3 Digital Marketing Tactics for Event Marketers

Nowadays you can’t have a conversation about event marketing without mentioning digital. As part of the Engagement Assessment Survey, we asked association executives how they’re using digital tactics to enhance their membership, attendance, and engagement marketing. The results show that while tactics such as email are widely adopted, other digital marketing opportunities are underused.

Take a look at the survey findings below. Then consider how you might enhance your existing digital efforts or add a new channel to drive attendance and engagement.

Importance of Email Marketing Automation

Survey Question: How important is email marketing automation?

Email marketing automation is extremely or very important to a total of 71% of associations, according to the survey respondents. The remainder, over one-quarter, say it is somewhat or not very important. An additional survey question revealed that nine out of ten associations use an email service provider to execute their email automation.

Use of Video or Motion Graphics

Survey Question: Do you use video or motion graphics in any of your online membership or event attendance marketing?

Video in particular has emerged rapidly over the past few years as a key medium for communications and marketing, and today over half of associations are using video in some form in their membership and attendance marketing. The use of motion graphics is more limited. According to the findings, only 16% of associations use motion graphics currently.

Interest in Using More Video or Motion Graphics

Survey Question: What is your level of interest in using, or starting to use, more video and motion graphics in your marketing?

The level of interest in using more video and motion graphics in marketing is somewhat mixed. The survey found 47% of associations have a high or extremely high level of interest, although 40% say their interest level is moderate or somewhat moderate.

The main perceived challenges to using more video and motion graphics are by far budget and other resources.

How Video and Motion Graphics are Used in Marketing

Survey Question: In which areas do you use video and motion graphics related to marketing?

Video and motion graphics are mainly used on association or event websites; although 61% use some in social media posts. The findings show video and motion graphics are more often used as part of attendance marketing than membership development communications.

Your digital strategy

First things first. If you’re among the 29% of associations who are not using email automation, it’s time to get on the bandwagon. Email offers a relatively low-cost way to stay in touch with customers and prospects, build loyalty, and drive event attendance and engagement. Automating your email with help from an email service provider further streamlines the process without costing you significant time and resources.

If your email program is humming a long, you might consider adding video or motion graphics to your marketing mix. We know users engage more with visuals than with text, and they respond better to videos than static images. If you’re already using these tactics on your website, consider incorporating them into your social media posts, marketing emails, or event app. Get even more mileage by including videos and motion graphics in presentations or at your event itself.

Yes, budget is a concern when it comes to digital marketing. But video and motion graphics don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Consider setting up a story booth or appointing a roving reporter at your next event. For many member organizations, short, authentic video testimonials from attendees can be more powerful than expensive promotional segments produced and polished in a studio. Motion graphics are an affordable way to bring your existing library of photos and images to life with a little help from a motion graphics designer.

Next-level digital marketing

Once you have a solid foundation of messaging, videos, and motion graphics, you can put this collateral to use in social media marketing. Facebook’s latest advertising platform, Facebook Pixel, helps you use data-driven, personalized messaging to raise brand awareness, attract new audiences, and convert browsers into attendees.

It’s easy for associations, or any business really, to get lost in all the trendy, newfangled digital marketing opportunities. Don’t be daunted. Start with just three tactics—email, video, and motion graphics—then build on this foundation as your budget and resources allow. Digital isn’t going away. The sooner you embrace it, the sooner you’ll attract more members and attendees and build engagement throughout the year.

Need help navigating the brave new world of digital event marketing? Contact us today to get started.

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Remove Common Barriers to Event Attendance and Engagement

How to overcome event marketing challenges

How to overcome event marketing challenges

Attract younger members. Encourage repeat event attendance. Build passion and engagement among members. Change more lives. Every member organization faces these challenges and more when it comes to marketing for membership, attendance, and engagement. According to the Association Engagement Survey, most associations expect these challenges to continue. (A whopping 58% are pessimistic about the future of their events.)

Take a look at the survey results below that address common marketing challenges and the overall outlook for events. While it’s true these can seem like pretty daunting obstacles, everything’s not all doom and gloom. A fresh engagement marketing strategy can help you conquer these hurdles and keep your event growing and thriving.

Biggest Membership Marketing Challenges – Association Executive Quotes

Survey Question: What is your biggest membership marketing challenge?

