Top 8 Audience Acquisition Tactics for 2019

By Nicole Bojic, Group Executive, Strategic Solutions Group

For decades organizations marketed their events in print advertising—mostly in trade journals—or through word of mouth, processing the resulting registrations by fax or business reply card. Then email and the Web came along and revolutionized the way events were marketed, but new technologies and changing behaviors are again driving new methods of acquiring audiences. This article, which is a first in a series of audience acquisition resources, explores the top 8 ways the most savvy marketers will be getting high-value attendees to their events in 2019 and beyond.

Influencers
It is not likely that email is going away anytime soon, especially given its direct link to online registration. However, you are likely to see it employed in ways that go beyond the traditional save-the-date or early-bird promotional offer to include new marketing channels. The most impactful of these channels will be influencers, especially as target audiences skew toward millennials who value authenticity over hype. In fact, according to recent research, 90% of millennials say authenticity is important to them when deciding which brands to support.[i] So, it makes sense to invest in ways of engaging and tapping into the built-in trust of your influencers. Creating the ability for influencers to share email or social content with their network greatly expands your reach through authentic word of mouth.

Speakers and Partners
Working with speakers and partners is another way you can amplify your message to get the word out about your event while enhancing the value of what you’re offering. Think about how popular Adidas shoes are and how much more popular—coveted even—Adidas Yeezy’s are because they’re a collaboration with rap artist, producer and fashion designer Kanye West. Negotiate co-marketing activities with luminary speakers upfront in the contract phase and then drive the messaging throughout the audience acquisition phase. Approach your partnership relationships in a similar fashion, focusing more on what you can offer together than how much revenue the sponsorship might bring you. A well-considered, co-branded approach will elevate the overall attendee experience while creating a more strategic and rewarding relationship with your partners. Elevate the partnership from branded water bottles to co-presented demos that show off the full capabilities of your joint offering, and preview that in your acquisition efforts.

Internal Communications
Don’t forget the influencers and enthusiasts in your own backyard—your employees. Creating a comprehensive internal communications plan should be an essential part of any audience acquisition strategy. After all, who knows your products and your clients better than your employees? It’s also an excellent way of including employees who may not be directly involved with the event. Use everything from internal messaging toolkits and sales contests to social sharing tools in order to help amplify your message.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Borrowing from the cool factor of popular events like SXSW and TED, an increasing number of B2B companies are getting in on the experiential action. In fact, a recent study from Bizzabo showed that B2B events account for $512 billion in annual spend! That means there’s more competition than ever for your prospective attendees’ time and money. So, when prospective attendees perform a Google search on **It feels like there should be some commas in here “best B2B conference of 2019,” or “best cybersecurity conference of 2019,” or “best [insert keyword here] of 2019” you want to be sure your event appears within the first 10 organic results. Why? Research shows that 70–80% of search engine users only focus on the organic results.[ii] But it’s not just your event website that you want people to find. Ultimately, you also want to be included on the wide variety of articles that list must-attend events, which means you’ll need to identify those lists and follow-up with the authors about including your event.

There’s another reason that SEO is important—customer experience. If your event website is your primary conversion platform for registration (and it likely is), then you want to make it as easy possible for prospective attendees to find your site. Studies have shown that even if people know the URL and can access it directly, they often perform a google search to navigate to a site instead. For example, reviewing the site traffic data during the six months leading up to the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this year, organic search traffic is by far the leading source of traffic (47%) to the site, followed by direct traffic (34%). This is a trend that we see regularly, and a behavior you likely partake in as well.

Retargeting
Retargeting is a form of marketing where advertisers target consumers based on their previous internet actions. There are various types of retargeting available today, but the most effective for events are email retargeting and event retargeting ads. Email retargeting can be especially useful in converting prospective attendees who have begun the registration process but not completed it. There can be many reasons a prospect abandons their registration, including a distraction such as a phone call or meeting, or a barrier such as a costly registration fee. Depending on where and when the registration was abandoned, you can email the prospect with personalized messaging that will help convert them to becoming a registrant. With event retargeting ads, you can capitalize on the prospect’s interest by displaying a Twitter ad featuring a luminary speaker after they visit your event website. Or you might want to display an ad with a discounted registration fee or other promotional offer to help drive conversions.

