Growing revenue by acquiring new subscribers: here’s how the experts do it

The world has seen a significant increase in demand for valuable business information and intelligence in all sectors as senior executives face new challenges and opportunities arising from Covid-19’s impact.

In our recent webinar, Expert Panel Discussion: Marketing to Accelerate Acquisition of New Subscribers, Carolyn Morgan of Speciall Media chaired a discussion between Jonathan Perry, Global Marketing Director at PEI Media, Olivia Jones, Head of Membership Marketing at Procurement Leaders, and MPG’s own Helen Coetzee.

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Attendees gained practical advice on developing and growing a subscriptions service via PEI Media and Procurement Leaders’ real-world experience in developing high-performance subscriptions and membership products.

Here are 5 key learnings from the webinar:

1. Free trials can have a negative effect

Procurement Leaders’ experiment with free trials for their membership resulted in an increase in lost opportunities. The issue? The structure of PL’s service meant free access to the website alone did not showcase the full range of benefits the membership offers. Careful analysis of the marketing and sales data meant Procurement Leaders were able to rapidly move on to more effective promotional methods, where they discovered…


2. Events are excellent platforms for promoting subs products

Offering prospects free passes to their customer events proved successful for Procurement Leaders. Visitors were able to network with existing members, providing powerful and authentic word of mouth accounts on the benefits of the product.

Events can also act as a showcase for subscriptions and membership products, providing a sample of the valuable intelligence, data and connections the service provides year-round.


3. Automation is key

Both PEI Media and Procurement Leaders find value in marketing automation for their subscriptions and memberships. From automated lead-scoring (based on level of engagement) to enable highly-targeted and relevant comms, to a series of automations that convert leads from cold to hot, both companies understand the near limitless potential of marketing automation.


4. Lead nurturing is a calculated process

Procurement Leaders’ point-based lead scoring model enables real-time reporting and analysis and a deeper understanding of their audience. The two bases of scoring, demographic and behaviour, ensure only the most relevant and interested parties are targeted with comms. Mapping the score model against the sales funnel allows rapid identification of any dips or spikes. This process means leads are nurtured effectively and sales teams are fed the optimal number of hot leads.


5. Business growth requires marketing growth

PEI Media found their strategy of spreading marketers across their events, subs and other products was not feasible as their business grew. The specific requirements and complexities of each format meant specialised teams had to be formed.

Increased digitisation created further demand for specialist skills. A dedicated operations team was given responsibility for martech and automations, while a team of product marketers were tasked with handling brands, customers and lead and sales targets.

Procurement Leaders found giving the same marketers responsibility for both subscriber acquisition and retention led to better outcomes, as marketers were able to develop a deeper understanding of their customers.


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Thank you to everyone who joined us for our latest webinar, and those catching up on the valuable insights now.

If you need support in marketing your subscriptions or membership, make sure you contact MPG to hear how we help the world’s leading B2B community brands grow their subscribers, audiences, businesses and revenue.

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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!

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Focusing on lead generation? You need a community map!

Virtual, hybrid and live event organisers are currently facing an unprecedented challenge in sustaining their event revenue, both in the short and long term. Monetisation via spex sales and ticket revenue are under threat, and many organisations are quickly transitioning to digital event formats without a robust plan to protect this income.

The game has changed, so to speak, but there’s one tool that remains as relevant and valuable in the digital space as it was in the physical environment. A tool that we recommend all events undergoing any sort of transition to the digital space employ.

What is a community map?

Simply put, a community map (sometimes called a market map) is a tool for understanding the composition of your end-user target market, which is essential if you’re going to work out how to best serve this audience and thereby build the right kind of monetization model.

Creating one will help you engage effectively with your community to maintain and grow brand trust, as well as retain and grow your sponsorship and exhibitions revenue in the coming months.


How do we create a community map?

There are 3 steps to creating a comprehensive and accurate community map:


Step 1 – Make sure you understand who your community is

Make sure you can broadly define your end-user community in one or two sentences, and that you can easily identify who the ‘core’ group is that matters. Then ensure your whole brand team is 100% aligned on this.



Step 2 – Divide your community into segments and identify the most important ones

Once you’re confident in the community you serve and its core group, it’s time to break the community down in to further segments and identify the most important ones. To do this:

  1. Consider the different groups your sponsors want to most engage with
  2. Define parameters of each group in terms of sector, company type, job function and seniority.

Group your segments into tiers to make the hierarchy clear and improve internal efficiency in understanding, using and growing your database and other routes to market. Then as you work through your marketing comms plan, your plan becomes as simple as “we need to grow our Tier 1A database and reach them with a 4-stage email campaign” and “our next LinkedIn advertising campaign needs to target Tier 1B”.

There are several other benefits to segmenting and targeting your community in this way:

  1. Close new sponsorship deals. Being able to share exact figures on your community’s composition is a powerful leveraging tool to use on potential sponsors who are looking to engage a very specific audience.
  2. Retain more partners. In a similar vein, existing sponsors will become addicted to you if you’re feeding them valuable audience insights, as well as consistently growing the segments that matter most to them.
  3. Improve your marketing. Segmentation enables deeper, more personalised targeting of comms. Serving each group of your community with the content that is most relevant to them is an important step in engaging any community.
  4. Perhaps the biggest benefit is that it enables the most important step of all…


Step 3 – Size your key community segments and analyse your current database to identify gaps

Knowing the composition of your database is one thing, but avoid viewing it in a vacuum. Having your most valuable segment make up 80% of your database looks good on paper, but you could only have > 10% of the total contacts available in your core market.

This may look good in isolation…

…but when you look at the wider market, the gaps become clear.

