The Power of Integrated Revenue Campaigns for Event Leaders

Setting up the people, processes & systems that prove an event’s impact

If anyone knows how high-stakes a seating plan can be, event leaders do. Boardroom? Banquet? Cabaret? Cocktail? The right seating plan can be make or break. But there’s a surprising seating plan that’s even more important than the one you use in your next event; it’s the plan that gets you a seat at the table making decisions alongside your CMO.

It’s a challenge all event executives face. You need to advocate for events as the powerful lead capture tactic you know them to be. But sometimes it seems like your CMO is measuring event ROI differently from your focus on pipeline and MQLs…

That’s because they are. CMOs aren’t hyper-focused on the pipeline and MQLs that an event drives. Rather, they’re focused on how that pipeline and those MQLs support the higher-level revenue goal of an integrated revenue campaign. And if you want a seat at the table with your CMO, you need to start thinking of your event ROI in terms of integrated campaigns too.

You may be thinking “integrated revenue what now?”, and that’s totally fine. While most event leaders feel confident driving and tracking event revenue from one event, it can be a challenge to explain how that ladders up to overall revenue goals on the annual financial statement. But that’s exactly what your CMO needs to know.

As David Sim, former Director of Marketing Ops at BMC Software, puts it, “Marketers at the enterprise level are going to be asking the same question: how much is marketing contributing to the overall business from a revenue standpoint? Events are a component that drives an integrated campaign behavior, which drives towards a return on investment (ROI).”

We’re here to help you have a solid answer when your CMO asks the event ROI question. Here, we take you through a quick overview of integrated revenue campaigns, then share our 3-part framework for maximizing the impact of event revenue within those campaigns.

Integrated revenue campaigns, explained

If you want a little primer on integrated revenue campaigns, keep reading. If you’re already an integrated revenue pro, jump to our 3-part playbook
 
An integrated revenue campaign (or just an integrated campaign, for short) is a strategic series of marketing and sales activities linked by a thematic narrative. These campaigns have a defined audience and comprise a series of offers across different channels. Any integrated campaign aims to achieve a specific revenue goal within a defined timeframe.

💡 Swoogo Tip

Buzzword fatigue is real, so we recommend referring to this quick glossary if you’re not sure about the component parts of an integrated campaign.

Campaign

A strategic, organized series of marketing and sales offers across channels, designed to achieve specific goals from a defined audience, within a defined timeline.

Campaign Audience

Targeted and segmented audiences who are potential buyers of a product and engage with campaign offers.

Offer

A specific value proposition or incentive that is presented to potential customers as a part of a marketing strategy. The goal of the offer is to attract, engage, and convert prospects into paying customers. Offers might be formatted as webinars, templates, playbooks, or other content delivery formats.

Channel

Distribution vehicles for targeted programs and audiences. For example an event, the company website, paid social, or email.

Integrated revenue campaigns are effective because they unite cross-functional teams around a strong revenue objective. This aspect of integrated campaigns is so important that Mark Kilens, former CMO of Airmeet and now co-founder of go-to-market consultancy TACK, describes integrated revenue campaigns as, first and foremost, “a uniting function.”
 
“The whole goal of integrated revenue campaigns,” says Mark, “is to unite the go-to-market teams: marketing, sales, demand gen, and customer success. Uniting the teams helps you unite what you’re putting out in the market—what offers (including events) you’re promoting to ultimately drive pipeline, drive revenue, and drive customer lifetime value.”

In addition to uniting behind a shared revenue objective, the teams working on integrated campaigns also unite behind the campaign’s thematic narrative. Focusing a campaign on one theme allows teams to create strong, aligned messaging that can be shared (with minimal reworking) across all teams involved in the campaign. 

For example, an event offer can be reworked into a sales one-pager, into a customer success talk track, and into a marketing asset, while retaining message discipline and reducing cognitive load for the team. Cross-functional teams create offers that support and complement each other, rather than standing alone.

Given that events are just one of the various offers that make up an integrated campaign, it’s not surprising that CMOs aren’t hyper-focused on the pipeline and MQLs that one single event drives. Their focus is on total revenue impact across the campaign, with MQLs and pipeline supporting role topline business revenue.

Defining an integrated campaign

Integrated campaigns can be challenging to define, as their cross-functional nature brings together stakeholders who are not used to working closely on a shared goal. We’ll get deeper into the people dynamics of an integrated campaign in a minute, but first, let’s look at the steps a CMO and their team might take to build a coherent revenue campaign:

Step 0

The Trigger

The catalyst that creates the need for a coherent, message-aligned revenue effort. This could be a product launch, a re-brand, or moving upmarket. We’ll stick with the example of a product launch. 

Step 1

Revenue Goal Definition

The CMO works with the CRO to set the Northstar objective. It could be to increase overall customer revenue by 20%, to grow revenue in a specific geo, or in our example, to drive revenue off a new product line.

