The 23 Best B2B Event Marketing and Lead Generation Ideas [+ Tips to Take Your Strategy Hybrid]

July 2, 2021
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What takes a B2B event to next-level greatness? What elements make it a truly memorable experience that stays in people’s minds long after it’s over? While brainstorming your B2B event marketing ideas, these types of questions should be at the top of your mind.

Your best B2B event marketing strategy can’t succeed without being seamlessly aligned with event objectives. This includes how your B2B lead generation ideas are going to connect to the bigger picture — and result in the highest amount of conversions.

From product demonstrations to virtual marketing ideas to leveraging and maintaining client trust, we’ve whipped up the most innovative types of event marketing and lead generation ideas to make your event as successful as possible with bonus insight from one of the leading voices in the space, Skift Director of Events, Regina Yuen.

First Things First: Set Objectives as Part of Your B2B Event Marketing Strategy

Great events aren’t a fluke — they’re executed after thoughtful, thorough planning. You aren’t simply creating an event to have an event, but to fulfill your event objectives. An important goal is to generate as many leads as possible.

When brainstorming the types of event marketing you can use to meet your goals, keep the following questions in mind:

  • Who are your customers and what do they need?
  • How can you best target and attract your leads?
  • What are your marketing goals vs. event goals?
  • What type of event (virtual, hybrid, in-person) best suits the needs of your customer base?
  • How are you planning to engage with your customers before, during, and after the event to boost lead conversion?
  • What types of content will help you engage customers and achieve your goals?
  • What data are you tracking to assist with future lead generation?

Establishing your objectives before you start planning will make the process much smoother. At every stage, you’ll understand why you need what you need, and how it will directly contribute to your goals.

Whether you have held successful events for years or are just starting to dig into the potential, consider how the past year of virtual and hybrid event trends have changed your brand’s and customers’ needs. Which virtual marketing ideas can you apply to your events, even if they are hybrid or in-person?

Taking stock of all available resources will round out your event. The more inclusive and thoughtful you are, the more your audience will notice and respond accordingly.

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Innovative B2B Event Marketing Ideas to Knock Your Event Out of the Park

Based on your established event objectives, find ways to incorporate these innovative B2B event marketing ideas in a way that fits your unique brand and your event type.

While there is a lot of great inspiration for B2B events available to you, knowing your audience will help you quickly determine which ideas work best for you, and which don’t quite fit the bill. That’s why being sure of your goals first is essential to a successful event that generates leads.

B2B Event Marketing Idea #1) Look for Big-Name Sponsors to Partner With

This may not be a new marketing idea, but today it can look a bit different with the many options for going virtual. A sponsorship with a big-name partner can make your event explode. Think about the list of events you’re planning to attend this year: What drew you in? Did you see a speaker attending that you love? Did the list of sponsors establish credibility for a newer or smaller company you’ve never heard of? 

It can be a comfort to see a brand partner with one that you love. Historically, huge partnerships like Starbucks and Spotify, or Apple and Nike, are smart combinations that boost experiences for customers and help both partners flex their strengths for success.

Today, partners can be anyone from familiar brands to beloved social media influencers. Look to your audience for guidance on this one.

B2B Event Marketing Idea #2) “Do It Live” With Product Demonstrations (Don’t Pitch)

Product demos are common at B2B events these days, so it can help to reference big unveilings for inspiration. Remember when Steve Jobs first unveiled the iPhone? Or when the first Kindle came out? Seeing a product in action helps attendees visualize how it works — and be sure to offer plenty of examples, uses, and scenarios to inspire them.

Some of the most classic product demos took place on a stage, so there’s plenty of in-person inspiration to draw from. If you’re thinking virtual or hybrid, though, there are many immersive ways to walk through a demonstration using video and event platform software. 

This gives you the creative freedom to show off all the great features of your product and make it interactive for your audience.

Skift Director of Events, Regina Yuen, has been keen to prevent the “salesy” feel from brandishing the travel company’s events by incorporating short “brand talks” where sponsors can simply speak to an audience without actually selling something.

