I was recently invited to speak at the IAEE meeting in Boston to shed some light on how analytics can be used to increase attendance at events. In recent years event producers have found it more difficult to attract attendees, due to the rise of the Internet, the growing inconvenience of travel, and an economic recession. As event producers have struggled against these forces, they have in many cases not yet taken advantage of analytic techniques such as data mining, CRM, web analytics, social network analysis, and test and learn strategies to grow attendance levels. My session explored how to apply analytic techniques to radically improve the results of audience development campaigns. I have used these techniques on over 100 conferences, trade shows, and special events to achieve significant increases in attendance.
The topics I covered included the following:
The Lifetime Value of a Customer – A discussion of how to determine the lifetime value of a conference attendee is followed by the an examination of the much more difficult question of how to determine the lifetime value of an exhibit attendee. These attendees usually attend at no charge, and usually generate revenue only indirectly by attracting exhibitors and sponsors. In addition, I review an example of how knowledge of the lifetime value of an attendee can be crucial in decision making.
Closed Loop Marketing - A closed loop marketing system allows event managers to measure the results of all the various components of their audience development programs. With accurate measurement of program results, they can accurately gauge the ROI of marketing programs, run controlled tests to optimize ROI, and identify key leverage points.
Email Optimization - Email is the keystone of many audience development programs. It is vital to optimize the revenue and response generated by email marketing through a comprehensive testing program. Properly done, email optimization can improve response by 50% or more, and in some cases double or even triple response. The presentation provides examples of how to identify key email test elements, implement carefully designed tests, and analyze the results.
Customer Profiling - Using the information about attendees collected during the registration process, prospects can be targeted with increased accuracy, and the results of marketing programs can be markedly improved.
Predictive Modeling - Moving beyond simple customer profiling, models can be developed that accurately predict which customers are likely to respond to promotions, and which customers are likely to defect. A case study is included on how predictive modeling helped triple conference revenue.
Segmentation Analysis – A highly effective way to identify which customers will respond to which promotions. Event managers can create custom-tailored marketing messages that address the needs of each segment to increase response, lower the cost of customer acquisition, increase retention, and increase cross-sales, up-sales, and referrals. An example of how a segmented campaign increased response by 20% is reviewed.
Web Site Optimization - Small increases in conversion rates can have a dramatic increase in registrations. An example of how minimizing abandonment rates during the registration process helped increase registrations by 30% is discussed.
Social Media Optimization – Analytics can help event producers amplify the results of their audience development campaign through the optimal use of social media. By mining social networks to identify influential customers and prospects, adding social media profiles to the CRM system, and using predictive modeling to target high probability prospects, an event increased attendance by 30%.
As more event producers take advantage of these analytics techniques, they'll be able to attract more and better qualified attendees to their events. Face-to-face meetings, the original channel of social media, will remain a vi