Driven by Data: The Future of Event Marketing Strategies

6/17/2024 Dan McNamara

Driven by Data: The Future of Event Marketing Strategies

For event marketers, one of the primary challenges has always been: How do I find the right attendees for my event? 

That challenge has only become more difficult since the Covid-19 pandemic. Amidst unprecedented economic and social adjustments, many event contacts and attendee prospects changed jobs, began working from home, or left their industry altogether. 

In addition, while in-person conferences and trade shows have returned — some even larger than before Covid — many event producers have chosen to supplement them with smaller, regional events. Globetrender reports that 78% of those surveyed anticipated an increase in the number of small and medium-sized meetings heading into 2024. Typically located in smaller venues and usually within commuting distance for attendees, these regional events are shorter in length than their larger counterparts, usually spanning no more than two days. Because they’re drawing from a narrower geographic area, their “universe” of potential attendees is, of course, smaller.

This combination of factors has served to markedly transform today’s events landscape. Bizaboo’s State of In-Person B2B Conference Report indicates that 80.4% of organizers deem in-person events to be their most impactful marketing channel. Now, more than ever, marketing professionals must ensure their initial audience identification is correct — otherwise, they'll find that their event marketing dollars are missing the mark when it comes to hitting the right targets via email or direct mail. 

The importance of accurate targeting 

Associations, which often host their own conferences or other events, are a good example of the challenges faced by marketers. Events are a big part of an association’s business model, even though only a percentage of their membership base typically attends. As a result, the association has to market beyond their own member roster to seek out event prospects. 

In pursuing event attendees, the association’s marketing team will typically execute direct marketing in a variety of different ways. Some opt to go heavier in direct mail, while others focus more on email or digital media. They might also change their marketing mix from year to year. 

Most associations will begin their “attendee quest” by looking to source prospect lists from a list broker. In seeking to identify and locate quality attendees, they might also directly source people from association lists, publishers’ subscriber rosters, and even from competing events. But they often find that their acquired list yields poor response, despite their best marketing efforts. In addition, they likely see a high percentage of undeliverable mail and returns.  

The bottom line: Relying on list brokers creates the risk of experiencing an increased number of undeliverable and unreachable people — and less connection and less penetration to acquire the right attendees.

Exploring advanced analytics

By utilizing advanced analytics, however, it’s now possible for event marketers to pinpoint the actual people who have an actual interest in their event. The ability to find the right kind of attendees and directly market to them has changed dramatically. Marketers now have the ability to step up their game far beyond the capabilities of traditional list brokers. 

Specifically, advanced analytics can provide these benefits to event marketers:

  • Garner accurate and up-to-date company information, including financials, employee counts, industries, and locations
  • Identify key decision-makers at target accounts
  • Measure attendee intent based on content they’re consuming across the web
  • Uncover companies that are currently in-market
  • Clean and enrich CRM data, automatically cleaning accounts, contacts, and leads
  • Score and route leads, run email validations, automate account hierarchies, and gain efficiencies to shorten lead-to-revenue time
  • Track data health over time and get insights into how data quality is improving

Within the scope of event marketing, then, advanced analytics can help organizations find and precisely target event attendees. They can examine the marketplace and identify people in ways that list brokers and list owners may not have the technology to accomplish. In addition, marketers have the ability to utilize analytics to measure a person’s intentions — what they want, why they want it, how they want it, and more. 

Dan McNamara is Director of Sales and Consultant, Conference & Event Marketing at RRD. For more information on how RRD can boost an association’s event by driving attendance and engagement, click here

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