Why Maximizing Event ROI Is Equal Parts Art and Science

By Elizabeth Horkley – Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021

In certain corners of the tech space, where event marketers and business development executives meet, Travis Cross’ dashboard for tracking ROI on events is legendary: a fine–tuned, well–oiled, revenue–boosting machine. Cross describes it with more humility: “It’s a numbers game,” he says candidly—but not before comparing super–users of SQL to data analysts and scientists. 

Gorgias provides streamlined customer service solutions to ecommerce brands, and as partner marketing manager, Cross is in charge of ensuring that as far as events go, one crucial question is answered in the affirmative: “Did we make more than we spent?” 

Over the pandemic, Gorgias’ growth paralleled that of its clientele, and in December, 2020, the company raised $25 million in series B funding. Amid the success, Cross nonetheless faced a conundrum: How to maintain the upward trend of ARR without the lead generation opportunities events could be counted on to provide?

Initially skeptical of online meetups, Cross waded into the virtual realm holding fast to a sort of Golden Ratio pertaining to portion of likely attendees who fit Gorgias’ Ideal Customer Profile (ICP): 20%.

“If an event is qualified over 20%, we’ll give it a shot, we’ll see how it goes,” he explains. “It’s just about finding the ones where ICP is, doing those events, and learning from them.” 

Scouting events as the industry entered a tailspin necessitated more of a right–brain approach. Cross had to get creative to figure out where target customers were congregating in the new landscape. For example, he requested attendee lists for previous years’ editions of major events: an innocuous but effective alternative to trying to source current, classified guest information. 

He also found that while the pandemic had shut the door on in–person events, it had eased open a new one to international opportunities. In the past, Cross had leaned on virtual assistants to discover events all over the world, and especially in Europe and Australia. While the lists of contacts that came from these contacts often contained valuable leads, parsing them was akin to finding needles in a haystack. Now, he leverages Vendelux to find and filter events that meet the 20% qualifier.

In addition to helping Cross find the right events to participate in, Vendelux has also been instrumental in fomenting Gorgias pre–event protocol: another best practice prioritized recently. Gorgias representatives are encouraged to contact top prospects in the lead–up to events to gain their undistracted attention ahead of competitors. And as far as outreach is concerned, Cross stresses the importance of personalization. 

“The moment someone can detect an automated email, you’re pretty much toast,” he says, bluntly. But as Cross explains, displaying humanity can be as simple as showing that you’ve done your homework. He offers as an example researching potential customers’ technology. “We saw that we would typically have a better conversion rate when we would check into [prospects’] tech stack and say: “Hey, I saw you’re using Klayvio, or Yotpo—we have integrations with those.”

Post–events, the same principle applies. While programs like SQL and its suite of analytics do the heavy lifting of transforming data into comprehensible facts and figures, it takes a strategic mind to turn those insights into an action plan, and a human touch to earn trust and win business.