7 Easy Ways to Track the ROI of Conference Spending – Part 2

By Lynn Swayze

Oct 02

I recently wrote an article called, "Seven Easy Ways to Track the ROI of Conference Spending". In that article, I laid out the what and why it's important to track and prove the ROI of your conference speaking, but didn't dig into the how.

In this article, I want to dig into the how for those three steps. To recap, they are as follows:

1. Post about your attendance at the conference in advance, and invite interested people to "opt in" to a reminder email list used exclusively for the conference; be sure to email them on the day of with slides and the week or so after with follow-up Q&A

2. Create a landing page for your speaking session, with an opt-in to get the slides, watch the recording, or get more info (relevant to the conference)

3. Give some kind of value-added offer at your booth (make sure to get contact info)

Without further ado, let's explore each of those.

Pre-Attendance Social Media

The first step involves marketing for the event proper. Don't assume that the conference will do this for you. If you are a speaker (or have a speaker from your organization) at the conference, then you MUST do this work for yourself.

As a conference speaker, you could do things like....

Post on social media (such as Twitter and LinkedIn) about your upcoming speaking event. Use the hashtag of the event in these posts. Don't just post once - post several times a week about it.

For example, here are some Twitter-friendly posts you can plan out ahead of time if you're the speaker:

  • I just submitted my conference talk proposal for #AmazingConference2020 in AmazingCity. Who's going to be there?
  • I was accepted as a speaker for #AmazingConference2020 in AmazingCity. I'll be talking about "X Amazing Things to Amaze". Join me <URLToConferenceSite>.
  • Working on my slides for #AmazingConference2020 in AmazingCity, where I'll be presenting about "X Amazing Things to Amaze". Want to chat when we get there? Subscribe to get slides and advance notice of where I'll be so we can chat: <URLToYourFunnel>
  • I'm giving away 3 AmazingMugs to people who attend my speaker session! Use the tag #AmazingThingsCustomHashtag to let me know you'll be there. <URLToYourFunnel>
  • 3 days until #AmazingConference2020! <PictureOfYou> Get my session notes at <URLToYourFunnel>

.... and so on. Do you see how this type of approach is personal but also brand-building? It also connects to a funnel, which I'll discuss in just a moment. And when you have a funnel, you have what most of your competitors do not: qualified leads.

The kind of leads you'll get in this funnel aren't just business development people. They'll be the on-the-ground, can-introduce-you-to-others kind of people you want in your network. They're the type who'll also engage with your content, buy your book (you have a book, right?!), and probably be the type you'll want to have a post-conference beer with.

Nurture these people, because this is where the magic happens if you're a tech consultant.

But I hear you now. "Lynn, I'm not the speaker but someone supporting the speaker! What do I do?"

Have no fear. I can help.

If you want to support a speaker in your organization, or if personal branding isn't your schtick, then try more generalized approaches. These are more LinkedIn friendly.

  • AwesomeOrganization is proud to sponsor AwesomeConference2020 in AwesomeCity! We'll be at Booth 10 and offering advice on How To Be Awesome, plus giving away AwesomeSwag. <image of awesome swag> Will you be there? Register here: <UrlToRegister> #AwesomeHashtag
  • AwesomeConference2020 is in X Days - who's coming? Our AwesomeTeamMembers AwesomeOne, AwesomeTwo, and AwesomeThree will be there to answer questions at Booth 10, give out AwesomeSwag, and answer any questions you have about AwesomeTopic. <image of people> Interested in getting updates about AwesomeTopic at AwesomeOrganization? Join our mailing list here: <YourFunnelURL> #AwesomeHashtag
  • Our AwesomeTitle, AwesomePerson5, will speak at AwesomeConference2020 on "How to Be Awesome 101". Get the session notes early and a chance to win free AwesomeOrganization swag by heading to <YourFunnelURL>. #AwesomeHashtag

Again, can you see how each one has a clear call-to-action? Ideally, each one would also have a link to a custom conference funnel to opt-in to goodies (slide deck, notes, free RELATED resources) because you're getting your own people to speak at conferences. Remember, conference speaking is automatic authority and exposure. And if you've titled your conference presentation correctly, you'll be unique enough to stand apart from everyone else while also inciting enough curiosity to get people to attend.

Remember, PEOPLE BUY FROM PEOPLE.

But if not, at least attending the conferences is the first step. 🙂

Turn It Into a Funnel

The next step, as I said, is to turn the conference presentation (or at least, your attendance) into a funnel. Again, you can do this whether you're a solo tech consultant or if you're a bigger organization. The fundamental steps are exactly the same.

