Top 10 Questions to Ask When Evaluating an Audience Acquisition Partner


By Nicole Bojic, Group Executive, Strategic Solutions Group

Acquiring the right audience for your event may be one of the most important elements to achieving event success. But it’s not as easy as it used to be, especially with a flood of new events entering the market each year. In fact, between 2017 and 2018, the number of companies organizing 20 or more events per year increased by 17%.[i] That means prospective attendees now have more events than ever to choose from, often without the benefit of bigger spending budgets. So, it’s critical that your audience acquisition strategy stands out from the competition to give your event the edge that will attract and convert the high-value attendees you desire.

This article is designed to help you pinpoint the latest skills and services you need to be successful when planning and implementing a comprehensive audience acquisition strategy. Whether you’re looking for an outside agency, a freelancer, or help from another internal team, here are 10 questions you can use to help find the right partner(s) for success.

What roles will be involved in the audience acquisition strategy and implementation effort?
A successful audience acquisition campaign will likely require more than a registration website and a few emails. That means you’ll need a cross-functional team that includes:

  • Strategist(s)—to identify and characterize the right target audiences, map relevant messages to each audience segment, determine the best mix of media channels and tactics, and plan the right cadence for your outreach
  • Copywriters—who have the experience and unique skills writing copy for each of the channels in your mix—from web copy and online ads to email marketing and direct mail, and more
  • Graphic Designers/Art Directors—who can create engaging designs that work online and offline
  • Developers—who can code everything from HTML emails and websites to online ads, and provide support in capturing data for analysis and optimization; you may even need someone who can provide API support between marketing automation and registration platforms
  • Project Managers—that oversee all of the moving parts and ensure each of the elements are completed and deployed on time

What discovery information and data do you require prior to beginning strategy work?
If your potential partners are not asking for discovery data, you might want to keep looking for another partner. Your audience acquisition strategy will have the best chance of success when built on a solid foundation of knowledge and insights. The following discovery sources can provide a wealth of useful information from which to build an audience acquisition strategy.

From previous events:
– Attendee survey and poll data
– Registration data, including YOY, registration cadence, registration to attendance rate
– Email opens, click-through rates (CTR)
– A/B testing data
– Mobile app analytics data
– Social engagement and sentiment analytics
– Google Analytics reports
– Heatmaps
– Ad performance data

Support for current event:
– Event brief (including background, purpose, goals)
– Audience segmentation
– Event personas
– Copy and brand style guide(s)
– Theme and messaging guidelines (if applicable)
– Overall marketing plan (to understand how this event fits within the larger marketing effort)

How will you reach our target audience(s)?
A good partner will be able to clearly articulate how they will segment, identify and reach your target audiences. They will also outline how they will use messaging and the attendee journey to create an engaging experience that goes beyond event registration to create attendee value during and after the event. You’ll want to listen for the inclusion of helpful tools like a messaging matrix or a messaging map, which are instrumental in developing copy that resonates with your target audiences.

What KPIs do you recommend tracking for audience acquisition?
This might seem like a simple question, but you should actually be looking for a partner who understands the importance of ROA (return on attendee). Yes, it’s important to hit registration and attendance goals, but it’s even more important to attract and engage attendees who take action as a result of your event. That’s where your investment really starts to pay off. Whether attendees are seeking more information or placing an order (or something similar), these actions work to actually move prospects along the funnel, giving you a higher ROA. Partnering with someone who can help identify and track meaningful KPIs will help ensure that you’re focusing your efforts wisely.

What media channels and tactics do you typically employ?
Although research shows that 46% of B2B organizations believe email marketing is the most effective channel to promote an event[ii], it should not be your only channel. Depending on the size, budget and goals of the event as well as the target audience profile, you’ll likely want to explore and consider a combination of the following channels to create a rich outreach campaign:

– Email
– Owned websites (e.g. corporate site, event site, blog, etc.)
– Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
–  Social Media
– PPC and display advertising, including social
– Retargeting
– Direct mail
– Out of home (e.g. billboards, transportation ads)
– Public relations (e.g. online event listings, press coverage, etc.)
– Internal communications
– Sales team outreach
– Partner outreach


How will you work with our marketing automation team?

At some point you’re going to need to send out some emails, and most likely, you own the contact database. That means either your partners will need to provide you with content that you can send (either “content pieces” that can be used in a template or a finished piece) or they’ll send the emails on your behalf using their own email platform or an API into yours. Understanding these capabilities upfront—and how experienced your partner is in delivering on this—will save you a lot of heartache when you’re working against the clock to get communications out on time. It will also enable you to proactively plan for regular reporting that is critical to optimizing your campaigns.

What special skills does your team bring to the table?
This is a pretty open-ended question, but it can be a good way to tease out who has that little something extra that will help you be successful. For example, an agency partner with specialized skills in messaging may have just what you need to reach a target audience segment that has been elusive at past events. Or you might find someone who has deep experience in search engine optimization (which is actually the primary driver for many event websites). You might even find that the partner you’ve been leaning on to produce your general session can offer some unique insights into how to engage and follow up with your audience.

Who will manage tracking and optimization throughout the acquisition effort?
It’s important to understand who can and will be tracking the data against your key performance indicators. If there are multiple players involved, it’s good to establish who will be responsible for tracking what and when, as well as determine how that reporting will be shared. If no one is on the hook for tracking and optimization, then it won’t get done.

How do you connect audience acquisition to audience engagement?
With so much money being invested in live events, it’s not enough just to get people to the door of your event. For one, if your event doesn’t deliver a highly engaging experience, that attendee is not likely to return again, which means you’ll have to work that much harder to find a new attendee to fill the slot next year. Additionally, the goal of most events is not to just get people there, but rather to drive sales or increase brand/product awareness (or something similar). Your audience acquisition effort should be viewed as the beginning of this overall engagement effort, creating a cohesive attendee journey that builds on itself. If that connection is not being made, you’re only getting half of what you need.

