The future of event marketing

In 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the world of B2B events into a very sudden and deeply disrupted state, which is continuing well into 2021.

The Share Theory’s recent expert-led report ‘Re-imagining B2B events, How has 2020 changed the way event companies will operate in the future?‘ includes some excellent insights from senior events professionals on the profound changes that will shape the future of events.

As a marketing consultancy and agency, Team MPG has worked with a range of event organisers globally to not only cope with this rapid change, but to also make the most of emerging opportunities. And it is quite clear, from MPG’s vantage-point, that the disruption to B2B events is still peaking.

In our day-to-day work with senior executives in the events world, many have asked us the following question: “To future-proof my events business, how will our event marketing approach need to change?” To find the answer to this question, here are some key things every events leader should consider:

  1. Event marketing (not just your event) should now follow a community-first approach
    Some leading events were already moving towards a more community-focused, year-round offering; COVID-19 just accelerated this trend and has turned it into a necessity. So, when building your event marketing strategy, consider first and foremost how you need to build your community. MPG’s recent blog on how to approach building communities will be a good guide for you here.
  2. Building digital-first, community-led, hybrid brands is the way forward.
    In a well-balanced portfolio of digital and F2F products, events of various types are likely to always play an important part in how brands engages with their audiences throughout the year. But, digital needs to come first and we need to switch our thinking from ‘event’ to ‘brand’. See MPG’s blog on how 2021 will be the year of hybrid communities.
  3. Marketing databases need more attention and investment than ever before
    Focusing on ensuring you have a very strong, well organised and compliant database to use for email campaigns is not ‘old school marketing’. It is more essential than ever. For virtual events, email is still one of the best ways to engage and convert people to turn up and stay tuned in. And there is little point to investing heavily in content marketing, inbound marketing and lead generation via data capture forms if the data you capture does not feed into a well organised database.
  4. Digital event content is rocket-fuel for community engagement and lead generation
    Virtual events deliver easily created videos, slide decks and intelligence captured via audience interactions such as surveys and polls. If you’ve got your virtual event content strategy right, these will be very relevant and valuable to your community, resulting in extended digital engagement and sharing within the community. This ultimately results in a good number of high quality leads (if your marketing is set up properly to capture and manage these!)
  5. Optimising customer journeys via journey mapping, data and analytics is essential for success
    Content, messaging and medium need to be as personalised as possible in terms of relevancy and convenience. Your digital offering and F2F events will be most ‘sticky’ if you give the audience what they want, where they want it and when they want it – in a seamless and integrated way. Event marketing campaigns and event consumption need to be more deeply integrated with other products i.e. memberships or subscriptions and other events.
  6. A strong messaging strategy is needed as virtual events become more than just online versions of their in-person counterparts.
    A poll conducted during MPG’s recent webinar on B2B event marketing found that three-quarters of event organisers plan to run virtual events even when COVID restrictions no longer demand them. We should expect virtual events to continue to evolve and improve. Event marketers will need to focus on developing strong messaging for virtual events focused on value, benefits and the enjoyment factor – all important for convincing easily-distracted office workers to commit their time and attention (and in some cases money).
  7. Optimised websites will become an even more important focus area for marketing.
    Website performance should be a key KPI for event marketers – demonstrating how both inbound and outbound channels are performing to attract, engage and convert customers online. And how the event website is integrated with the product delivery platforms will be a key part of enabling strong performance. A lot of this is very new to event marketers, so this is likely to be a very challenging area for some time to come.
  8. The right skills and mindset are critical. Event marketing experience is more optional, but definitely helps.
    Event marketers need to think strategically and execute with sharp digital skills. It is essential they grasp the concepts above and have the ability to incorporate what is required into their virtual event marketing approach.

The disruption to B2B events over the past 12 months has been as painful as it has been exciting and rewarding – so the change to how event marketers need to work will be painful, exciting and rewarding. And, as with all change, this needs to be carefully managed and your marketers need to be supported through the change.  Having a strong event marketing function, backed with the right level of investment and executive support, will be critical for success.

If you’d like to explore how your marketing can achieve a stronger ROI as the ‘future of events’ becomes a reality, please get in touch here. We’re always happy to have a chat with anyone who is as passionate about great events and high performance marketing as we are!


How will you grow your event and community revenue in 2021 and beyond?

With strong audience acquisition and commercial marketing knowledge, MPG delivers all aspects of marketing for virtual, hybrid,  in-person events and B2B communities. From strategy development to delivering digital campaigns, MPG is the chosen marketing partner for organisations who want to achieve strong revenue growth.

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Looking to upskill your team in events or community marketing?

Upskill your whole marketing team with direct access to our trainers in our digitally delivered, interactive masterclasses:

Want something bespoke? We can create a training programme for your team that is specific to your needs – in a format that suits you best.

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We’ve worked with MPG across a range of our most important events for a number of years. They are a key part of our team. Operationally, they are knowledgeable, focused, open-minded, creative and disciplined. Strategically they are good thinkers, blending an ambition for the possible without losing touch with the practical. I highly recommend the MPG team as value creators and a safe pair of hands!

Tim Lucas, Managing Director B2B, BAUER MEDIA GROUP

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The Marketing Mix | The Best of MPG

At MPG’s ‘virtual HQ’, we’ve been working hard at creating and sharing the resources we believe are essential for:

  • Transforming your marketing function – to give you the most ‘future-fit’ marketing team possible
  • Turbocharging your marketing performance – so that your marketing investments deliver a strong ROI

Your free MPG Insights blogs, webinars, e-books and guides have hopefully helped you grow your B2B audience engagement, while also enabling strong monetisation via events, memberships and subscriptions.

We’ve created every resource to deliver actionable and practical insights and tips to make your marketing work better.

This newsletter collates for you The Best of MPG – a summary of all of our most popular blogs and resources into one easy to read email digest. Please pass this on to your colleagues and friends!

We’re also delighted to let you know about our free Strategy Chats Webinar Series, taking place on the first 3 Fridays in March. Joined by an exceptional line up of guest speakers, these quick-fire briefings will cover ‘all things marketing strategy’ for B2B Communities, B2B Memberships and B2B Events. Register for free today.


Our top MPG Insights Blogs


Useful Resources


Not to be missed – upcoming webinar series


FREE WEBINAR SERIES
MPG Strategy Chats: Marketing for B2B Media and Events
5th, 12th & 19th March 2021

March will see MPG hosting a series of free webinars focused on strategies, ROI metrics and key success factors for B2B community marketing, B2B membership marketing and B2B event marketing.

To find out how to ensure marketing is a key success driver in your business, come along to this ground-breaking, 3-part Strategy Chats series.

