Leveraging Online Tools to Increase Event Registration

November 19, 2015   |   Vol. 14   |   Issue 11
By Rebecca Flach, MGI Account Supervisor

Conference registration is often a significant revenue source for associations, as well as an effective means of building organizational awareness and acquiring new members.

But if you aren’t incorporating search engine and social media marketing into your outreach strategy, you are leaving revenue on the table.

For example, one of our clients was able to generate more than 400,000 impressions and 594 additional conference registrations at a cost of $7.94 for each over a three-month time span using the tactics we’re about to discuss.

So let’s start with a few questions:

  • How effective and cost efficient is your current marketing mix for events?
  • Would you like to be spending less to convert more registrations?
  • Do you presently have an automated means to convert warm attendee prospects?
With the proliferation of new online marketing tools and targeting capabilities, search engine and social media need to be an essential part of any association’s event marketing plan. We’re going to discuss two of the most effective means of incorporating these channels into your conference marketing strategy: remarketing and online list marketing.

What is remarketing?

If someone visits the event page of your website, but does not complete a registration form, you may still be able to get them to convert, but only if you strike while the lead is hot and your event remains top of mind. One of the easiest and most cost efficient means of doing this is through remarketing.

Remarketing is an online campaign that you set up to target people who reach your website or specific pages of your website. You then display relevant ads to them as they navigate other internet sites to compel them to complete a transaction or simply return to your association’s website—basically re-engaging with you.

Two of the most popular channels for launching a remarketing campaign are Google and Facebook.

Google’s remarketing tool installs a cookie on the system of site visitors who are then shown your ad as they navigate throughout the web—a direct link to sign up or return to your website. Your privacy policy must be updated to include language specific to allow for this type of campaign.

Facebook’s remarketing tool shows your ads within someone’s Facebook newsfeed or along the right-hand side.

Both campaigns are highly targeted as you already know that your audience has some level of interest in your event. In fact, remarketing increased one of our client association’s conference registrations by 62%.

Remarketing works very well on its own, but to fully harness the power of online marketing, you should also implement an online list marketing campaign.

What is a list marketing campaign in this context?

You probably mail and email all of your internal prospective attendee files your conference marketing materials, but you can also make these files work for you online.

If you take your past attendees, current members, and any other list you “own” you can upload these files into Facebook and target any email Facebook matches with designated ads.

The added benefit to running any sort of Facebook ad campaign is that not only can you drive a transaction but you’ll also increase your page likes, visibility, and engagement as people share and comment.

These campaigns have added thousands of page followers to associations’ Facebook pages giving you wider reach and a larger audience for future campaigns.

Getting Started – What Do You Need To Plan For?

The first thing you will most likely need to revisit is your association’s privacy policy, particularly if you are to use Google AdWords for your remarketing campaign. There is very specific verbiage you will need to adhere to in your privacy policy. Here is the link for the “What to Include in Your Privacy Policy for Remarketing” page by Google. For Facebook, you do not have to update your association’s privacy policy as Facebook’s privacy policy with its users already covers it.

For remarketing you will also need to place a tag on your website. This involves dropping a particular piece of HTML code in a designated position.

Results Tracking – How Will You Know Your Program Was Effective?

One very critical aspect to planning your campaign is the use of Conversion Code. Both Google AdWords and Facebook provide dedicated Conversion Code tools that you can utilize for individual actions. This is a snippet of HTML code that gets placed on the respective Thank You/Receipt Confirmation page that signifies that a successful transaction has occurred on your association’s website.

For example, you’ve decided to set up a remarketing campaign for your upcoming conference. You’ve placed your Google AdWords remarketing code across your entire website, uploaded your ads into Google AdWords, set your Destination Page to send your traffic to, but how will you measure success? By placing the Google AdWords Conversion Code on your Thank You page the visitor sees after successfully registering for the conference, this data then gets reported back to Google AdWords as a Conversion, and allows you to track what your Cost Per Conversion was for your campaign.

For more information about leveraging online marketing to increase event registration, please contact MGI Account Supervisor Rebecca Flach at RRubin@MarketingGeneral.com or tel.703.706.0395

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