead Management

Once you have your marketing automation setup and you understand your criteria, it’s vital to have a system that allows you to capture that criteria on the event floor. The best way to do this is with an event lead management solution that allows you to set up custom topics and follow up actions. Renting business card scanners is great for capturing lead contact details, but even if they include a space for free-form notes, don’t ensure that your event reps are capturing the right information you need--and even if they do, will require manual work to get that information into the correct fields in your Marketing Automation system.

The most valuable piece to an event lead management solution is that after you've prepped, your leads are already going where they need to go, which is past you and your job. This allows you to connect to your marketing flow. You create automation, and once your lead is captured it's on its way through your routing streams, and you don't have to worry about what happens next. You get to spend your time connecting with people on the flow and move onto setting up for your next event. That’s the number one reason to have an event lead management solution, and what you should consider when deciding on a lead capture tool.

Companies that are ready for automation can use an on-the-floor tool to gather lead information. A tool that captures leads, and qualifies those leads too. This type of tool will allow companies to run meetings, events, and webinars for an entire quarter without having to look at anything, because it's set up to automate. This solution helps you avoid sending every lead the same information. If you have different products and clients at different stages or tiers, you want to send them the next step accordingly. With an event lead management solution, you can do that by taking your contact info, metadata, topics, and follow-ups, and putting it all into different criteria to rout them into different streams. Now you’re automated and now you have time to connect with people, and hopefully get more sales. For more information on how to capture quality leads and filter out the garbage, see our blog on the problems that plague companies lead capture efforts. Or if you’re ready to see how atEvent can help your business, contact us to get a demo.


When your automation tools are all set up to track your event data, learn to put that data to work for your Account-Based Marketing strategy by watching our webinar with Sirius Decisions.



Jared Nathanson

atEvent Senior Demand Generation Solutions Architect