Running successful events relies on collecting and tracking accurate data, yet many of the tools event planners use don't integrate. This was the problem Teachstone ran into when trying to use Cvent and HubSpot together for event management. They were exhausted by the amount of manual data entry they were doing, until they found out Formstack Sync (formerly Bedrock Data) offers a pre-built HubSpot-Cvent integration.
Background on Teachstone
Zak: Can you start by giving us background on Teachstone?
Meghan: Teachstone was founded in 2008 to scale CLASS®, a classroom observation tool that was developed by researchers at UVA to assess how teachers interact with students.
Teachstone helps organizations implement CLASS solutions ranging from teaching data collection to providing teachers professional development. Whether we’re training teachers’ coaches to help them support teachers, or providing professional development directly to teachers, everything we do is about helping students be more successful through more effective instruction.
Zak: Ok, that is really interesting. What does that mean in terms of your marketing strategy?
Meghan: Our primary audience is decision makers in the school system, including head of education for a state and upper level school administrators. In some states, our system is mandated, and in other states we need to proactively sell it to school systems, while also working with education policy experts to develop new policies in those states.
Zak: What is your role and what are your key areas of responsibility?
Meghan: I’m responsible for our website, social media, and blog. I also run our user summit which is called InterAct: A CLASS Summit.
The Importance of Events for Teachstone
Zak: Beyond the user summit, can you walk us through how events factor into how you engage customers?
Meghan: We run about 25 local events per year. They are paid events geared around training.
About half of the events are focused on a single session, and about half are mega events that have around 12 sessions. When people sign up, they can sign up for a single session or multiple sessions. An example of a session topic is Pre-K CLASS Observation Training, which trains observers to assess preschool teachers using CLASS.
New customers or existing customers sign up for the events through our website, paying between $900 to $8,500 for the event depending on which session they choose.
Zak: How are you marketing these events?
Meghan: They are featured prominently on our website, and people can sign up directly on the website. We promote these events through social media ads, trade conferences, email, flyers, and outbound calling.
Zak: And what systems are you using to manage the events?
Meghan: We use Cvent to manage the events, including how people sign up for events and specific sessions on our website, which leads me to a huge challenge we’ve struggled with in our department. We had Cvent as our event management system, and HubSpot as our digital marketing and marketing automation system. HubSpot and Cvent were not integrated, and this was a nightmare for us.
The Challenge (and Pain) of Running HubSpot & Cvent Without an Integration
Zak: Initially you were running HubSpot and Cvent side by side without an integration. Can you walk us through what that was like.
Meghan: It was very challenging. We were pulling out our hair.
Our trainings have a natural progression to them: we want people to attend Training A, and then Training B, and then Training C, and so on. So we wanted to promote Training B to people who attended Training A, but haven’t attended Training B.
That was a nightmare for us to try to manage manually. It was impossible for us to figure out from within HubSpot who had attended specific trainings. We couldn’t segment the data the way we needed to. We were spending time downloading and uploading data, but it still wasn’t even given us what we needed.
When we got requests for segmenting the data, it was a daunting exercise. So what ended up happening is we ended up blasting out communications without the right targeting, which we knew was not the right thing for us to do.
We also had all of our contacts in HubSpot marked as leads. When they sign up for an event in Cvent, we should have been tracking them as customers to give us good closed loop reporting around each event. But we weren’t doing this, and we therefore lacked insight around which marketing efforts were working for generating registrations for the event.
Zak: OK. So what did you do about it?
Meghan: We learned that Formstack Sync offered a pre-built HubSpot-Cvent integration that could solve these issues for us. It was exactly what we needed.
Connecting HubSpot & Cvent - Like Magic!
Zak: OK, I can tell you are excited. Can you walk us through how the integration works and what you are doing with it.
Meghan: Yes, there are lots of great parts to this.
When a person registers for an event and a session in Cvent, they now immediately get marked as a customer in HubSpot. It’s immediate, and we no longer need to download or upload any data. So that’s a huge benefit right there of both time savings as well as having accurate customer reporting in HubSpot.
Each session gets passed from Cvent into HubSpot as a HubSpot timeline event property. So every session and the data along with it is now available in HubSpot. That includes the name, amount paid, city state, event status, and start date.
This means we can use HubSpot’s powerful smart list functionality to get our segmentation right. I can build a smart list or workflow that says we want to target everyone who has attended Session A and not Session B, for example.
Zak: Wow, I can see the possibilities with this. What are some of the things you’re doing?
Meghan: The first thing we looked at was building automated follow up campaigns to introduce the next event for you, based on the last event you attended. We have a HubSpot workflow that takes people after they attend Training A, and then 3 months later we invite them to Training B.
We are also doing some neat things around our website. We learned that people would start looking at training on our website about 45 days before they would register. So once people start looking at events on our website, through HubSpot we put them into email nurture series. And we know which event to promote to them, based on having that Cvent event history right there in HubSpot.
Formstack Sync's HubSpot Cvent integration saves us a huge amount of time. But the real power is all the great marketing we can do to be more relevant with our communications.
It’s allowed us to move away from batch-and-blast around our event marketing and communications, to be relevant to our audience based on the events they’ve attended. So from that standpoint, it’s really well aligned with inbound marketing concepts like being as valuable as we can to our audience.
Zak: Are there are any unexpected outcomes from connecting Cvent and HubSpot?
Meghan: It’s freed us up to do more with our event marketing. Before, like I said, promoting an event was a daunting task because we didn’t have easy access to the right data. The logistics were such a headache.
Now the possibilities are endless. We have so much data available to us. It’s a new problem, but now it’s a good problem to have.