In B2B marketing, building meaningful connections and nurturing customer relationships are critical drivers of success. Even in our increasingly digital world, face-to-face interactions can never be replaced, making B2B event marketing essential to your larger marketing strategy and to business success overall.
Although marketers understand the importance of B2B event marketing — 80% say they are crucial to company success — they face many challenges.
According to our recent The state of in-person B2B conferences report, fitting events into an organization’s wider marketing plan is the biggest challenge for 23.8% of event organizers, with 19.1% indicating it was their second-biggest challenge.
Passive metrics like session attendance and survey methodologies haven’t kept up with the complexity and sophistication of the kinds of questions our marketing teams are asking when determining ROI.
Keep reading to learn more about B2B event marketing, why it matters, and what you can do to build a successful B2B event marketing strategy that supercharges organizational growth.
What is B2B event marketing?
B2B event marketing involves organizing and participating in events specifically targeted at other businesses, prospects, professionals, and customers. These events — trade shows, user conferences, webinars, and workshops — aim to foster meaningful interactions, promote products or services, generate leads, educate attendees, build brand awareness, and strengthen business relationships.
B2B event marketing plays a vital role in the bigger marketing picture by providing personalized engagement, increasing brand visibility, generating leads and conversions, offering networking opportunities, and helping businesses differentiate themselves from competitors.
Types of events for B2B marketing
There are many types of events perfect for B2B marketing, including the following:
- Trade shows, which bring businesses together to showcase new products and generate leads
- Conferences, which are larger events that feature expert speakers, workshops, and networking opportunities
- Roadshows, which are traveling field marketing events held in multiple locations
- VIP dinners, which are typically exclusive private events for executives, top customers, and prospects
- Exhibitions, which feature booths at conferences to showcase products
- Webinars, which are online seminars that enable businesses to reach a global audience
- Workshops, which are interactive sessions where participants engage in hands-on learning
- Recruiting events, which help organizations attract fresh talent
- Hackathons, which bring together developers to work on innovative projects
- Industry-specific forums, which are events designed to address specific challenges
- Meetups, which are casual gatherings of industry professionals with shared interests
- Awards ceremonies, which recognize employee excellence or achievement in an industry
- Product launch events, which raise awareness and generate buzz for new product offerings
Why is B2B event marketing important?
B2B event marketing is essential for many reasons. For starters, it allows businesses to engage with potential clients and partners on a personal level, creating authentic connections and building trust. It also helps businesses and sponsors accelerate lead-generation efforts, enabling organizations to increase brand awareness, generate buzz, and demonstrate thought leadership.
On top of this, B2B events enable businesses to form mutually beneficial strategic partnerships with other organizations. Events also provide the perfect opportunity for organizations to educate attendees, exposing them to new ideas and ways to use products and services. Additionally, events are the ideal venue for promoting your brand; afterward, you can repurpose the content for each event and share it across other channels, extending the event’s impact.
By helping brands build and nurture personal relationships with customers and providing a platform where companies can collect direct feedback from their users to improve their products and future events — B2B event marketing strengthens overall marketing efforts and accelerates business growth.
5 Key Tactics for Building a Successful B2B Event Marketing Strategy
A successful B2B event marketing strategy includes several key elements that work together to help event marketers achieve their goals.
1. Identify Your Target Audience and Goals
Every successful B2B event marketing strategy begins with clearly understanding the target audience and the specific goals you hope to achieve. Identifying the intended audience’s industries, job roles, and pain points enables you and your team to build an agenda that interests the audience. Setting reasonable goals — like lead generation or revenue — gives your team a clear idea of event success.
2. Choose the Right Event Format
The appropriate event format is crucial for engaging your audience and achieving your goals. Whether it’s a webinar or a trade show, the format should resonate with the preferences of the attendees and the content you have planned. The event format should also be able to achieve the goals you’ve set out.