MPG’s marketing strategists will be joined by the following expert guest speakers:

  • Andrew Brown – Co-Founder & Chairman, FUTURE INSIGHTS NETWORK
  • Mike Hepburn – MD, FT Forums & Board Director Programmes, FINANCIAL TIMES
  • Anna Knight – VP Licensing, INFORMA
  • Tania Marshall – Global Marketing Director, FINANCIAL TIMES LIVE
  • James Mayes – Co-Founder & CEO, MIND THE PRODUCT
  • Laura McQueen – Managing Director, LEADERS IN SPORT
  • Carolyn Morgan – Managing Consultant, SPECIALL MEDIA
  • Simon Murray – Head of Marketing, Money 20/20, ASCENTIAL
  • Julian Rose – Director & Co-Founder, ENVIRONMENT ANALYST

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B2B Community Marketing:
MPG’s Strategic Approach

Strategy-led organisations will usually have a chosen set of models or frameworks to guide their thinking and execution. For those of us focused on marketing strategy, MPG has created some straightforward frameworks to contextualise the marketing that goes in to engaging, monetising and scaling B2B communities – specifically for B2B media brands and event organisers.

And here they are!

 

MPG’s Engage, Monetise, Scale Model

Engage is the first and most important step. This is where marketing works it’s magic by identifying, attracting and keeping the attention of the most relevant people to your community. There are many channels and techniques for achieving this, but the end goal is always to grow your engaged community, as well as the level of that engagement.

Monetisation relies on engagement to be effective – or even possible at all. You cannot progress to this stage until you have a sufficiently good quality, engaged audience.

The engage phase is essential for identifying what your community members most value and are therefore willing to pay for. Knowing what your audience finds most valuable creates opportunities to monetise existing and future content, events, research and other solutions you deliver for your community – via payments by the readers/audience/participants.

Another key way to monetise your community could be via sponsorship – depending on your business strategy and model. This relies on having an engaged community of the right size and profile so that your sponsors can hit their mark when paying to advertise via your channels.

Scale is the final stage of the model. As with monetisation, the preceding phases are important to consider first. You only want to scale an audience you’re confident you understand and can engage with, and you want to be scaling a monetisation model that you believe has sustainable, long-term potential.

Once you have these in place, you can begin investing in the processes, automations and resources that will increase your profit margin.

Hyperscale is an extension of scale and occurs when your scaling efforts reach a point of exponential growth. At this point, your community model becomes effectively self-sustaining in its growth. The more effectively the prior three steps are implemented, the more likely it is that ‘hyperscale’ will kick in.

 

MPG’s Community Development Model

This model provides a simple method of categorising your community members by both their level of engagement, and their monetary value to you and your sponsors. You can use it to understand how your community is spread across these levels, with your objective being to move as many people as far up the levels as possible.

To make full use of this framework, overlay other segmentation such as company type, job function and seniority – to get a full picture of your community.

Level 1 – Lurkers: consumers of free content (blogs, social media) via website and social channels. At this stage, you do not have the user’s data.

Level 2 – Contacts: known contacts in your database. This allows you to track engagement more accurately and also target with email and other direct marketing comms to increase engagement.

Level 3 – Freemium: committed contacts in a free capacity – e.g. signing up to a free newsletter or attending a webinar. Again, your goal here is to increase levels of engagement. And here you want to start paying close attention to what they are consuming, and value the most, in the free content you are pushing out. 

Level 4 – Transactionals: paying customers who have made one-off, relatively low value purchases e.g. a training course or a report. You really want to pay close attention now to what content people are willing to pay for – and how much. 

Level 5 – Loyalists: paying customers who make larger purchases of renewing products. This is the group you want to focus on growing fastest, retaining and upselling. This relies on marketing and sales automation and integration. 

Level 6 – Leaders: enterprise-level customers who make purchases for whole teams/departments/businesses to access renewing products. The nirvana of B2B media! If you’ve cracked this level, you’re well in to scale, with hyperscale on the horizon…

 

Where Does Sponsorship Fit In?

This model demonstrates a simple concept: sponsors are likely to be willing to pay more to reach your more engaged community members (assuming they are of the right profile).

Viewing sponsorship opportunities via this model will also allow you to consider the different companies that will likely be interested in each audience. A SaaS tool provider may be more interested in reaching a high volume of your community to generate awareness and leads – so levels 3, 4 and 5 in your community (e.g via newsletters adverts or sponsored webinars or reports) may be their best ‘hunting grounds’. An advisory firm on the other hand may value more the intimate conversations in smaller groups with level 6 Leaders – where round-table-style events (online or offline) seem to have an evergreen attraction. 

You ideally want to grow every level to ensure a healthy, growing community and sustain a steady and growing volume of relevant audience members. This is the best way to guarantee strong YOY growth of sponsorship revenue.

Patience and Time

The great Leo Tolstoy famously wrote “Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow – that is patience. The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”

2021 – or certainly the first part of the year – will most certainly require an awful lot of patience from companies and individuals as we wait for the pandemic to ease off (which we are confident it will!). And this may take longer than we hope or expect. But now is not the time to lose hope or sit back and wait. Now is the time to get stuck into your community marketing strategy. Don’t wait any longer – but also be patient. Play the long game. Focus on community quality and engagement first and foremost – even if it means you lose money in the short term. Try out different monetisation models and work out what your community is willing to pay for and what you can profitably deliver. When summer eventually arrives (literally or figuratively!), if you’ve done a good job of engaging your community at a time when they probably need you most – you will be in a great place to benefit from more profitable monetisation, with scale just around the corner!

 


Get trained on community marketing strategies and tactics

As part of the MPG Academy Masterclass programmes, we run a dedicated B2B Community Marketing Masterclass. This course covers everything from what a community is, how to apply strategic frameworks to your marketing, as well as the tactical channel-specific approaches you should take.

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Toby DanielsI cannot recommend MPG highly enough. Their commitment and unique expertise in data-driven, digital and integrated marketing has been very valuable to Social Media Week. They’ve been instrumental in helping us build our brand and community online and offline, and their product marketing performance has also been very strong. We’re delighted MPG has been on our team!

Toby Daniels, Co-founder & CEO, Crowdcentric Media (Social Media Week, acquired by Adweek)

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5 truths about virtual events you can’t afford to ignore

Event organisers learned a lot of important lessons in a tumultuous 2020. One of them was that virtual events need a different marketing approach to in-person events.

While the fundamentals of impactful event marketing remain broadly the same, regardless of format, there are some very specific requirements for successful virtual event marketing that cannot be ignored.

