If you are creating an event marketing plan, keep these six topics in mind as you go through the planning process.

From the initial planning stages to event wrap-up, this list will serve as a quick and useful guide to make sure you and your stakeholders are prepared and able to prove a high event-marketing ROI.

1. Use the Same Playbook and Scorekeeper

Now that you've decided to dive into event (or experiential) marketing, don't make the common mistake of assuming that all stakeholders are working with the same metrics or striving for the same goals.

Events large and small often involve multiple internal and external teams, each with its own goals and agendas. Make sure you have a central set of measurable metrics, all working toward common goals.

If the most important goal of your events is to capture high-quality consumer leads and demographic data, but your onsite team's stated goal is to just fill out as many contact forms as possible regardless of lead quality, then the team that interacts with the public isn't using the same playbook.

Also, it's critical to have one centralized "scorekeeper" to make sure that all internal and external stakeholders have accountability for the overall success of the program.

2. Engage Your Audience: Collect Consumer Data

How do you plan to engage your audience at your events? Are you hosting a ride-and-drive? Maybe a branded green screen photo opportunity?

You can spend all the time and money in the world planning your strategy, but if you can't engage consumers at a level that compels action on their part (whether that is filling out a contact form, completing a survey, etc.), then you have wasted both your time and your money.

A well-thought-out plan might potentially compel consumers into becoming customers and outspoken brand ambassadors. For instance, if using a photo or video feature, provide consumers with the option to share the branded media directly with their friends and family via social media platforms or email (the email option will increase the likelihood of accurate contact information).

If it's fun and easy to use, you will be able to amplify your brand's message and increase your marketing effort's reach.

3. Lead Capture Best-Practices: Don't Waste Your Investment

If lead capture is the main objective of your event strategy, keep in mind some important considerations. First and foremost, you should focus heavily on capturing accurate data.

For today's event marketer, paper forms should be considered a thing of the past. You are most likely getting inaccurate or incomplete data with paper surveys or contact forms, negating any value that the activation might provide.

Furthermore, with paper forms, the data is rarely entered accurately or in a timely manner into your CRM. If you asked your audience how likely they are to be in the market for your product in the next six months, for example, you could miss the chance to follow up with them if you don't have that data in your CRM immediately.

Find a modern survey and data-collection application that can verify content accuracy and auto-upload data directly into your CRM. If you have immediate access to accurate data, you are more likely to convert that new contact into a customer.

4. Post-Event Analysis: Benchmark Your Data

Did you collect more leads than your competitors at the same event? Did your Net Promoter score have a bigger increase than the industry average after your test-drive event? How did your brand's social media amplification compare with your rivals'?

It can be hard to determine the overall success and health of your events if you don't have a measuring stick.

If you can gain access to industry benchmarks or competitive intelligence that allow you to judge your activities from event to event, then you will have a distinct advantage over the field.

You should also be benchmarking against your own events. Maybe one specific consumer engagement strategy performed significantly better than others, as well as other competitors at the same event; having such information can give you the chance to pivot to more successful tactics.

5. Event Follow-Up: Time Is of the Essence

If you've decided to ditch the paper forms in favor of more modern application for lead data capture, then chances are you will be able to upload your new data into your CRM within 24 hours. Whether that means receiving a spreadsheet with data or having all leads automatically uploaded in real time, you'll have the opportunity to analyze, distribute, and follow up with potential clients in a timely manner.

For many industries like auto, personal finance, and insurance, local dealers or agents need to act on this new information; therefore, you need to have a plan to get this information into their hands as quickly as possible.

You may also consider marketing automation tools to provide immediate email follow-up, which gives you the chance to offer coupons or incentives to consumers to continue the dialogue with your brand.

6. Debrief; Rinse, Repeat

You will find that the people with the best insights into your program are those on-site, interacting with your target audience. Did the technology work as advertised? Were there any unusual circumstances that may have affected your data totals, such as poor booth location and bottlenecks or something as unplanned as inclement weather?

Those questions and more can help give context to your program's data and help you determine the most effective ways to fine-tune your schedule of events.

After careful planning, testing, measuring, analyzing, and refining, your program will be running like a well-oiled machine, driving leads and increasing your event marketing ROI.

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Six Drivers of ROI in Event Marketing

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image of Daniel Maurer

Daniel Maurer is the B2B marketing manager for eshots Inc., a provider of technology and consulting services for enterprise and agency event marketers.

LinkedIn: Daniel Maurer