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

5 Tips for How to Create Powerful Media

Written by, David Rathod, Creative Director, InVision Communications

(Download PDF Version: 5 Tips for How to Create Powerful Media)

InVision believes in creating captivating, transformative experiences that connect with audiences on a deeply emotional level. There’s no better way to engage an audience and convert them into brand enthusiasts than with imaginative storytelling told through beautifully executed media. For us, media constitutes a variety of elements, including video, motion graphics, theatrical effects (i.e. lighting and sound), and interactive components and technology (i.e., augmented reality and virtual reality).

Here Are 5 Tips for How to Create More Powerful Media Experiences for Your Brand:

1. Define the Takeaway.
Before starting any media project, establish what you’re trying to achieve. When the experience is over, what do you want people to do? What do you want them to feel? Craft your messaging so the audience reacts in a certain way and develop the style of your piece to generate the feeling you want to establish. Think about style in the context of movie genres—is this a comedy, drama, thriller or historical story? Knowing what you want the audience to do and feel will inform how to tell your story.

2. Treat Media Like a Journey, Not a Destination.
Effective storytelling takes audiences to a place they might not have otherwise gone. Though there is a beginning, middle and an end, the point of the story is the power of the experience itself. Use honesty and imagination as a way of getting the audience to let down their guard and get caught up in the moment. Put yourself in the mindset of the attendee, think about how you will excite and inspire them; and guide them along a path of discovery that ultimately connects them to your brand. If you’ve taken them on a compelling journey, you will have earned their trust along the way. And with brands, trust is critical to success.

3. Craft a Unique Message.
Instead of creating a safe, generic message, take a stand! To win over the audience, distinguish your brand by developing a smart, creative, unexpected story—something that supports your brand story, yet separates you from competitors. Tell your brand story with heart and conviction, not marketing lingo. If you feel a personal connection with the story you’re telling, others will too. Be bold with your media design to maximize impact—when done well, it always pays off. You can be bombastic and loud, minimal and elegant, or funny and irreverent. A succinct, bold idea that reinforces your brand, yet resonates with people catapults your brand to be top-of-mind.

4. Flatter Your Audience—With Intelligence.
Today’s audience is more sophisticated than ever. As this link from eMarketer shows, people absorb media all day, every day—online, offline and on their phones—which means they’ve seen it all. Audiences want to be moved and impressed, so give them original, exciting work. Whether you leverage elegance, humor or emotion, be smart about it. Don’t dumb it down. Create experiences for intelligent, observant audiences and they’ll respect your brand for it.

5. Put the Venue to Work.
Where and how will the audience be experiencing the media? It’s important to understand the venue space itself. If it is expansive and spacious, use the whole room. Lighting effects, projection mapping and interactive elements, such as PixMob, can help fill out a space, making it feel more intimate. It’s also important to pay attention to running time and tempo. For example, if you’re creating an opening experience, the audience will give you their full attention; use it wisely and don’t overstay your welcome. Always leave the audience wanting more.

Engage and Inspire Your Audience with InVision
Immersive, engaging media experiences can transform the way you connect with your audience. People love being taken on a journey, and a well-crafted story told through film/video, interactive elements, live performances or a combination thereof can boost the emotional engagement they have with your brand, your products and your people.

If you’re interested in creating more powerful media experiences, let’s talk. At InVision, we’re always excited to tell brand stories in new, thought-provoking ways. Contact us at info@iv.com. 

 

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

 

Tech Trends in 2014

Source Credits: Dan Hanover, Event Marketing Institute
Photo Credit

90% of event marketers will increase their use of technology in 2014, all the while becoming smarter about how technology can be applied to bring real value to events.

So what exactly does “smarter” mean? Here are just a few key takeaways:

Social Currency
In our world, the keyboard is mightier than the sword. Social participation and online engagement have monetary value: it’s essential that we understand the literal value of each tweet, Facebook “like” and YouTube comment…

The focus for next year is not only getting our audiences to talk about us, but how we motivate and reward them to do so in meaningful and purposeful ways.

