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How Splash Made a Splash at Dreamforce (on a Budget)

How Splash Made a Splash at Dreamforce (on a Budget)

How Splash Made a Splash at Dreamforce (on a Budget)

For those of you still recovering from Dreamforce 2017, I interviewed Amy Holtzman, VP of marketing at leading event marketing platform Splash, to get the inside scoop on how they planned and executed on their own Dreamforce presence. For startups who don’t have the budget to buy a booth, take over a coffee shop, host a concert, or send the whole company to San Francisco for a week, this is an especially helpful guide on how to get the best return on a conference like Dreamforce.


You have to figure out what you are trying to achieve before determining your event presence. One of our main goals was for people to “experience the Splash brand.”

As an event marketing platform, Splash knows that people experiencing the product from pre-to post-event is key to revenue conversion. Unfortunately, being limited to a booth does not allow the majority of attendees to “experience the Splash brand.” With a conservative budget, it made more economic sense to forgo the booth and focus efforts on driving their audience to ancillary events.

This is how the costs broke down:

1. To Booth or Not to Booth?

A mistake marketers make is thinking that buying a booth is enough. You need a traffic driver. The event cost is only one part, most of the work is attracting people to it.

2. Identify your audience and tailor an experience for each

Splash segmented their target audience in four ways:

Then they set out to create high value interactions with each target audience. Splash hosted five main events:

3. Drive Traffic

Splash began planning for Dreamforce six months prior, the majority of the effort spent on driving curated audiences to each of the above events.

An event’s success isn’t determined the night of the event, it’s determined well in advance with the invitation strategy. To get the right audience – the one that’s likely to result in revenue for your company, you have to be deliberate with your promotions.

Splash drove the masses to register for the Cloud Wine party, then cherry-picked the most relevant people to cross-promote the VIP Dinner, C-Cycle and other SoulCycle rides. Then, registrants applied to attend and were manually vetted and approved by Amy’s team. Their promos worked something like this:

This process ensures the maintenance of a high quality audience, appropriate for each event type.

Splash found strong success generating high quality leads via paid social ads. How were they able to track results? Using Splash’s tracking links.

Splash’s tracking links made it possible to easily and more granularly measure paid promotion and digital ad performance. Each channel was assigned a unique URL. We also added standard UTM parameters for Google Analytics tracking.

Paid LinkedIn generated 54 leads at $33/lead and paid Twitter generated 22 leads at $7/lead. The majority of these leads were incredibly high quality, net-new prospects who went on to attend CloudWine, C-Cycle and/or VIP Dinner.

The event listing sites generated 23 registrants for CloudWine, but at $20-38/lead. They were mixed quality registrants at a much higher price.

Through the ability to track paid ad performance by channel, Splash learned to invest more aggressively in paid social for next year.

Ensuring Registrants Become Attendees

With months of preparation, Splash felt confident that they were set up for success during the week at Dreamforce. They had generated thousands of registrants for their various events. Now it was time to make sure people actually showed up.

The reality of Dreamforce is that with 200,000 attendees and hundreds of competing events happening throughout the week, attendance rates are low. A common mistake marketers make is capping registration at venue capacity. That’s a mistake. There will be no-shows. Make sure you’re putting thought into expected attendance rates by considering: date/time of event, event type, competing conference speakers, proximity to conference, and attendee type. Splash assumed a 25 percent attendance rate for CloudWine and a 50 percent attendance rate for C-Cycle and VIP Dinner.

Tactics to ensure a full room:

  • Reminder emails: automated and personalized
  • Feature prominent attendees as “hosts” on the event page, guaranteeing attendance from them and attracting others
  • Over-allocate for available seats
  • Incentivize people to arrive early via special VIP access or special treatment during the first hour of your event

Splash’s C-Cycle event page, featuring prominent attendees

Granularly Measuring ROI

Connect your event data with your CRM (eg: Salesforce) to attribute Dreamforce activities to ultimate revenue. And follow up!

Amy used the Splash platform for:

  • Attendance tracking by partner, paid spend channel, and employee
  • Measuring opportunities created and accelerated by their events

And, Salesforce for:

  • Summary roll-up of all events and activations segmented by lead, contact, account owner, campaign, and status
  • Evaluating event marketing tactics versus all other marketing tactics over time

The initial results for Splash have been impressive: 1,650 unique people engaged and 900 unique companies engaged, 65 percent of which were net new leads.

Within three weeks, Splash already recouped its entire Dreamforce investment by closing numerous deals influenced or accelerated by the event.  Additionally, they’ve opened more than ten new opportunities and engaged several existing customers in renewal and expansion opportunities.

Dreamforce can feel like an overwhelming event for a small company and it’s difficult to rise above the noise.  Splash is a prime example of how a company can making a splash by staying true to your brand, gaining an advantage by doing the work upfront, and granularly measuring performance and activity throughout.

Need help on your event marketing strategy? Amy’s the expert: tweet her @demandmarketer.

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