If your most important segment is HR directors at the world’s 50 largest banks, and your database only has 20 of them – that means you’re reaching less than half of your most important community members.

To fill these gaps you should conduct database research where data privacy rules allow. If your research is small scale, try conducting this internally; your teams may be able to identify relevant contacts via social media and company websites. If you have a large pool of contacts to identify, consider employing an external agency to do the heavy lifting at pace and cost effectively.

If this is not allowed due to privacy regulations in your target region, or there are still contacts left to identify, you can move to outreach such as PPC and organic social media to try and draw your contacts to your website via inbound tactics. LinkedIn ads will allow you to target based on useful parameters like job title, industry and even individual companies – you just have to make sure your ads and website are effectively encouraging them to share their data (and grant consent for comms) via a lead generation form.


Wrapping up

Community mapping is a vital tool for any business to survive and thrive. In a recent blog post, we outlined why understanding your community, and their needs, should be your #1 priority – read the full article here.

At MPG, we’ve been creating community maps for the world’s leading B2B media and events brands for years. To find out more about how we do this for specific markets, please do get in touch.

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13 key learnings from MPG’s webinar on postponed events

Following the forced postponement of most events in the first half of 2020, we ran a webinar for conference and B2B tradeshow organisers on key marketing considerations needed in this unique period of time. Over 100 CEOs, MDs, department heads and marketers from across B2B media and events attended our two instalments of the virtual event.

Here are the 13 things we learned about marketing postponed events that we’d like to share with our community:

Ensuring success for your next event…

1. Collaboration is key

The events industry is moving into a new era. Close collaboration between all stakeholders will be vital in forming a winning strategy for the months and years ahead.


2. This is a great opportunity to build new digital formats

Digitally-enhanced and fully-virtual events started running successfully some years ago, but it is clear that the current crisis is a catalyst for a very rapid digital transformation of events businesses. Winning event brands will leverage tech to engage their communities year-round, not just at the events or in the immediate run up to an event.


3. Longer lead time is an opportunity

For all the doom and gloom of the situation, longer lead times and the opportunity to generate more digital engagement with their audiences presents a wonderful opportunity for marketers. New digital formats and creative approaches to comms will push some of our marketeers out of their comfort zones initially; but they will build up their knowledge and confidence in the right areas quickly – they will need to!


4. Engagement and lead generation must be the focus

In times of great uncertainty, events revenue is hugely challenged. Maintaining the interest of prospective delegates online and over a longer time period is essential in securing revenue over the long term. With this in mind…


5. Content marketing is now the magic ingredient

Knowledge banks, resource centres, speaker Q&As, podcasts, interviews, webinars, whitepapers – all of these will serve your community well in the coming weeks, keeping event stakeholders and audiences engaged and trusting in your brand
Read more >


6. Now is a good time to grow your audience and database

Having more time to engage with your audience presents a great opportunity to add more relevant names to your database. Whether you decide to invite them to your event or invite them to take out a subscription – having more of the right prospects’ details on your database can only help you! More downloadable content on your website will allow you to capture contact details of key contacts. Your marketers can also start engaging with more media partners to extend your reach further. And adding more contacts to your database via targeted research will really pay off.


7. You should aim to make your events even more valuable

Prospective delegates, speakers and sponsors will applaud if you use the extra time you have to enhance your product. Enhancements could include virtual event formats, digital add-ons, new speakers and the aforementioned content production.


8. Newsletters are likely to make a comeback

How do you communicate the evolving nature of your product (without pushing the ‘hard sell’) and get people to buy tickets when they’re not yet sure if they’ll be able to attend? A simple newsletter could be the best way to keep your audience informed, engaged and well served with useful product updates and content. And if the newsletter is valued by your community this could be the start of a new subscription product and a new way to generate revenue.


9. Monitoring results is more important than ever – ‘test & learn’ will be critical!

Where there is uncertainty, hard numbers and data are your guiding light. Keeping track of everything from website traffic to the channels driving revenue will enable informed decisions on how to approach your marketing – one week at a time. If your marketing team is going to be trying new things – you’ll need to know if they work.


 

Looking long term…

10. 2021 events may have a shorter cycle due to later 2020 events

Events organisers will need to think carefully about how they approach this challenge. Don’t underestimate the impact a short lead time will have on your content production timeline, as well as how your marketing and sales team will need to adjust their approach to generate required levels of revenue. Start working on your 2021 event before your postponed 2020 event to get ahead!


11. Will digital enable expansion?

Virtual events can be attended from anywhere in the world, meaning the reach of your event is now truly global. The size of your event is also no longer restricted by the size of the venue, and the increasing logistics and catering costs that come with scale are not an issue in the virtual world.


12. Will this spark more creativity in the sector?

Hardship breeds resourcefulness, ingenuity and innovation. The event organisers that respond well to this challenge by adapting fast, developing new models and ways of engaging with and serving their community will define the way we approach events for the coming decade.


13. What are the skills needed in 2021 and beyond?

As digital comes to the fore and businesses try to understand their new place in the world, agile and tech-savvy teams will be needed. The shift to year-round community engagement will require marketers who can think long-term, instead of focusing on short-term results. It will also mean that people who can learn quickly and move forward fast and confidently are likely to be the stars.

Find out more about how to win in the new world here.


To see more on what was discussed in our webinar series, you can watch the full webinar below.

The webinar slide deck is also available, including answers to questions on numerous challenges and issues highlighted in the webinar Q&A.

ACCESS WEBINAR SLIDES

We will be running more webinars soon on the challenges event organisers are facing, as well as how B2B media and events brands can get stuck into building and engaging their communities better with digitally delivered content and virtual networking opportunities. If you would like to suggest a topic or issue for us to cover, or if you would like to contribute a case study, please get in touch.

