by David Kirkpatrick
The traditional event marketing effort is heavy with physical collateral material for attendees. Registrants are probably provided some sort event bag or kit when they arrive with a schedule and other event and promotional material printed out on paper.
If the event includes a trade show element with exhibitors, each booth most likely has more material, such as brochures, to hand out to visitors. The result is a lot of paper being used, most of it just thrown away by attendees.
Juniper Networks, a computer network company that offers everything from software to systems, decided to go a completely different direction with its first Global Partner Conference.
Luanne Tierney, Vice President, Worldwide Partner Marketing, Juniper Networks, said the company prides itself on being innovative, and mobile is an area of focus for Juniper.
To "practice what we preach," said Tierney, the entire conference was served through content accessed by scanning QR codes instead of providing pounds of paper collateral to attendees. By doing this, Juniper was able to show its clients how to really exploit mobile marketing, and at the same time be eco-friendly by not handing out all that paper that would mostly be heading for the landfill.
This case study looks at the entire process -- from letting attendees know the event would be mobile-only, to where the QR codes were placed at the event.
Juniper’s inaugural Global Partner Conference had around 1,300 attendees including 900 partners and 400 Juniper employees, and the event lasted for two days.
Step #1. Prepare attendees for the mobile-only event
"We prepared our partners in advance," Tierney explained.
The marketing team basically created a "know before you go" pre-conference email communication
that explained all event collateral material would only be accessed on mobile devices through a QR code.
The team let attendees and potential attendees know that they could view session information online after a scan, and Tierney described the process as a "tutorial" for attendees so they would be prepared for the mobile experience.
One other piece of information the team put together was testing, and then recommending, several free readers for different mobile devices in case an attendee needed to download a reader that would allow them to view the online information.
Step #2. Build a mobile-friendly microsite for the event
While the team was executing the "know before you go" effort, it also built a microsite for the event that was optimized exclusively for smartphones.
The idea was to produce content that looked best on the smaller handheld devices, and anyone accessing the content on a tablet would still have a good online experience.
The landing page of the microsite
included a “welcome” video from the senior executive for the partner community at Juniper. The rest of the mobile-optimized site included event material that would normally be handed out on paper, such as schedules
and speaker bios, and other collateral like additional information about individual sessions
Part of putting all this content on a microsite, and even the entire strategy of going totally mobile with event content accessed through QR codes, was understanding that at large events many audience members are engaged with their handheld devices throughout the presentations.
The marketing team wanted to provide those attendees with content relevant to the event, instead of having them updating social media platforms or checking email.
Step #3. Strategically place QR codes around the event
Since all of the event content was online and accessed through QR codes, the marketing team at Juniper had to make sure attendees could find the codes and that they were placed at relevant locations.
For example, the QR code at the registration desk
led to the microsite landing page with the "welcome" video.
New arrivals were also directed to codes that led to the full event agenda and a map of the conference center.
Other locations where attendees could scan a QR code included:
- Each breakout session, in multiple locations, with content that takes a deeper dive into the presentation subject matter
- As a part of each presentation on screen
- Exhibitor booths (see step #5. below)
- On the attendee badges
- Event kiosks
- Event lounge
Each presenter could determine what sort of content their session’s QR code led to. Some chose short videos, others chose PDFs of the presentation material.
Step #4. Use the name badge for printed information
The code on attendees’ name badges led to basic contact information for the badge holder such as: name, title and email address. Telephone numbers and physical addresses were not included.
The badge was the only place where printed information was provided for attendees other than some signage around the event.
For people who either did not use a smartphone, or just weren’t comfortable scanning QR codes, the back of the badge included the attendee’s custom schedule.
Step #5. Place QR codes on exhibitor booths
Juniper’s Global Partner Conference included a trade show element with booths for different solutions groups from inside the company.
This allowed different business areas within Juniper to interact with the attendees.
Each of these booths featured a QR code that led to a unique webpage with more information on each different business solution.
The marketing team knew this would be effective, even if the booth visit was limited by a short break time because each scanned QR code was saved to the smartphone reader app so attendees could go back and visit the content at a later time at their convenience.
Instead of loading down booth visitors with more paper collateral, the QR codes allowed those visitors to get access to the information they wanted and also allowed them to consume that content at a time of their choosing.
Step #6. Go paperless with the event evaluation form
Juniper offered evaluations for every session, but instead of passing out paper forms, attendees were pushed to a QR code that led to appropriate evaluation form.
This electronic evaluation could be filled out right on the mobile device and helped keep the paperless theme of the event intact.
Tierney said, "The feedback from the partners was they really enjoyed this mobile experience."
She added, "One of the approaches we are taking with our partners is that we want to be trusted marketing advisors and help them drive their own marketing engagement through some of these new trends (such as mobile)."
The partners appreciated the ability to experiment with mobile marketing and QR codes, and Tierney said the event really brought the mobile platform to life for the attendees.
The metrics around the event also show a successful deployment of some cutting-edge marketing technology:
- 1,921 QR code scans
- 1,238 unique visitors to the conference microsite
- 7,325 page views on the mobile-optimized microsite
- An average of almost six page views per visit
- An average time per visit of five minutes, 32 seconds
And with the electronic event evaluations, the response rate was equal to the response rate for paper evaluations from past events. This was Juniper’s first global user conference, but it had conducted previous regional partner events with paper-based evaluations. So making that process paperless did not negatively affect response, while reducing costs in printing and shipping.
"People are incredibly receptive to new approaches in terms of engaging them on an experience," Tierney stated. "I would say the big takeaway is, if you build it, they will use it."If you found this case study useful, please sign up for our free weekly B2B marketing newsletter.
Useful links related to this article
Juniper NetworksLightspeed Marketing Communications
- Pre-show email
- Microsite landing page
- Microsite agenda page
- QR code at registration desk
- QR code at breakout session
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