Attendee Growth Hack Part Two: Marketing & Sales Multi-Prong Approach

Attendee Growth Hack Part Two: Marketing & Sales Multi-Prong Approach

Marketing & Sales working together as a finely tuned machine can be a huge advantage to any organization. Adding a methodical approach and the data analyzation to your marketing will only expound upon that advantage.

By Bill McGlade, CEM, Sr. Director, Emerging Business at a2z, Inc.

In this segment, no pun intended from the previous article, we will not conjure the voice of Stein but instead add some flair and excitement. Marketing & Sales working together as a finely tuned machine can be a huge advantage to any organization. Adding a methodical approach and the data analyzation to your marketing will only expound upon that advantage.

A quick recap of our methodical approach:

  1. Collect the correct data
  2. Organize your data
  3. Take a step back

All three play a large role into ramping up your marketing program and taking it to the next level for that aggressive attendee growth you are seeking. Here’s why:

  1. Correct data allows you to properly align your marketing segments and goals. Without the correct data, you are flying blind.
  2. Organization of that data is key. It is here that you will segment based off of initial thoughts and then, you guessed it, segment even more. We will touch on this when expanding upon the methodical approach to your marketing campaigns.
  3. Taking a step back is paramount. Remember, you have a team and you cannot do everything yourself. Fresh sets of eyes are important for any campaign.

Here we go! Another exciting ride down the methodical roller coaster. Keep in mind, methodical approaches must be fluid and adapt to any situation that may arise. Methodical means having plan B and C and D and even Z. It means playing the ‘if this, then this’ game until you have thought through all potential scenarios.

Marketing 101

Know your audience! Sounds simple, right? Wrong! Knowing your audience means going beyond understanding what you “believe” the value you provide to them is. Knowing your audience means interviewing and polling to understand what it is they really want. It also means reviewing the behavioral data from your digital platforms and comparing it to their behaviors onsite. All this is data. All of this is not scary. All of this is easy to compile and analyze.

Now that you know your audience, it’s time to set up your methodical campaign.

It is paramount to put together a campaign that feeds the funnel to your sales team on the exhibitor side. On the attendee side, it is paramount you feed the engagement funnel. This funnel is the platforms or mediums you use that allow your attendees to engage i.e., social media, blog posts, etc. Stop trying to market year after year to the same attendees. Get them engaged with yearlong content that delivers the highest impact and reasoning for them to attend in-person your event.

Marketing Methodical Approach

  1. Segment your data into the key 3-5 verticals your event represents.
    • Why? This is the first step to personalization. The latest CEIR research documents that the key to success is messaging that is personalized and speaks directly to a business professional on a more specific level, beyond promoting the general merits of an event. Mass marketing awareness campaigns are great for some but moving toward the future of events, you need to segment your lists into smaller lists to help personalize and deliver the correct content and initiative for them to become engaged.
  2. Put together a 3-part urgency email campaign for all 3-5 of the verticals. Each vertical will have its own automation campaign and each vertical will have its own content within the emails.
    • This is the step before your next segmentation. This is where you reach the masses of your verticals to gauge their behavior.
  3. Segment even further. Segment each of the verticals by regions.
    • You could break this into east, central, and west or even further into north east south east etc. That is up to you.
    • Why? Delivering content based on vertical and region adds a whole lot of personalization and you can begin to analyze that behavior and engagement.

That is very high level. You will want to dig deeper and provide more details in your automation campaign. Key factors to keep in mind:

  • Call to action: This should be the first clickable link they see and should ideally be a big enough button that grabs their attention.
  • Everything linked: Every picture, every call to action should be linked and have URL parameters tied to them. This allows you to track behavior. Some automation systems show a heat map of clicks which is great, but most don’t so having those URL parameters will help you track the behavior.
  • Short, sweet, and to the point: No one reads long emails…well almost no one. Everything you want that attendee to see should be within the first few lines or pictures.

Each of your automation campaigns should ideally have next steps that feed them to various parts of the campaign. This is where the fun begins with the ‘if this, then this’ game.

  1. If they click on this link, they go here and receive this.
  2. If they open the email but don’t click, they go here and receive this.
  3. If they don’t open the email, they go here and receive this.

You get the idea now. You begin to tailor the experience based on their behavior. This allows you to analyze that behavior and see which content is engaging whom.

But Wait… Where is the Omni-channel? 

Once you understand the behavior from a few of these campaigns, you can begin to tailor that to your other mediums. For example, regarding social media, Instagram may be your more fun bits of information and that’s how you are gathering the engagements. Facebook might be the tool that feeds the funnel of your blog posts. LinkedIn may be the tool to help you find other attendees based off of look-a-like organizations.

Once you have “won” the attendee over and they have completed your “call to action” and registered to attend, this is where you “upsell” them. In this sense of the word, you are not actually selling them anything but merely providing them the opportunity to engage with you on different outlets. “Hey such and such attendee, thanks for registering. Like us on Facebook to find relevant content from thought leaders based on your preferences.” “Hey such and such attendee, follow us on Instagram to see fun bite sized video clips on how you better your experience while onsite at our event.”

I’ll end it here. Remember to measure and analyze the behavior to come up with the best engagement campaigns. You will need to experiment a lot to find what works. For me, I find segmenting to smaller lists helps deliver a much more personalized feel.

Stay tuned for my final post on Referrals and VIP Programs, and check out CEIR’s new How to Grow Attendance series for even more insight on growing attendance to your B2B event.

Bill McGlade, CEM, a 10-year veteran in the events industry, has been with a show management organization, a show organizer, and most currently a technology provider (a2z, Inc). His extensive and well-rounded experience allows him to impart knowledge on his fellow peers to help them grow and increase the value of their events. If you’d like more help in understanding how to segment and analyze your data, feel free to reach out. Bill can be reached at or 202-236-6490.

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