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Postponed your event? Here’s 10 things your marketing team needs to do NOW

In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, many event organisers are choosing to postpone their events. We gathered the MPG and AGNC teams to discuss the immediate steps marketing teams should take in the wake of a delayed event.

You’ve made the decision. A new date is set, the venue is secured. Assuming you’ve already done the following, you may feel you have all bases covered:

  1. Key internal and external stakeholders informed
  2. Event suppliers updated
  3. Event budgets adjusted and confirmed
  4. Existing software contracts extended (e.g. event apps)
  5. Reservations moved (speaker and sponsor dinners, VIP parties)

But don’t underestimate the responsibilities your marketing function has to ensure the success of your revised event plans. The strategic and tactical steps needed extend far beyond updating the dates on the website and sending out more emails.

The below checklist covers the essentials your marketing team need to action to secure the success of not only your next event, but your brand as a whole. Forward it to your marketing manager to ensure they’re considering everything, at what must be a stressful time.

 

Your marketing team’s postponement response checklist

1 – Review price points and targets

With an extended campaign timeline and the prospect of booked delegates dropping out, revisiting the core objectives of the marketing function should be priority number 1 on any marketing manager’s list.

  • Conduct an assessment on the impact of the postponement on revenue and attendee targets and set new objectives with a clear strategy of how your team will achieve them.
  • Investigate whether your pricing strategy is still fit for purpose. Be wary of running another early-bird to spark bookings – you could irritate delegates who just paid full price! Similarly, increasing the final rate to add an early-bird could be perceived as taking advantage of the situation.
  • Ensure you’ve secured the marketing investment needed to achieve new commercial targets.

2 – Conduct internal briefings to get everyone on the same page

With revised targets, an updated strategy and a very unfamiliar set of circumstances – ensuring everyone is kept up to date is essential.

  • To avoid confusion internally – and mixed messages being delivered externally – ensure your teams are fully briefed on the revised date (and the reasons for it), as well as the policies surrounding delegate ticket/sponsorship cancellations. They will need to know the answers to questions such as:
    • I can’t make the new date, can I use my ticket to attend next year instead?
    • Can I transfer my ticket to someone else?
    • We no longer wish to sponsor – can we get a refund?
    • I have already made financial commitments (such as a hotel booking) to attend – will I be reimbursed?

3 – Publish your statement

Once everything is sorted internally, it’s time to inform your community of your decision in a clear and confident manner.

  • Add a prominent statement to the homepage (and ideally also on a separate dedicated page) of your event website that clearly explains your decision and the reasons for it. Here’s a great example from a Summit in Singapore.
  • Make sure the statement is updated frequently to address any fresh challenges and include the date prominently to assure viewers they are reading an up to date announcement.

4 – Get the message out

Sharing the announcement on your website is not enough. To avoid frustration and confusion, all event stakeholders (including prospective attendees) must be informed.

  • As a priority – simultaneous to the statement being published – notify all delegates, sponsors, media partners, speakers and other event stakeholders via email and telephone of the new date.
  • Utilise email and social media to inform the wider market of the revised date. As on your website, make it clear why the decision has been made. Your event community wants to see that you are in control of the situation and acting in their best interests.

5 – Update your existing collateral

As soon as the announcement is out, focus on changing key information on your marketing collateral with new event dates and venue arrangements.

  • Review your existing collateral (brochures, agendas, interviews etc.) and update to reflect the revised date and venue (if applicable).
  • Consider how the change may affect the contents and structure of your collateral:
    • Was the venue a key selling point before, but now you’ve moved to a smaller site?
    • Does the collateral refer to the previous pricing strategy (early-birds) which may confuse people?

6 – Don’t forget your automated activity!

While dealing with ‘front-line’ activity, it’s all too easy to forget the systems you have running in the background. Take the time to re-group with your team on the automations in place and act swiftly to pause any activity that may conflict with your statement.

  • Check all your automated activity for outdated information or actions that may no longer be relevant. Here are some examples of what could trip you up:
    • Countdown ads in PPC campaigns that are due to start 1 week before the original event date
    • Autoresponder emails that are triggered by form completions on your event site
    • Pre-scheduled social media that still refers to the old event date
    • An event countdown widget on your website

7 – Re-focus your messaging

When getting back up to speed on your normal campaign activity, make sure you’re not just copy/pasting what came before.

  • In the short term – avoid copy and imagery that could invoke unease for prospective attendees. This could be:
    • Messaging around the size of the event (e.g. 500+ attendees) (also as your actual attendance numbers will be difficult to predict) and the ‘global’ nature of the event.
    • Images of large crowds in proximity, or of people shaking hands or interacting closely
  • Consider how the updated timelines and the Covid-19 impact may affect your event USPs and content.
    • Will you be adding any new digital elements to your event? e.g. livestreaming of certain sessions?
    • Will you be enhancing the app in any way or releasing it early so that delegates can get the most out of the networking opportunities your event presents?
    • Do you need to include a session dedicated to the impact of Covid-19? Substribe Summit has done this very well by adding a ‘breakfast session’ to the start of the day.
    • Is there a key piece of industry legislation that will now come into play before the event that will require you to adjust your program?
    • How else might the industry (and wider macro environment) change between now and the new date?
    • Can you try and secure new ‘big name’ speakers who maybe couldn’t attend the previous event? If you can have them join by video conference that may make it more likely they can speak at your event.

8 – Focus on lead gen

With hesitant prospective attendees, sponsors and exhibitors; collecting contact info to nurture and re-engage is more important than ever.

