Ahoy HeySummiteers! Welcome to Customer Spotlight, where we feature all the ways HeySummit has been used and loved by YOU. Here At HeySummit, we're always looking for new ways to help you make the best of your summits. This time, the spotlight's on Aleksandra Nowak of User.com. Read on and get inspired 🏔️
Planning User.com’s first big summit was no easy feat for Aleksandra, Senior Marketing & Knowledge Manager, and her team. Their first major decision was choosing the focus of the event. Wanting to balance aligning their strategic business goals with creating high-quality content and practical guidance their attendees could take on board, they eventually settled on organizing a summit around marketing and automation for SaaS companies, one of their key target segments.
To kick off the planning process, they drew up three main goals for the event:
- Build brand recognition, especially in North America.
- Provide a top-class attendee experience, from registration to the end of the event.
- Secure 1000 registrations, 60% being new leads.
Anatomy of a Summit
Build a tech stack
With the event set to go live in February 2021, the team had a little over three months to go from zero to launch. Having never launched an event on this scale (neither live nor virtual), Aleksandra certainly had her work cut out for her.
Step one on her event journey? Pick the tools her team would use to organize themselves. With so many options available, it was not an easy decision!
Initially, the User.com team considered Zoom to host all sessions but ultimately wanted attendees to feel like they were participating and engaging with the speakers, rather than just attending a webinar.
“We realized that we’d need two main platforms - one for streaming the sessions and one to deliver all other aspects of our event - from the backend registrations to the main landing pages,” Aleksandra shares.
Not wanting to engage developers to spend hours building an event site, they looked for a tool that catered to all tech capabilities, yet was customizable and sophisticated enough to entice attendees and showcased their roster of expert speakers.
“HeySummit was a fantastic solution - we could create an event site quickly to market our event with Custom CSS options; and use it to handle ticketing and registrations, including components to fulfill legal and GDPR requirements as well.”
Speaker outreach: leverage those big names!
One of the biggest challenges at the beginning was securing top speakers within the Saas industry - with no budget to pay them. The User.com project team engaged the help of a SaaS consultant, Natalie Luneva, who also served as the event’s host.
Natalie’s first suggestion to the team was that they create a list of potential speakers who would be a great fit for the event. Then, to group the speakers into segments - Groups 1, 2, and 3. Aleksandra stresses that all the speakers on the list were people they wanted to work with, and the segments were determined by the size of their audience, which they felt would be key to boosting attendee numbers.
Group 1: The big names = lower probability of success. They have a large following and are well-known names. They have multiple parallel projects going on, so are likely to be busier.
Group 2: Great experts with lots of experience in the industry, albeit with a smaller reach.
Group 3: Similar to group 2 - experts with in-depth knowledge of SaaS topics, with lesser name recognition.
Following this, it was time to start reaching out! Natalie’s advice was to reach out to the speakers in Groups 2 and 3 first, and after receiving confirmation from them, leverage their participation to try and engage speakers from Group 1 to join in.
“It was a great idea - reaching out to Group 1 speakers was made a lot easier once we had some amazing speakers already confirmed.”
Event promo: a combination of tactics
Apart from Facebook ads (which led to 545 sign-ups) and cold email outreach via a tool called Lemlist, the team reached out to media partners to help with event promotion. To set this up, they prepared a basic summit partnership pack, complete with pre-written copy and social media banners to make it as easy as possible for them, and then reached out to SaaS companies with a large newsletter or social media following. A similar pack was sent to event speakers, with personalized social media banners featuring each speaker’s headshot and session info to boost visibility within their networks. They also leveraged their existing User.com partners, activating them to promote their event - which helped garner almost 400 additional registrations.
In addition, the User.com team bought newsletter ads through a platform, Paved, where Aleksandra was able to choose a target audience and apply criteria to the type of newsletter she wanted the event to be featured in.
It’s all coming together
When it comes to the content of the sessions, Aleksandra and her team trusted their speakers to know what’s best. After setting out clearly the expectations and theme of the event - marketing and automation for SaaS companies - they gave them free rein to craft a session in the field they specialized in. Eventually, topics included: automating workflows, setting up email campaigns, and building a blog or newsletter. From technical elements of marketing automation to customer experience to the creative aspects like design, the sessions were niche enough to add value to attendees, yet general enough to apply to most SaaS companies.