“We have a lot of brands that really want to just speak and have that ten minutes of stage time. But it’s not a pitch, it is insight that they offer,” Yuen said.

B2B Event Marketing Idea #3) Use an Event App for Constant Engagement

Place this at the top of your digital marketing ideas for events: When it comes to keeping your attendees informed, engaged, and involved, an event app is unmatched. These apps allow you to create a custom, branded experience with schedules, information, bios, exclusive content, videos, networking, and more. And, of course, it can all be accessed anytime from a smartphone. 

An event app is not just for virtual or hybrid events, of course. It can be a fantastic tool for in-person event engagement, including relevant notifications, tags, and themes for helping attendees find particular sessions or to aid with travel reminders.

Engagement is in. Read Why Experiential Marketing Reigns Supreme in a Hybrid Event Driven World.

B2B Event Marketing Idea #4) Let Your Clients and Customers Make Decisions and Do the Talking

When we say let your clients and customers do the talking, we don’t just mean on your event platform or via networking — although this is equally as important. What about actually giving them a platform to speak and share their expertise or experiences?

Giving your guests a forum to speak on topics they know best takes interaction and engagement to a whole new level. You might get the attendance of their associates and customers, too, while introducing them to yours. Both of you will gain knowledge and a new platform.

What if you let your customers apply to speak at your event about how they use your product or service? Their stories or unique ways they use the product will make the event feel more real and relatable, with long-lasting takeaways.

Don’t wait for the event to start to let your attendees have a say, either. Yuen says her team has seen great success with letting guests determine what topics should be discussed through pre-event surveys.

“We found that attendees like to presubmit topics that they want to discuss for our future events. So we collect that and go back to our editorial team and say, “Okay, these are topics that our attendees want to hone in on and learn more about.” We find that useful because they are talking to us and we are trying to always listen to them,” says Yuen.

B2B Event Marketing Idea #5) Give VIPs Something Extra

Who is a VIP? You decide! Consider offering special VIP tickets with exclusive access to speakers, content, or opportunities. Perhaps your VIPs can access virtual content after the event, have one-on-one opportunities, or participate in curated small group activities. 

Brainstorm what types of content you can take to a higher level, because VIP guests can provide you with a revenue boost. They can also give you a social media boost if you plan to provide VIP access to any particular influencers or attendees.

Don’t underestimate the power of your content either. Especially if you are taking advantage of a virtual event platform with on-demand capabilities. Offer up a chance to watch your last event for free to drive interest in you next event.

“We have something called SkiftPro and SkiftResearch, and those you have to subscribe to on a monthly or annual basis,” Yuen said. “We normally give those people exclusive discounts to all of our events. But for our summit, because the events go on-demand, we’ve given these subscribers free access to our previous event. We noticed that with seeing how the last event went, they were more inclined to register for the next event.”

B2B Event Marketing Idea #6) Give Networking a Face Lift With Innovative Initiatives

Networking could use an upgrade. With creative ways to encourage meetups and discussions, provide a built-in icebreaker for attendees and more meaningful connections. Casual networking opportunities — like the happy hour and trivia night hosted by Young Professionals of Seattle — can create a fun, stress-free way to get to know your peers and other businesses.

You also can coordinate volunteer opportunities, games, physical activities, or events centered on food as unique ways to bring people together and allow them to achieve a level of comfort and familiarity before bringing business into the mix.

If your event is virtual or hybrid, create breakout rooms where smaller groups in similar industries can chat and interact with each other. 

With some platforms, participants can be matched by similar interests and skills to create a more specific networking experience and unlock new business opportunities.

B2B Event Marketing Idea #7) Give Your Attendees Some Swag

Swag is an essential part of any successful event. Usable, long-lasting items can continually make an impression on guests, but so can out-of-the-box, memorable experiences. This Twitter user showed off her neatly organized sock drawer to followers, made up of swag from Microsoft, DocuSign, and more.

