By Julia Tiedt

Have you ever had your internet just break? Now more than ever in our lifetime, we have become so dependent on Wi-Fi for work, connection, health, and so much more. Without it, how would we have survived the last year? 

Because of COVID-19, companies have taken to the web to connect with new leads or host what were once in-person events virtually. It opens up a world of possibilities for us to attend events and connect with people in a way we wouldn’t have been able to before. 

To see even more success from your virtual efforts, consider incorporating an account-based marketing (ABM) approach into your online events. It really is the perfect recipe for getting the right people to your party. 

Understand your ABM audience.

Just as with inbound marketing, for an ABM campaign to be successful, you need to build it with your personas and their buyer’s journey in mind. Through a strong understanding of your ABM persona’s pain points and goals, you will be able to speak to them in a way that resonates with them—even if they have no idea of who you or your business are. 

During your persona development, it will also be important to build a strong understanding of the ways your target audience prefers to absorb information. When planning your virtual event, you should consider what you know about your audience to determine the length of the virtual event, how and where it is promoted, and what is discussed. 

Pro Tip: You can almost guarantee less-than-stellar results by using outdated lists of contacts. Remember that a contact database decays by about 22.5 percent per year. Use a current list when developing your ABM target lists, and supplement information where needed with tools such as ZoomInfo. 

Pick the right type of event.

This is critically important to the success of your virtual event and ABM campaign.

When it comes to virtual events, there are so many options. Do you want to hold a traditional webinar? Or how about one-on-one coffee meetings or a virtual wine tasting? Depending on your budget and the size of your team, the sky's the limit. When thinking about the type of event you want to host, consider what would be unique to your targeted audience. Because of COVID-19, the market is so saturated with webinars—is there something you could do to better stand out from the crowd?  

You will also want to consider your platform. The worst types of virtual events are the ones that crash. Make sure that the platform you chose can accommodate the audience you are hoping for and the style of event you’re planning. For example, do you need slide presentation or polling capabilities? 

Pro Tip: Picking the right event goes beyond just the virtual planning and promotion components. You should also take into account your target personas’ schedules. For instance, I had a client that was throwing a virtual happy hour for their ABM targets and discussing some really cool product features. While they had a lot of leads register, only one person showed up to the actual event. My client didn’t do their due diligence and planned their event the same week as the culmination of a massive project for their targets. People wanted to come, but couldn’t because of timing. 

Adapt your content. 

Keeping an audience engaged in a live setting is incredibly hard. This difficulty is amplified greatly when hosting an online event. When planning the content for your event, consider what is going to keep your audience’s attention best, and make sure your event has a clearly defined and promoted purpose. 

At SmartBug®, we have found that a live debate makes for extremely helpful information and also great, helpful content. 

For your online event, is there an influencer you could invite to speak that would draw your ABM crowd? Or would your audience respond best to a structured panel or loose “ask me anything” happy hour? Even the most low-key events need to have a solid plan to keep the audience engaged. 

Measure your success.

Marketing, unfortunately, isn’t always about creating winning campaigns the first time around. Fortunately for modern marketing and ABM, we can use the data and analytics we collect to continue to grow better. 

After your virtual event wraps up—including post-event lead nurturing—review the data. How was registration? How many people showed up? Was there one email that was more effective than other emails? Why? What was the overall ROI of the event? Take this information and put it into play for your next event. 

The next time you are planning a virtual event or thinking about your next ABM sprint, consider incorporating ABM into your online event strategy to see the most success with the best audience for your business. 

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Julia Tiedt

About the author

Julia Tiedt is a Minneapolis-based Inbound Marketing Manager for SmartBug Media. With a background in agency marketing, she specializes in lead generation, lead nurturing, sales enablement, and content-based tactics that focus on her client's sales and marketing goals. Read more articles by Julia Tiedt.

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