Marketing Automation for Event Promotion
Events, whether in-person gatherings such as conferences or web-based meetings such as webinars or online training, are of central importance to many organizations.
Properly promoting these events is typically a time-consuming challenge for most associations, but 2015 brings good news: the core functionality of Marketing Automation maps perfectly to Event Promotion, making it one of the activity areas that benefit most from Marketing Automation’s ability to send the right message to the right person at the right time – automatically.
This Executive Brief will draw upon the experiences of the Texas Hospital Association (THA), an Austin-based organization with more than 370,000 customer/members. THA chose their most important event (their annual conference), as the first initiative to be conducted using its new Real Magnet Marketing Automation solution.
The core benefits of Marketing Automation for Event Promotion include the following, all of which were realized by THA in their very first usage:
- Tailored and More Relevant Invitations/Messaging
- Improved Understanding of Customer Segments
- Recapture of Potential Registrants who “Abandoned”
- Staff Time Savings
- Dashboard-Based Reporting
- Ease of Use
“Our first experience with marketing automation was a real eye-opener,” says Lane Boyd, THA’s Digital Communications Manager. “We used to write an email, send it out to 5,000 members, look at the results, and then rinse and repeat until the campaign ended,” he says.
Despite being easy to run and successful (the goal for conference registrations was exceeded), THA’s initial campaign revealed that they needed to extend their outreach and revise messaging to invitees with titles below the C-level.
“We’ve always found it easy to reach executives, but not so much other segments, such as nurses, physicians, and quality and marketing staff,” says Lane. “Now that it’s easy for us to reach the front line, it was an eye opener to find out how little they know about our association—who we are and what we do.” In one instance, Lane targeted a group of women executives, achieving just 31 clicks for 3,000 delivered messages. “Of course I’d prefer our communication vehicle give us good news,” he says. “But sometimes bad news has to come first.”
That bad-news insight has given THA a new mission—to educate and reconnect with all staff levels at member organizations, not just the C-suite. And Lane is brimming with ideas for future projects that require marketing automation: a re-engagement program to connect with the 10,000 members who don’t open emails, as well as birthday reminders and other campaigns to keep in touch with their customers. When it comes to regular campaigns, such as webinars, new-member welcomes, and conference registrations, Lane and his team are focused more heavily on segmenting. “We’re a large association,” he says. “Now, instead of sending one message to everyone, we’re thinking twice about what we put into our emails, looking at who members are and which messages should go where.”
THA also derived great benefit from Real Magnet Marketing Automation’s abandonment functionality. Although Lane could deliver emails to readers on schedule, he had no way to automatically send reminders to recipients who clicked to register, but then left the registration page before completing their registration. “The abandonment component is really important,” he says.
“For this campaign, I was able to build messages with two options: one click took readers to the conference page, another to the registration page. If a reader clicked but then didn’t register, the abandonment series kicked in. I didn’t have to do a thing other than write the messages and tell the system which to send to whom, and when.”
Lane counsels his peers considering marketing automation to go for it. “There’s no reason why every organization shouldn’t be using marketing automation,” he says. “Because the email messages contain tiny, live bits of information, they’re not static; they’re out there doing work for you. Marketing automation brings your email to life.” He also says that although the automation itself is complex, using a marketing automation platform doesn’t have to be.
“The great thing about Real Magnet’s system is that it’s so easy,” he says. “We set up the campaign very quickly, let it run, and then were able to focus in other directions to get more numbers.” He also points to the platform’s easy reporting approach. “The reporting is simple and intuitive,” he says. “You can watch what you’re doing on the charts instead of having to run reports to get your data. You can see what’s happening right in your dashboard, so watching the numbers is part of the fun.”
It is worth emphasizing that that the Texas Hospital Association enjoyed this full range of successes in their very first Marketing Automation initiative and it was a very large and vitally important one – their annual conference.
While some new technologies take time to make an impact, this example shows that the benefits of Marketing Automation are immediate and significant. THA exceeded its registration goals for the annual conference and are extremely excited to have identified a range of additional initiatives that Marketing Automation will now make possible.