Are you feeling like your event-marketing campaign isn’t generating the same kind of spark — or ROI — it once did? Maybe it’s time to freshen up your attendee-acquisition strategies and tactics. Here are a few of our favorite new marketing trends to get you started.
Plan your next campaign by building a performance model that uses quantified historical data and attendance objectives. Start by calculating approximately how many website visits it’ll take to generate the registration numbers you want, and then work backward from there to determine where traffic historically has come from. By estimating what proportion of traffic will be driven organically by email, by digital ads, etc., you can set goals for impressions, engagement, and click-throughs to determine your tactical plan and set a corresponding budget.
Help Tribes Find Each Other
Humans have evolved in tribal societies and naturally form networks of individuals who share things in common. How can you capitalize on this to drive attendance at your next event? Create special receptions, educational content, meeting spaces, lounges, or other connection opportunities for the “tribes” attending your event, such as women, young professionals, LGBTQ members, committee members, C-suite executives, those working in industry verticals, etc. Make your meeting a place where participants know they can find a network.
To successfully employ omnichannel marketing, hit prospects with the same message on different channels during the same time period. For example, if you are sending a general registration email, send it the same week as a direct mail piece lands, using the same general content and call-to-action in both. If you are focused on driving conference attendance, highlight educational offerings in both a content marketing newsletter and digital advertising that runs at the same time.
Be intentional about your word-of-mouth marketing by creating event features that are so unique, compelling, and special that your audience can’t help but talk about them on their social-media feeds or with their colleagues. Some ideas: Serve Champagne and strawberries to guests waiting in line at registration; give attendees a bottle of water and a snack along with their badge; host a “meet the speakers” reception with selfies; arrange no-host pop-up dinners. The possibilities are endless. Concentrate on one or two very special touches — and think about how you could get them sponsored.
Both are powerful, but word-of-mouth on a social media network is more influential than the behavior of a trusted friend according to one study, reports Informs Journal Marketing Science.
Kimberly Hardcastle-Geddes is chief marketing strategist at mdg, a full-service marketing and public relations firm specializing in B2B events.