Swag also can include branded coffee mugs and reusable water bottles, sweatshirts, laptop stickers, or candy. Think of all the ways you can imagine your attendees sharing their swag experience with others on social media.

Virtual and hybrid events can offer swag too — digital swag! Give your attendees gift cards, featured webinars, guides, or other exclusive content and insider info. This way, you can simultaneously nurture leads and track conversions.

B2B Event Marketing Idea #8) Create Trendy, Taggable Moments

What makes your event yours? Popular tech companies such as Microsoft, Apple, or Adobe often use their annual events for product launches or other exclusive, trending moments. What sort of activity, event, or fun moment can you create that people will look forward to year after year?

For the best success, create a hashtag for this moment and use it across social media platforms. Encourage your attendees and participants to use it too.

Establishing your own trend and embracing it gives guests something to look forward to, and something that makes your event stand out. Over time, attendees will forge their own relationship with this trend and it will continue to grow. Bonus points for photo-worthy, newsworthy ideas that make headlines in your community.

Using experiential marketing tactics to capitalize on “Instagrammable” moments can let your attendees do the marketing work for you. Learn more about Why Experiential Marketing Reigns Supreme in a Hybrid Event Driven World.

B2B Event Marketing Idea #9) Got a Lot to Say? Make a Podcast

Podcasts are a big event marketing trend that could generate a lot of interest in your brand. Podcast followers are dedicated to their channels of choice, and business-related topics are among the most popular.

If you have some experts on your team willing to sit down weekly and discuss various industry topics with a microphone and computer, you can create a lot of value for current and potential clients.

These experts also can promote events and products, and depending on how popular the channel gets among customers, they can be a part of networking or VIP meet-and-greet opportunities.

B2B Event Marketing tips

The Top Lead Generation Ideas for B2B Marketing Teams to Infuse Into Their Strategy

Your events will only benefit from additional lead generation and conversion tactics in your B2B marketing strategy. Incorporating these virtual marketing ideas into your B2B events will help you engage your audience and grow your customer base, before, during, and after your events.

Here are the best and most effective B2B lead generation ideas to consider using with your event marketing techniques.

B2B Lead Generation Idea #1) White Papers With Industry-Leading Research and Trends

By providing real value to prospective clients through white papers that include industry-leading trends and research, you’ll position your brand as a trustworthy source for reliable information.

Providing these as part of an event, and asking prospective clients to give their email addresses and other valuable information in exchange for high-quality information is a popular B2B lead generation method. But it’s only successful if the quality of the content is evident.

If white papers are your bread and butter, use them to gain event registrations! Yuen has found Skift’s popular research reports have a lot to offer when attracting attendees.

“A lot of people are interested in our research reports, so we’ve incorporated bundles– a registration ticket + a report–into our event registration,” said Yuen. “For a recent event we also did a one-minute sizzle reel for a report that boosted registration.”

B2B Lead Generation Idea #2) Get People Using Your Product for Free, Monetize Them Later

Offering free basic accounts with your product or service or limited trials can be a powerful B2B lead generation tool. Putting your brand in a potential customer’s hands is arguably the easiest way for you to demonstrate the real-world value of what you offer, and you can monetize later through premium features or paid upgrades.

No matter the format of your event — in-person, virtual, or hybrid — brainstorm ways to make it interactive. Allowing room for questions or opportunities to prompt you to use the product in a certain way are just a few effective virtual marketing ideas.

B2B Lead Generation Idea #3) Make Your Customer’s Life Easy by Building Templates, RFTPs, and Pre-Formatted Spreadsheets

Making the life of a potential customer easier in some way isn’t just a good lead generation idea, it’s the tried and true way to spark interest.

If you can reduce or eliminate a pain point through pre-built templates, RFTPs, or pre-formatted spreadsheets that they can use in their day-to-day, it will keep your brand on their mind in a positive way, and you may be rewarded for your efforts with a quality lead. 

