5 Audience Acquisition Best Practices

Audience Acquisition Best Practices

Focus on attendees’ needs in your customer conference audience acquisition strategy

Audience acquisition is a key success metric for any user or customer conference. Recently, survey data shows that 66% of respondents would not sign up for a conference until they were able to view sessions and speakers (online or in a printed mailer). This data point is interesting as it correlates to survey results we saw with CEMA (Corporate Event Marketing Association). When I was on the board of directors of CEMA, we conducted a survey to better understand audience acquisition trends for customer/user conferences. A key take away was that while attendees are marketed to for months (or should be), a majority sign up in the last 90 days prior to the event.  Reasons cited were permission to travel (budget and time out of the office) and ensuring that the content is valuable to them.

One of EMP’s most important recommendations to clients is to have as much content posted as soon as possible. Events need a content strategy and a website that matches attendee needs by highlighting the content the attendees will have access to i.e. keynotes, super sessions, breakout sessions, etc.  It is important to do this months in advance of the event to help drive attendance. This strategy can help you avoid attrition and daily calls from executives asking for attendance updates.

One other key finding is tracking marketing pieces for conferences. Many times, the number one driver of attendance is the personal invite from the sales person, customer service rep, etc. they speak with most frequently. Tracking the response rates of each marketing piece will help you understand what and perhaps who is the final trigger for registration. One EMP client found this especially successful with higher level IT decision makers.

5 Audience Acquisition Best Practices

  1. Align content to the stage of the buyer’s journey and the persona of the buyer:
    • Different roles seek different benefits from attending
      • C-level execs are looking for networking and high-level benefits
      • Decision makers want an overview of benefit/features with the opportunity to validate and learn from others like themselves
      • Practitioners want hands-on training and learning opportunities
    • Prospects are seeking different content than existing clients. You must focus your messaging to attract prospective influencers and decision makers. The registration offer is typically free, discounted or tied to a potential purchase of your product or service.
  2. Structure registration incentives to support your attendance goals – i.e. if you’re trying to attract a specific new title or persona to the event, add a discounted or free buddy pass for those titles/roles. Give alumni a special discount they can share or spiff they can proudly display/wear/share
  3. Use targeted digital communications with at least one personalized direct mail piece. Create a targeted mailer focused on key benefits of attending. It is best sent midway through the communications plan (prior to last price increase or hotel block deadline). Format should be benefit driven and personal. C-level execs often respond best to a personal invite from their counterpart
  4. Email content needs to be varied and benefit driven. Drill down into specific sessions or speakers by persona. Keep a steady cadence while focusing on the benefits of attending. DO NOT let your emails devolve into a general “rah rah – you should really be here” message. Challenge your team to be concise and focused on telling recipients “WIIFM”
  5. Website content needs to be rich, relevant and easy for visitors to understand what’s relevant to them. Your eagerness to get communications out should not trump having content live on your website that will help convince someone that attending is worth their time and money. Also, use retargeting to keep your event top of mind for those who visit your website.

Attracting the right audience to your event is paramount to the success of your event. Both in terms of long term business goals (company revenue, et al) and your event goals

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