The benefit of having a variety of session subjects was that they could target SaaS customers at various stages of their business - from start-ups to reputable businesses needing to refresh their strategy.
Summit Successfully: Aleksandra’s Top Tips
Automate your marketing
As a marketing automation platform, marketing is User.com’s bread and butter. Naturally, they used their own software to set up their marketing campaigns as well as advanced user tracking. The latter was important when it came to measuring Goal 3, of attracting at least 600 new leads via this event. She also encouraged the use of Google Tag Manager and Facebook Pixel - analytics are a gold mine when it comes to tracking your online touchpoints, for example, where your audience is coming from, how they found your event and their interaction with your event pages. Plugging in the tools you know and love is easy with HeySummit, simply head to Event Setup > Other Integrations or Event Setup > API Settings.
Boost engagement to create a dynamic experience for attendees and speakers alike
Networking can be the element that pushes an event from good to great. It’s something that attendees won’t be able to experience by watching a YouTube tutorial or reading a book. Aleksandra and her team approached networking with three tactics:
- Created a networking area inside Airmeet’s virtual venue, called the Social Lounge, where attendees had a chance to sit at virtual tables and join video calls with each other.
- Built a Facebook community for SaaS companies and launched it during the event. The event link was also shared in the daily attendee emails and the post-event email.
- Held a 30-minute live networking session at the end of each day.
“Natalie, our host, invited attendees to introduce themselves using the networking sessions and we had short conversations. I'd definitely recommend it to event organizers interested in building relationships with your attendees!”
Bookmark the Knowledge Base
One thing that helped make the event journey less stressful was the HeySummit Knowledge Base. Finding the articles there useful and to-the-point, Aleksandra used it whenever she had to troubleshoot small issues, especially as she was learning to navigate the platform in the early stages. When it came to the bigger problems, however, she relied on HeySummit’s Customer Happiness team.
“I really think that the support team is outstanding. I remember we were ‘live’, and there was a problem with email reminders. I contacted support and I received a reply within 10 minutes or so. It was nice that someone was there, it calmed me down and everything worked out in the end,” she said.
Repurpose valuable content
With so many different types of talks in their repository, the User.com team made sure they repurposed that valuable content. Immediately after the live event ended, the site was made evergreen, meaning that new registrants are still able to watch the replays at their leisure. Leaving events open for registrations and available to watch on-demand helps to generate new leads and boost traffic to your site, making it an easy long-term marketing solution - after all, you’ve already put in the work! According to Aleksandra, despite not having any active ad campaigns for the event, she sees new registrations every day.
In the future, she also plans to rework each session into blog posts, e-books, and shorter “How-to” videos on YouTube.
“One of my inspirations is Product-Led Summit - they've managed to turn their one-off event into an ongoing one. Where they’re uploading new content for existing attendees while also keeping the older replays available to engage new attendees.”
Challenges: few and far between
Overall, the event organization process was smooth-sailing. Reflecting on the event afterward, Aleksandra and her team came up with some areas for improvement:
- Ensure that Facebook live streaming is set up properly.
- Rewrite event reminder and attendee login emails to provide a seamless attendee experience.
- Incorporate a short break in the middle of each day. 10+ sessions per day, one after another, was likely too intense for some attendees.
Conducting an event post mortem is critical to acknowledging the efforts that went into event planning, measuring success against KPIs, as well as to provide an open forum for your organizing team to provide feedback on what worked and what didn’t - all invaluable information to ensure the success of your next event!
More virtual events on the horizon
After all the work the team put in, were they able to achieve their goals?
Absolutely! In total, they had 2130 unique summit registrations, with 1500 being new leads - a whopping 70%, smashing their target of 60%. The team also received several emails and ‘thank you’ messages with positive feedback - attendees were impressed by the quality of sessions and live networking experience in particular.
A second edition of the event is also on the cards - Aleksandra plans to reach out to the most involved and satisfied attendees shortly to ask for written and video testimonials to help promote it.
“Hopefully if all goes well, it’ll go live in February 2022. As for the topic, we might target E-commerce businesses this time,” she shares excitedly.
We can’t wait to see what the team comes up with next. In the meantime, we’ll be catching replays of Growth SaaS Summit.
For an in-depth breakdown of all the tools User.com used during their event set up, check out their post on Medium.