Consider offering this in combination with free trials or samples of your product.

B2B Lead Generation Idea #4) Create a Webinar Series in Which You Offer Solutions to an Industry Problem (Preferably Using Your Product/Service)

Webinars are a great lead generation idea, enabling you to talk directly to your ideal audience and begin nurturing deeper relationships.

Address current industry pain points, using your brand as a tool for streamlining or otherwise eliminating the issue. Look for webinar providers and virtual event platforms that allow for 1:1 customer interaction, chat, and other audience engagement tools for maximum effect.

B2B Lead Generation Idea #5) Develop Case Studies and Share With a Virtual Component or Comprehensive Written Content

Case studies that demonstrate how your brand can save money, increase efficiency, or reduce workload are popular lead generation tools.

When presented with a virtual component, get your case study results directly in front of the people who will stand to gain the most value from them.

B2B Lead Generation Idea #6) Leverage Trust By Showcasing Your Highest Profile Customers and Their Positive Reviews of Your Service (if Allowed)

If you have high-profile or other noteworthy customers, don’t be shy. By demonstrating that a prominent client has faith in your brand and positive things to say, you organically build trust in other potential customers’ minds. I’m sure all of us can recall a time where we relied on the reviews of others before purchasing or signing up for something.

Ask notable clients if they would be willing to provide a testimonial or third-party review, then post to your website, use it on marketing collateral, and include it in events to enhance your lead generation efforts.

B2B Lead Generation Idea #7) Leverage Your Own Company as a Model for Success and Experimentation That Other Business Owners Can See First-Hand

Don’t be afraid to turn the spotlight on yourself and show other organizations what you did to achieve your success as a lead generation tactic. 

Using yourself as a business model and allowing others to benefit from your learned experiences — and mistakes — builds trust and attracts leads.

B2B Lead Generation Idea #8) Develop Visual Image Content That’s Highly Shareable Such as Infographics, Checklists, and Professional Quotes

Highly shareable content is a great way to expand your audience, build your brand, and boost your position as a reliable source of information.

Every time someone sees the visual, and the value, they will also see your brand. Informative infographics, checklists, professional quotes, and the occasional meme are just some of the value-add elements you can include.

B2B Lead Generation Idea #9) Create a Course Taught by an Expert

If you’re an industry expert, consider teaching a course about an important issue or element in your sector. If you aren’t an expert, don’t despair. Sponsoring an expert to teach a course can be an equally effective B2B lead generation method.

B2B Lead Generation Idea #10) Create Giveaway and Social Share Contests That Encourage New and Returning Customers to Market for You

Giveaways and social share contests are engaging and effective lead generation ideas that benefit from current customer testimonials. They can also create buzz ahead of your event.

When existing and returning customers share your contest on social media, they’re saying they like your brand. Those endorsements can go a long way when it comes to attracting quality leads. 

Potential or current customers also do the lead generation work for you when they are required to tag or share the contest as part of the entry process.

B2B Lead Generation Idea #11) Include CTAs on All of Your Content

Sometimes the simplest way to get what you want is to ask for it. If you want email addresses, ask event attendees to consider signing up for your monthly newsletter, to be alerted anytime you post new content, or for a free trial. 

B2B Lead Generation Idea #12) Send Cold Emails and Then Follow Up, a Lot

Cold emails can be effective if you’re prepared to follow up. Seems obvious, right? But you’d be surprised to learn not everyone does this well.

Most organizations follow up once or twice, but Woodpecker found cold emails needed twice the follow up – and generated 3x the reply rate. 

Want to boost your email success? Check out these 16 Event Email Templates to Drive Attendance & Increase Engagement in 2021.

B2B Lead Generation Idea #13) Don’t Reinvent the Wheel, Repurpose It.

Creating new content is great, but don’t forget about existing content. Refreshed and repurposed content can be a great way to attract new leads and engage audiences. 

Analyze what content has been most successful in attracting leads, and find ways to plug it into events and distribute it across other channels.

