07.17.2018 B2B Marketing

How Outreach doubled their event attendance with digital event ads

Alternative Text By: Bogdan Zlatkov

If you’re evaluating digital marketers, there’s really one tell tale sign that separates the novices from the pros: the quality of their measurement.

Pretty much all digital marketers will have some type of measurement in place, but the quality of that measurement can vary drastically. We’ve all heard about vanity metrics and how we can be misled by them. But what are those vanity metrics? Should click-through rates (CTR) really be our north star? Or should it be impressions? Or conversions?

Those are the questions that Outreach had to figure out if they were to be successful with their big event, Unleash 2018.

This year, Outreach, a customer engagement platform that helps companies improve the efficiency of their sales funnel, was putting together one of their biggest events to date.

Unleash 2018 was going to be an incredible event where top sales leaders joined Navy Seals on an island near San Diego, California. The event would feature top performance coaches like Joseph McClendon III and retired navy SEAL Jocko Willink.

Sounds pretty incredible, right?

 

The Challenge

The problem was that even with a superstar speaker lineup, in a location resembling paradise, it was still a big ask for Outreach’s customers and prospects to take time out of the schedules and travel to Unleash.

While the marketing emails successfully spread the word about the event, they simply weren’t enough to drive conversions for such a big purchase. Through some experimentation, however, the Outreach team did discover that personal interactions paired with event awareness campaigns was a much better tactic at getting registrations.

Specifically, after listening to countless call recordings, the marketing team identified that when people had heard about the event in advance, they were much more likely to be receptive to a personal invitation by a customer-facing rep.

The question now was how to keep the event top of mind consistently?

 

An upgrade was needed

How could the Outreach marketing team keep Unleash top of mind without sending more marketing emails? This is when they turned to targeted display advertising for the additional air cover they needed.

They chose to run their ads on AdRoll (now RollWorks) because they could be very precise with their targeted audience and also use advanced attribution to track view-through conversions closely.

 

The new game plan

Outreach began to run targeted display ads that they would evaluate based on view-through conversions. They chose view-through conversions as their metric for a few reasons:

  • They didn’t expect many people to make such a large commitment directly from engaging with a single ad (similar to running ads for car purchases, for example, the conversion doesn’t happen right away, but is still influenced by the ads seen)
  • The audience was very tightly controlled so they could track their event registrations against their ads quite easily
  • They could also verify that the ads were increasing awareness by listening to call recordings

 

Their digital marketing strategy was set up for 3 audience segments:

    • All existing active users of the Outreach platform
    • All visitors to the Unleash landing page
    • All confirmed registrations via tag on the eventbrite confirmation page

They then ran 3 types of ads to attract different types of visitor personas from each of these segments.

 

FOMO digital event ads

The first type of ad was targeted at people who want to be part of their peer group. These “Fear of Missing Out” (or FOMU as they called it, fear of missing Unleash) ads work very well because they encourage high-performers to join other high-performers. After all, part of what makes a seller successful is that drive to compete with his/her peers.

Early Bird digital event ads

The next type of ad they ran was for the deal seekers and procrastinators. They wanted to encourage people to register for the event early so that they would know what their headcount would be. Providing a limited discount was a good way to encourage them to sign up sooner rather than later.

 

Retargeting event ads

The final type of ad they set up was a retargeting ad. This ad would be served to those who had visited the event page, but hadn’t converted yet.

This is the must-have ad for any digital ad campaign because, like we mentioned above, it is highly unlikely you’ll secure a conversion on the first visit. By setting up retargeting ads, Outreach was able to stay top of mind to those high-intent visitors until they were ready to pull the trigger and reserve their spot.

 

Measuring the results of their event ads

If Outreach measured their results with the traditional vanity metric of click-through, their campaign would have looked like a complete disaster. In fact, they had less than 5 click-through conversions throughout their whole campaign.

But, since Outreach used view-through conversions as their primary metric for this campaign, they were able to see just how big of an impact the digital ad campaign had on their event. More than 50% of the people who registered for the event had seen their ads.

And Outreach didn’t just stop there. They actually collected qualitative data on the ad campaign by having their sales reps ask customers and prospects if they had heard of the Unleash conference.

Before the ads ran they received a lot of silent stares and questions about, “what’s Unleash?” But, after their ads ran they were greeted with, “Oh yeah I keep hearing about that! It looks awesome!”

 

Next Steps

If you’re curious about how other companies are running their ad campaigns, be sure to read through the Big Book of ABM Campaigns. It features 5 companies and how they ran their actual campaigns as well as how they’d change them if they could.

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Alternative Text By: Bogdan Zlatkov

Tags: b2b, b2b ads, b2b marketing, event ads, events