Select responses from association executives:
  • “Attracting younger and more ethnically diverse members.”
  • “Continually demonstrating the value of an intangible product to potential buyers.”
  • “Conveying value of networking.”
  • “Engagement.”
  • “Finding prospects outside core membership.”
  • “Getting leadership to understand there are more pockets of potential members that represent different areas of the profession that have been overlooked in the past.”
  • “Knowing why people attend our meetings and figuring out how to attract new attendees.”
  • “Marketing to the youth.”
  • “Reaching members who are disengaged/transactional.”
  • “Redefining and persuasively communicating a robust membership value proposition.”
  • “Relevance and value proposition.”
  • “Retaining new/younger members and getting first time members to commit for more than just one year (those that join just to attend the annual meeting).”
  • “Retention after year two.”
  • “The right design to grab attention enough that a prospect is enticed enough to call about membership and review our programs.”
  • “Thinking of membership marketing as its own program.”

Biggest Audience Development and Attendance Marketing Challenges – Association Executive Quotes

Survey Question: What is your biggest event audience development and attendance marketing challenge?

Select responses from association executives:
  • “Convincing leadership to market/advertise outside of our in-house efforts.”
  • “Creating content that attracts a wide variety of attendees.”
  • “Engaging younger members to participate/attend.”
  • “Find out what their needs are and how we can improve our event.”
  • “Getting awareness of our events to people outside our membership.”
  • “Growing the audience and engagement.”
  • “Having so much for so many audiences and not being able to properly segment and target communications.”
  • “Having the time to implement a targeted marketing effort.”
  • “Helping people make the business case to attend.”
  • “Keeping them after the join as a result of attending a meeting. Engaging them with a local chapter and getting them to purchase other products/services.”
  • “Proper messaging — to register vs. once registered.”
  • “Reaching new audiences.”
  • “Understanding why people attend and figuring out how to get new attendees.”

The Growth Outlook is Mixed for Associations’ Largest Events

Survey Question: What do you see as the trend and outlook for large, leading association conventions, exhibitions, conferences, and other events in terms of growth and relevance?

Association executives disagree on the outlook for their largest events in terms of growth and relevance to their markets, although the majority are pessimistic. Consider that 39% say large association events are experiencing flat growth and have a stagnant outlook, and 19% say large events are getting smaller and are less relevant. On the other side, 28% have a positive outlook and say their largest events are growing. Lastly, 15% of the survey respondents are unsure about the outlook for growth and continued relevance.

How to conquer challenges

You might assume from these survey findings that events are losing relevance and fading away. But this is far from the truth. The real issue is that organizations aren’t proving the ROI of attending their events—and attendance and engagement suffer as a result.

Additional findings from the Association Engagement Survey indicate that many associations lack a clear acquisition and attendance marketing strategy—or they have a tired, worn-out strategy. Many ignore storytelling as a powerful engagement platform—even though it’s a proven winner. Other organizations know their value but lack a clear value proposition. These findings suggest that associations have plenty of opportunities to improve outcomes.

So what can you do? Let’s focus on that 28% of association executives who say their events are growing and thriving. These individuals prove that events can be successful. For your events to thrive, too, you need an effective engagement marketing strategy that demonstrates the value of your event. It starts with a clear value proposition. It also includes regular and relevant contact using compelling triggers and targets, curated member stories, and an authentic, human voice.

Overcoming challenges to improve attendance and engagement is well within your grasp. Contact us to get started crafting an engagement marketing strategy today.

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Drive Attendance and Engagement Using a Time-Testing Technique

Why event marketers need more storytelling

Why event marketers need more storytelling

Storytelling is a proven technique for sharing information, bringing people together, inspiring action, and exploring possibilities. Recently, neuroscientists have shed new light on this ancient platform. It turns out our brains engage more fully with stories than with information alone. We feel what the characters in the story feel—in both a tactile and emotional sense. This deep connection actually influences our behavior.

It only makes sense, then, that if you want to attract people to your event and encourage them to engage while they’re there, you should use storytelling. But, it turns out that many event marketers ignore this powerful marketing tool. The recent Association Engagement Survey reveals that only one-third of associations use storytelling in their event marketing. That means many are missing out on countless potential attendees as well as the contributions these individuals could make to their event and their mission.