Here are 5 truths about virtual events you can’t afford to ignore:

  1. Booking and engagement patterns – people will book much later for virtual events and often during the event, especially if they can consume content on-demand post-event. It is not unusual to see the number of registrants double in the week immediately preceding a virtual event, and for 50% of the audience to only consume content post-event and on demand.
  2. Delegate ticket pricing – delegate tickets to virtual events are likely to require a lower price point than traditional live events. We are typically seeing pricing at 25% – 50% of in-person events. In some instances, it may even be best to make virtual event attendance free of charge.
  3. Registration volume targets – with some exceptions, conversion rates from registrants to attendees are typically very low. Anything above 30% is ‘good’, with 50%+ being outstanding. But often conversion rates hover between 10% and 30%. So, more registrants are needed to get a good number to attend. And the number of registrants may need to be even higher if you’re looking for more attendees for your virtual events than your in-person events – to deliver sponsor value.
  4. Larger, global reach and database – to support the much higher number of registrants needed, possibly from regions of the world you wouldn’t usually target with your in-person event, it is essential to have a multi-channel marketing campaign that reaches every corner of your target audience. This should include inbound tactics such as social media and PPC, but more importantly your database needs to grow.
  5. Conversion is king – in-person events needed a much lighter touch on conversions. For virtual events, there is no point having a good number of registrants if you can’t convert them to engaged attendees, or at the very least get them to consume content on-demand after the event. Without a strong and well executed conversion campaign – fully automated with robust integrations in your tech stack and well organised data flows, you will struggle with your virtual event audience engagement.

 

Event marketers need to think strategically and execute with sharp digital skills. It is essential they grasp the five concepts above and have the ability to incorporate what is required in their virtual event marketing approach.

To help MPG’s community create winning virtual event marketing strategies, we have created a free e-book on the strategic success factors when putting together your virtual event marketing approach.

DOWNLOAD NOW


How will you grow your event revenue in 2021 and beyond?

With strong audience acquisition and commercial marketing knowledge, MPG delivers all aspects of event marketing for virtual, hybrid and in-person events. From strategy development to delivering digital campaigns, MPG is the chosen marketing partner for organisations who want to achieve strong event growth.

Get in touch to find out how we can help you grow your events

 


Get essential event marketing training for your team

Upskill your whole team through tailored, in-house training. MPG Academy has a training solution to fit your needs.

Find out more

Topics:

Where are B2B media & events brands investing in 2021?

This article has been co-authored by Helen Coetzee, Founder & CEO of MPG and Carolyn Morgan, Founder & Managing Consultant of Speciall Media.


Uncertainty is the only certainty there is and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.

These rather grim words from John Allen Paulos ring true for nearly every organisation.

Paulos’s work as a Professor of mathematical logic and probability theory is particularly relevant to media organisations today. In 2001 he taught a course on quantitative literacy for journalists at the Columbia University School of Journalism. This course stimulated programmes in precision and data-driven journalism at Columbia and elsewhere.

It is this type of journalism – and the trust audiences have in media brands that do this well – that has fuelled the rise of data-led intelligence products for media companies. Access to these products meets a critical need as organisations seek specific, objective, trusted data and intelligence to make real-time, critical decisions in the fast-moving COVID-19 crisis.

No wonder that offering ‘data products’ within subscriptions or memberships are the #1 priority for investment in 2021 for many B2B media businesses. It has been a hot topic in our recent conversations with B2B media leaders. And at the recent Renewd.net round-table event on ‘planning and budgeting for 2021’ it was the top investment priority. 

And what else have we learnt from our community of senior B2B media and event leaders over the past month, planning for 2021 and beyond?

B2B media and events leaders intend to invest in product, marketing, and sales for these top four revenue streams:

#1 Subscriptions and memberships: with data-led intelligence at their core

#2 Events (virtual or in person): to generate revenue, engagement, and content

#3 E-learning: a relatively new or largely untapped revenue stream for many brands

#4 Marketing solutions: pushing out multi-channel, content-led sponsored campaigns to brand audiences

At the Renewd.net roundtable it was clear that having the right skills and resources in place to make these investments is a core challenge.

Building specific expertise and skills to effectively create, market, sell and deliver data-led subscriptions/memberships, e-learning, events, and marketing solutions will be essential.

Many are embracing a community-focused and brand-led approach to become truly customer-centric. This needs consistent delivery of highly relevant content and data-driven, impactful marketing.  Both are essential for strong audience engagement, crucial to unlocking growth in all key revenue streams.

These skilled product, marketing and sales teams need to be digitally confident, both strategic and agile in their thinking and highly flexible in approach.

With 2020 seeing many staffing and agency budgets frozen or reduced, 2021 will be a year for key hires to be made, and important partners onboarded to ensure investments pay off. Investors want to keep fixed costs as low as possible while ensuring operators have the right skills and resources in place to deliver stronger products and revenue in key areas.

The winning B2B media and event brands will develop capability in four key areas:

 

1. Membership and subscriptions

  • Organisations already focussed on subscription or membership propositions had an easier ride in 2020 than those relying on other revenue streams. They now plan continued investment in growing customer volumes, audience monetisation and in corporate and premium packages.
  •  For event and/or marketing solutions (advertising) driven businesses, 2021 is the year to launch subscription and membership models.  Content created by virtual events makes a valuable addition to a membership proposition.
  • Product and sales require investment when launching or growing a subscription or membership offering. Targeted, data-driven and digitally enabled marketing will generate leads and enable customised promotions to acquire, retain, and upsell subscribers or members. Smart use of martech and automation is essential to build scale.

 

2. Events

  • Digital events have delivered unexpected value; on demand video content delivers unique and long-term benefits for sponsors and subscribers/members. This content can be packaged into valuable products and widely distributed via smart marketing.
  • 2021 will see a cautious, phased return to in person events. Risk can be mitigated and sponsors’ expectations managed through careful plans for virtual alternatives if in person is not viable.
  • Events for spring 2021 are largely planned as wholly virtual, with summer events scheduled to be in person with virtual contingency plans.
  •  In person events are preferred for large flagship events that bring the business community together, or small intimate networking focussed groups.  Mid-sized content-driven conferences work well online so are likely to stay in that format.
  • Hybrid events, although in theory a good option, are considered too expensive to run well and too risky to bank on for most organisations.
  • Sponsors like the wider audience and data from virtual events.  And they value repackaged videos of virtual event content for their own marketing channels. Organisers of 2021 in person events are briefing sponsors upfront on a go/no go decision date on postponement or a virtual alternative.

 

3. E-learning

  • Online training is a good opportunity to maintain and grow revenue.  Face to face training made a relatively easy switch to online delivery in 2020 and will remain largely virtual in future as corporates appreciate the flexibility and cost savings of online delivery.
  • Maintaining revenue levels when switching to virtual has been easy as pricing has remained largely the same for online training. Next year attendees will pay a premium for specific, practical knowledge at a time that suits them.
  • Media brands are experimenting with on-demand, self-directed online learning programmes interspersed with tutor led interactive sessions. Corporate training programmes delivered in a customised and consultative format could become a growing and lucrative business model.
  • A lack of skilled staff has been a key challenge for organisations developing e-learning. Creating, delivering, marketing, and selling e-learning requires a very particular set of technology, tools and skills, as well as subject matter expertise. Sourcing and onboarding these skills takes time and money. Partnering with external experts could help businesses move fast and remain agile while keeping costs flexible.

