By Andrew Freeman, Technologies Director at CRM.
Getting the right location of an event is essential - always consider choosing the venue from your delegates’ perspective. If the event is free of charge, you need to make it as convenient as possible to attend, to reduce dropout rates.
The value of a paid-for event needs to be reflected in its venue. Hot-spot mapping of your intended audience will help you form an opinion on convenient locations and whether you select a single city event or a series of road shows to cover the necessary geography.
All delegates want to be treated as individuals and shown that your event will bring real value, so this needs to be communicated to them in a precise and personalised way. Define your audience by the type of company they work for, their job level/role, what they have purchased from you and their location, previous history with your company or other demographic information.
Applying this segmentation to your event invitation data will allow you to tailor your communications to each audience segment.
3. REGISTRATION INCENTIVES
Offering a free iPOD for the first xx registrations can certainly generate a rush of early registrations. However, unless your invited audience has been carefully selected, you will no doubt find a high drop out rate.
Instead, look for incentives to attend as opposed to register. Try before you buy, upgrade and cross-sell/up-sell offers will ensure quality delegates. For paid for events, reward loyalty, so treat returning customers a VIPs and offer them a discounted price. “Recommend a friend” initiatives also work well.
The delegates’ registration process needs to quick and efficient - if the invitation came via email, adopt a single click registration process with pre-filled registration forms. For direct mail, use a unique delegate registration code so that forms can also be pre-filled on the web site.
You can use the registration process to gain additional profile information - but do not go overboard. If you have the technology, use it to spot gaps in the delegates profile and prompt them for only these.
5. TRACK & REFINE
A healthy number of quality delegates are the lifeblood of all event organisers and you should be able to track a response by each segment and each communication channel. If your sales department is involved, track by account manager, sales region or sales area so that you can keep them updated on registrations in their own areas.
Detailed tracking ensures that you can adopt additional or different tactics early in the process. As the event draws near, informed decisions on room size, catering numbers etc can also be made.
Continue communication with registered delegates to minimise drop-out rates and keep them up to date with any changes to the event agenda or logistics. Remind them when and where the event is a few days leading up to the event and give them clear directions for each form of transport. Even if they don’t attend, you have a great opportunity to follow up with them and extend offers to them that you made available on the day.
Most events have some form of on-site registration to capture attendees. Sending out the badges with event details in advance, serves as a useful reminder for the delegate and for free events, it can help drive down dropout rates. Consider plastic credit card style badges as they look very professional.
Numerous badge customisation and branding possibilities exist and different designs can be used to easily and quickly differentiate between types of delegate at the event to streamline and accelerate the registration process.
As a rule of thumb assume that 50% of your delegates will turn up without a badge and plan the main traffic routes, fast track scanning areas and bottlenecks to accommodate for this.
Try to avoid the usual display of event badges as this not only looks unprofessional but gives an immediate view to delegates how many people have dropped out! For breakout sessions, consider scanning badges again for each session for post-event follow up and analysis.
9. FOLLOW UP
Send a follow up email thanking delegates for their attendance and directing them to further calls-to-action. If the intention of the event was to generate potential leads for your sales force make sure a lead qualification process is identified and that the tracking and measurement continues to complete the event statistics required to measure its success.
Post event surveys can also be deployed electronically to gauge opinion on content and quality of the event for post event analysis reporting.
Your event data can be used to feed into future planning. You should report who you invited and how, how and when they responded, who attended, who dropped out, which sessions they attended, which offers were taken up and any information gathered during the post event follow-up.
This data can be analysed by your initial segmentation, by company type, by location or indeed anything that can provide insight into attendance of future events.
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