Events are primarily about people. They bring us together for business, for social occasions and to encourage face-to-face communication. Yet it’s digital technologies that are transforming the events industry. Processes are streamlined with check-in and social seating apps, and user experiences are enhanced through personalization, social media integration and wearable technologies.
While the industry is embracing new digital technologies, email is still the number one marketing technique for filling seats at events. Eventbrite’s Annual Event Marketing Report 2016 that surveyed 850 event professionals showed that email marketing techniques outperformed social media and other marketing methods to hit their attendance targets in 2015/2016.
But obviously, it’s not just a matter of emailing a list with information about your event. Real success comes from planning and executing an email and digital strategy that takes the recipient on a rewarding journey that culminates in making the commitment to attend the event. Like UBM did with Sleep, attracting a 47 percent conversion rate in an award-winning case study.
Email success for events is a delicate balance made up of the following elements:
Progressive profiling is a marketing strategy that involves asking people for small amounts of information over a specific period of time. Over time, this allows you to tailor your pre-event communications to ensure potential delegates get the best event experience. Incentives such as early bird pricing or event bonuses can work well to convince people to respond in exchange for small amounts of information.
Integrated digital marketing
By integrating your marketing messages across different platforms, you can maximize the number of marketing message touchpoints leading up to the event. Just make sure your message is consistent and all channels work together towards the same goal. Combining email, social media, blogs, landing pages, guest-blogging techniques, and apps should create a seamless experience from the registration for the event through to attendance and post-event comms.
Stellar example: TheMediaBriefing achieves 40x ROI with multi-channel approach
The right content is critical to keeping your audience interested in your event. You can use to create a sense of urgency (like an interview with a well-known keynote speaker bound to increase ticket sales fast), you can combine a drip feed of news with relevant stories to create engagement throughout the year, and so help convince potential delegates that your event is the one they must not miss.
But it shouldn’t stop with the event! Create a communications calendar that spans the whole year and keeps the audience engaged until the next event. If they’ve had a good experience, it will be easier to persuade customers to purchase tickets again. Media10 employed this strategy and used extensive testing to great success.
Using analytics to reach the right people at the right time
Email marketing and other digital techniques offer invaluable data that can help you provide delegates with a personalized experience and helps you understand how to adapt and change your campaigns to suit audience behavior.
- Geo-tracking – helps you understand where your audience is traveling from and gives you the opportunity to offer additional customer service touches such as information on discount travel and accommodation.
- Heat maps – help you pinpoint what content your audience is engaging with so you can tweak and develop your pre-event communication to enhance your results.
- Advanced personalization – for example, creating personalized itineraries gives the reader a strong incentive to open and read the email, and it turns your email into a value-added service. This technique was used successfully by Internet Retailing for their annual event.
- Predictive and prescriptive analytics – allow you to respond to real-time events, uncover groups with similar attributes to your existing databases, and measure media impact so you can assess the overall impact of your marketing efforts.
Nurturing your audiences all year round
Email marketing techniques offer event organizers a powerful set of tools to create an enriched content experience through personalization and relevant content. But don’t think of email as simply a way to deliver a message. Remember that ongoing communication using segmentation techniques can help you build trust, deliver greater value and encourage your audience to re-book for your next event.
Smart email marketing means never having to start from scratch.