Creating FOMO
With more and more events to choose from, how do you make your event stand out from the crowd? One way is to create a fear of missing out (FOMO), and the surest way to do that is to generate a feeling of exclusivity. Whenever there’s a chance that one might not be able to participate in something that is happening, it creates FOMO. This can be achieved through clever messaging that employs language such as “invite-only,” “limited-space,” “apply to attend,” or “only 20 seats remain” that creates a level of exclusiveness to make people feel special when they secure their spot. The trick to being successful with the FOMO approach is that your event absolutely must deliver on the promise it makes of being extraordinary. You can also combine this approach with segmenting and attracting VIPs or C-level audiences. By creating exclusive perks and content for a smaller subset of your audience, you can test to see what works and then build upon that.

Destination
According to the Decision to Attend Phase 2 (DTA2) Study from IAEE, in 2017 the top three drivers for attending an event were education (92%), destination (78%) and networking (76%) and have consistently been the top three drivers since 2014. For shorter (half day or less) events, proximity and ease of accessing the destination are likely to be the most important factors to highlight. However, for multi-day events, it can be beneficial to play up the destination. You may even consider partnering with local businesses to offer discounts or special tours that entice attendees to extend their trip. The advantage is twofold: It creates a richer, more memorable attendee experience, but it also creates a deeper investment in the trip for the attendee, making it less likely that they will cancel at the last minute.

Content and Experience
At the end of the day, attendees are looking to come away from your event feeling like they’ve learned something, experienced something completely different, and made valuable, new contacts. Not only must you deliver on all of this, you also have to articulate and share the feeling before it ever happens so you can get the right audience there in the first place. It’s important to work closely with event strategists to ensure cohesive messaging and attendee journey. Each point in the journey should feel like it is building on the last, making it richer and more engaging. This requires a keen understanding of your target audiences, the event strategies, the content and messaging, and your overall business goals.

Our experienced InVision team can help you incorporate these tactics into a comprehensive audience acquisition and engagement strategy that will meet your business goals. In fact, we’ll even help you define the KPIs that will ensure long-term success.

Email us at info@iv.com for more information or visit our website at www.iv.com.


[i] Source: https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/survey-finds-consumers-crave-authenticity-and-user-generated-content-deli/511360/
[ii] Source: https://martech.zone/seo-statistics/

 

Five B2B Engagement Tactics

5 Conference Trends B2B 2016

How to Build an Attendee Journey

Viewers watching the show. Long exposure shot.

Remember what it’s like to be an attendee of an event? You’re a spectator, watching and listening, hoping to walk away with some sort of call-to-action. Maybe it’s putting the information you learned into use or feeling more motivated to continue to do what you do every day, even better. Whatever the case, you attend these events hoping to gain something new and to be inspired.

So how do we as event marketers, ensure that most (if not all) of our attendees feel more connected to our brand; prepared for the future ahead; recognized for their achievements; or feel re-energized for a brand new year?

It’s simple. We build an Attendee Journey. An Attendee Journey is our holistic approach where we immerse ourselves into the mindset of the audience while also keeping in mind the objectives and messaging that we want to communicate. It’s the perfect blend of designing a campaign that delivers measurable results and potentially new behaviors. It goes beyond a simple production of an event by transforming a traditional ballroom into an environment immersed with your brand and messaging, staging that stirs excitement, stunning graphics that convey visual stories and compelling speakers whose energy radiates into the attendees.

Below are just a few key insights that will help you develop an Attendee Journey that delivers engaging experiences that inspire lasting results.

Know Your Audience
Who are they and what are their mindsets?

Set Objectives and Envision Success
What kind of campaign?
What does success look like and how will it be measured?
Are your objectives measurable? (ROI, ROO, ROE)

Design with Purpose
How will attendees be engaged?
Are there any compelling industry trends that you can integrate into the program?
Is the message woven through the entire event?
How will you extend the message beyond the event?

Want to learn more about building an Attendee Journey? Contact us at ivcinfo@iv.com or check out how we did it for one of our clients: Global Conference Case Study

 

Eye-Tracking Technology Meets B2B Event Conferences

Eye Tracking Technology

 

For most of us, we experience our life visually. What we see is one of the primary ways we gather information. But what we might not be consciously aware of is that our brain ultimately decides what we choose to look at. This is one of the reasons why eye-tracking has become a valuable tool for marketers. Marketers can use this technology to discover what intrigues and attracts a consumer’s (or in our realm, an attendee) attention when faced with a variety of products or actions. Even further, eye-tracking can give indications about the person’s presence, attention, focus, drowsiness, consciousness or other mental states (Citing Source: http://www.tobii.com/en/about-tobii/what-is-eye-tracking/). This information gives us deep insights into people’s behavior and actions.