  • Make sure your ‘Register Your Interest/Subscribe for Updates’ forms are prominent on your website and in all comms.
  • Dial down the ‘Book Now’ messaging temporarily and focus on content-led comms and updates about how you’re enhancing the event (e.g. with digital add-ons) to build and maintain confidence in the event.

9 – Provide regular updates

With a rapidly evolving situation, your community will expect you to be vigilant and responsible.

  • Share what you (and the event venue) will do to ensure visitor safety. This could include increased frequency of cleaning and hand sanitizers.
  • Act on government and official advice and ensure your event attendees and stakeholders know you are heeding this guidance.

10 – Generate good content

To keep your audience engaged and further build confidence with all stakeholders that the event is still valuable and relevant, an increased focus on content production would be prudent.

  • Create and distribute high-value content (news updates, speaker interviews and collateral) that will keep both existing and prospective delegates invested until the new date
  • Consider creating content that directly addresses the effects of coronavirus on your industry. ‘Owning the conversation’ about the issue that is top of mind for everyone can be a powerful method of engaging your community and driving revenue, as well as ensuring your community is served with all the information they need.

Following these steps will help mitigate the short-term challenges an event postponement causes, for your marketing team and for your event’s health.

But the long-term symptoms of this outbreak will extend far beyond the pain caused by a single event’s postponement. The B2B events industry is about to undergo a period of intense self-reflection, and the outcomes of this could change the way we approach the medium for the next decade and beyond.

We’ll be diving deeper into the strategic implications of coronavirus on the world of B2B events in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. If you have any thoughts on how our industry should react, we would love to hear from you.

From all of us at MPG, we wish you and your business all the best.

MPG recently hosted a webinar focused on marketing considerations & tactics for postponed events. See the webinar outputs here.

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Why data makes the difference in B2B events success

Why data makes the difference

A good database is the foundation of successful B2B events and subscriptions marketing. Simply put, 20% better data will mean 20% more delegates. As long as it’s the right data!

With email and telemarketing still the core of most event marketing campaigns, being able to reach your target audience by email – the main channel relying on a strong database – is crucial to success.

A prime example of this comes from a publisher we have been working with over the past three years on eight of their events in Europe, the US and Asia. We have added 70,000 records to their database – focused on their target audience. This resulted in an additional £1m+ delegate revenue and an ROI of over 500%. Many event organisers don’t invest enough in the development and management of their database. Here are the most common mistakes we see in events businesses, and how you can avoid them!

1. Not enough data or the wrong data

As a benchmark, for every attendee you want to attract to a free-to-attend event, you need to reach 50 of the right people. For paid-for events, it’s 100 for every one delegate. So, for an event targeting 100 paying delegates, you need to reach 10,000 of the right people – repeatedly. The best way to ensure you achieve this reach, is to have these people on your database!

The composition of the database also needs to match your preferred target audience – if you want 20% CFOs in the room, then 20% of your database need to be CFOs – in the right type of organisation and the right geography.

Check how closely your database matches your target audience and then be prepared to fill in the gaps (see below for how).

2. Data not in one place

All your data must be in one system. This doesn’t have to be an expensive system like Salesforce. If you do not do direct mail or telesales this could be an email system like Mailchimp, or if you do a multichannel campaign it could be something like the free CRM from Hubspot. Any CRM that you use should be integrated with your marketing automation/email marketing system to ensure your communications are all joined up across all your channels. It’s no good having data in various excel sheets or disconnected systems. If this is the case, you can’t develop a strong database, track permissions (for compliance) or run targeted marketing campaigns.

3. Neglecting organic data build

Those who engage with content on your website are likely to be the most engaged prospects. But many organisers don’t build the required elements in to their event websites to capture the details of these. It is important to have a well optimised event website with plenty of interesting content, all year round. This website should include a number of forms for potential customers to enquire about the event, register their interest or download a PDF of relevant information. The data captured from these form completions should feed in to your database in real time.
A year-round programme to optimise your website for form completions should generate organic data adding 5-10% of your total database, with these contacts being the most responsive and likely to convert to delegates.

4. Buying data in bulk

‘Buying lists’ from list brokers the old fashioned way is a definite no-no these days! This data is likely to perform very poorly as it is over-sold and over-used by a large number of buyers. Data may not be clean or up to date, the permissions may be patchy (if at all considered), and you will not get the response rates you want. If you need a large amount of data in a hurry, it’s better to purchase a subscription to a modern database or lead generation provider like Cognism. But always do targeted research for your core, most important target audience.

5. Not researching data properly

If you have gaps in segments of your data, you may need to use third parties to research this for you. This can be highly productive, but it is essential to brief the agency thoroughly, ask for a data sample, and then monitor the research process extremely closely. Take a long-term view – you can often get your data investment back in the first year, but the real value is in the second and third year, when you should get up to 400% ROI.

6. Lack of categorisation

If your database is not properly aligned with your audience segmentation, then you will have to send out messaging that may not be very relevant to a large number of people – resulting in a high number of unsubscribes. On your CRM, you will need to be able to tag records to align with different segments. This will allow you to send more targeted and relevant campaigns.

7. Not planning data in advance

Data can’t be a last-minute fix. It can take months to identify gaps in data and then research to fill in the gaps, clean data and plan your campaign. If you plan to use media partnerships to reach specific sectors, these are likely to also take months to set up.

8. Lack of skilled people

Managing data is a skilled discipline – it requires experience in managing data research firms, working with database providers, and knowing how the data needs to be structured within your marketing tech stack. Plus you need a very strong attention to detail. Good data marketers can think strategically and are highly analytical. Many marketing teams lack these skills.