B2B Lead Generation Idea #14) If You’ve Got the Money, PPC Brings the Leads

If you know your target audience and your budget allows for it, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads can generate quality leads in next to no time.

Be sure only to target your ideal customer’s locations, whether those are digital or physical. If you don’t put in the work to set specific targets, you may find yourself wasting money with little return.

b2b event marketing strategy for online events

Tips to Take Your B2B Event Marketing Strategy Virtual or Hybrid

The right virtual platform can take your events to new levels, whether they’re fully online or hybrid. Fortunately, the types of software available today are sophisticated enough to help you seamlessly translate your in-person event goals and types of event marketing in a variety of ways.

With the right tools, you might even be able to make more of an impact on your audience virtually. These virtual marketing ideas will boost your B2B events and conversion rate.

Choose the Right Virtual Event Platform

You need a robust virtual event platform to bring your most creative ideas to light. What does the “right” platform look like? It allows you to create personalized experiences with your brand. 

It lets you integrate other video software and tools for a smooth experience, and it’s packed with engagement tools like Q&As, polling, and instant feedback that enhance both virtual and hybrid events.

Identify Ways to Connect With Attendees 1:1

Many people misunderstand virtual or hybrid events because they feel they’ll miss this key element: connections with others. That’s why you need a virtual event platform that offers many tools to give your events a personal feel, where you’re engaging directly with your audience, forming connections, and networking.

These tools can help create more intimate experiences:

  • Breakout sessions for workshops or brainstorming
  • Exchange contact details with nearby users
  • Connect on discussion boards
  • One-on-one chat or group chats
  • Initiate conversations with your attendees, with options for messaging, ratings, questions, and more

Provide Access to a Resource Center

An event app can significantly cut down on your paper trail. Instead of printed brochures, maps, or agendas, you can create a resource center in your event app to provide all useful information in one place.

How can you go about creating this resource center? With certain event management tools, you can build:

These tools will help streamline all processes associated with your event and make it simpler for attendees to find sessions and stay organized.

When it comes to digestible content, consider hosting all of your applicable documents and assets in a gated resource center for attendees and leads to sign up or pay for. Better yet, use all that on-demand content from your event to sell the complete, on-demand version if people missed out on the live version.

“There’s a huge request for having all content on-demand,” Yuen said. “We attract a lot of global participants as well, so on-demand is very important to those attendees. As a secondary revenue stream, we then offer the on-demand event for a price following the live version.” 

Lean Into the Virtual and Hybrid Elements

There’s a real “virtual advantage” that should be addressed: the ability to reach more people, potentially from all over the world. While some virtual events benefit from trying to get as close as possible to an in-person experience, fully embracing the virtual benefits of any event type can be exciting. 

Using all the unique tools a robust virtual event platform has — including the ability to integrate with your CMS or easily connect to all the familiar video live streams and apps your speakers may prefer — you can create an incredible, immersive experience for attendees that they won’t soon forget. 

It will also allow you to track attendee engagement in a way not previously possible at solely in-person events.

Find Every Opportunity for Audience Interaction

What makes an experience truly “immersive”? Taking every opportunity for audience interaction. Pack your event with chat options, polls, reactions, and activity challenges

With every element or session you build, ask yourself how you can incorporate audience involvement and explore the tools that make this easy during a virtual or hybrid event.

Make Your B2B Events and Lead Generation Strategy a Success with a Robust Virtual Event Platform

With a platform as vibrant and expansive as SpotMe, you can expect your virtual or hybrid event to turn out the same way. Let your creativity run wild with your virtual marketing ideas because you can trust your event platform to deliver them seamlessly, allowing you to clearly track your conversions.

Use these B2B lead generation ideas and digital marketing ideas for events to create a multifaceted, engaging event that is guaranteed to produce interest and a long-lasting impact.

Start a free trial of SpotMe today so you can dig into the features and see for yourself how the platform will support all your boldest digital marketing ideas for your events.

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