Improve Your Audience Acquisition Strategy with Actionable Insights from Event Data

By Nicole Bojic, Group Executive, Strategic Solutions Group

Your audience acquisition strategy is just begging to be improved with data-driven insights. If you’re looking to attract a new or expanded audience, this article is for you. And, if you’ve been doing the same old thing (ahem, email), expecting to get different results with no success, then this article is especially for you. It outlines 10 data sources you can tap into to gain new understanding of your audience and their preferences, along with the trends, channels, timing, and more that will improve your audience acquisition strategy.

10 Data Sources to Use in Your Audience Acquisition Planning

1. Attendee surveys: It’s time to look beyond catering.
Attendee surveys are probably the one bit of data that most event planners and strategists pay attention to on a regular basis. But are you mining the data and insights that can best shape your audience acquisition plan? If you’re not looking for trends in content and messaging preferences, then you’re missing crucial input that can help take your audience acquisition strategy to the next level.

Even simple questions like, “What content are/were you most looking forward to at XYZ event?” will help focus your messaging when reaching out to various audience types to register for your event. In an ideal world, you’ll field a pre-event survey as well as a post-event survey. This means you’ll not only have fresh, actionable input from prospective attendees, but you’ll also be able to gauge how well you delivered on those audience desires after the event. You can further fine-tune your plan by using the survey to collect audience information and media preferences.

2. Attendee polls: Sometimes the best way to find out what people care about is to ask them.
People love to share their opinions…usually, all you have to do is ask. And digital makes it relatively easy to ask your prospective attendees what they’d like to see and experience at your next event. Use your event and corporate websites, email and social media to field an informal “What matters to you?” type poll. Or get specific and ask your event community to provide more direct input, such as voting on potential speakers. Ask your influencers, partners and sponsors to help you promote the ask, and maybe even offer an incentive (such as a drawing for free event tickets or an airline voucher) to garner more interest and incent people to participate. You’ll gain valuable insights while creating interesting content that you can use to promote the event—for example, “Check out the results of our guest speaker poll.”

3. Registration data: It’s more than just numbers.
What you can gather from registration data will depend on what registration platform you use and how it is set up. There’s no doubt that multichannel attribution (which tracks all the channels that might influence conversion to registration) is challenging at best, and most events use last-click attribution for measurement. This means the last channel a prospect visited before converting gets 100% of the attribution (provided it’s being tracked). That might seem “unfair” (especially say, if an inspirational video on social media is what compelled a user to attend but they didn’t click from the post to register), but it also tells us something valuable about which channels we might want to invest more of our budget on.

Past registration data can also provide useful information about when prospects are most likely to register. If, year after year, we’ve seen that most people tend register in the last six weeks leading up to the event, we can focus our efforts and budget during that timeframe.

4. Mobile app data: More is more.
What you can get out of your mobile app will depend greatly on what you put into it. If the mobile app is not very engaging and attendees are using it as merely a “schedule in their pocket/purse” then you’re not likely to get much useful information out of it. On the other hand, if you’re using your mobile app to encourage social interaction, crowdsource information, drive live Q&A and polling, or collect surveys and evaluation input, then there’s a wealth of information you can draw from before you ever build your audience acquisition strategy.

Mine conversations to find topics that matter to your attendees. Discover what gets them excited, confused, inspired, or scared by reading through the Q&As, and use that content to build compelling messaging. Your mobile app is yet another place where you can draw a larger pool of data from which to draw insights related to content, messaging and audience.

5. Email opens and click-through rate (CTR): Learn what resonates.
While registration and mobile app data is something you’ll want to review before you ever begin your audience acquisition strategy, you’ll want to continually track your email opens and click-through rates during your campaign execution.

By tracking email opens, you can see which messages are resonating and moving prospects to take action—e.g., to open the email—and which are not. You may find that certain audience segments respond better to certain messages. For example, a technical audience is more likely to open an email offering free certification courses in the subject line than an executive-level audience would be. Be sure to overlay your open rates with your audience segments to find actionable insights.