In the B2B event space, eye-tracking opens the door for marketers and leadership to understand an attendees’ engagement level. While social media gives attendees the voice to express or communicate online, eye-tracking reveals a new kind of “voice” by exposing behaviors that we might not otherwise notice. For example, a learning station at an event can capture what attendees are specifically looking at onscreen and even determine if they are engaged or not. Through collective research, marketers can narrow down what exactly worked and didn’t work on their learning tool. Maybe it was color or choice of words…or maybe the material was too wordy so attendees lost interest…or maybe something was too distracting. No matter the challenge, eye-tracking has the ability to help marketers re-examine, adjust and try again until there is success.

One of the most obvious benefits of eye-tracking is helping companies understand their consumer. Among a choice of five kids’ cereals that are similar, why does one sell more than the other? What grabs and holds your attention longest? Fortunately, there is a science and eye-tracking helps cut down hours and hours of focus groups and surveys.

Be on the lookout for more eye-tracking developments in 2015. In the meantime, we leave you with *three takeaways on what eye-tracking can tell you in your marketing efforts courtesy of Perception Research Services (PRS).

Visibility
Do people even see and notice a package on a cluttered shelf, a display in an enormous store – or a link of a cluttered web screen?

Engagement
Do these marketing efforts hold their attention – or are they quickly bypassed?

Viewing Patterns/Communication Hierarchy
Which specific elements or messages draw attention and are consistently seen/read (and which are frequently overlooked)?  

*Citing Source: Perception Research Services (PRS): http://www.prsresearch.com/prs-insights/article/getting-the-most-from-eye-tracking/).

 

It’s a Bird! It’s a…Drone?

SmartBird

Photo Credit: http://blog.grabcad.com/blog/2011/06/14/festo-smartbird/

Drones “flew” off the shelves during the 2014 holidays as more and more technology enthusiasts opened their wallets to purchase some of the most talked-about models.

It won’t be long until we start to see more and more of these flying drones with integrated video camera technology in the B2B events space to capture a different point of view of the audience experience. Using a birds-eye view, drones deliver a valuable perspective for marketers to see where their attendees are and what they are doing. It’s certainly a different kind of data gathering, but undoubtedly a priceless one because you can capture attendee emotions and reactions to your tradeshow floor or general session, as well as note which areas or booths have the most traffic.

Not a fan of insect-looking creatures flying around your venue? What if it looked and flew just like an actual bird? The SmartBird (an autonomous ornithopter utilizing bionic technology, if you want to impress your friends) was first introduced in 2011 and caused quite a stir in its beauty and agility. How incredible will your walk-in be with these beautiful herring gull-inspired birds flying around your ballroom ceilings?

Flying drones are not only attractive to watch but can get your attendees involved with some added fun. At CES 2015, Nixie was introduced as a wearable bracelet drone that flew away from your wrist to snap a picture of you from a further and higher distance. Essentially, it’s a huge upgrade from your selfie stick. Instead of capturing your face and maybe a little bit of background, Nixie provides a wider view of you and the surrounding environment.

These drones are approaching fast. I, for one, am excited to see where they land.

 

Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation

Millennials

 

It’s no secret that the attention span of the average B2B attendee is shrinking. And why shouldn’t it? With increasing access of mobile phones and Internet, we have access to massive amounts of data and information flowing through our fingertips with every tap of our mobile devices. Additionally, the audience demographics are shifting as more millennials take their seats in general sessions. The millennial generation is significantly more connected to technology than any before them, so the way they consume information will be unlike generations past. And don’t always assume that “millennial” is based on age; the definition also includes habits and lifestyle. A 56-year-old can very well have adopted millennial behaviors.

So how can we engage this rapidly growing audience of millennials? It’s likely you already know some of these tips. It’s more important to start doing them.

