If the growth in popularity of inbound marketing has inspired you to improve your efforts, you need to start developing a strong strategy that defines which channels are most profitable for your organization.

The increasing shift towards online/web marketing and commerce has given many businesses an audience reach they never imagined. However the nature of certain industries forces them to suffer more from the gap between online marketing and the more traditional marketing methods that come with having a necessary physical market presence. The manufacturing industry, which naturally deals with highly technical and mechanical products that are most often produced and sold on a large scale, faces this obstacle in the increasingly digital world.

In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s ‘B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America,’ 71% of manufacturing marketers still consider in-person events the number one most effective marketing tactic. In addition, Software Advice reports that trade shows are considered the most effective marketing tactic, claiming in their ‘B2B Demand Generation Benchmark Industry View 2014’ that 77% of the B2B marketers surveyed indicated that they generated either very high or a somewhat high quantity of leads. Meanwhile, 82% generated leads of good or excellent quality. This may come as a surprise, especially since in general reports indicate that digital channels have surpassed traditional media. These numbers can’t be ignored, however. Furthermore, we strongly believe that good marketing means determining the most effective marketing channels and maximizing them. There’s no gain in denying or undermining the value of in-person events and manufacturing trade shows–they are important in the industrial sector. In fact, although in-person events are not conventionally considered part of inbound marketing methodology, here at Sozialia, we view them as embracing foundational inbound concepts. We’re not alone, either: Econsultancy believes that live events are actually an extension of a company’s brand and content marketing; and, the 2012 IDC Tech Marketing Benchmarks Study found that 1/5 of digital marketing budget was spent on marketing events. Regardless of your position on the definition of “inbound” and whether in-person events qualify, this article is going to give you 5 practical tips for aligning your manufacturing inbound strategies with the marketing of your in-person events, leveraging your digital presence for better results:

1. Focus Your Efforts on Social Networking Platforms –You should
become active on social networks before, during and after the event to
guarantee your success. For instance, you can use Twitter to engage and
connect with attendees in real-time. Create a hashtag, schedule tweets,
build Twitter lists, and don’t forget to tweet live from the event. You can
even use LinkedIn to promote a registration page if any or have LinkedIn
Groups generate a buzz around your event.

2. Use Email Marketing to Communicate with Attendees – Email is used
by inbound marketers to keep followers up-to-date on significant
developments. You can have a series of emails to stay connected with
people interested in attending and those who’ll actually be there. For
instance, you can announce the event in the first email, send another for
RSVPs, and finally conclude this series of emails with a reminder.

3. Work on the Event’s SEO –To make your event visible to people
interested in what you offer, you can tap into the power of SEO and use
keywords and relevant search terms in upcoming blog posts and social
networking posts. Your hashtags can also include keywords as well as your
event’s name, type and location. Through these, your visibility to search
engines and searchers alike will increase.

4. Use Landing Pages for Your Events – In addition to mentioning the
event on your company’s website, create separate landing pages that are
entirely dedicated to the event and its different aspects such as why the
event was established and your upcoming agenda. Complement this
landing page with link to an event dedicated social media profile or
hashtag campaign. Dedicated landing pages like this one are a great way
to market and build traffic to your main site as well as your contact list.

5. Always Follow Up – Don’t forget to follow up in a timely manner on
everyone who attended. Studies have shown a 2% difference in open rate
and 44% difference in click-to-open rate just between the first vendor to
follow up and the third vendor to follow up. This is where marketing
automation can help. At the event your can use an iPad with a custom app,
or even the Mailchimp app, that is open and ready to register emails. Once
the event is finished you just have to export the emails and import them
into the marketing automation tool so that you can create a segmented list
for following up with contact from that specific event.

To ensure the success of in-person events, you need inbound marketing. While the event itself allows you to interact with prospects face-to-face and give them a firsthand sense of your company’s focus and personality, inbound marketing makes the event memorable and ensures their attendance. On average, 29% of the marketing budget allocated to in-person events is for digital marketing aspects, these five tips can ensure high ROI for your efforts. Go ahead and start making in-person inbound.

Maureen Dillon is an inbound marketing consultant with a focus on the manufacturing and industrial sectors at Sozialia, a San Francisco based company specializing in inbound marketing strategy development and implementation. Sozialia helps clients maximize online lead to prospect to customer conversion by building a consistent, multi-channel inflow of traffic, leads, and, ultimately, customers. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.


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