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HubSpot Impact Award Platform Excellence

How We Helped Ashling Partners Use a Digital Overlay at an In-Person Event to Increase MQLs


A global hyperautomation team benefited from a creative inbound approach, using QR codes and completing forms through HubSpot landing pages at an in-person event to drive MQLs.

Number Of People Who Stopped By Their Booth YoY


New MQLs from the conference


Demo requests after the conference



Hosted by UiPath, the FORWARD 5 Conference is one of the largest gatherings, celebrations, and “academies” in the automation industry.

Here, attendees gain the skills they need to advance their business operations, find sources of information to fuel transformation, and connect with like-minded innovators driving automation forward.

Ashling Partners—one of the largest intelligent automation (IA) service providers in North America—reached out to the SmartBug team to help them make a mark on the conference, increase MQL numbers from the previous year, and contribute to their MQL goal for the second half of the current year.

“We knew we had an aggressive goal of new leads and were going to need an omnichannel approach to hitting that goal.” – Don Sweeney, co-Founder

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The Problem

Moving Beyond Business Cards in a Fish Bowl

Having experienced lower-than-expected booth visitor rates at the previous year’s conference, Ashling Partners needed a solution to draw in more leads with potentially excellent matches (considering the organizations in attendance). We also saw this as an excellent opportunity to contribute to our goal of MQLs for July-December of that year.

We were aware of three key attributes:

  • Many other organizations were going to be using outdated contact collection approaches
  • 95-99% of visitors would be on mobile devices
  • We couldn’t use a significant number of props according to conference rules
So we decided to create a digital overlay on an in-person event.

“Having a digital aspect to an in-person event would facilitate strong email delivery and engagement rates after the event concluded

Alexandra Runjo
Director of Marketing
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Automation Around the World

We locked in on an interactive “experience” through the world of automation called Automation Around the World. Conference-goers checked in at different Ashling Partners events to get four passport stamps by scanning a QR code to enter to win “Two Tickets to Paradise” (two flights to the Caribbean).
To get fast-tracked to all four stamps, users could stop by and scan the QR code at their main booth (“Base Camp”).

As soon as an attendee checked in from a QR code, the journey primarily took place in HubSpot’s Marketing Hub:

  • First, they were taken to a HubSpot landing page to complete a form. Every page was mobile-optimized and included travel-themed Lottie animations.
  • From there, they were put into a workflow which increased a custom property (Passport Stamp) to notate how many check-ins they had, then deployed the correct email aligned with one of the four stamps. Each email included a GIF of the number of stamps stamping the guest’s passport.
  • Finally, the thank you message after the initial form submission took the user to a “Upgrade to First Class” page that allowed them to self-select that they want a personalized demo of Ashling Partners’ tools and skills after the event.

    “The last-minute change to have contacts upgrade to first class worked out well. We were able to highlight to our sales team the first contacts to prioritize reaching out to following the event.” – Mike DeLeonardis, Chief Growth Officer.

ashling_partners_email_stamp_4 (3)


The Results

Shooting Far Beyond Our Goals

Over the course of the four-day conference, we saw the following numbers:

  • Ashling Partners gained 183 NEW MQLs from the conference.
  • 89 people stopped by the Ashling Partners main booth and scanned in or provided their contact information through a participant badge scan.
  • 18 people “upgraded to first class” by requesting a personalized demo after the event.
  • 164 people checked into Ashling Partners’ off-site event, PALOOZA, on the first night of the conference.

All in all, Ashling Partners had one of the busiest showings of the conference when it came to the number of people engaging at Base Camp and their breakout-style sessions. Not only did they far exceed their expected numbers at the conference, but they also made a major dent in their overall MQL goals for the second half of the year.

“The strong showing at FORWARD 5 helps us refine our marketing approach for [the upcoming year] and beyond. We are thrilled to continue our partnership with SmartBug and continue the momentum from this event.” – Marshall Sied, co-Founder.


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