Use CTRs in a similar fashion. If you see that a certain email is driving a much higher click-through rate, compare it to those that are not performing as well to determine the differences. It could be that the high-performing email has more images or reveals a secret or provides a special offer. Once you know what is sparking your readers curiosity, you can optimize your future emails accordingly.

6. A/B testing: May the best content win!
Use A/B testing to further refine your content and messaging. Again, this sort of data is typically used during the execution phase of your audience acquisition effort, so you can optimize your efforts. There are many things you can A/B test, including your emails, online ads, website, registration forms. What you should test depends on what your goals are.

For example, you may want to test two different subject lines for an email because you’re not sure which message will work best. Or, you may find people are abandoning registration midway through the process and suspect the form is too lengthy, so you want to try a streamlined form. Whatever you decide to test, it’s important to have clear goals in mind first, and then test using controlled variables.

7. Social analytics: Best of both worlds.
Most social analytics platforms provide information that will be useful to you before and during your audience acquisition plan implementation. Before you start, you can understand the general sentiment and engagement of your prospective audience (based on the previous year’s data). You can also gather useful demographic information about those people who engaged with your event last year. Together, this information helps to paint a richer picture of your target audience, so you can better connect with them through content.

Leading up to and during the event, you can track and engage with influencers and market to your audience in real time. Not only can you learn what messages appeal to your target audiences, you can also see the impact your efforts are having.

8. Google Analytics: A wealth of digital data.
Your event website is likely the workhorse in your audience acquisition plan. It’s the place where everyone will go for more information. It’s often the last stop before registration. And it’s likely going to be visited a few times before a prospective attendee makes the final decision to attend. With Google Analytics (GA), you can learn a lot about how your site visitors are interacting with your content, including:

  • Number of unique visitors to your site (which you can compare to total registrations)
  • How they arrived on your site (e.g., traffic sources broken down by direct, organic search, paid search, and referred traffic)
  • How much time they spent on your site
  • How many times they visit your site
  • What content (pages) they visited
  • What content is most popular
  • What paths they take through your site (e.g., what pages they visit and in what order)
  • What social platforms visitors are coming from
  • What other websites visitors are coming from

All of this information can help you determine what content is most valuable to your audience and how you can best present that on your event website. It can also help you understand what other media channels prospective attendees are using, and how many touchpoints you might need to drive a conversion.

9. Heatmaps: The hotter the better!
Heatmaps are another great tool for optimizing your event website as they show exactly where visitors are spending their time on the site…not just page by page, but pixel by pixel. If you implement heatmap software (which is as simple as inserting a line of code), you can discover the digital body language of your website’s visitors. With tools like Clicktale and Hotjar you can gain insight from every mouse move, hover, scroll, tap and pinch. Find out how, and if, users are scrolling to see content on your pages. Learn if they’re even seeing your call to action. Discover what content and images are attracting attention. With this level of insight, you can turn your event website into a magic weapon.

10. Ad performance data: It’s about content and timing.
Reviewing your ad performance data from last year’s event can give you some clues as to what type of content and messaging might appeal to what audience segments, and when in the time horizon leading up to your event you should run your ads. Tracking and measuring ad performance during campaign execution will enable you to optimize your content and timing to better meet the needs of your audience.

Recap of Discovery Data and How it Can Help You
*Dependent on how reporting is tracked. If universal tracking is available, it may also be possible to track some content and messaging with registration data. For example, if we find that a certain social post is driving a disproportionately high number of registrations, it may be because of the content or messaging.

You may not have all of these discovery and data sources for every event, but if you do, now you know how you can put that data to work for you. Still not quite sure how to make sense of it all or don’t have the time? InVision can help. Read our press release or contact us to learn all about our comprehensive audience acquisition offering.

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