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The Brand 

IBC is the world’s leading media, entertainment and technology show attracting more than 57,000 attendees from 170 countries around the world. More than 1,700 of the world’s key technology suppliers exhibit there and participate in a debate-leading conference.


The IBC Marketing team were set a business objective to increase overall registrants by 5% annually. Marketing objectives were to automate 10% of emails and increase conversions from email by 5% through:

  • Improved segmentation and personalization
  • High quality email design
  • Enhanced user experience


The Challenge

Email marketing is a key channel that IBC rely on to drive registrations and attendance at their annual exhibition and conference. To drive better performance from the channel, the team needed to tackle two main areas:

  1. Email Design and Processes

Previous templates were ugly and difficult to work with. Getting a campaign out the door was time-consuming and there would often be last-minute rendering issues. With a discerning audience of media, design and technical professionals, the team knew that their existing templates were not up to the expected quality.

  1. Data and Automation

IBC had a large database built up over several annual shows, but a large proportion of the database had not engaged with their emails for a long time. The lack of clarity around the real size of their active audience was hindering them from developing an effective email marketing strategy.

With a small team of two working across multiple digital and off-line channels, it was crucial to automate upfront as much of the email nurture journey as possible to ensure efficient use of time and optimum performance from the channel.

The Solution

  1. Email design and processes

A radical re-think was needed to transform their processes, relieve their pinch points and release critical time to work on strategy and automation. IBC worked with the Adestra Digital Design team to design and build a customized modular template solution for use in the Adestra Email Editor. This was the ideal solution as it allowed for layout modules to be quickly edited, repeated and re-arranged, worry-free of display issues and fully responsive across all widely-used mobile devices.

The team worked with Adestra to create a bold and modern design, incorporating elements from the website to create a coherent user journey from email to website. IBC chose to include cutting-edge interactive and kinetic elements within the template such as countdown timers, animated ‘fade-in’ titles and background patterns to engage and delight their discerning audience of media and technical professionals.

  1. Data and Automation

Decisive action was needed to tackle the problem of inactive data. A bold plan was devised, for which the marketing team had to work hard to secure buy-in from senior management and the wider business, explaining the importance of safeguarding email deliverability and protecting the brand.

The team designed a two-stage re-engagement strategy. The first stage was a series of three emails sent to all contacts who had not opened an email in over two months. Anyone who did not engage during this program was fed into a second journey – this time with a more direct call to action asking recipients to re-activate their subscription and complete their preferences. Those contacts who did not open or click any emails were unsubscribed.

The next step was to create nurture journeys for their remaining active subscribers. This included an automated journey for those who completed the ‘register your interest’ form with tailored content depending on what areas of the show they had indicated an interest in (e.g. conference, exhibition, technical papers, awards).

IBC used personalization platform Fresh Relevance, which was integrated with Adestra to implement abandoned booking and abandoned browse triggered email campaigns based on website behavior.


Modular email template solution:

  • Click-through rate increased from 3.2% (2016) to 6.4% (2018)
  • Quicker campaign creation: 2 days to 2 hours

Other benefits include a wider variation of content, improved mobile experience, visually appealing and on brand.

Data cleanse and automation:

Following the re-engagement project, IBC have seen an uplift in average open rates from around 14-17% to 25% and higher. Cleaning their data also improved the effectiveness of their cross-channel strategy, allowing them to accurately target active and in-active contacts via social, direct mail and telemarketing.

The automated welcome and nurture journeys performed well ahead of the 2018 event with the tailored welcome journey achieving a 53% open rate. The browse and abandon trigger campaigns achieved an average 40% open rate and 24% click-through, with a low cost per acquisition.

This project contributed to an impressive 7% increase in registrants year on year and IBC exceeded their target of automating 10% of emails.

What’s Next?

For the 2019 event cycle, the IBC are focusing on automating a retention journey to improve the conversion rate of registered visitors. They are also planning and automating an exhibitor journey to improve the exhibitor experience and support them to get the most from the event.