 

4. Marketing solutions

  • Many media businesses have invested in creating internal marketing agency-style teams to provide commercial clients with content-led campaigns pushed out to their brand audiences across multiple media.
  • Event sponsors are looking for more reliable, year-round digital exposure to a media brand’s relevant and engaged online audience – rather than counting on a few large annual events (virtual or in-person) to achieve their branding, thought leadership and lead generation objectives.
  •  An ‘internal marketing agency’ capability (also known as ‘native digital marketing services’) has been a reliable and growing media revenue stream during 2020. It is seen by many B2B media brand leaders as a key area for investment to continue revenue recovery and growth in 2021 and beyond.
  • As the economy recovers from COVID-19, marketing budgets will expand again, but there are still uncertainties in many industries. A highly flexible and agile approach will be essential for spotting opportunities, creating enticing and valuable marketing packages for clients, and delivering clients’ marketing objectives.
  • Skilled, agile, and flexible commercial salespeople, creative content producers and strong digital marketers will be needed to deliver value for clients in a highly competitive and price sensitive market.

B2B media and event leaders have developed robust strategies on where to invest to build stronger businesses, after a year of setbacks and uncertainty.

The winners will execute well and make sure their investments are focused on creating flexible, agile, and sustainable businesses where product, marketing and sales are delivered by the very best people their money can buy.

 

About the authors

Helen and Carolyn are both members of Renewd.net, a free to join community for professionals dedicated to sharing best-in-class practices for increasing subscriptions, building communities, and enhancing live and virtual events.

Carolyn Morgan has bought, sold, launched, and grown specialist media businesses across print, digital and live events. A founder of the Specialist Media Show (sold in 2014), she now advises media businesses large and small on their digital strategy through her consultancy Speciall Media.

 

Helen Coetzee has led marketing teams and advised senior executives on marketing strategy in a variety of large and small B2B organisations. In 2014, Helen co-founded MPG, a marketing agency and consultancy focused on communities, memberships, subscriptions, and events. MPG’s team of specialist marketers is engaged by a range of B2B media and events businesses globally to provide skilled, flexible marketing resources and team development – working as highly collaborative partners with internal teams to ensure marketing is a driver of sustainable revenue growth.

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4 Things you should be doing for a high performance website

Considering your website is your most important marketing channel, do you give it as much attention and investment as it needs? As the host of your branding, messaging, content, lead generation and often also online sales/ecommerce, it acts as the end destination for all of your other marketing activity – so if your website is not performing at its best, the rest of your marketing channels won’t be either.

Optimising your website is critical for your bottom line, especially as we enter a year with continuing remote working and increasing digitalisation and the world’s business will be done online. The smartest companies who will be able to make the most of the post-Covid recovery will have the best websites!

Every brand, value proposition and audience is different, but the key success factors of having a well optimised website are universal. This post focuses on four of these key success factors needed to create a high performance website, whether your core offering is events, subscriptions, membership or community – or a combination of some or all of these.

1. Don’t make your users think (the 5 second rule)

Don’t make me think is well-known adage in the world of website UX. Website users have extremely short attention spans, so when constructing and populating your website, making the user journey as smooth as possible should be a core consideration in your decision making. Slow loading pages, improperly formatted mobile pages, rambling copy, confusing navigation – anything that forces the user to engage their brain to try and figure out what’s going on is an issue, and makes your website ‘hard work’ for your user. You need to make it very easy for your user to quickly get what they need from your website – whether it’s information, a newsletter subscription or a delegate ticket purchase.

A good rule of thumb is the ‘5 second rule’. Imagine you showed your website to an audience member for 5 seconds, before hiding it again. What would they know about your product/service? And would they have been able to at least have found on the ‘form page’ you want them on e.g. lead generation form or event booking form? They will probably need another few seconds to fill in the form – but if they can’t find the form they’re looking for in 5 seconds your website is not in the ‘high performance’ category!

 

2. Don’t try to make everything stand out – or nothing will

A common pitfall with website design is to try and make too many things stand out.

This can lead to an overwhelming and confusing experience for users, where they can’t figure out what they’re supposed to do next or what is most important about the organisation or product.

This can result from too many CTA (call to action) banners or buttons, links, text boxes and/or images. It can also occur when elements are all made an equal size or visual ‘weighting’ or positioning. Elements that are given more breathing room are generally more likely to be noticed and clicked on.

How do you know what’s important and therefore what should stand out? Consider what primary and secondary objective you have with your website.

For many, direct purchases or enquiries are the most valuable action a user can take, and ultimately the one you want to them to take at some point (even if it’s not during their first visit). This is your primary objective.

The design and structure of your site should place the most importance on content and CTAs that serve this primary objective. The button in the top right of your navigation bar (prime real estate on any website) should be reserved for your primary objective – e.g. ‘Buy now’. The main CTA in your header section should be the same. All content on your site should – in some way – further encourage users to take that final conversion.

For other sites, a primary objective may be lead generation. Filling in a data capture form may be the action you want users to take. Lead generation often works well across a range of touch points, at various levels of the funnel e.g. signing up for a free newsletter subscription, downloading a report advertised in a newsletter and then enquiring about a specific product via a link in the ‘thank you for downloading the report’ email or a link in the report itself.

Even if lead generation isn’t the primary goal, every website should include some form of lead generation as it captures valuable customer data that can be used to enrich and grow your marketing and sales database.

 

3. Build in lead generation intelligently

Lead generation is much more than just sticking a data capture form on our website and waiting for users to find it.

CTAs to your lead generation forms should be integrated as naturally as possible. Is someone viewing the ‘membership benefits’ page? If so, encourage them to download a member case study and ‘enquire about membership’. Are they viewing your event agenda summary? Then push them to download the full version. Work out what you would like your user to do next and point them to that next, desired action.

More generic lead generation opportunities (e.g. ‘Register your interest’) should be accessible from across your whole site, including CTAs and a presence on your top navigation menu. This will ensure users always have a ‘next action’ to take, regardless of where they are on your site. These kinds of more general and ‘low commitment’ lead generation options create an easy way for users to engage with your brand without committing to buying something before they’re ready, but keeps them in your marketing list so that you can further nurture them.

Also consider that visitors may land directly on your lead generation forms; whether from an email campaign, organic URL or social post. It’s important to ensure your lead generation forms/pages provide ample context and persuasive messaging as to why the visitor should surrender their data. What benefit does completing the form give them? A short descriptive paragraph, simple bullet points about the benefits of completing the form and possibly a relevant image (e.g. report cover) are simple but important ways to increase conversion rates.

 

4. Make sure Google can find your site

SEO is an ongoing process and one that is always baked into good website design. Search engines – with the most important one being Google in most regions of the world – want to serve the most relevant and valuable websites. A key factor in their ranking is user experience, which is determined by things like content, time on site, pages visited and device optimisation. Therefore, a good website generally means good SEO.

Also consider your keywords. If your website is for an event about financial technology, then you want to make sure ‘financial technology’ and ‘fintech event’ are scattered across your website content. It’s important this is done naturally within your copy. ‘Stuffing’ keywords – the practise of including the same keyword an excessive number of times on a page – will harm not only the user experience, but also your SEO.

