On Wednesday 12/8 I gave a webinar on the topic “Update, Don’t Inundate: Event Marketing in the Full Inbox Era.” The webinar was based off a whitepaper on the same topic, available for download here. If you missed the webinar, it is available for on-demand playback below, and you can also download the slides here.

The playback does not include the Q&A that followed the webinar, so I’ll use this space to recount what my responses were during the webinar (and edit them if I think of something more clever to say this time around). There were also a few questions from listeners that we didn’t have time to respond to on the webinar. I’ll respond to those below as well.

Event Marketing Webinar Q&A

Q: Can you go over the “lite” subscription again?  How can someone subscribe to some messages and not others?

A: The idea here is to recgonize that some of your event prospects are less engaged than others. You’ll have some who will want to read all 6 or 8 or 10 messages promoting your upcoming conference, and others who will want to know it’s happening but do not need the details. They both may attend – appetite for emails is not always a clear indication of intent. I recommend that you use a preferences center or a manual group structure to allow for a “lite” subscription to your event emails. Give your subscribers a chance of “opting down,” which is certainly preferable to opting out. Then when you write your messages for your event, decide which ones go to both the lite and full subscribers, and which ones do not go to the lite subscribers. Announcing that registration is opening or the keynote speakers or registration deadlines are all candidates for both subscription categories. But emails that go into detail about the exhibitors or the content in the educational tracks may be more suitable for the full subscribers only. If you don’t have a preferences center or another mechanism for allowing your subscribers to opt-down, take a look at responsiveness to previous messages. Find the subscribers on your list who have not read or responded to many messages over the past year and move them into the lite subscription group. You may find that reducing your frequency actually increases their responsiveness.

Q1: Have you found that offering special discounts for events for Facebook friends or Twitter followers only is effective?
Q2: We’d love to promote our events through social media like Facebook or Twitter but we just don’t seem to have the interest. Any suggestions on how to generate use of those methods by our audience?

A: I’m not an advocate of offering public promotions to only segments of the prospect market, such as requiring that someone is a Facebook fan in order to be eligible for a discount. You may have very loyal attendees who sign up every year, but have no interest in getting poked by high school friends they haven’t seen in 25 years, and didn’t like even in high school. With a Facebook-only discount, some greenhorn who is into social media might get a better deal on the conference than your company’s VIPs. I do believe in rewarding loyalty and engagement though, and think there is a huge opportunity to leverage the value of your events to help establish your social channels. In the case of Twitter and Facebook, there is the opportunity  to reward people by pushing open promotions only or first into those channels. For example, one of your event sponsors might want to invite attendees to a free upscale dinner the night before the event. Instead of promoting it by saying, “Only open to our Facebook followers – RSVP here,” I’d recommend you push the invitation out to Facebook first, with the message, “Room for 20 at the VIP dinner – RSVP in a hurry if you’d like to attend!” Then as you communicate the value of participation in the social channels, you can certainly say “Be the first to learn about promotions and special opportunities.” The end game is not to get people to fan your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter – it’s to build up a communication channel that is effective for you.

Q: Can we move past the history and get to the solutions????

A: Really? I thought the history was the best part. You must not have been an event marketer in 1999 or you would have happily relived that period too.

Q: Website- are you suggesting the home page be simple and lead further into the site?

A: The context to this question had to do with landing pages. I made the point that breaking the content into smaller pieces and promoting individual aspects of the show can be advantageous over trying to promote the whole kit and kaboodle in emails and then sending your prospects to the homepage. You know more about your event than anyone else – you’re the expert. As an event marketer, your role is akin to a guide: help your prospects get to the information about the show that is most relevant to them, and which will cause them to register. To answer the question, I’m not recommending that the homepage be simple. The function of the event homepage is to get people through it, and onto the narrower event content like the agenda or the speaker lineup or the exhibitor list. But the truth about the event homepage is that even if you’re highly skilled at wielding the landing page, your event homepage is still going to get far more traffic than any part of your site. For that reason, you have to put a lot of energy into that page, merchandising your show content effectively. It has to work harder than any other page on your site, even if its goal is simply to get people off of it. So don’t think simple – think representative, and edited. The homepage should highlight – concisely – the aspects of your show that best serve to differentiate it, and which are the most appealing to your target audience. If you have something to say about your show that is not going to resonate with a good chunk of your prospects, leave it off the homepage.