How Digital Marketing Can Help Replace In-Person Events

We recently had a client whose two major industry trade shows were cancelled. These events typically generate approximately half of their leads for the year. This challenged our agency to quickly pivot and think of creative ways to make up for those lost leads online. Working hand in hand with their management and marketing team, we’ve helped them to host several webinars and implement paid search and LinkedIn campaigns – tactics that are highly measurable and scalable – all within a few weeks.

Data intelligence company PredictHQ recently reported that in February 2020, concerns about the Coronavirus led to a 500% increase in cancellations and postponements of in-person events. More than two hundred of those events were considered high-impact – such as South by Southwest (SXSW). The number cancellations in March are expected to be even higher. It is estimated that the total lost revenue due to these cancelled events will easily be in the billions of dollars.

While the Coronavirus is interrupting many businesses – this is not like the financial crisis of 2008, when B2B marketing budgets were slashed. In fact, eMarketer is projecting increases in digital marketing, social media advertising and E-commerce – this is already happening in China. Business sectors like Information Technology, Cloud Solutions, Software and Telecom Providers are already seeing increased business as a result of this pandemic, as these sectors provide services that directly assist businesses trying to transition to remote workforces. American manufacturers are also expected to see long-term benefits as global supply chains are being interrupted.

Here are seven digital marketing tactics that B2B businesses can implement now to keep the leads flowing:

1. Google Ads – Year after year, Google Ads continue to deliver a strong ROI for our B2B clients. With Google, you can run search, display and retargeting campaigns, geo-targeted by state, city or even zip code. If you’re looking to get more granular, audience targeting allows you to run campaigns to specific size organizations like SMB or enterprise, or business categories like Aerospace or Data Centers. Plus, a new feature that we’re excited about is the ability to target companies that are performing multiple searches for a product or service – which Google calls“in-market”.

2. LinkedIn Ads – With a completely revamped advertising platform, LinkedIn is gives B2B marketers a powerful toolset to generate qualified leads. In fact, we recently posted a video about it! Two high performing ad types are sponsored posts and lead gen ads. Sponsored posts are great for promoting blog content, products or services to specific audiences. Lead Gen ads help you capture contact information from content offers using pre-populated short forms. Prospects can literally download a white paper or guide with one click, and you (the advertiser) receive their contact information. LinkedIn ads can be targeted by geography, demographics, job titles, and even certifications for technical buyers, such as engineers.

3. Host a Virtual Event – If you can’t present in-person, why not host educational webinars to communicate the information you were going to present at the trade shows? You can even have multiple sessions on different topics over the course of a day, much like trade show sessions. And if you typically make sales transactions at events, you can host a private E-commerce event with buying incentives for attendees. We recently did this for a client of ours and it was a great success! (learn more) (link to Reiss case study). GotoMeeting and Zoom are two of the leading video conferencing platforms that can help you host webinars and events online.

4. Create Videos – While you may not be able to produce videos with live shoots, talent and crews at this time – animated videos are a great option! With styles like whiteboards, motion graphics and stock videography, you can communicate your message in very creative and engaging ways. Visit our video portfolio here for some ideas.

5. Ramp Up Written Content – It seems there is never enough time to write quality content. If you have employees working from home, they may have extra time and can likely help with content writing. Or team up with an inbound marketing agency, to implement an integrated content strategy. Blogs, guides, case studies and white papers are all great B2B marketing tools for generating traffic and leads from search engines, plus they can all be used for sales outreach.

6. Freshen Up Prospect Lists – With the current work-from-home situation, many employees (and college students) will have more down time. This is a great time to review, cleanse and build your prospect email lists! And, while you’re at it, revisit your buyer personas, and start researching contacts that match their characteristics such as industry, company revenue and job title. LinkedIn is a great place to start.

7. Update Your Website – This is a great time to audit your website. Review your key pages and be sure your messaging and calls-to-actions are still aligned with your business strategy. Do you have any new customer case studies that can be added? Are your product and services pages up-to-date with your current offerings?

As businesspeople remain home and communicate in person less, they are spending more time than ever before on the Internet. This is an opportunity to engage these audiences, create virtual personal experiences, and keep the leads flowing for your business. There’s no doubt that those companies that quickly shift their strategies to digital marketing will be the ones that flourish.

If you want to learn any more about these topics, please feel free to contact Brainstorm today for a free consultation. We’re here to help.

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