You can also apply keywords when considering more ‘on-trend’ issues. If there’s a new piece of technology that could revolutionise fintech, consider publishing a blog or news article on it with the name included in the headline and within the main body. This will help you rank for a relevant keyword that potential attendees will be actively searching for as it is a ‘hot topic’.

A final consideration is how you can ‘win’ links to your website. Links from other websites (e.g. your homepage URL on a media partner’s site) effectively function as votes for your website in organic rankings, lending authority and trust. Producing great content is a sure-fire way to win links, as users will want to share content they find interesting/valuable on their own sites and via social channels. This should be proactively managed via an advocacy marketing programme that results in your site linking to multiple other highly relevant sites and your content being shared more widely on social media.

The four key success factors we have covered in this blog are important, but certainly not comprehensive when it comes to having a well optimised website! And each of the four factors we have covered could each have their own, very long blog (or even an e-book!).

But, the most important thing of all is to ensure your organisation is investing well in your website. Your senior leadership team must recognise that your website as your shop window – and the shop your users are wondering around in before they agree to buy anything or speak to a salesperson. How your customers and potential customers experience your website could be the difference between surviving and thriving in 2021 and beyond…or becoming a Covid (and digital revolution) casualty.


Get your website optimised

MPG’s website experts can help you optimise your website for optimal performance. Or we can design and build a brand new, high performance website for you!

Whether you’re offering events, subscriptions, memberships or a community – our team can set you up with a winning website.

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Get website optimisation skills into your team

MPG Academy’s trainers can work with your team to ensure they have a strong strategy and the right skills to optimise your website. Request more information about training and development for your team on website optimisation, as well as other key areas of marketing for communities, subscriptions, membership and events.

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PPC for B2B virtual events – a step-by-step guide

PPC in virtual event marketing – how well does it work?

From our experience, PPC is a worthwhile investment for virtual events. But only when used in the right way. When used to generate direct registrations, convert registrants to attendees or encourage form completions for lead generation and database building (or all of the above) – PPC can be a powerful and cost-effective channel within your digital event marketing mix.

In this post, we outline the six key steps you should take to maximise the effectiveness of your PPC for virtual events.

Step #1: Understand what you need PPC to achieve

PPC can be used to achieve a number of different things for virtual events, including:

  • Generating direct registrants for your virtual event – with PPC campaigns pushing your target audience to your virtual event website and online registration form
  • Encouraging conversions from registrant to attendee
  • Generating leads via web form completions, so that you can then email individuals to nurture and convert leads to registrants
  • Increasing awareness and influencing consideration in your target audience, thus supporting the performance of your other channels

Depending on your virtual event targets, marketing budget and overall objectives – you may use PPC to achieve some, or all of the above. The important thing is to know what you’re aiming to achieve and what success looks like when it comes to PPC for your virtual event. If your PPC approach is not informed by well thought through objectives, it can be very easy to spend a large portion of your budget ineffectively.

 

Step #2: Create a solid strategy

Once you know your objectives, you need to formalise a high-level PPC strategy. The aim of this strategy is to provide direction for the more detailed campaign plans that will come next.

In this PPC strategy, include:

  • The objectives: it’s important to detail these in your strategy to ensure the decisions you make on specific campaigns are directed by your overall goals.
  • The channels and campaign types: based on what you want to achieve and your target audience, be clear what channels and campaign types are likely to work best. In the below table we’ve listed the most common channels, campaign types and targeting methods based on level of engagement of audience groups. But every event is different, so consider this a starting point:
Reaching new contacts Reaching website visitors Reaching existing data
Google Ads Paid Search (keywords) Google Display LinkedIn
LinkedIn (professional attributes/groups) LinkedIn Facebook
Facebook (lookalike audiences) Facebook Twitter
Twitter (follower lookalikes) Twitter Google

 

  • The budget: split your budget by channel and campaign type based on your priorities and where you are in the campaign timeline. PPC is very scalable when it comes to budgeting, so you can commit a small amount at first (£100-200 per channel) to test the waters.
  • The timeline: map out when your campaigns will start and finish. Due to a sense of urgency and FOMO, virtual event PPC campaigns tend to be at their most effective in the final 2 weeks before the event – so allocating more of your budget to this period is a sensible move. It is also important to hold some budget back for after the event to encourage people to engage with the content on demand, especially if the number of people who watch the replays are important for your event model.
  • The campaigns: briefly outline the role each campaign needs to play in your timeline. Consider your whole marketing funnel and targeting of contacts at various stages of engagement with your event.

 

Step #3: Create detailed campaign plans

Using your PPC strategy from step #2 as a guide, lay out specific campaign plans by channel. This is where you get more tactical and detailed with your planning.

These plans should include – in detail:

  • Campaign objective(s)
  • Targeting
  • Campaign budget
  • Ad content (text and images/videos)
  • Any ad modifiers/extensions

When creating these campaigns, your primary consideration should be relevancy. To achieve relevancy, ask yourself these three questions, in this order:

  1. Are we targeting people who are very relevant to our virtual event, or is there a risk we include too many irrelevant or ‘not relevant enough’ people with our targeting options?
  2. Are the ads we’re running relevant to challenges and/or opportunities this audience is facing right now?
  3. Are the ads considerate of where the audience is in our marketing funnel? Is this the first time they’re seeing our virtual event information? Or are they likely to already know about our event (e.g. if they have already visited the event website)

It’s best to complete these detailed plans just before setting up each campaign so they are as current and relevant as possible. You’ll then want to factor in and apply any learnings from your results as you go (more on this in step #5).

 

Step #4: Set up and set live campaigns

This step seems the most straightforward, but there are two important things to consider.

  1. There are numerous settings to get right when setting up every campaign. The potential issues an error in setup can cause range from a campaign running for more days than you have planned or budgeted, to an ad group targeting completely the wrong people. It’s vital to get a second pair of eyes on your campaign setups to ensure your campaigns are pushing the right people to the right places at the right time (MPG has this baked into our internal process checklists so that a campaign one of our team sets up cannot go live without someone else checking every detail of the setup first).
  2. Every PPC channel offers varying levels of automation. These can be simple start and end date triggers and budget caps, but can also include more complex elements like auto-populating audiences that exclude registrants and smart bidding strategies that maximise conversion rates. Make use of these systems to free up marketing resource and reduce the possibility of human error in campaign changes.

 

Step #5: Monitor and optimise your campaigns – every day!

While the strategy and planning elements of PPC are vital, do not be afraid to adjust your approach as you go. You’re very unlikely to formulate the perfect plan and set up the best performing campaign first time. For PPC, assuming you’ll need to improve on what you initially set up is part of the process.

In practical terms, this means re-allocating budgets to the channels and campaigns that are performing best, adding and updating ads to campaigns that are performing well, as well as the myriad of other tweaking options that PPC platforms provide around locations, devices, demographics and bidding strategies.

