Conferences and Venues

Nine marketing factors for great event or conference attendance

1. Know your market before you think about marketing content
When writing the content for your marketing communications it can help to create some personas of the target market i.e. a short list of attributes for some of the different types delegates. Include things like their age, gender, demographics.
What typically interests and excites them?
Are there significant gaps and boundaries between the delegates which might determine how best to communicate with each type? Would the younger delegates for example relate better to recent social channels whilst others prefer more traditional methods?
Are there differences between delegates in relation to what is driving them to attend your conference? To write effective marketing content it is essential to understand your potential delegates’ motivations.
This leads us into thinking about our core marketing messages or ‘content’. Why will they justify the expenditure to attend the conference which takes them away from home and work? What will they gain new knowledge will they gain which they couldn’t gain from a book or a website?
In short, what is in it for them?

2. Website
Websites build credibility over time with Google in terms of their position and ranking for any given search term so creating a completely new site with new URLS for each new event is not a good idea. There are a number of basic things you can do to endeavour to be on the first page of results for someone typing the likely search terms for your conference into Google:-
Firstly ensure your website is regularly updated with new content. Google likes sites that are refreshed and look loved, not dead sites. Next make sure you use accurate spelling and credible links. There are web tools which will check this for you but if budgets are limited cut and paste your text into Word and use the spelling check feature. Click on all your links regularly to see if they work. Don’t make the mistake of writing for Google though (see 1!), write for your personas!
Finally get your site live as early as you can. Don’t worry about having all the content and detail from day 1 but get marker up so that search engines have time to register and index it. Use key words in your titles on the website and tag your images appropriately to help people searching your keywords find you.

3. Email Campaigns
Email campaigns might feel like an old technology but surveys show that email is still the most used tool for promoting events and can yield good results. Email marketing is relatively inexpensive to do with tools such as Campaign Monitor, MailChimp or Active Campaign enabling you to track your email, gauge recipients’ open rates and interest in clicking on your links. The beauty of this is that in enables you to gauge the amount of interest in your marketing messages. When writing emails correctly targeted relevant content is key. Good marketers have the ability to gauge their language and content to their audience keeping the recipients interested in the emails. Announce exciting information such as early bird deals or speaker announcements in a way that engages the audience and keeps them opening the emails. Email should link to your event’s website where further information is easily available without having to click or search further.

4. Announcement Sites for Promoting your Conference
Look for high quality websites that your target audience are likely to visit and see if the webmaster for the site will allow you to post an announcement about your conference. Choosing high quality credible websites who are prepared to link to your event website will further benefit your Google search ranking over time.

5. Direct Mail
Although it sounds even more old fashioned direct mail is seeing a comeback in many areas of marketing, events included. There is less use of direct mail than a decade ago, which to some extent, creates novelty value. The key to direct mail is to produce a creative and memorable mailer which will be recalled by the recipient, and where resources allow, followed up with telephone call shortly after it has been received. To enable this a staggered approach to mailing is often preferable. Direct mail is more expensive than some other channels however can yield results. Sometimes direct mail can be used to promote a series of events of interest to the same target audience enabling costs to be shared across a number of events.

6. Advertising
Whilst there are obvious traditional print channels for advertising such as periodicals read by the target audience there are also a wealth of digital advertising channels. Digital channels enable the tracking of their effectiveness. In selecting channels it is far better more effective to use fewer channels well than to be on many but with poor content on all of them and you won’t be able to speak to everyone on every channel. Choose the channels which best align with your audience, some to consider are Google Adwords, Facebook, Linked-In and Twitter. There isn’t room here to go into the detail of each channel (feels like a future Blog article?) but its easy to test channels on a small scale and see what engagement results.

7. Social Media
Select a Twitter hashtag # for your conference. Is there anyone with a relevant following you can partner with or engage with on social media? What photos and video content can you send out on your social channels (video and images generate more clicks and engagement). Have you asked your presenters to share news of the conference with their communities?

8. Press
Whenever placing advertising always look for editorial at the same time and have something prepared and ready to send.

9. Think about analysis and reporting.
Finally tools such as Hootsuite will provide a basic overview of your social media engagement you’re your audience and bulk email software will provide similar engagement starts. Rather than focusing on the specific numbers look at the trend of activity. Is your target audience staying engaged and remaining interested in your communications? What social media messages received the most engagement? Can you do more of that? Are you able to track through all your channels to see which are the most successful in terms of creating registrations? Do more of that!

Layton Quinton – Marketing Manager

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