9. Not tracking engagement

Watch your email analytics to check the quality of the data you have. You should have over 97% deliverability. Open rates should be 15%+, click-through rates should be 1.5%+ and click-to-open rates should be 8%+. If they are lower the data might be poor quality.

Limit emails to any individual to no more than twice a week, even if it is for different events. If you run multiple events, you need to have a single database and co-ordinate activity across campaigns.

10. Misdirected compliance efforts

Many publishers focused their GDPR efforts on the datasets they are using for email marketing, particularly attempting to collect consent from all of the people they wanted to email. The reality is that GDPR itself did not change the rules about who can be emailed with or without opt-in (there are separate pieces of regulation in each EU member state that define that). In B2B markets, depending on the country, prior opt-in is not always required for email, so attempting to collect it for all contacts before contacting them is likely to be overly cautious and is likely to kill your marketing effectiveness, especially for events that require large datasets in niche markets.

But do keep an eye on current regulations and any possible future changes to ensure you don’t fall foul of the law for countries where consent or opt-in is required and where it is required, do ensure that you are collecting and recording it in the correct way. These considerations should be built in to how your database is configured and managed, and a specialist with the required compliance knowledge is essential in getting this set up correctly.

If you are an events business leader, these are the questions you should be asking your head of marketing:

  • How many relevant records do we have on our database for marketing our event(s)? Do we have enough based on our event targets?
  • How clean and up to date are our database records, especially those most important to us? Can we do targeted messaging based on how the data can be segmented in our database? What segments can we identify?
  • Is our website set up to capture good, new names to add to the database, with the right permissions?
  • Do we use a research firm to collect data in most important audience groups?
  • Do we have access to a database provider to find large volumes of data fast?
  • Do we have the required skills and resources in-house to manage our database well?
  • What is our plan to invest in improving our database?

Data quality is far more important than choice of CRM. You can use a basic, free CRM and still get good results if you have a large enough, clean, well segmented database.

We have worked with many event organisers on their marketing databases – and have always found that time invested on cleaning up, expanding and structuring the database well has always delivered a strong ROI!

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How to find new sponsors & exhibitors with smart marketing

How to get new sponsors & exhibitors to invest in your event

Sponsors and exhibitors are essential to the profitability of an event, but too often sales teams rely on the same few clients that return year-after-year, neglecting the opportunities available in ‘new business’.

Why acquiring new sponsors and exhibitors really matters

Events need a variety of partners to work. Attendees expect to see new companies each time they return. Part of the value proposition of a successful event is that the event presents new and innovative suppliers and vendors in the sector. Mixing up old and new faces also protects your event long term; even the most reliable clients can change their marketing objectives and end their commercial relationship with your event, putting a key source of revenue in jeopardy.

Why sales teams neglect new business

Sales teams’ natural process doesn’t usually focus on sourcing and nurturing new business – especially for an established event. Most go first to their tried and trusted contacts to renew their contracts and secure quick wins. It’s often only when the event looks like it might miss its targets, that the urgency arises to reach out to new prospects. But by then it can be too late to source, nurture and convert clients before the event happens. This can be compounded by sales teams lacking an established process to generate new sponsorship leads.

How a sales lead generation process can deliver a 500%+ ROI

What is the solution to the ‘new business’ challenge and this often missed opportunity? You need to invest in good ground-work and forward planning in sponsor and exhibitor lead generation. This can often generate faster growth than pushing harder on your delegate marketing. Specific marketing programmes focused on generating new leads for sponsorship and exhibition sales could deliver as much as 5x on your marketing investment, based on the KPIs we have been tracking on events MPG has supported over the past year or so.

Here are the steps we recommend you take:

1. Define the sponsor value proposition

Be clear about the USP and benefits of your event from a sponsor or exhibitor’s perspective, especially the key gains for them if they commit at an early stage many months before the event.

2. Define your target market and decision making unit

The decision to sponsor or exhibit at an event is usually made by a group of people. CMOs or CEO’s may be the final decision-makers, but senior sales people and marketing managers are also key influencers. You will need to reach and convince them all that their presence at your event is worth investing in.

3. Build your marketing database & inbound channels for lead generation

Map the market, deciding the ideal size of business, geographical location, sector and job titles. Then research your database, ensuring you include all the decision-makers within one organisation. Consider how you can quickly build your database to reach out to them, using data research for rapid growth and by also feeding engaging and relevant content in to your inbound channels and optimising your website for maximum ‘enquiry form’ completions.

4. Set up your marketing funnel

For outbound marketing, plan your email campaigns, with tailored messages for different audience segments. Get your inbound marketing working well by pushing compelling messaging and content via the obvious inbound channels – PPC and social media. Optimise your sponsorship landing page (with enquiry form) on your event website and also offer carefully crafted sponsorship options and event attendee profile PDF’s behind forms for lead capture. Optimise the rest of the website to direct sponsors who land anywhere else on the site to your sponsorship page.

5. Leverage your delegate marketing

Add sponsorship and exhibition lead generation elements to your delegate marketing by including in delegate emails and on delegate focused web pages some calls-to-action pushing people to the sponsorship opportunities page. Also consider adding to all lead generation forms on the website – including those focused on delegate marketing – the option for people to tick what they are most interested in (e.g. attending, speaking, sponsoring or exhibiting) before submitting the form. Those who choose sponsorship and exhibition options are clearly very good people for your sales team to call straight way.

6. Nurture your leads

Use marketing automation to track incoming sponsor leads and set up a nurturing programme. This is an easy win as you are earning more revenue from the investment you have already made in your marketing automation systems for your delegate marketing.

7. Incentivise sales teams

Monitor how quickly sales teams follow up on marketing generated new business leads. Offer enhanced commission rates for acquiring brand new clients to reward the extra effort, or nominate one person in the sales team as the new business specialist.

