August 17, 2011
Case Study

Event Marketing: Regional customer forums improve field events attendance rate by 150%

SUMMARY: One goal of marketing should be to find new customers. But an equally important goal is to retain current customers, and keep them informed on new opportunities to become even more engaged with your product or service.

See how a global firm created and executed regional customer forums around the world to better connect with those customers, provide Sales with additional face-to-face time with their clients, and even learn more about what those customers want from the company.
by David Kirkpatrick, Reporter


There is a balancing act between acquiring new customers and retaining your existing customers.

Often, particularly in a B2B environment, your customer base is very "bought-in" (or perhaps even "locked-in") to your product or service. Even if pure retention isn't an issue, there are opportunities to increase engagement with those customers or even sell them additional products.

Marketing events created solely for existing customers are one way to deepen that connection and create additional revenue.

Meagen Eisenberg, Director of Worldwide Programs, Marketing Automation and Operations, ArcSight, an HP Company, decided a customer outreach program centered on regional live events would help create closer customer ties for the company.

ArcSight is a security information event management (SIEM) company that helps protect government agencies and corporations in the event of cyber attack or other IT system issues.

The company has been publicly traded under its own ticker for about three years, experiencing high growth during that time. ArcSight knew a lot of its business was coming from existing customers, and wanted to use that base to help continue its high rate of growth.

Read on to find out how ArcSight planned and executed customer forums ranging from less than 10 to more than 50 attendees in regional markets around the world, and how these events have become a top 10 generator of yearly income at the company.

Eisenberg will also present an in-depth look at this case study at MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2011, in Boston, September 26-27, and San Francisco, October 24-25.


The key goal for ArcSight's regional forums was to upsell and cross-sell its customer base, and grow the company's footprint in those existing accounts.

To accomplish this, the marketing effort needed to do a number of things:

o Work with ArcSight's customers
o Get in front of those customers
o Listen to the customers
o Obtain information to improve ArcSight's products

Eisenberg said the result was to create a "high-test multichannel customer outreach program," with the live event as a focal point.

She said, "We (Marketing) spent about three weeks aggressively working with the sales team, working on the messaging, and building out the assets for [the program.]"

Once the program was created ArcSight immediately began a gradual international roll-out.

Step #1. Promote and launch the event

The first stage of promoting each event included educating, informing and learning from internal teams such as local Sales and Professional Services. Because these regional events were held all over the world, it was important to make sure the local sales teams were aware of the campaign and to gain insight from those teams on what event agenda would most resonate with the local audience.

Marketing also provided messaging templates for the sales team and made sure Sales could properly describe the event when speaking with prospective attendees.

At this point an email invitation was sent to a Sales-selected list, and the event was announced internally to all customer-facing employees.

A dedicated microsite was an important part of the official launch and the entire promotion was "micro-branded" to give the effort a cohesive feel.

The microsite included an "events system" that allowed attendees to invite colleagues to the event, and offered a clickable button where they could easily submit a topic to present on at the forum. The microsite also provided support material, such as the event agenda.

Customer-facing promotions, along with the microsite, included:

o The email invitation to the Sales-selected list
o A second email to anyone who did not register from the first send
o Scripted inside Sales calls inviting customers to attend
o Reminder email to registrants including date, time and directions
o On the day of the event, a final automated reminder phone call

Eisenberg explained, "We gave them the relevant information at the relevant time."

Part of planning each event was taking into account the forum's time and location, and making sure both were appropriate for the event's city.

For example, Eisenberg said the event in Los Angeles was planned for mid-day to avoid traffic, while New York was in late afternoon.

Step #2. Register event attendees

For event registration, the microsite included a simple sign-up form.

Because potential attendees were already ArcSight customers and in its database, the sign-up form included fields based more around event specific information such as the city the registrant was signing up for instead of collecting personal or business information.

The entire sign-up process was automated and Sales was notified as soon as a new customer registered for the event. The system would also track customers ArcSight thought should attend, and Sales was alerted to those prospects.

Eisenberg said, "All customers are welcome, but we request that they register so we can have name tags for them, have appropriate content for handouts, and make sure we have enough food for everyone."

Step #3. Hold the event

There are times when event marketing is almost more about the planning
-- logistics, getting people to sign up, etc. -- than the actual event. When your target audience is existing customers, you already know how to reach them, they are familiar with your email and other outreach efforts, and they already have a relationship with your sales team.

For this audience, the event itself is the thing.

The details of each forum were specific to that event -- the forum in a small midwest town might have 15 to 20 attendees, whereas the New York event might pull in 60 to 70 people.

But ArcSight did have several overall goals for every forum:

o Convenient and easy to attend with no traffic or location hurdles

o Four to five hours long

o Attendees are provided content they take away from the forum, go back to the office and implement

o Events scheduled during the day included lunch, and afternoon events included dinner

The event presentations included a mix of representatives from ArcSight and customers talking about how they use ArcSight's products.

"We have the Director of Product Management talk about the roadmap for future functionalities and features that are coming out," explained Eisenberg. "We have our professional services team talk about hot implementations. It is really important that we had content that was high value and [provided] some thought leadership."

For the rare event with a very small registration of only seven or eight people, ArcSight combined virtual elements in with the live event. Instead of sending in top executives to speak, those presentations were made through a remote connection with attendees and local ArcSight representatives in the same room.

Eisenberg said ArcSight only utilized the virtual/live event hybrid when it was necessary due to low registration.

Step #4. Conduct post-event reviews and follow-ups

After every event, the ArcSight team reviews and discusses the results internally. These post mortems include evaluation forms on every presenter with feedback from attendees as well as feedback on the overall forum.

Eisenberg said the marketing team uses this feedback to continually improve its approach to event marketing and help make future forums better for attendees and more successful for ArcSight.

Also, after the event attendees receive a follow-up email providing them with the forum presentations, along with a call-to-action to attend the upcoming user conference.

The sales team is also provided information on what attendees were interested in and provided the feedback forms they filled out at the forum.

The marketing team could attribute six main results to its regional customer forums:

o Response rates to customer-focused email campaigns are around 3% above average

o Field events attendance rate improved 150% over prior year due to effective use of post-event review and increased automation

o The capacity to execute events tripled without increasing resources

o In tracking deals connected to forums, ArcSight is seeing a 4% impact to revenue in closed deals and expect this number to grow

o ArcSight runs around 270 annual marketing campaigns, and the field events are among the top ten generators of yearly income

o Sales representatives are listing the forums in quarterly reviews as a reason for success, and are requesting more events in their territories

On the last result, Eisenberg explained how getting Sales very involved with the events had a large impact on the success of each forum.

She said, "Where we would see the least success would be when we didn't get buy-in from Sales. In the areas where our sales team were bought-in and were involved, we had amazing attendance. We had amazing results."

Eisenberg added the marketing team also discovered the timing of events had an impact on success.

To help Sales, she said they don't schedule events at the end of a quarter when Sales is trying to close deals. That policy also helps to ensure attendance from executive-level customers.

A final timing issue is ArcSight doesn't schedule any regional forums during the quarter of its user conference.

Meagen Eisenberg will present a detailed look at this case study at MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2011, in Boston September 26-27, and San Francisco, October 24-25.

Useful links related to this article

1. Email invitation
2. Microsite screenshot
3. Sample of event agenda
4. Post-event follow-up email


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