It’s often easier to further improve winning campaigns than it is to fix underperforming ones. While you shouldn’t abandon your struggling campaigns immediately, the real ROI growth often lies in maximising your star performers.

Paying close attention to what is and isn’t working will allow you to uncover the optimal formula for your PPC. The importance of this step cannot be understated.

 

Step #6: Measure and analyse results – feed this intelligence into your marketing strategies

Right from the first campaign going live, PPC should be included in your marketing performance reporting and analysis. Key metrics to track are:

  • Cost-per-conversion (CPC): the amount you pay for each conversion (registrant, form completion) per channel. This should trend down as a result of your ongoing optimisations.
  • Conversion rate (CR): the percentage of people who click on your ad and then convert to a registrant, attendee or lead. This should trend upward.
  • Click-through-rate (CTR): the percentage of people who click on your ad after seeing it. Higher CTR indicates high relevance.

It’s not enough to just report on the raw data. A layer of analysis needs to be applied to pull out insights that enable intelligent, data-led decision making and create actionable steps to further improve the campaign ROI.

 

A winning formula

This article shares MPG’s winning approach to PPC campaigns for virtual events. Follow these 6 steps with consistency and rigour and we’re confident you’ll see a good return on your PPC investment!

 

Interested in learning more about how PPC can work for events?

Commission an in-house, tailored PPC training programme for your team where our PPC experts will create and deliver a bespoke course that meets your exact requirements, and exclusively for your in-house team.

Enquire about MPG Academy’s in-house training here.

 

Or…do you need to outsource PPC for your events?

MPG can create the strategy and detailed plan for your event PPC, and we can manage and measure it for you too. If you want direct support from our team of PPC specialists, please get in touch about your requirements.

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Social Media Week case study: lessons from virtual events, launching the ‘Netflix for Marketers’ and what’s coming next…

As the first wave of Covid-19 lockdowns swept the globe, Toby Daniels and his team at Social Media Week had to very rapidly transform two large face-to-face conferences to something that would suit a world in which large gatherings were prohibited and home working became a universal norm. And so SMWONE was born – one of the first ever large-scale conferences globally to pivot from an in-person format to all-virtual.

MPG, as Social Media Week’s marketing partners, were given the challenge of coming up with and executing a new marketing strategy – fast.

In April, two weeks before the virtual doors were due to swing open on SMWONE, Toby and MPG’s Helen Coetzee, Kirsty Joynson and Alicia Drew joined forces to deliver a ‘pivot to virtual’ webinar series to share with MPG’s community the SMWONE event product and marketing strategies, and the lessons learned to that point.

7 months on, Toby has kindly agreed to share more insights on how SMWONE performed, the full set of lessons learned, and most excitingly – what Toby and team have been working on since.

Here is our Q&A piece – we hope you find it valuable!


Why did you decide to pivot to virtual so rapidly, instead of waiting to see if in-person events could be postponed?

There were a number of reasons, informed in part by the Governor of New York’s executive order, which forced our hand in having to cancel one of our two US based in-person conferences. We also believed that the second half of the year, regardless of whether we could host something in-person or not, was going to be saturated with competitor events postponed to later in the year.

We were faced with cancelling two huge events and knowing that if we were going to pivot to virtual, we needed to do it fast and early to get out in front of the competition.

We also felt a great obligation towards our attendees and partners to launch a virtual event and bring our New York and Los Angeles Social Media Week communities together for one virtual experience that would create a sense of unity and togetherness, at a time when we were all feeling isolated and apart.

What went well with the hard pivot to virtual?

From the point where we made the decision to pivot, to launching SMWONE was around 4 weeks, and about 7-8 weeks prior to actually kicking off the event. Despite how challenging a period that was for everyone – the adjustment to working remotely and with everything going on around us – I was very proud that Social Media Week team, together with MPG, was able to move so quickly and execute at a pace and level of quality that really stood out to so many people. In addition to speed, I was especially pleased with the quality of the program and how we were able to refactor almost every single session to cater to what was happening in the moment.

In total we hosted over 170 hours of live programming over four weeks, featuring some of the most senior, inspirational, and leading minds in our industry. The virtual format and nature of events like these also afforded us the ability to reach more people, and by the end of the event we had over 10,000 people register and participate in the event.

Scaling virtual events while driving audience engagement is not necessarily new to us, but it represents a different set of challenges from a marketing standpoint, and we would not have been able to achieve these numbers and reach so many people if it wasn’t for MPG’s ability to help put in place the operational and executional pieces that really drove much of our marketing efforts.

What would you do differently if you were to run another large virtual Social Media Week event?

Creating meaningful opportunities for people to connect and engage around live events is always a huge priority for us. We believe that content provides the context that in turn drives conversation and connection. In addition to having a thirst for new knowledge, our audiences are also inherently social people and seek opportunities to meet and develop relationships with their industry peers.

We have found this to be much more challenging in virtual environments. This was certainly the case during SMWONE. While this proved to be hugely difficult for us, we have invested considerably to figure out how to create a better and more engaging experience for our attendees and look forward to rolling out some new initiatives in 2021.

Do you see Social Media Week running virtual events in 2021 and beyond?

Since SMWONE in May we’ve hosted a number of virtual events, from private executive roundtable events to a large-scale event series we’re hosting with Facebook, called The Business of Empathy, as well as a huge client appreciation party we’re hosting later this month. During this period, we have quickly developed a capability in executing virtual events at almost any scale. When we think about the next 12-18 months we are fully committed to continuing to develop this capacity and to serve our industry in as many different ways as possible. We believe that virtual will be the primary means by which we do that, at least through the end of 2021 and perhaps beyond.

If we have learned anything this year it is that virtual events bring with them a ton of new and exciting ways in which to convene and engage audiences, and that they will continue to be an important part of our programs and offerings in the future.

In August, you launched a new subscription service. What is SMW+ and who is it for?

SMW+ is a streaming platform that provides marketers with opportunities to connect to and learn from some of the smartest and most accomplished leaders within our industry, through live and on-demand programming. The content is designed to educate and inspire and help marketers level-up in their careers.

Think of it as the ‘Netflix for Marketers’, or the ‘Peloton for Professionals’, with an incredible library of shows, content series and educational programs which members can consume live or in their own time through the on-demand experience.

Why did you decide to create SMW+?

SMWONE taught us that people consume content and participate in virtual events in a range of different ways. Some tune in live, some have it on in the background and some are binge watchers and prefer to watch/attend in their own time.

I felt that virtual events didn’t really cater to all of these different user behaviours, and that there was a whitespace opportunity to build something that had the look and feel of a premium streaming service but that catered to the needs of marketers who are looking to advance themselves and their careers.

We also felt confident that we had the team in place to do this. MPG’s contribution here again was very important – with the martech and data work they have done an essential part of the mix, along with the contribution they’re making to all other aspects of marketing SMW+.

What’s gone well with SMW+ that made you really feel the investment was worth it?

