More meeting planners are recognizing the benefits of complimenting their face-to-face experiences with a virtual component, but the entire industry is looking for insights into how to actually monetize all those eyeballs sitting behind their computer screens. PCMA is no exception to the rule. Over the past three years, the organization has constantly tested new tools and technologies to deliver a strong digital experience for members and non-members looking for remote education.
In 2013, Mary Reynolds Kane, senior director, experience marketing, PCMA, decided it was time to test something new with the PCMA Education Conference hybrid program: a fee.
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“We’re taking a look at all of our content to determine how to monetize it, and this was a valuable test,” Reynolds Kane says. “Next year, we’ll be testing another approach to determine whether licensing and sponsorships are more effective.”
The new fee ranged from $50 - $75 for non-members and $40 - $60 for members, depending on when they registered. Ultimately, the charge led to a 72 percent decrease in the actual number of attendees compared with the 2012 free event. However, this year’s attendees were significantly more engaged with a 36 percent increase in the number of unique chatters involved in discussions. Eighty-four percent of attendees participated in the majority of sessions, too. In contrast, free events often see viewers come and go, spending a limited amount of time being part of the community.
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The Big Picture Payoff
While this year’s test delivered a mixed bag of results, Reynolds Kane highlights the importance of looking at digital monetization from all angles.
“When it comes to the initial investment in building a hybrid event, it’s important to look at your organization’s objectives rather than thinking solely about the costs and profits of each individual product,” Reynolds Kane says.