How do you close the audience acquisition loop?
You might argue that it’s not the responsibility of the audience acquisition team to also follow-up with attendees after the event, but we would ask, why not? Creating this closed loop with up-front planning ensures attendees get the right messages at the right time. All too often, this final step can fall through the cracks because the focus is on getting a complex event done on time and on budget. Once the event is over, there’s little energy left to plan creative ways of following up with attendees, so it’s helpful to create that strategy up front.

Hopefully, you will find these questions helpful in your search for the right audience acquisition partner. Want to learn more about audience acquisition services at InVision? Read our press release or contact us to learn all about our audience acquisition offering.


[i] Source: https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/survey-finds-consumers-crave-authenticity-and-user-generated-content-deli/511360/
[ii] Source: https://blog.bizzabo.com/event-marketing-2018-benchmarks-and-trends

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 “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/

 

Nice Bot!

 

Photo Source: http://www.neatorama.com/

(Download PDF Version: Nice Bot!)

The bots are taking over and if that concerns you, well, there’s a chatbot to help with that—and just about everything else.

Customized, timely and relevant information at your fingertips and at your command is becoming the norm, while waiting in line at an information kiosk is becoming increasingly archaic.

What can chatbots do for us in the brand engagement space? Take a look at this quick video on the basics of a bot from Gizmodo to get your bot knowledge up to speed, then continue reading to learn about how bots can take your event to the next level in technology and strategy.

Attendees overwhelmingly use their mobile device for event information, and we are entering a time where the event app is starting to be replaced by a chatbot. Chatbots in all their forms (textual, visual and auditory) are flooding into the event/experiential space. Brands that have harnessed some of the power of these digital tools are clearly seeing the benefits of bot engagement and data collection, and how that data can be used to refine the attendee experience.

Chatbot Communication Channels


“By 2021, more than 50% of enterprises will spend more per annum on bots and chatbot creation than traditional mobile app development.”

Contributor, Kasey Panetta. “Gartner Top Strategic Predictions for 2018 and Beyond.” Smarter With Gartner, October 3, 2017

What Bots Offer in Brand Engagement

Personalized Real-Time Conversations

  • Always on
  • Multilingual
  • Build pre-event and early engagement
  • Update event information on the fly
  • Subsets of communications for attendees based on role, skills, interests, etc.
  • Unique brand/event voice
  • Increase post-event engagement with information resources and customized follow-up
  • Seamlessly switch to human assistance

Analytics and Learning

  • View real-time insights and act on them––”read the crowd”
  • Get live accurate/current attendee data
  • Build on the knowledge of each event/brand experience

Budget-Friendly

  • Bots don’t need to have any physical or digital identity
  • They can be audio or just text
  • They are infinitely scalable
  • They limit the need for expensive human assistance

Continued Engagement

  • Encourages agency/vendor loyalty through continuous data collection event to event and year over year
  • Extend and amplify the engagement and content post-event

Event Bot Platforms

Chatbird: https//chatbirds.io/
Concierge Eventbot: https://conciergeeventbot.com/

The New Wave of Visual Bots (The Future of Bots)

Brands are going to want to bring their brand bots and event themes to life  through avatars, brand characters and virtual humans in the event/experiential space. Augmented Reality/Extended Reality (AR/XR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play important roles in bot development.

93% of face-to-face communication is nonverbal (visual and vocal), so it’s logical for bots to follow this progression. We are seeing advancements from companies in the following spaces:

Virtual
AR Humans (and Standees): http://www.prsonas.com/
V
irtual Human: https://www.soulmachines.com/

Physical
Hybrid Media Robots: https://www.event-bots.com/
Humanoid Robot: http://www.hansonrobotics.com/robot/sophia/

Bot Interaction and Engagement


Summary
Chatbots are useful technology that anyone can easily embrace. They’ve been around for ages and, as AI and mobile converge, and NPL (Nature Language Processing) gets better, they will become a seamless part of our lives. They will provide a familiar chronological user experience that keeps a simple swipe-able history at your fingertips. When developed properly, brand/event engagement will be made stronger with each brand/product/experience. These bots will become brand and event ambassadors, and remember you from event to event—and all the time in between.

Bots will fill a prominent spot in an AI-enabled, post-app era and continue to rapidly grow across markets, complementing the increased use of XR through voice, gesture and gaze input that will start to rival texting in the 2020s.

For more information on how we can help integrate chatbot technology into your communication strategies, please email info@iv.com.

Sweatworking: A Healthy Way to Network

Sweatworking is the New Networking Article

Millennials: Same Goals, New Methods

0600  Millennial Handout Final High Res

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

 

Tron Meets Corporate Events

If you mesh Tron, dancing and corporate events together, you’ve got VOSPERTRON. Vospertron is a dance and multimedia performance company who creates some of the most breathtaking futuristic shows, combining high energetic dance routines, neon glow suits, multiple projections, laser technology, and digital style graphics. Imagine this performance crew using your product onscreen to create a visually stunning opening at your next product launch, PR event or conference.

Designing the Experience

In today’s world, there is a new element we must consider as we launch the meeting planning exercise. We are a part of a digital revolution where technology and social devices are driving business decisions and human behavior on all levels. We need to spend some of our time focused on designing the experience our attendees will have. People are inherently fond of connection, collaboration, learning and sharing with others. A truly successful conference is one that shifts the behaviors of the audience from attendee to advocate.

Check out Jeff Hurt’s blog for tips on how you can become a strategic design thinker.