Too soon to tell, but we’re excited to now be rolling out a new version of the platform, together with a range of subscription options for users who are looking to invest in their professional education and learn from the smartest minds in our industry.

One thing we’ve learned – which we’re incredibly excited about – is that our presenters are loving the opportunity to create episodic content series rather than giving one-off talks or participating in one-off panel discussion. Our audiences in turn love this approach also as they can tune in each week, really get to know a particular host or presenter and also go deep into a particular show’s topic through the on-demand experience.

What are the biggest challenges you face with SMW+?

Building audiences and capturing people’s attention, especially today, is a huge challenge.

Professionals are completely overwhelmed at this point, experiencing Zoom fatigue and are probably waning in their enthusiasm for virtual events. This is our biggest challenge. How do you cut through the noise and reach, engage and truly enrich people with these challenges in mind? Our general approach has been to make the content feel unique, to invest in the production quality and overall experience and to provide people with something truly unique and valuable.

We obsess over how to best serve our stakeholders and I believe SMW+ stands out as something that all marketers should experience and enjoy.

What can we expect from Social Media Week next?

We’re about to launch our 2021 program of events, all of which will be virtual, together with some new updates and announcements on SMW+.

We are also about to announce the global theme for 2021, which I am feeling very passionate about as the topic feels urgent, important and incredibly timely. More on this and our 2021 program very soon!


Want more like this? Subscribe to MPG Insights and we’ll notify you of new posts, as well as other resources and news on upcoming free-to-attend webinars!

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Event Tech Live: Helen Coetzee reveals MPG’s Engage, Monetise, Scale framework

Speaking on the main stage at Event Tech Live 2020 on 5th November 2020, MPG Founder & CEO Helen Coetzee shared MPG’s Engage, Monetise, Scale Growth Marketing Framework.

This framework covers a 3-step approach focused on a strategic and sustainable path to growth for B2B community-focused brands.

Developed from MPG’s experience of working on B2B community marketing strategies for brands in multiple sectors globally, this approach comes of age in 2020 – plotting a path for 2021 and beyond for brands to engage, then monetise, then scale their communities.

Download Helen’s presentation slides to learn more.

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Standing out from the virtual conference crowd: MPG’s top 10 tips

In every industry, the second half of 2020 is going to be packed with virtual conferences. With all the postponed events from H1 now crammed into H2, along with most of the events that usually happen in H2 still planning to go ahead, we’re entering a unique six months of an over-abundance of virtual events – at a time when the world is coming out of lockdown and people won’t be spending as much time staring at screens as they have been over the past few months.

So, how will you ensure your conference stands out from the crowd of digital events and keeps your audience glued to their screens? The most engaging events will be those with the most relevance – in content, speakers and attendees. Having decent tech that works should be a given. Tech is not your point of differentiation.

The winning virtual events will be those with:

  1. The most relevant product
  2. The most relevant marketing

Product and marketing usually go hand in hand, and as we enter the virtual events world, the two will become more blended. Where virtual events are free (or very cheap) to attend, your digital event is essentially a substantial content marketing initiative. As has always been the case with content marketing, attention and engagement relies on relevance. The more relevant your content and marketing is to your target attendees, the more likely you are to get, and keep, their attention. And if you have the audience’s attention, you have the sponsorship dollars (and hopefully also some delegate revenue!).

To stand out from the crowd, here is what you need to do:

#1 Know what is keeping your audience awake at night right now

Put together event sessions and marketing messaging that specifically address the issues that are most important and relevant to your audience at the moment. Not only will your registrants turn up to your digital event if it’s highly relevant, they’ll also share your content and marketing with their colleagues and network.


#2 Get a speaker line-up your audience really wants to hear from at this moment in time

The people who have the most relevant and important things to say about the current situation faced by your audience will be your ‘must-have’ speakers. Pay them if you have to – at least you won’t need to also cover flights & hotel costs! For virtual events, having fewer, highly relevant speakers is better than having lots of mediocre speakers. In fact, don’t have any mediocre speakers – only invite the very best and most relevant onto your digital stage.


#3 Create a good customer journey

Your customers need to move seamlessly from landing on your event website, registering for the event, receiving registration confirmation, being updated/reminded of the event, attending the event and then receiving the post-event comms. So, once you have chosen your event product tech, make sure it integrates well with your marketing tech. At every touchpoint, make sure your brand identity is strong, consistent and feels relevant to your audience.


#4 Invest in developing a robust, content-led marketing strategy

A marketing strategy is not only about how many emails you send out or whether or not you use PPC. It’s about so much more than that. It should focus first and foremost on the following two things:

  1. A detailed market map and market segmentation plan: ensure you reach the most relevant audience in large enough numbers, with the most relevant messages
  2. Strong messaging strategy: focused on relevant USPs and benefits addressing your target persona’s needs and motivations at this time

It is essential to nail down these two strategic priorities to make your marketing relevant.


#5 Deploy an integrated, multichannel campaign – focusing on the most relevant channels

A businessperson – regardless of industry – probably spends most of their time hanging out in three places: their email inbox, on LinkedIn and on websites (found via Google). So, when you’re trying to get the attention and build ongoing engagement with your audience, focus on these relevant channels – ensuring all the words & images you put out there (your marcomms) are relevant, consistent and reinforce one another.


#6 Have a great project manager on your event team to make sure things get done

When running a virtual event, you will have many plates spinning and a very long list of tasks that need to be completed in a highly co-ordinated way – at speed. It’s great if your team is using good project management software, but it is even more important to have a person responsible for ensuring the right things get done at the right time. The most relevant content and marketing will fall flat if your execution is not synced. Project management software is not accountable to anyone. Put an actual person in place who is.


#7 Measure all your marketing and make data-led decisions

As you move through your event cycle, measure the impact of all your marketing across all channels. Do this in a granular way and make sure you pull out the most important, relevant insights on at least a weekly basis to inform your marketing going forward. The beauty of digital is all the wonderful data it gives us on audience behaviour and engagement. If you’re ignoring this data, you’re ignoring your customers.


#8 Make sure your marketing database is well structured and includes enough relevant contacts

You cannot reach out directly to the right people with your relevant content and messages if they’re not on your database. And you won’t be able to find them in your database or pull them into a targeted email list if they’re not correctly categorised. The competition you will face in the coming months from other virtual events will be very intense. Having a strong, well-structured database so that you can run effective, targeted email campaigns will give you the edge.


#9 Automate as much of your marketing as possible

Virtual event marketing campaigns work best with a shorter lead time than what we typically would plan for face-to-face events. This means you need to push out your marketing messages in a shorter space of time at a faster pace, and this needs to be highly responsive – so automation is essential. If your marketing is all manual, it will feel clunky and less relevant to your audience and will put a huge amount of strain on your team.