Step 2

Audience Definition

Who needs to know about this product? Define the titles, the types of companies, and the target industries.

Step 3

Theme Definition

Write the story of the campaign. What is the challenge this product launch helps solve for your defined audience? And what theme unites these challenges?

Step 4

Offer Definition

What assets will best tell the campaign story and highlight the newly launched product? A first-party event where experts discuss pain points might be an offer owned by the events team; an interactive deminar (demo+webinar, see what we did there?) might be the sales offer.

Step 5

Channel Definition

Decide how these offers will reach their target audience by understanding the platforms on which your audience is active and engaged.

The CMO will pull stakeholders from across the organization—including the events team—into the process of defining the integrated revenue campaign. They’ll also expect each head of department to be able to report on how their specific offer (or offers) supports the overall revenue goal.  This is where event leaders need to step up. The best way to show that events are a key revenue driver is to understand ROI in the same way your CMO does, and build intentional systems and processes that show the connection between event ROI and business revenue.  Luckily, we just happened to have a playbook for that up our sleeves…

3-part playbook to align events with integrated campaigns

Mark Kilens, who ran his fair share of integrated revenue campaigns as a VP at both Hubspot & Drift, identifies three elements event leaders need to pay attention to—systems, people, and processes. 

“To run a successful integrated campaign,” says Mark, “you need all three. They’re the three legs of a stool… and you can’t have a functional stool if it’s missing one of its legs.”

  • Understand the tech stack
  • Ensure pipeline traceability
  • See event ROI like a CMO
  • Build excitement
  • Introduce an internal responsibility framework
  • Build rituals

Systems

Systems and technology are the real heroes behind a successful integrated revenue campaign. They do the heavy lifting behind the scenes, enabling teams to drive revenue outcomes. Or, according to Mark, they’re “the actual plumbing” of an integrated campaign.

We’re not saying that event leaders have to put their CTO hat on and get funky on the backend. But you will be required to understand how the integrated campaign’s full tech stack works to support revenue attribution, and take responsibility for the trackability of key data from your event offers.

Understand the tech stack

The most common tools you’ll find under the hood of an integrated campaign are:

–> A customer relationship management (CRM) software
–> A data warehouse or business intelligence (BI) tool
–> A website (duh)
–> A content management system (CMS)
–> An event management platform

Remember that the tech stack used by an enterprise during an integrated campaign has to work for teams way beyond the event teams. Marketing operations need PII data adherence. Sales need promo codes and real-time CRM integrations. There’s a lot of data flying about.

“The ideal event marketing tech stack is one tool to do it all,” says David Sim, the former Director of MarOps at BMC Software. But more often than not, campaign teams are working with legacy tool stacks which have to be integrated intentionally with the support of the MarOps team. 

David tries to consider multiple experiences and perspectives when he’s readying a fragmented tech stack for a campaign. “The use of the tools from the perspective of the user, attendee, or from that of the event manager or certified event planner will be key to scaling event marketing tech,” he says.

To support the set-up and integration of your event management software into the wider stack, consider what data you plan to collect from event attendees, what key KPIs you need to track, and what data enrichment you’ll need from other sources. Being able to communicate those needs clearly to MarOps will help them build a system that supports campaign goals.

Ensure pipeline traceability

The exact components of an integrated campaign and its tool stack may differ, but one thing never changes: tools have to be integrated in a way that allows for pipeline and revenue traceability.

Pipeline traceability allows event leaders to attribute revenue to different event activities throughout the attendee lifetime. To attribute event revenue impact correctly, data needs to be trackable as it moves through the tech stack.  

To ensure traceability, event leaders will need to work with both the sales and the revenue teams to establish how they plan to use event attendee data within the wider integrated campaign. Sales teams may need registration data to support better cold conversations during the actual event. RevOps may need to capture in-event merchandise revenue. Those capture-and-trace systems need to be defined and set up at the start of the campaign. As the leader responsible for event revenue generation, it’s in your own interest to make sure that every cent you generate is attributed back to your event offer.

“The ultimate question [pipeline traceability] answers is ‘who did what, when, and where or how?’” says David. “Answering this allows for investments in specific campaigns, across various tactics, that translate into MQL creation. These opportunities will have true ROI.”

People

Once the technology is set up to support an integrated campaign, it’s time to build the campaign team. We’ve mentioned before that integrated revenue campaigns are cross-functional, and it’s the CMO’s job to decide what departments are pulled into the campaign. The more departments or business units involved in the execution of an integrated campaign, the higher the success rate tends to be; integrated campaigns drive maximum impact when they fuel cross-team collaboration and unify teams around goals.

If events is one of the departments (and in an enterprise setting it likely will be), you need to show the CMO the event revenue potential as a campaign channel. Plus you need to get your direct reports on the events team on board with the idea of supporting an integrated campaign and prioritizing it throughout the event experience.

