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Fran RugoApril 24, 20245 min read

Marketer to marketer: 11 takeaways for hosting successful ABM events

We recently hosted a handful of intimate ABM events with the goal of further engaging leads and accelerating marketing opportunities we had in our pipeline. 

Our events focused on different topics, but all were based around a theme, designed to allow for casual conversations and interaction.  We chose the event topic based on the behaviors that our ABM accounts had shown over the past 3 or 4 months so we knew they would be interested in our event. We wanted these events to be interactive and fun – not just another presentation for our attendees to sit through. So, we held a fun, hands-on class aligned to our theme plus had an open discussion around different topics related to improving campaign results. 

Overall, these events have been a great success for our team, and we learned a lot along the way.  

Here are some of our top takeaways for hosting ABM events that move the needle:

1. Start engaging your target account list well before the event.

Cold contacts aren’t likely to register for an event like these. Get your target account list familiar with your brand by reaching them through multichannel campaigns for a couple of months before you send them an event invitation. We found success engaging target accounts through LinkedIn ads and email campaigns. 

2. Focus on engaged contacts.  

Don’t invite your entire account list, but instead keep your event invites exclusive to those contacts who are already engaging. To start, you have to set a threshold for what an engaged contact is before you create your target account list. For us, we found the most success by inviting contacts who engage across multiple channels and have engaged with 3 or more emails. These people tended to be the most interactive during the event as well. 

3. Align with your sales teams.  

To make the event as valuable as possible for the target accounts, we worked with our sales team to choose a topic based on the intent data the accounts have shown interest in and any past conversations they’ve had with sales.  

4. Invite a current customer.  

Having current customers who can act as your advocate at the event can be very helpful. They can help get the conversation rolling. By sharing their real experiences and how your solutions helped solve their pain points, they can really illustrate the benefits your company is able to provide without it feeling like a sales pitch. The other attendees will likely have similar pain points so getting to hear from another marketer experiencing the same challenges can really have an impact. Plus, marketers are relying heavily on peer reviews in the buying journey. According to the Outlook for B2B Marketing: A Market in Transformation, 44% of marketers report that peer reviews and user-generated content play a greater role in the purchase decision-making process.

5. Prioritize inviting accounts with marketing opportunities.

Most of the time, marketing opportunities provide more engagement during the event than other engaged contacts. The accounts that already have marketing opportunities are probably more familiar with your company and are more confident about their needs since they are usually further along in their buying journey.  

We found that having these accounts in the room actually drives more conversation from the entire group as a whole because the other attendees are more comfortable speaking up when there is another participant who is also sharing during the event.  

6. A personal touch makes all the difference.  

We had a lot of success with more personalized invites. We went beyond standard invite emails and had our VP of integrated marketing reach out personally to our target accounts on LinkedIn with a personalized message inviting them to the event. We got several more signups this way than when we sent standard invites. 

7. Be mindful of capping attendance.  

We recommend limiting the event to 15 people, so everyone has space to participate. Remember that things come up and some people may end up not coming so you don’t want to limit the event too much either. Keeping it around 10-15 attendees will help you strike the perfect balance.  

8. Keep the event short.  

You know that your prospects are busy, so you don’t want your event to be a time burden on your target accounts. We suggest scheduling the event for 45 minutes or less. A shorter virtual event is easier for attendees to commit to.  

We recognize that our target accounts are likely bombarded with event opportunities, so to make our virtual event stand out, we sent each attendee a package with branded items they would use in the hands-on activity portion of our events.  

9. Creating the event agenda doesn’t have to be a big lift.  

We used existing content—for us a recent research report—to drive the conversations. Building a few interactive poll questions to get the audience engaged is a great way to create a little structure and guide the conversation while leaving plenty of space for open discussion.  

10. Keep it interactive. 

Remember this should be an engaging event, not a sales presentation. Try to tailor the conversation around 2 to 3 takeaways to leave lots of space for the conversation to flow. If you can foster a real conversation with your accounts, you’re more likely get a better response from attendees after the fact. 

11. If someone doesn’t show up, it isn’t a total loss.  

You may be concerned about spending your budget on sending packages before the event to all who sign up because there’s the chance they may not actually attend, but there is still a benefit to you from showing these accounts a little extra love with your branded goodies.  
For example, if you have an attendee sign up who doesn’t show up, this gives your sales team the opportunity to follow up and say “Hey, we noticed you weren’t able to make the event and wanted to check in. We hope you enjoyed your personalized kit! Here’s a little overview of what we talked about at the event that I think could be helpful to your team.” This helps keep your company at the top of your prospect’s mind and opens the door so the salesperson can ask directly if they’re open to chatting about the event content. 

Planning your own ABM event 

Hosting an intimate ABM event can be a great way to engage your target accounts in a meaningful way and move them down your funnel. There is a lot to consider when planning one of these events, so keep these takeaways in mind for your next ABM campaign. Learn from what’s worked for us to help set your events up for success from the start. 



Fran Rugo

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