#10 Follow through with strong conversion-focused marketing

Don’t stop your marcomms to an individual once they have registered for your virtual event. Make sure that once they’ve registered they continue on an engagement journey with you – remind them regularly of the value and relevance of your event content and speakers, update them on any valuable new features, such as new networking opportunities, and encourage them to log on at the right moment to participate in your virtual sessions. It is in the last few days and hours before an event when automated marketing really comes into its own.


Nobody said creating a great virtual conference and marketing this effectively would be easy. If it was easy, you’d have started running virtual conferences years ago!

We know that conference organisers, sponsors and attendees are pining for ‘the good old days’ of simple, face-to-face events. But these are not coming back. For the rest of 2020, the world will have an abundance of virtual events to choose to attend and sponsor. Beyond 2020, the standard format will be hybrid events – taking ‘the best of virtual’ and combing this with the ‘best of face-to-face’ to create some very valuable experiences for our customers.

So, at this moment in time, you now have a choice: either embrace the challenge and aim to make your virtual event’s content, speakers and marketing more relevant and valuable than your competitors, or don’t – and get lost in all the noise – in 2020 and beyond.

For further insight on virtual events and advice on how to maneuver the ‘pivot’ from live to digital, read about our webinar case study looking at world-leading B2B events brand, #SMWONE.

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How do you get registrants to turn up to your virtual event?

For all the opportunities virtual events offer, one of the biggest challenges vs an in-person event is ensuring registrants follow through to becoming engaged attendees.

This is where conversion marketing, the practice of converting registered delegates (especially those who registered for free) into attendees via targeted comms, plays such an important role.

Achieving a strong conversion rate is essential. Just like in the real world, events live or die on their attendance rate. Too low and sponsors and exhibitors become frustrated at lack of lead opportunities; speakers will in future seek larger audiences elsewhere; and delegates will tune out as they’ll think their peers don’t value the event enough to attend, and will also recognize that without their peers, attending the event loses its value around opportunities for discussion/Q&A and networking.

An inherent benefit of in-person events is that their very nature encourages participation. Attendees often need to make prior travel and accommodation commitments that further tie them to attending, they clear their calendars and shift deadlines to commit to attendance and often also schedule face-to-face meetings with current and potential clients and partners.

The virtual world requires far less commitment. Attendees can be very focused on something else up to 5 minutes before the ‘doors’ open; with notifications, emails, to-do lists and their immediate surroundings fighting for their attention.

We’ve been working hard at MPG on our clients’ conversion campaigns – i.e. the very important marketing you need to do leading up to the event and during a multi-session event – to get attendees to turn up, get fully engaged and stay engaged. And we’re very pleased to be able to share some of these learnings with you now.


Six essential ingredients for a high performance conversion campaign

#1 Evaluate your audience’s needs and consider your event format

Every event and event audience is different.

If your event takes places over several days or even weeks, you will need to construct a plan that keeps delegates engaged throughout. Do not think that just because they attended the first few sessions that they will stick around.

If your audience demographic means they’re less keen on or comfortable with the digital event format, you will need to carefully construct comms that educate them on the benefits and process of attending to make them feel more confident they’ll have a good experience engaging with your virtual event.

If you’re offering free tickets, your conversion campaign is even more vital. These delegates may think they will lose nothing by not attending, so you need to convince them the event will deliver value in return for time and attention.


#2 Start early

Your conversion efforts should start as soon as your first registration comes in. While it can be tempting to focus email, social and other comms on getting people to book, neglecting the people who have already registered will probably mean you lose them.

Consider also how you can leverage conversion marketing to generate additional registrations – encouraging registrants to share information about your event with their network not only increases your reach, but people are more likely to attend if they can see the event is being supported by someone in their peer network.


#3 Get to grips with and leverage the capabilities of your virtual event system (+ the rest of your tech stack)

Many virtual event platforms have features baked in that can support your conversion efforts.

For example, Bizzabo features both push notifications and session summary emails, which can be sent to registrants a set time before a session to remind them to attend.

When marketing teams are likely already strained with running an effective acquisition campaign, these automations can save precious resources. Often they come pre-set with useful integrations like ‘Add to calendar’ links too!

Other elements of your tech stack are also important. For example, email providers like Mailchimp offer easy segmentation of data and PPC platforms like Google Ads let you build intelligent multi-touch campaigns based on past behaviour.


#4 Build a dedicated conversion marketing communications plan

Once you understand your audience, the implications of your event format and the capabilities of your digital platforms, it’s time to formulate a detailed and robust plan to execute the required marketing.

Map out what your registered delegates will be receiving and when; including emails, targeted PPC campaigns and automated messages and notifications. Consider all touch points, e.g. do they need an automated message that reminds them to save sessions to their agenda? And what social media announcements are needed just before the event to create a sufficient buzz and fear of missing out?

Email is your most important channel here, mostly focused on targeted, automated campaigns. Social media is also important and can be used to create discussion between delegates about what they’re looking forward to. PPC also has a part to play in creating highly targeted ‘micro touchpoints’. Think about how you can use chat platforms (like Slack) to provide a space for delegates to interact both in group and private channels.


#5 Ensure you have the right skills and resources in place

A vital piece of the puzzle is ensuring you’ve got enough knowledgeable people to plan and execute your conversion comms well. Ensuring your plan is achievable from a workload perspective – when you also need to put a huge marketing effort into generating registrants in the first place – could mean the difference between success and failure. If the volume is not feasible:

  1. Identify what can be automated or pre-scheduled to avoid crunch periods.
  2. Remove less critical elements to lighten the load.
  3. Consider engaging additional support to add some much needed marketing muscle.

#6 Track results and adapt

Measuring ROI on conversion campaigns is a bit trickier than measuring the performance of acquiring registrants. While data on the channels that influenced a sale should be quite easy to access and analyse, understanding how effective your conversion marketing is in getting someone to sign in on the day is less straightforward.

Generally, there is a direct correlation between how a person engages with conversion marketing and how likely they are to turn up – so make sure you measure this and analyse after your virtual event what behaviors lead to the best outcomes, so that you can predict for future events what is most likely to be effective and what results are likely to come through in terms of event attendance.

Getting in people’s diaries/calendars is a simple and highly effective way of encouraging attendance. Not only will it prevent them making other commitments, but most calendar apps will do a lot of the work for you – providing automated reminders of the upcoming event.

The usual suspects of reporting (interaction rates, open rates) are still useful indicators of performance, and tracking clicks on important CTAs like ‘Add to Calendar’ can help you understand how effective your comms are in achieving your objectives.

When you know your most effective channels and techniques, focus your efforts (and money) on them. Don’t be afraid to cut a channel if its performance isn’t up to scratch.

The data you gather from your first conversion campaign will also contain vital lessons for your next one, so spend time examining the data to understand what was effective.


The key to success in conversion marketing is to apply the main principles of successful B2B community marketing in the current age:

  • Be community-focused and ensure your creative approaches to messaging and visual branding hit the mark.
  • Automate as much as you can to enhance the customer experience and achieve scale and essential efficiencies.
  • Measure all you do and makes sure your decisions are data-led.

Get converting!