New, yet-to-be published proprietary research from Freeman shows that roughly half of attendees register just five weeks before show time. A new report from mdg, also not yet published, reveals that 65 percent of registrations come in during the last 10 weeks. All of this means that the two-month period right before an event has become the make-it-or-break-it point for marketers. We’ve developed a “Final Countdown” program to maximize attendance when it feels like time is running out. Here are three steps to address this challenge:
Before you can figure out who hasn’t registered yet, you need to take a look at who has. This is where the power of data science comes in. Start by digging into your current registration lists and leveraging machine learning to identify key trends — job titles, company types, representation from geographic areas, and show history. Once we know who’s already coming, we can identify gaps in the attendee base and focus our efforts on filling them, targeting the people who haven’t yet registered.
Building a Registration Forecast
Next, aggregate several years’ worth of week-over-week registration data, usually five to 15 years, and merge these historical findings with current industry trends. This creates a picture of what numbers could look like during each of the final weeks of a campaign, helping to set realistic targets — and align paid media budgets accordingly. We also consider other factors that influence attendance decisions, like changes in event pricing, timing, destination location, and the competitive landscape.
Executing Targeted Conversion Tactics
Once the underperforming segments and factors that impact registration have been identified and realistic goals have been set, it’s time to tailor the appropriate tactics. For example, if we see low registration numbers among event alumni, we may deploy targeted communications highlighting how the event has been enhanced from previous years, including new features, planned product launches, and first-time speakers. If we believe price sensitivity is a concern for our audience, we may experiment with a one-day sponsored promotion. If C-level registration is lagging, we may plan a tailored campaign on LinkedIn that focuses on event content that addresses key leadership concerns, such as supply chain solutions, workforce development strategies, and AI.
The home stretch of a campaign is also a good time to assess how the marketing tactics and messaging approaches you’ve been using have — or have not — worked. Being open and agile could lead to reallocating money from an underperforming international push to one that targets a drive-distance audience. Or putting more of an emphasis on “who’s coming” to create FOMO and less on technical education sessions that typically sell out early. Or experimenting with SMS (texting) as a means of promoting a one-day flash sale. The point is, maximizing last-minute registration requires a concerted effort to assess registration trends and marketing activities and aligning tactics to address gaps in both.
Kimberly Hardcastle-Geddes is chief marketing strategist at mdg, a Freeman Company, a full-service marketing and public relations firm specializing in B2B events.