Going from “Like” to Love
How do we transform our audiences from passive attendees to active participants? We’ve spent years attempting to get audiences to “like” their experiences, understand the content, etc. The focus in 2014 is getting them to share, do and practice what’ve they’ve experienced.

How do we focus on the “lovers,” creating truly special and unique and experiences designed exclusively for them?

The Second Screen
Audiences today are looking at their tablets, phones and computers… all at once. 2014 will be all about catering to audiences by utilizing these platforms in new and different ways that pull them in and drive deeper engagement.

Niche Social Media
Understand your audience. Which platforms are they using? What are they reading? What content are they absorbing? What are their likes and dislikes?

It’s no longer just about the go-to social networks (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube)… it’s about what works. More and more niche social media outlets will pop up, and the job of Event Marketers will be in understanding which one to use… and when.

Personalizing the Experience
How do we enable attendees to design their own experiences? Technology may make it easier for them to set their preferences, but it will be up to Event Marketers to determine how those insights are used to drive a more engaging live experience for attendees.

Technology for a Reason
Always ask yourself: Is technology really necessary? What’s the reason? If it doesn’t help, don’t use it.

What tech trends will you be focusing on in 2014?

Nicole Bojic, Senior Digital Strategist, InVision Communications

Technology Closing the Gap of Human Connection

One of my colleagues recently posted on our internal social network a heartfelt video on the power of connection by using the popular video calling technology from Skype. It got me thinking about the humanistic side technology offers that I never really thought about. Technology is cool. No argument there, right? But what I think we forget sometimes is that although technology itself is cool, what about the humanistic impact technology delivers?

Emotional and human connection is unmatchable. There’s an argument that technology is destroying the quality of human interaction. Instead of calling someone, we email. Instead of meeting someone for coffee, we text message them. So is it really destroying the way we interact?

I see it both ways, however for this post, I’m going to focus on the benefit. I believe technology is another gateway for connection that we otherwise would never have. Take the Apple commercials, for example. When FaceTime became a reality on our mobile devices, Apple’s commercials didn’t focus on the technology, but rather how it can seamlessly fit into everyday life. One of the most memorable commercials for me is the grandfather who sees his granddaughter for the first time on video. Ten years ago, this would have never happened unless he got onto a plane and visited in person.

Still not convinced? Take a look at the Skype video and see if it changes your mind. You’d be amazed how much of an impact technology can make on one person’s life.

Amanda Chartier Retter, Marketing, InVision Communications

Disneyland…Seriously the Most Innovative Place on Earth

Leave it to Disneyland to come up with yet another cool way to up-level your experience at the happiest place on earth. In case you haven’t heard about it yet, it’s called the Disney MagicBand, and magical it might possibly be. This wearable device contains information of your theme park ticket, hotel room keys and even your credit card! Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs says that the technology allows visitors a much more personalized experience. For example, if your child wanted to meet one of the princesses, the princess will know the little girl’s name right away. Although the Disney MagicBand isn’t available yet, it certainly makes me wonder how we could use a device like this in our event programs. What can we do to make an attendees’ experience much more personal?

I’ve Seen This One. It’s Where…

Let’s face it – it gets harder and harder to impress people. When it comes to events, a seasoned employee has often been to as many corporate annual meetings as the production teams behind them. Here are a few things to consider that might just shake things up. Start reconsidering.

Go somewhere weird.
Meetings are in Las Vegas, we know that… but perhaps it’s time to try something new. If Vegas is a must, don’t hold the event at the tried-and-true ballrooms on the strip – look at newer facilities like the Event Center in Frank Gehry’s Keep Memory Alive center and shape it to your will. Or go wild and consider somewhere entirely different like Cleveland, the Eastern Shore of Maryland, or even San Juan, PR. It’s just as hot as Vegas…

Hire a decoy.
Plant your talent in the audience. If it’s jugglers during a cocktail hour or even your disguised keynote speaker, surprise people as one in their number does the unexpected: performs.