8. Learn and fine-tune

In the first year, measure everything and find out which types of leads convert fastest and for the highest average order value. Consider how profile (e.g. company type, country etc) and engagement behaviour (e.g. what they downloaded or clicked on) when ‘scoring’ leads. Even if you can’t convert a new business lead for the event it was generated for, you still have a good chance to convert it for the following year’s event.

It is important to consider that generating leads for your sponsorship and exhibition sales team requires a different approach and skill set than what is required for delegate marketing. You might need to set up a specialist marketing team to generate sponsorship and exhibitor leads, or consider engaging an agency to initially run a pilot programme for you to assess how to proceed longer term for further investment in lead generation for your sponsorship and exhibition sales teams. A steady stream of new business leads is bound to make any sales person happy!

About the author

Helen has over 2 decades’ experience in the B2B events space. She is now the proud CEO and Founder of two high-performance marketing agencies – MPG – designed to address the most pressing exhibition and conference marketing challenges facing organisations today.

Kirsty is MPG’s Marketing Director for events globally, and a seasoned event marketing campaign manager, strategic expert and marketing function leader. Her team of conference and exhibition marketing pros deliver outstanding, high performance full-service campaigns for some of the world’s most prestigious events and brands.

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How Event Marketing Can Build – Or Break – a Trusted B2B Media Brand

What nearly all of the most successful community-focused and subs-led brands have in common is a strong and growing events portfolio – where their subscribers (or members) can come together to learn and network with their community across a range of event formats. It is at these events where subscribers also come face-to-face with the information brand they rely on, reinforcing trust and building loyalty.

And it is also at these events where much of the lost advertising revenue has now re-surfaced as income from sponsors and exhibitors – now often called ‘spex revenue’. A combination of strong delegate and spex revenues from events can drive highly profitable, high annual growth for a B2B media brand.

But events present a much greater strategic opportunity – or risk – for B2B media brands, depending on how the marketing of these events is conducted.  

Event marketing can be a frantic, siloed, highly tactical exercise (often done on the cheap) focused only on attracting the largest possible number of attendees in a short space of time to satisfy internally driven or spex-driven quotas – an approach that severely compromises the quality of communication and the audience. This is very dangerous for a brand that relies on the trust of its subscribers.

Or event marketing can be strategic – with brand trust as the starting point for developing an effective strategic marketing communications plan that, when executed well, leverages and reinforces brand trust. As with building effective and sustainable subscriptions marketing campaigns, strategically approached event marketing requires longer term thinking, planning and investment.

The best kind of event marketing not only fills venues with high quality delegates representative of the brand community, it also attracts new, high-quality subscribers, thus growing the engaged brand community.

 

The 5 areas brand leaders should invest in to ensure their event marketing builds brand trust and overall brand growth:

1. A good database and CRM

A well implemented and organised database in a good CRM will enable segmentation by demographics, behaviours and transactions – meaning communications can be personalised and made relevant. In addition to ensuring event communications are relevant to an individual’s role and challenges, it is very important subscribers are treated differently to non-subscribers.

When managing data through an event marketing cycle, the best set-up of systems and processes will also enable the identification of potential new subscribers, and push them in to the subscriptions marketing funnel.

2. A strong inbound marketing engine for events

Inbound marketing should run all year-round, driving event awareness via social channels, and shared email and event leads via a well-optimised website – while building overall brand awareness and strengthening brand positioning.

Subscriber engagement and brand-trust will often be positively influenced by what they see in social channels, especially if reinforced by a third party via likes and shares, while potential subscribers will often be drawn in by a compelling event-specific message.

The impact that the presence and engagement of high profile and well-respected speakers, sponsors and other third-party event stakeholders can have on a brand’s social channels should not be under-estimated.

3. An event website that reinforces a brand’s positioning, while integrating the event with the subscription value proposition

A strong event website helps customers extract more value from their subscriptions by engaging with event content before, during and after the event.

Highlighting and serving up unique ‘subscriber-only’ event-specific content and networking opportunities via your website is a good way to drive subscriber retention and acquisition. The FOMO factor is powerful, especially if what sits behind a paywall is highly current and relevant, as with event content.

4. A well-managed event marketing and sales funnel

An optimised funnel also ensures marketing qualified leads are followed up by sales people in a timely manner with relevant communications. Team members skilled in delegate sales, as well as solution and value-focused spex sales people, can make a significant contribution to brand building.

And if you can incentivise sales people to prioritise subscriber renewals and acquisitions over chasing down delegate and sponsor revenue, you’ll have a winning formula.

5. Ongoing measurement of engagement and conversions

It is important to understand how deeply subscribers and potential subscribers are engaging with an event, and then how customers are engaging with a brand beyond the event.

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”, as the famous Peter Drucker said. The tools are now available to every business to put meaningful metrics at the forefront of making decisions and driving results.
 

Events are powerful. The way in which events are marketed, all year-round, is equally powerful. The impact of events can be extremely positive for a B2B subs-led brand, or can destroy a brand by quickly eroding customer trust.

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7 Strategic Predictions for 2019: Conference & Exhibition Marketing

Settling back into work as we kick off 2019 (which we all know is going to be a bit of a rollercoaster ride!), the MPG team has taken some time to reflect on the key challenges and opportunities our customers and wider community are likely to face:

1. Events will be more important than ever before

In times of extreme uncertainty, imminent change and heightened risk – meeting face-to-face with other professionals facing the same challenges is one of the best ways to proactively acquire valuable intelligence and essential contacts. Responsible companies will want their ‘fingers on the pulse’ of their customers and their industry. Many will find that sharing and collaborating with their industry peers is the best way to find solutions and opportunities.