Here are the items I'd help you develop and build if we were sitting next to each other planning this:

  • Compelling presentation title and focused conference topic that builds your personal brand and, ideally, includes your unique mechanism (this would be developed after an Eleven Marketing Factors Deep Dive, of course!)
  • Custom Hashtag to use for your social media, incorporated into your LinkedIn business page and added to any social media tools
  • Unique Campaign for this conference in your CRM/Marketing Automation Tool (e.g., HubSpot has a "Campaigns" feature for this)
  • Funnel Pages/Triggers:

a) Opt-in page highlighting the benefits of opting-in, including talking up your presentation;

b) Form which ties into your CRM/marketing tool and drops the leads into a workflow/automation;

c) thank you-page which re-sells the opt-in and invites the prospect to connect with you on social media or take another step (e.g., download white paper, get free book, watch webinar, etc);

d) Download page for post-conference (e.g., download slides, get notes/recommended resources, follow-up CTA)

  • Email and social media sequence as outlined above, which reminds people that you're attending the conference and pre-sells them on attending YOUR session
  • Ads for this, if you're really on the ball with your budget and pre-planning

And of course, you'll want to send people to your funnel while you're speaking and at your booth by pointing to your short link in the slides while you're speaking (e.g. "you can download the slides by going to URL") and putting your URL on custom business cards or swag for that funnel.

Again, when people opt-in, you're "proving" that what you did at the conference works to attract qualified leads and generate conversations. And if what you offer is valuable, you will generate conversations and eventually sales. But we'll talk about that in the next article. 🙂

Attract People to the Booth

Finally, in my original article I suggested ways to track the ROI of your conference attendance by your booth activity. I especially suggested that you track the leads and conferences you have so that you know which conference is more worthwhile to attend and invest in than others.

How you track those leads vary by conference. Some conferences have mechanisms built in. For example, SQL Saturday does badge scanning at booths and gives incentive to scanning by doing a prize drawing at the end. It's VERY USEFUL for getting people to willingly scan their badge at your booth, because each booth offers up cool prizes that you want to get.

But how do you attract people?

For starters, I suggest merchandizing and banners unique to the conference and session... or at least, to the service. I know some tech consultants who use the same 4-5 session topics, which would make doing this easier. But if you don't, you can always focus more on the service that's related to the conference.

If you can give out REALLY GOOD SWAG, do it. The best swag I ever picked up at a tech conference was a USB thumb drive that was also a beer opener. Amazingly useful for both purposes and worth picking up and KEEPING. I still have that sucker somewhere around here.

Even better if you can offer a raffle, again, to encourage people to drop their name into your database.

But whatever you do, for the love of all things holy, KEEP TRACK OF THE LEADS AND CONVERSATIONS FROM THE CONFERENCE AND ADD THEM TO YOUR CRM WITH THE SOURCE INDICATED IN THE CRM.

The goal is to be able to pull a report of all your lead sources - specific marketing campaigns, specific conferences, etc - and determine which are the most profitable. So that you can do more of what works and less of what doesn't. It also lets you tie a revenue amount to your marketing spending, so you can prove the ROI of any marketing effort almost as easily as you'd track your salespeople.

Here's how that funnel looks, from a big picture perspective (minus the page where you make the slide deck downloadable, although you could always just put that on the thank you page):

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Marketing Can be Accountable - If You Design it That Way

I chuckle when brand marketers tell me you can't track the ROI. If you're only doing branding and design, well then yeah, you can't tell if that redesign did anything. But if you're tracking your clicks, opt-ins, and conversions, you can. You can set up analytics to show: What was it before versus after? How does one conference do versus another? What about one speaker-expert versus another? The results would speak for themselves, and finally give you data you can use to make better business decisions.

And isn't that what we all want, at the end of the day?

In the next article, I'm going to go into the final four follow-up steps so you can nurture your shiny new conference leads to close. In the meantime, I want to know: what did I miss? What would you do differently? Or, what obstacles do your face in implementing this at your organization?

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About the Author

Direct Response Copywriter Lynn Swayze has specialized in Consultant Marketing and Information Marketing since she jumped on the scene in 2014. She's worked with big names like Agora, Kevin Rogers, John Bowen, Mike Weiss, Jason Hanson, and more. She works as CMO to IDRM LLP and is a staff copywriter at several organizations.

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