See revenue through your CMO’s eyes

Throughout an integrated revenue campaign, your CMO will maintain a laser focus on the campaign’s return on investment (ROI), and its contribution to overall business performance over the financial year.

So while the MQLs and pipeline that an individual event drives are important, they’re not foremost in a CMO’s mind. To maintain a strong relationship with a CMO during a revenue campaign, you need a deep understanding of ROI, both on an event level and a company level. 
 
“Great event leaders,” says Mark, “not only understand the profit & loss (P&L) statement but can show how an event’s P&L translates into wider business P&L.” Being able to speak to P&L impact is key in getting a seat at the table with your CMO.

We recommend adding metrics such as cost of attendee acquisition, sales-reported and self-reported attendance metrics, and pre-event engagement metrics to your regular reporting syncs with the CMO.

Support cross-functional alignment

While ensuring cross-functional alignment is the CMO’s ultimate responsibility, event leaders can actively support that goal.

Pitch the CMO on involving the event team in the definition of the campaign, right from day one. In the past, Mark has used brainstorming at this point of the campaign definition: “In brainstorms, we ask: ‘How are we going to tell the story? What do we want to do for offers?’” he says. “All ideas are good. It’s a way to get everyone included, and you naturally start to think who should tackle which parts of the project.”

These initial brainstorming sessions can bring people from marketing, sales, and product together to consider the questions of campaign themes and offers. Mark recommends a no-bad-ideas approach, paired with timed brainstorming, to ensure that everyone is included.

It takes a lot of people to run a successful integrated revenue campaign. Marketing cannot build these on their own. They need to involve other people across other teams to build them.
Mark Kilens, CEO + Co-Founder of TACK

Processes

Finally, you’ll need to set up processes that align event offers with the rest of the campaign. 
 
According to Mark, there are two critical processes that any event lead should bring to a campaign:

–> Introduce a RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed) framework to help everyone understand individual roles and responsibilities
–> Build rituals to both plan and execute the campaign
 
“It’s almost always the case in an enterprise that you’re planning and executing campaigns simultaneously,” says Mark. “This means that many workflows are going on. Having clean, functional processes is key.”

Introduce a RACI model

If we told you that a successful integrated campaign has a lot in common with your favorite heist movie, you’d be skeptical, right? But there’s a reason that the team in heist movies always, despite the odds, manages to pull off the robbery. Each player has a role, each role is essential, and it’s important that everyone stays in their lane. If the master forger tried to do the hacker’s job, you’d never get the diamonds.

An integrated campaign may not be Ocean’s 11, but everyone still needs to know what their job is, and who’s the boss. That’s where a RACI comes in.

RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. It’s a project management tool used to facilitate decision-making in complex or multi-stakeholder initiatives. 

Your CMO may define RACI roles for each offer within the integrated campaign. Or they may designate roles based on channel, or a different component of the campaign. Whatever the exact configuration, your responsibility as the event team lead is to ensure that your team understands their roles in each decision and workflow, and is bought into their designation.

Use the campaign RACI in departmental meetings to empower the right folks to make decisions, and to keep everyone aligned on how offers get delivered.

Build rituals

The CMO will set the pace for check-in calls and reporting updates. But you can support that by building your own rituals on an individual and team level.

We recommend setting up a weekly campaign check-in with the CMO. Before that meeting, marshall a specific set of data (make sure it’s the same week-on-week) and deliver that week’s numbers. Remember to keep that laser focus on the P&L and your event offer’s contribution to revenue. 

Post-event rituals are also helpful; your part in an integrated campaign doesn’t end once your event has wrapped, after all. In the 90 to 180 days following the event, establish a ritual of examining sourced event revenue, attributed pipeline, and influence, and sharing that with the CMO on a regular cadence.

Show me the integrated revenue, Jerry

For event leaders working in large organizations, it’s not enough to increase MQLs or book more meetings off events. That kind of thinking won’t get you a seat at the top table when it comes to making decisions. Instead, event leaders need to measure success by driving revenue as part of a wider integrated campaign. 

To do that, you need to understand the definition and execution of an integrated campaign. But you also need to see that campaign, and your events as offers within that campaign, through a CMO’s eyes. That means understanding the tech systems that will allow you to track and attribute revenue as prospects move through the different offers of the campaign, uniting cross-functional teams behind a top-level revenue goal, and establishing processes that support execution and collaboration throughout the campaign.

Most importantly, you need to prove to your CMO that you share their vision to achieve the top-level goal of an integrated revenue campaign, rather than focusing exclusively on your event’s contribution to pipeline.

We hope that you’re feeling ready to take up your seat at the table with the decision-makers. But if you’re a little fuzzy on the how, shoot us on email at [email protected].