Rise Above the Noise
With so much going on (technology, social media, etc.) you’re going to have to do something that grabs their attention. As a tech-savvy group, an easy way to engage a millennial is to bring a digital solution to your event. Millennials love to connect with people and interact on the cloud. Take advantage of the device they are already carrying and use it to communicate your messages and connect them to your brand. Whether it’s adding a mobile app or introducing gamification based on your brand, make sure it’s relevant and serves a clear purpose… and more importantly, that it has some sort of action. Millennials don’t just want to be handed information. They want to interact and be involved. This could include be live polling, games, check-ins, networking and discussion boards.

Short and Sweet
The average millennial stops listening at the 30-minute mark so keep presentations short and avoid busy-looking PowerPoint slides. A great lesson comes from TED Talks: not only are the presentations a mere 18 minutes, the speakers are generally engaging and humanize their content. And let them talk. Millennials are active participants so they want to be heard. Before a presentation, ask them what they want to hear about. Allowing them the opportunity to voice their interests gives you the ability to craft a keynote that is important to them.

Network, Network, Network
Allow ample time for networking. If there’s one thing millennials are really good at, it’s networking. They do it all the time on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. They crave the chance to meet people.

Experience of a Lifetime
Millennials want to be more than spectators; they want to be a part of experiences. In other words, don’t talk at them about your brand. Instead, infuse them into your brand. You’ll be pleased to know that by practicing this, millennials will carry out marketing and promotions of your brand for you. How? There are a number of ways to do this…let them take photos of themselves with your brand and post it on Instagram. Or let them play with your brand physically. Live demonstrations are also more interesting than diagrams and charts.

How have you engaged your millennial audience?

Discovered! IVC Chicago Favorite Foods, Part 1

Hello! It’s Andy from Chicago. One of the unique features of Chicago is that once you get out of downtown, the city is made up of dozens of neighborhoods. The neighborhoods are where the people live, shop, dine and stroll. On a human level. Street level.

The IVC Chicago office is in just such a neighborhood—Northcenter. Far from downtown, our neighborhood is comprised of a few main thoroughfares along side streets lined with single family homes of all shapes and sizes. Along the main streets are a dizzying array of restaurants, coffee shops, taverns, diners, sushi, Thai, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern, Mexican, Cuban, Colombian, Irish, German, pizza and encased meats (hot dogs-no ketchup).

So as a public service, the colleagues at IVC Chicago have taken it upon ourselves to do a careful analysis of the variety, quality, value and overall customer experience. Consider this a first salvo in the continuing search for the best lunches available in the North Center / Lincoln Square neighborhood of IVC Chicago.

Nhu Lahn Bakery
A tiny, almost invisible, little Vietnamese bakery close by was listed by the Chicago Tribune as having one of “the top 25 sandwiches in Chicago”: Lemongrass marinated tofu Banh Mi. The bread is a huge factor, fresh baked Vietnamese baguettes stuffed with this marinated tofu that could get past a pork lover if you didn’t tip him off. Crisp cucumbers, jalapenos carrot and cilantro combine and surprise. Rod Mickels, IVC CEO said, “This is a great sandwich.” Check it out on Yelp

Sultan’s Market
This is a favorite delivery option for the Chicago office. This is what we usually are eating during the monthly staff meetings: falafel and lamb shawarma sandwiches, hummus and pita. Spicy for me, medium for everyone else. We like to think it’s a healthy choice, because it’s vegetarian-but we pig out on it so it isn’t exactly like diet food. Check it out on Yelp

Hot Doug’s
Chicago’s finest ‘sausage superstore and encased meats emporium’: gourmet fois gras dogs, the Elvis polish: (smoked and savory, just like the king), the Brigitte Bardot (Andouille sausage and mighty hot!). Cognac and Bacon Pheasant Sausage with Chevre Cream, Wild Boar Pate and Truffle-Balsamic Drizzle. And be sure to get at least 1 order of the fresh cut fries cooked in duck fat. Serious indulgence. The line goes out the door and on a nice day, you might wait half an hour or more, but you make friends, and by the time you order and your food comes up, there’s a table ready. We have to jump in a car to go to Hot Doug’s but we still consider him part of our neighborhood. Check it out on Yelp

In the next food blog from IVC Chicago, we’ll do a tavern crawl for lunch: Bad Dog Tavern, The Bad Apple and the Globe Pub. Two of them have good food. Stay tuned to find out which…

Andy Flanagan, Account Director, InVision