In 2019, event marketers will need to be highly attuned to the burning questions and priorities of their customers – attendees, sponsors, exhibitors, speakers and other event stakeholders. Our deep empathy and a keen understanding of what matters most will be essential in creating and effectively communicating event value propositions and marketing messages.

2. Event customers will be more discerning and protective of their time

At MPG we have always believed that event customers will always prioritise ‘return on time’ over ‘return on money’. If an event product very effectively meets a market need – the cost of participating in an event becomes less of an issue. Event customers will demand an excellent return on the time they invest in an event and will pass harsh judgement if any of their time is wasted.

In 2019 it will be even more important for event content, speakers and programme formats to be highly relevant and very well executed to deliver exceptional ‘value for time’ and a good experience.

Event marketers will need to get products to market early. We will also need to ensure our messaging is highly relevant and compelling to stake a claim to some precious days in diaries.

3. Strong brands with excellent events will win

For B2B media brands, in-person, hybrid and virtual events will become even more important for brand engagement and value delivery – especially within ‘core customer’ groups. Brand equity will be a key part in attracting customers to events – with the confidence and trust they have in a brand playing an important part in decisions to devote some of their precious time (and budget) to participating in an event.

Events businesses will also start prioritising brand building as they recognise the importance of being more customer-focused rather than product-focused.

More B2B media and events businesses will understand that their brands belong to their customers and that being responsible brand custodians means investing in the unique and genuine value a brand delivers to the community it serves.

In 2019, event marketers should relish and take full advantage of the opportunity to strategically build brands that will help attract high quality event customers – embracing the exciting opportunities for strengthening content-led, inbound and brand-led marketing.

4. Referral and influencer marketing will come to the fore

In times of uncertainty, event customers will do all they can to reduce the risk of wasting their own time or their company’s money. They will also be more mindful of protecting and building their personal brands – carefully considering how their managers, peers and potential future employers perceive their involvement in the events they choose to participate in.

Event customer acquisition and retention will rely more on validation and referrals from trusted colleagues and influencers – to reduce risk and protect reputations.

In 2019, event marketers need to truly embrace the ‘human-to-human’ movement. Our marketing programmes need to consider how key individuals – who are influential with our event customers – will become brand advocates and publicly support our events. And we’ll need to be acutely aware of ‘WIFM’ (‘what’s in it for me’?) when putting together plans to get the right messages to the right people at the right time.

5. Customer insight and data will be in high demand for good decision-making

To be more confident in their decisions and strategies, senior managers will push their teams harder to produce valuable insight on customers and their behaviour (particularly their propensity to purchase) throughout an event cycle. Events business leaders know this data is critical to drive growth and reduce risk, and they are also aware that the required data points are readily available with the right digital marketing tools and approach.

Event marketers are the natural owners of customer insight and in 2019 will need to take more responsibility for collecting and analysing data that helps the business understand how customers are engaging with their events (and potentially the wider business). Business leaders will also have to make strategic investments in the skills and resources needed to make this possible. If this investment is made well, the return should be excellent – especially in the long run.

6. Deeper personalisation will be key to event customer engagement

Although artificial intelligence is showing strong potential for delivering a more personalised customer experience, in 2019 most organisations will still be relying on a more manual approach to ensuring the content and messages served up by marketing to targeted audience groups is highly relevant.

Getting the right message to the right person at the right time will be more important than ever. And having a well organised customer database is the first step to making any personalisation possible – whether driven by AI or more manual means.

In 2019 event marketers will need to focus on getting the most out of their CRMs/marketing database systems – ensuring their #1 priority is organising the database of customer and prospect records so that targeted marketing is possible, even if more manual than we would like it to be.

7. The full range of skills needed for event marketing will be recognised

Effective event marketing requires a team of marketers – each with specific skill sets. 2019 will be the year business leaders recognise that they cannot expect one individual to have all the required skills around strategy, data and analytics, campaign planning & project management, content marketing, copywriting, design, email marketing and marketing automation, social media and pay-per-click advertising (and more).

Marketing is a deep and broad discipline, and events require a very specific type of product marketing that is very different from other types of product marketing.

In 2019, event marketers will be recognised as a unique, valuable and scarce resource. Businesses will start thinking differently about how they acquire and retain the skills needed to create and drive effective event marketing strategies and campaigns. Upskilling, outsourcing and partnering will be explored as ways to fill the critical resource and skills gap in event marketing.


Even though these predictions take in to account the unique challenges we’re likely to face in 2019, we believe all the above would be on the horizon regardless of Brexit or Trump-fuelled uncertainty.

As consumers become more powerful, a more collaborative and sharing-based economy emerges and our world becomes fully digitally-enabled, event customers will demand more from the event brands they choose to nail their colours to.

Event marketing needs the right kind of investment to make the essential strategic contribution required to drive growth – which is possible even in difficult times. B2B media brands and events-focused organisations that can think differently about how they invest in marketing for the best return will be the winners in 2019 and beyond.


MPG accelerates the growth for conferences and exhibitions. We deliver:

Get in touch to find out how MPG’s marketing approach has consistently achieved 40%+ annual growth for events.

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Unlocking the Potential of Marketing: Some Sage Advice for Events Business Leaders

Our guest blogger – experienced event and content advisor Tim Mann provides insightful tips on how events business leaders can be confident in the return on their investment in marketing.

“By improving the reporting process for the marketing team, you are also helping the marketing team communicate with other functions, enhancing their value to the organisation. Marketing reports, made accessible and actionable, should be shared with all functions in the business – especially sales.”