Play with your food.
Meals and classic catering are standard-issue… but meals are some of the most important social moments in daily life – dates, catch-ups with friends, family holidays. So turn the tables and make onsite meals interactive or meaningful – if your theme or corporate message is about combinations (mergers, acquisitions, cross-functional teams), offer stations where people create their own food combinations: tacos, crepes, make-your-own trail mix – you get the idea. Or consider using the meal as a teambuilding activity. Perhaps even incorporate menu planning for the week into the activity, with a vote at the end. Something to make the ordinary a little different.

Decentralize.
The expected meeting format is everyone, all together, in one location. The networking and the collective enthusiasm are powerful, but consider a new twist: maybe do a few mid-size meetings instead of one, and connect them at deliberate moments to share ideas and applause.

Connect.
With the emergence of appropriate technology, the events business lagged as companies used virtual meetings to cut budgets. But they’re not mutually exclusive. Hold local meetings – in your company’s hub cities or regions.  Before you do, though… have employees vote on their peers for an “exchange program.” Send Delia from the Northeast to be an ambassador for the Southern California office. SoCa sends a few reps to other offices in kind. Connect the offices so that it becomes a project to share and interact, but tailor the local meetings to the flavor of that city, state or area. The technology becomes a tool to bring people together, but doesn’t replace the importance of new blood or face-to-face interactions.

Think about your meetings… what’s become a formula? These are some suggestions about how to approach a new perspective, but they’re in a vacuum. Think about what you’ve done in the past, and aim to do something different.  Whether small or radical, the unexpected helps keep attendees on their toes.  Which, after all, is really the idea…

Plug N’ Play

Imagine throwing a party and you want your whole house to be bumping and pumping with adrenaline-rushing tunes. As your excitement starts to peak, you sorrowfully realize, “Huh. That would require wiring speakers throughout my house, which is really expensive and I only have enough money for food and drinks.”

Seems hopeless? Not if designer Jinseng Shin brings his concept of plug-in and play speakers to life. Named Plug In & Enjoy, these small, portable speakers insert directly into your electrical outlets and receive FM signals from your stereo, iPod, or cell phone. Pretty cool!

This is a great example of thinking outside the box of making something complicated into something simple…or just simply less expensive. What are some of your out of the box ideas or wishes? We promise not to patent it.

Amanda Chartier Retter, Marketing Specialist, InVision Communications

How IVC-ee It: Technology – How Wow Is It?

The goal in corporate communications is to successfully communicate the company’s objectives to their intended audience. As their partner, we know that the overall experience will make or break an event so we consistently push the envelope to create amazing experiences that move audiences to action. A crucial component in this process is finding some of the most innovative technologies to help achieve our goals. But how do we know what’s right?

Technology has always been the forefront of the “wow” factor for any event. But a “wow” technology can only get you so far as a marketer. It needs to have a clear purpose. While it’s exciting to have that holographic image appear on stage, theater tricks doesn’t always produce the results you are looking for.

Take for example social media. Don’t integrate Twitter into your event just to say you had Twitter for your event. Create a digital strategy with a clear vision that aligns to your overall goals. Ask yourself why is Twitter important for X campaign and how will it help you accomplish your goals. You might even find yourself realizing as you develop your plan that Twitter isn’t even the best social media channel for your particular campaign.

Another example might be audience response systems. Plan ahead and ensure that you have a clear vision for how you want to use an audience response device. Are you using it to gather audience feedback in real-time? Is it for attendees to ask questions to the speaker to help guide a keynote? Always make sure that it’s easy to use, serves a purpose and produces results.

My tip for the day: Never use the reason to integrate a technology into your event because it’s cool and trendy. If that’s your only answer, don’t use it.

What tools have worked at your events and what hasn’t? Why?

Nicole Martin, WC Receptionist, InVision Communications

 

What’s New in 2013?

We’re only a week into 2013 and the web is already blowing up on what newest, coolest technologies are heading our way in 2013. It’s no surprise that Google Smart Glasses are on that list. It’s been hyped up enough for the last two years that we thought it already hit the shelves. Some predict that we’ll finally be seeing it in stores this year.