Conducting well-attended and highly-regarded conferences is of vital importance to most associations, and the large number of factors that can potentially impact the success of a large event means that even the most gifted and experienced conference planners can benefit from reviewing the latest in event marketing best practices and technological capabilities.
“Be ruthless in terms of saving time where you can. You will add more value (and derive more satisfaction) when you are freed from repetitive and mundane tasks and have time to concentrate on more impactful conference projects.”
With that in mind, we’ve drawn from both the member industry and the private sector to provide this list of ideas to consider. Most of these concepts relate to making both your invitations and your events themselves as dynamic as possible, meaning tailored to align over time with the evolving interests of each of your invitees. In addition, most of the concepts outlined below apply to other events, including local meetings and webinars, and we hope you find a number of useful takeaways!
TIME IS PRECIOUS
Be ruthless in terms of saving time where you can. You will add more value (and derive more satisfaction) when you are freed from repetitive and mundane tasks and have time to concentrate on more impactful conference projects. This means that anything that can be automated should be automated – immediately. The good news is that much more can be automated today than in years past. Things that can currently be automated for you include:
- Email: Invitations, Promotions, Incentives, Confirmations, Announcements for Attendees, Updates, Reminders, and Post-Event Communications/Surveys can all be set up in advance and automatically triggered at just the right time for each individual recipient
- Social: Speaker Announcements, Promotions, Referral Programs and much more can all be shared across platforms automatically, and can be scheduled for both daytime and evening distribution so that you can reach your audiences at the times they prefer
- Lists: Updating lists of attendees, registrants, cancellations and attendees can all be done automatically, both saving time and increasing accuracy
SEGMENTATION AND PERSONALIZATION MATTER
Tailoring your invitations and the conference itself to match the interests of each individual invitee will maximize conference attendance and satisfaction.
- Segmentation: take advantage of the tremendous number of insights you have into the interests of each member of your community by using things like the emails they have clicked on, the documents they downloaded, the specific blogs they read, the web pages they visited and the other events they attended to identify the subject areas that each invitee has been most engaged with during the past year (this is also very useful for planning conference content)
- Personalization: Send messages to each invitee that emphasize how each of the subjects they’ve been interested in will be addressed during the conference. Identify what seem to be the most important topics for each invitee and monitor email opens on a per-topic basis to make sure that each individual has been exposed to messaging related to each key topic. Re-send key messages to those members who have not yet opened/read them to make sure that you have stated your case for event attendance as strongly as possible to each invitee.
- Member Appreciation: segmentation and personalization are not only important in terms of optimizing the success of your conference, they also help each of your members feel better understood and appreciated. Let your invitees know that you are tailoring your messages and your event to better meet their needs – they will appreciate the effort and feel more important to your organization even if they do not attend the conference.
MEASURE CAMPAIGN EFFECTIVENESS AND ROI
- Dynamic Invitation Campaigns: Monitor email open rates to understand which subject lines have proven most popular and monitor click-throughs to see which conference offers or information garner the most interest. Just as you’ve used member activity over the past year to tailor your conference and promotions, also learn from your conference invitation campaigns mid-stream to modify your upcoming rounds of invitation emails.
- Campaign ROI: monitoring each conference invitation campaign not only helps you to improve the results of upcoming campaigns, it helps you better understand your investment in event promotional campaigns and in the event itself. In addition to monitoring whether conference attendees renew their memberships at a higher rate than non-attendees, you can explore on a much more granular basis – do invitees who clicked multiple conference invitation emails renew at a higher rate? Do conference attendees purchase more from your bookstore?
CAPITALIZE ON ABANDOMENT
As a final tip, take advantage of capabilities developed originally for online shopping carts to capture invitees who started down your online registration process but did not complete it. Create follow-up emails that will automatically be triggered to each individual at whatever time intervals you feel are appropriate. If someone completed 3/4 of your online registration process but went no further, it might make sense to send a gentle reminder – they may have been interrupted. Tailor the trigger points, time intervals, and messages to be appropriate for your organization and your own process.
Consider optimizing the attendance and satisfaction levels of your conferences by making both the invitations and the events themselves as dynamic as possible. Communicate with your invitees in as personalized, relevant, and timely a manner as possible. To discuss the ways in which Marketing Automation is being used by Event, Marketing and Membership teams at both member-based organizations and the private sector, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to one of our subject matter experts at 240-743-2941.