As is the case in all types of organisations, senior executives focused on the success of B2B events have to quickly process information from a variety of sources to make good decisions – on an operational and strategic level.

A cause of frustration I often encounter when working with senior executives is how difficult it can be to efficiently receive and understand data provided by B2B community marketers.

Frequently, meetings with B2B community marketers or the reports they provide tend to overflow with analytics – where important context and actionable insights can be difficult to pinpoint. It can be unclear how marketing spend is being allocated, which channels or elements of an B2B community marketing campaign are working best, or what is being done to optimise marketing performance in the months and weeks leading up to an event.

This can strain relationships between marketers, executives and other stakeholders.

So, what are the reasons for this and how can you address this challenge?

The language of leadership and the language of marketing

Marketing is a frequently misunderstood function. The analytics and language of its reports can be impenetrable to ‘outsiders’, especially when compared to other functions such as sales – despite the fact both functions should be closely aligned.

CEOs, Managing Directors or Divisional Directors (P&L holders) in B2B Media and events businesses still tend to come from a background of content or sales – giving them a stronger, innate understanding of how non-marketing functions operate. Even if marketing has been a career path to senior management, the function has changed so much in the past five years that marketing experience gained years ago is probably of limited use.

Compounding the problem, changes in recent years in the technology and tools being employed by marketers has resulted in marketing spend and the reliance on marketing investment increasing, as well as the volume of data and analytics rising.

This growing cost and complexity of marketing has widened the disconnect between marketers and their senior executive team who see vast resources being sucked up, but hard-to-find or difficult to understand evidence of a return-on-investment.

Make sure your marketers know what analytics and insights you need...

Ask the right questions…

As a CEO or MD, you have to make sure your marketer(s) know what analytics and insights you need to see on a regular basis.

Establish the data points, metrics, context and resulting insights and recommendations that are most valuable to your decision-making process and provide clarity for marketers on when and how you wish to see this information presented – usually in a combination of routine reports and meetings.

…get the right answers

Ensuring reports and meetings provide the information you want may involve rebuilding the whole process from scratch, which you need to be prepared to do in order to effectively manage your marketing function. Also be prepared to improve and refine this reporting and meetings process as you go along – building on what you learn about the value and accessibility of information your marketers can provide.

A useful comparison and possible starting point may be your sales report. As marketing should be, sales is focused on financial results and customer engagement, and is effectively a marketing channel.

Sales reports tend to speak the language P&L holders understand – communicating activity, engagement, forecast revenue and commercial outcomes. Good sales reports will also include a focus on quantity and quality of leads generated and conversion rates.

Ideally marketers should provide the analytics and insights ‘further up the funnel’, and while showing joined up results with sales where relevant, ensure their reports also answer the following questions:

  • “What, where and how are we spending?”
  • “What are we aiming to achieve and what is the expected ROI? What does success look like?”
  • “What results have been generated by marketing investment to date? How have these results been generated?”
  • “Are there signs we should adjust or change our approach for better results?”
  • “What is marketing doing to analyse results on an ongoing basis and flex to respond to results to maximise ROI over time?”

Asking these important questions and insisting on context, benchmarks and insights will result in an intelligence-based approach to marketing decision-making, strategising and investment.

Better Information, Better Communication and Better Teamwork means better results

Bring all functions into the conversation

By improving the reporting process for the marketing team, you are also helping the marketing team communicate with other functions, enhancing their value to the organisation. Marketing reports, made accessible and actionable, should be shared with all functions in the business – especially sales.

‘Sales and marketing’ are effectively one process and need to be joined up for optimal results – yet they often operate in silos. I’ve regularly seen campaign meetings and plans launched by sales with no input from marketing and vice versa.

Are sales people aware of the content and messaging marketing is communicating? Do marketing know who sales are talking to?

Get marketing and sales people in the same room to understand each other’s strategies, activities and results so they are better able to align and integrate.

Better information + better communication + better teamwork = better results

As a business leader, you have the responsibility to ensure all functions are pulling their weight and well-supported and enabled to do so. The contribution marketing makes and how to lead marketers effectively can often be one of your most difficult tasks – often made more difficult if you’re not ‘speaking the same language’. But, if you work on this relationship and ‘help them to help you’ make good decisions, your investment in marketing should pay for itself many times over.

Tim Mann currently works with a number of privately owned events and media businesses on overcoming the challenges of scaling and achieving faster growth. His work encompasses developing leadership capabilities, building and executing event and portfolio growth strategies and all actions that lead to sales growth. Previously to this Tim worked as Managing Director for several businesses involving conferences, executive forums, exhibitions, publishing and research. Connect with Tim on LinkedIn.

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Email Marketing Performance Benchmarks for B2B Events

We have a dizzying array of channels and tools available to today’s B2B community marketers, and the humble email is still one of the most effective. Deployed smartly, email marketing remains critically important when marketing events.

GDPR meansB2B community marketers are likely to be sending fewer emails to data subjects in the EU than they did previously, so it is even more important than ever that campaigns are designed for complete relevance, maximum impact and constantly measured against the industry benchmarks.

(more…)

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‘Data Strategy’ is the New Oil

So, the world did not end on 25th May and we had a sunny bank holiday weekend to celebrate!

Although a tremendous opportunity for sound businesses, those who won’t admit they got a few more grey hairs and suffered a few sleepless nights from Friday’s GDPR deadline are either overconfident or pretending..

In the B2B events world, we wait in keen anticipation to see what our significantly smaller databases will deliver for us in the coming days. I have great hope – validated by a BBC interview on the weekend where an email marketing expert claimed GDPR will result in email open rates more than doubling from an average of below 20% to around 40%.

(more…)

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