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Recently, I attended a virtual event. The event had a large number of sessions and virtual booths (exhibitors). Due to a number of meetings I had scheduled that day, I couldn’t stay too long. I attended one session and visited a few booths to see what was going on.
The Current Way
A day after the event, I received an email from the event organizer. They thanked me for attending and invited me to log back in to view all of the sessions on-demand. So far, so good.
And then it started. Over the next two weeks, I received emails from exhibitor after exhibitor. I recalled visiting some of the exhibitors’ booths. For others emailing me, I had no idea they were even part of the show.
The New Way
I don’t like the current way. It results in too many emails, most of which aren’t relevant to me. So here’s the new way.
Warning: this takes extra work on the part of the event organizer. But in the end, I think everyone wins.
1) An exhibitor can only email an attendee when the attendee requests it, on the event website.
2) All post-event emails come from the event organizer (only).
3) The event organizer becomes an Editor of sorts, assembling emails that pair vendor-neutral content (the on-demand sessions) adjacent to vendor information (product listings that relate to a session).
4) Continuing the Editor role, the event organizer builds sections of the event website (or, the virtual event environment itself) segmented by “solution type.” As attendees view on-demand sessions, they’re able to view lists of vendors within each solution type.
5) In this way, it’s the event organizer who’s helping move attendees along the sales cycle!
Benefits of The New Way
More Credible Emails
In The New Way, the emails come from a credible source. I attended the event, so I’m likely to consider the event organizer credible. An exhibitor I never heard of that’s decided to start emailing me? Not so credible.
Better Email Management
Photo credit: Flickr user deltaMike via photopin cc
The New Way results in far less emails. By centralizing the sending from a single source, attendees have one opt-out to manage, rather than 5, 10 or 15 opt-outs from all the exhibitors. With a single opt-out, the stakes are also raised for the event organizer.
More Effective Emails
Today’s approach (from exhibitors) amounts to a shot in the dark. The recipe for the email is:
You attended event X. I sell a product, Y that has some relation to X. Want to buy?
With The New Way, the emails focus on the content of the event and attendees are invited to self-select their follow-up paths. They do so based on the sessions they view, the pages they visit and the requests they submit for more information.
More Qualified Leads
The New Way can invert the process: instead of exhibitors pursuing attendees, the attendees can be the ones asking for appointments with the exhibitors. It’s the job of the event organizer to facilitate this match-making: NOT to simply hand over lists of email addresses to exhibitors.
For bonus points: event organizers can create multiple “email tracks” (by topic) and invite attendees to select the track(s) most relevant to them. Combine this with email analytics and marketing automation to tailor subsequent content down to an individual basis.
It’s up to you, event organizers. By adopting The New Way, you can make your attendees much happier. And if done right, you can enable your exhibitors to achieve higher ROI than they’re getting today. Let’s leave the shot in the dark emails to those selling snake oil.