3. Create a Compelling Agenda and Experience
The most successful B2B events offer great content and memorable experiences. For example, HubSpot delighted attendees at INBOUND 2022 with former President Barack Obama as the keynote speaker. The best agendas include a mix of expert speakers, thought-provoking sessions, interactive workshops, networking opportunities, and entertainment.
4. Leverage Technology and Analytics
Incorporating technology and data analytics is essential in modern B2B event marketing. Not only should you be utilizing event management software to plan your event from end to end, but you should also consider event mobile apps and wearable tech. The right tools give you access to a wealth of data you can slice and dice any which way to see what’s working, what isn’t, and what can be modified and improved for next time.
5. Analyze Results and Improve for Next Time
Iteration is essential to a successful B2B event marketing strategy. Be sure to track and measure key performance indicators like attendance rates, lead generation, customer conversations, and event ROI to determine the effectiveness of your events and see what needs to change. Post-event surveys can be beneficial in deciding how to make next year’s event even better.
How To Integrate Your B2B Event Marketing Plan Into the Overall Marketing Strategy
Integrating your B2B event marketing strategy into the larger marketing strategy is crucial for maximizing its effectiveness and ensuring consistency across all marketing efforts.
The event strategy doesn’t align with our regularly scheduled marketing plans, but we’re working to integrate them further this year.
Here are some steps to help you achieve seamless integration:
- Define clear marketing objectives: Identify your company’s overall marketing goals and objectives. Your event marketing strategy should align with these objectives to contribute effectively to the company’s success.
- Align event goals with marketing goals: Once you have clear marketing objectives, ensure your B2B event goals are directly aligned. Your event’s purpose should support and reinforce the larger marketing strategy rather than being a separate entity.
- Collaborate across marketing teams: Foster collaboration and communication among different marketing teams, including content marketing, social media, email marketing, etc. Ensure that everyone is familiar with the upcoming events and how they can support them with their expertise. Use Slack channels to share key information and easily shareable social media templates with your go-to-market teams.
- Consistent messaging and branding: Maintain consistency in messaging and branding across all marketing channels, including event promotions. Whether it’s social media, email campaigns, or event materials, a unified message will strengthen your brand identity and reinforce your marketing efforts.
- Integrate event content with other campaigns: Use your events as opportunities to create content that can be repurposed in other marketing campaigns. For instance, record presentations, panels, or interviews at the event and turn them into blog posts, videos, or podcasts.
- Leverage digital marketing channels: Integrate your event marketing efforts with your digital marketing channels. Use email marketing to promote the event to your existing database, create social media campaigns, and leverage your website to provide event details and registration information.
- Track and measure: Use robust tracking tools to measure the success of your B2B event marketing efforts in relation to your broader marketing strategy. Analyze metrics such as lead generation, engagement, conversion rates, and ROI. This data will help refine your strategy for future events and marketing endeavors.
- Include event CTAs in other materials: Incorporate calls-to-action (CTAs) related to your events in other marketing materials. For example, include event registration links in email signatures, blog posts, or social media profiles.
- Post-event follow-up: After the event, continue the integration by following up with attendees and potential leads through email marketing or other channels. Nurture these relationships to maintain engagement and convert leads into customers.
- Learn from each event: Conduct a comprehensive review to identify strengths and weaknesses after each event. Use this feedback to improve future events and integrate these insights into your broader marketing strategy.
By following these steps, you can ensure that your B2B event marketing strategy seamlessly integrates into your larger marketing efforts, resulting in a more cohesive and impactful marketing approach.
Get Started: Improve Your Overall Event Marketing Strategy
A well-crafted event marketing strategy is a powerful tool that can drive business growth, strengthen your brand’s reputation, and help your organization build meaningful relationships with customers and prospects.
By understanding your audience’s needs, delivering compelling content, leveraging technology, and measuring results, you can create impactful events that leave a lasting impression, setting the stage for sustained success in today’s challenging B2B environment.
Learn more about building a better event marketing strategy and how event management software can help.