How to turn physical events into measurable digital sales channels

Ben Backx, Chief Technology Officer at GoUpscale explains why sales teams have historically struggled to build a business case for attending physical events, how this landscape has shifted and the ways events can now deliver the same level of analytical insights as digital channels.

In sales, physical events have always been something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, getting in front of prospects face-to-face is more impactful than an email or call will ever be. In fact a massive 68% of B2B marketers back events as a key source to generate new leads (more than any other channel).

On the other hand, physical events have traditionally been a black-hole when it comes to analytics and reporting. Email and phone outreach have always been easy to track, which means they often attract more investment as there was more data to go off. Events are much harder to invest in because of the unknown - justifying them could often be more a leap of faith than a strategic decision.

To exacerbate this issue, events can get expensive quickly. Travel, hotels and tickets can quickly rack up a hefty bill before you even take into account the opportunity costs of having people away from desks. Sponsoring events magnifies this exponentially.

Unearthing data from physical events

Sales teams want to go to events and get in front of people, but how do they evidence the value of attending? And how do decision makers create a data-driven business case that gives stakeholders confidence as opposed to chalking them as a strategic cost?

Whilst it is important to think about your specific goals and what KPIs underpin them, there are some core metrics you should be collecting as a minimum nowadays:

  • How many new prospects have connected with the company at the event
  • How does this break down by individual members of the team
  • Who are these conversations with and are they within your ideal customer profile (ICP)
  • Which prospects are interacting well with your brand assets and sales collateral, both on the day and afterwards
  • How swift and effective is sales follow-up with prospects after the event
  • Which pieces of sales collateral are driving the best engagement

How can this data be captured effectively and efficiently? We have the answer.

The missing link: digital business cards

The key to unlocking rich analytics from events starts with digital business cards. This is your gateway to a plethora of touchpoints with attendees which you can track and link back to CRM activities.

Traditionally when sales and marketing teams have tried to measure ROI from events, the approach has been to treat the event as the first point of contact and count the number of qualified leads and conversions that arise from it. There has been no way to dig deeper into the micro-events that drive conversions.

To illustrate this, let’s compare a webinar to a physical event. With the webinar, you can instantly measure when someone registered, the channel they used, the content they were interested in, whether they watched to the end, whether they came back to re-watch anything on demand, whether they downloaded any attached assets, whether they engaged with any related webinars, whether they asked any questions, how they voted in polls, the list goes on…

By contrast, traditionally with physical events, you could only really count the number of business cards you received, mark the event as first point of contact and then track how many convert to customers.

Digital business cards solve this by transforming an offline event into a rich tapestry of digital data points that can be analysed, optimised and integrated with the rest of your sales and marketing systems.

The benefits of digital

So what do in-person events look like after you weave in digital business cards? Quite simply the impact of a physical event merged with the same depth of data as an online channel:

Engagement data from the point of meeting. This swaps “I’ll email you after the event” with the digital journey beginning with the first handshake.

Improved lead generation. We have seen 83% of digital card-enabled exchanges leading to a conversation, for example by email, LinkedIn or instant messaging like WhatsApp. This is a massive step in the right direction vs the traditional feeling of pulling out the 50 business cards that you’ve received at the end of a long all-day event, only for them to sit in a desk drawer for a week (88% of paper cards actually end up in the bin in 24 hours) without any action being taken.

Rich data from every content interaction. Find a digital business card that lets you attach assets like sales collateral and then analyse the way people interact with it - all of a sudden you have rich intent data which lets you flesh out persona information for your leads and fuel hyper-personalised follow up.

Enrich your prospect and client personas - as a team. Collaborate as a team during event by leaving quick notes against contacts. As one of your team ascertains information from a contact, so the note can instantly be left and be available for the next contact who meets the contact.

Finally, there is a way to layer the rich data from a digital channel with the impact you get from an in-person event.

Enjoying this blog? You’ll love our Smartcards, which offer rich engagement data and enterprise-ready scalability, not to mention an awesome first impression for anyone you meet. Learn more here

Giving sales teams the tools they want

This is paramount and goes much further than motivating teams or driving new leads. Accenture recently found that in wealth industries, 92% of sales teams will look at digital tools as a decision driver to join a new firm and that 47% said they would leave a job if the digital tools weren’t good enough. Arming sales teams with the top tools is more important than ever, and physical events have been overlooked in this regard for far too long.

Historically with sales outreach, the volume of phone calls and emails was easy to track, but the same couldn’t be said for events. Now that the narrative has shifted, it puts sales people in a stronger position to make the case by saying to their boss “there are 500 prospects attending this event, I can speak with 50 of them: let me prove it”.

On the day, you can get a better understanding of what delivers the best results in real time. Does speaking with everyone in the room work best or can 5 highly targeted conversations deliver higher returns? Gathering this kind of data lets you showcase what good looks like and then use the new insights to train the wider team.

Sales doesn’t end when the event finishes

Events also create a lot of sales admin in the aftermath. Digital business cards can now deal with a lot of the brunt of the low-value activities here. Automating data entry of contact details with direct CRM integration saves hours of manual effort and typing up meeting notes. Taking out the friction from follow-up communication further reduces workloads while increasing conversions.

Changes like this are easy to implement and help cut back on manual sales tasks which are time consuming and potentially demoralising. Instead, it can rev up sales teams - being able to see the results you have had and how it compares to the rest of the team can be a real positive motivator.

Finding the right card to meet your goals

Different digital business cards will open up different levels of features and analytics, so it is worth having your goals in mind when you start researching different offerings in the market.

General retail providers can be great for individuals who are just looking to land a decent first impression, but they tend to run into issues quickly though which rule them out for regulated industries like wealth and asset management: they generally struggle to get past IT, procurement and compliance. Additionally, they are unlikely to give you access to more advanced features such as the analytics you need to make the business case and accelerate sales opportunities.

Taking business cards to the next level

Enterprise-level providers tend to offer more functionality, which in turn means more opportunities to gather analytical data. A good example of this is our Smartcards which let you upload assets like videos, brochures and thought leadership content to your digital business card profile and track the engagement you get in depth.

Innovations like this help you calculate the ROI from events and see how much weight they carry in your sales pipeline alongside other channels. It also plays a crucial role in revving up the sales team - being able to see the results you have had and how it compares to the rest of the team can be a real motivator.

Want to learn more? Our Smartcards are the leading digital business cards for the wealth and asset management industries as well as a wide range of professional services. Talk to us if you’d like a showcase of their full functionality.