Brief and goals
A major tech company wanted to increase its reach to decision makers for data & analytics solutions. Their main objective was to position the tech provider as a thought leader in the industry and start building relationships with key accounts.
We started working on the event structure and identified the target audience to be senior-level executives (VP and C-level), from companies with over 1,000 employees, working in data or analytics. Due to the high-level profile of attendees, the decision was taken to have the access free of charge, but by invitation only.
The objective of the contract was to have a specific number of attendees on site. The event was now at its 6th edition and the previous 2 editions did not reach the attendee target, under-delivering by 10% and 8%.
Specific profile – Every registered attendee had to go through an internal approval process with the client, so the profile needed to be carefully verified before admission, to ensure only relevant candidates pass through.
Channels – Since the event was invitation only, reaching the correct audience was very important. Audience acquisition couldn’t be delivered through mass messaging such as media partnerships or community outreach, so a targeted outreach was needed.
Positioning – Although this was a branded event, 80% of speakers were industry leaders from outside the client organisation. The desired positioning was that of an industry learning event for the most senior executives, not a sales pitch in the form of an event.
Attendance rates – For free events, our experience showed that 50-60% of registered delegates attend it. We needed to deliver a bigger number of registrations to ensure we reach the target of attendees on the day and ensure we keep attendees’ interest high.
Overcoming challenges to deliver results
1. Specific profile
To make sure we get the right people in the room, we created a pre-registration form that profiled the attendee’s area of expertise, seniority, decision-making authority, company size and industry. Since the event was invitation only, the link wasn’t public on the event website.
Profiles who matched the desired criteria where then submitted through the internal approval process with the tech provider. To ensure a good customer experience for the registrants and clear communication, we informed them they are pre-registered and will receive a full reply within 3 to 5 business days, without detailing the internal review process.
We then developed a close relationship with the event team to ensure the criteria for selection is clear on both sides, we provide enough information to demonstrate the profile matches the brief, we overcome any issues in approving candidates as and when they appear and communication with attendees is done in a clear way and through an unique point of contact.
Results: Approval rates were 100% of submitted candidates for the internal process and feedback after event was that the audience corresponded precisely the brief.
The challenge was to increase reach whilst also keeping it limited to attendees that matched the profile. We developed an audience acquisition strategy with multiple touch points:
• Data research for senior-level executives from companies with 1,000+ employees
• Lead generation through content, webinars, community outreach and speaker marketing
• Email marketing to the database acquired
Since the registration form wasn’t made public, the event website served as a lead generation platform, through which we collected information of people interested in content related to the event. Only relevant profiles were then targeted with the invitation link.
Whilst email marketing remains a good and targeted channel for event registrations and audience acquisition, we wanted to offer an optimum ROI for the marketing budget by investing in a few other channels and tactics:
• Building downloadable content from the tech providers previous reports and past event information, which could be accessed after filling a form, so we collected information of the people interested
• Putting together webinars with event speakers on the most pressing issues for the target audience
• Working closely with speakers to ensure they are sharing the event with their audiences
The content we put together also allowed for mass sharing with the data & analytics communities of LinkedIn groups, Meetups, partner newsletters, social media channels and digital ads.
Results: Over 45% of website traffic was coming from indirect channels (referral and social traffic), increasing the reach to audiences outside our lists of contacts.
With competition being high for events aimed at the target market, we needed to highlight the unique selling points and ensure the event showcases the learning value it provides.
The messaging we’ve used on the website, email marketing and social media messaging included details on:
• Learning points for attendees, announcing agenda main topics
• Key speakers, joining from outside the tech company organising
• Testimonials of previous attendees about the value they received from attending the event
• The high-profile level and diversity of attendees
Results: Post event surveys showed attendees 87% likely to attend a future event, with over 60% marking learning as the meeting’s number 1 benefit for participants
4. Attendance rates
Whilst every role and position are important to a company, senior-level executives tend to be particularly busy with meetings with business leaders, managers, team members, board members and running the functions they are looking after. This makes the time they invest in events be more limited and develops an even greater need to prove the value of them attending.
We also know how often plans change for business executives, so we developed a plan to keep them engaged with the event development and keen to attend. The customer engagement plan included:
• A customer service newsletter sent regularly that included updates on new speakers joining the line-up, content and interviews event speakers have created in preparation for the event and logistical information
• A scoring system based on each individual’s interaction with us, hotel bookings, engagement with CS emails that showed the participants less likely to attend the event
• A telesales team that re-confirmed attendees, prioritising them based on the scoring system
Results: We’ve increased attendance rates from 45% to 60%
Lessons & future insights
The event turned out a success for both our company and the tech provider who commissioned us. Based on the 115% delivery of target attendees on site, we were then re-commissioned for the next event as well, where we delivered 120% of target attendees.
The lessons we took further:
• Communication is the key to building trust. We had bi-weekly calls with the event team to keep them updated on process, targets, expected results and had a list of actionable points from both sides to ensure we reach our objectives. This enhanced their trust in what we can deliver.
• A solid plan for lead generation can have a massive impact on your marketing strategy. Whilst some leads didn’t have the appropriate profile to attend the event at the time being, they can be nurtured for future events or for other services the company offers. The lifetime value of a lead can then increase significantly over time.
• The attendee is not always 100% convinced when registering. With our customer service plan and scoring system, we were able to identify that a few of the attendees didn’t engage with any communication we’ve submitted after they registered. A small number of them had forgotten they signed up, but ended up attending thanks to the reminders. Communication with attendees is key even after their registration.
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