By Raylene Woods, MGI Senior Vice President/COO
USING YOUR DATABASE TO GROW YOUR MEETING ATTENDANCE
The success of your conference and meetings marketing, as with marketing any non-dues product, is almost always a result of knowing what your attendees value and why they choose to attend your event. Often your après-conference evaluation sheets can give you valuable information when it comes to the preferences of your attendees. Those findings, even if not quantitative, can shed good direction on changes or enhancements for next year’s program.
But, what can be done before the meeting to, for example, unearth new prospects? Here are a couple of digital media ideas to add to your meetings marketing mix.
INTERNET MARKETING GOLD
When used with the internet, your attendee database, especially social media, can produce a rich yield of attendee prospects. If your online-user universe is large enough, test all of the following suggestions. Plan on a monthly spend of at least $3,000.
Start by placing ads on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other content networks to offer prospects a taste of your content in exchange for their contact information. These interested prospects can subsequently be cultivated with email to hopefully sign up for your event. This is probably the most direct method, and the most costly of my suggestions. But keep in mind that you control the spending; these are pay-per-click ads, and you can set an upper limit on each ad.
FACEBOOK LOOKALIKE AUDIENCES
Using your attendee lists from the last three (four, five, or more) years, you can create a Facebook lookalike audience. You provide Facebook with your past attendee email addresses, and they select those email addresses associated with Facebook accounts and profile them to determine a universe of prospects who “look like” your attendees–that is, they share similar demographics and preferences with your past attendees. Although Facebook will not give you those email addresses (wouldn’t that be nice?), they will place ads in the newsfeeds or on the advertising real estate of those Facebook “Lookalike” Pages they identified. That way, those new prospects that look like your attendees can see you, click on your ad, and travel to your enrollment page and sign up for your conference.
GOOGLE AND FACEBOOK REMARKETING
Another technique termed Facebook or Google Remarketing, follows the visitors from your meeting’s website around the web with ads related to the specific page that they visited on your site. Research tells us that it takes several times before a prospect makes a decision to act. Using Remarketing keeps the decision in front of prospects who are considering attending your conference or making a purchase. Here, a monthly spend as low as $500 can make a difference in your attendance. In one recent example, with all other meetings marketing essentially the same as the previous year, the addition of Facebook remarketing helped grow attendance by 60%!
Of course with trying anything new, testing is so important. Test Google, LinkedIn and Facebook to find where you see the most success. But remember, while these digital marketing techniques can easily enhance your present meetings marketing plan, direct mail combined with email marketing still remains the single most scalable and predictable sales channel to identify and target an audience.
Want a fresh look at your present meetings marketing program or more ideas for adding a digital marketing component to your existing plan? Please feel free to contact Raylene Woods at 703.706.0344 or Raylene@MarketingGeneral.com for a no obligation consultation.