Here’s the Storytelling Survey Questions and it’s Findings:

One-Third of Associations Use Storytelling as Part of Their Membership Marketing Approach

Survey Question: Does storytelling play a significant role in either your membership or event attendance marketing?

Thirty-three percent of associations say storytelling plays a significant role in their membership marketing, and 30% say they use this approach in their event attendance communications. Thirty-nine percent say they do not use any storytelling techniques currently.

Now, let’s switch gears slightly for a minute and consider this engagement question and its findings:

Event Attendees are Somewhat More Engaged than Many Association Members

Survey Questions: How would you rate your members’ engagement with your association overall on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 equal to the highest level of engagement? (And) How would you rate your attendees’ engagement with your association event on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 equal to the highest level of engagement?

The survey asked association executives to rate the level of their members’ and event attendees’ engagement on a 10-point scale. As the table shows, event attendees are considered to be more engaged. This makes sense as events often attract the most active members and important association management meetings are held in conjunction with the main programs.

How Storytelling and Engagement Work Together

Given the relatively low number of associations who use storytelling (about one-third), it’s not surprising that member engagement tends to be moderate to low and is only somewhat higher among event attendees. There’s room for improvement here! People need to be inspired to act, and one of the best ways to do that is through storytelling. Below is a sample story structure to get you started, along with some examples of where to use stories in your marketing.

Start Telling Stories

You likely won’t have any trouble getting those 8s, 9s, and 10s from the survey to attend your event and be engaged. However, most of your members and prospects will need some nudging to be inspired to attend and to be engaged while there. Your event marketing must prove that the value gained by attending is greater than the money, effort, and time it takes to get there. How can you do that? As the neuroscientists tell us, you can’t simply present a logical cost-benefit analysis. The numbers alone are just not inspiring or compelling enough to win over all those people rated a 5 and below. You need storytelling as part of a fresh engagement marketing strategy.

Begin with a compelling value proposition that proves the ROI of your event. Then collect curated member and attendee stories that demonstrate this value. Once you have stories, you can distribute them on the web, in email, on micro-sites, via digital marketing, and through direct mail to inspire and engage your base.

Need to increase attendance and engagement? Contact us today to add strategic storytelling to your marketing plan.

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Insights to Help you Bridge the Gap Between What you Want and What you Have

How Organizations Drive Membership and Attendance

How Organizations Drive Membership and Attendance

You’re probably investing significant time and resources to increase event attendance. Great! But are you also leveraging your event to increase overall membership? Do you know which areas of your conference and your marketing to enhance in order to drive attendance and member acquisition?

Rottman Creative recently partnered with Access Intelligence to find out how associations drive membership, event attendance, and engagement. The findings reveal a disconnect between what associations know about their attendees and how they use these insights to drive membership and attendance. Here’s a look at a few key findings we discovered:

Less than Half of Associations have a Clear Membership Acquisition Strategy

Survey Question: Do you feel your association has a clear membership acquisition and growth strategy?

Only 44% of association executives surveyed say their organization has a clear membership acquisition and growth strategy. And a similar percentage – 43% – say they do not have a strategy. The rest of the respondents are unsure if they have a clear strategy or not. The survey found similar segments of associations saying the same about their event attendance marketing approach: 46% say they have a clear event attendance marketing and growth strategy, 42% say they don’t have one at all, and 12% are unsure. These findings show many associations need to revisit their strategic plans. Many simply have their membership acquisition process on autopilot, following the same script year-after-year.

Most Associations are Missing Opportunities Tied to their Events to Increase Membership

Survey Question: Do you feel that your organization misses opportunities to increase membership related to your event attendance marketing and engagement? If Yes, please explain what’s missing:

Fifty-eight percent of association executives say their organization is missing opportunities to increase membership related to their event attendance marketing and engagement process. This is particularly an issue because one of the main goals of hosting events is to increase membership. Essentially over half of associations are saying a key aspect of their events is not effective, or at least would benefit from new strategies and approaches.

What’s missing? Here are select responses from association executives:
  • “Connection to membership value.”
  • “Focus is on attendance, not membership value.”
  • “Missed opportunity to promote association via social media, targeting a younger audience.”
  • “More targeted messaging to different demographics and groups.”
  • “No strategic plan. Staff resources limited.”
  • “We don’t have a complete marketing strategy.”
  • “We don’t use the most effective tool ‘word of mouth’ effectively.”
  • “We need to expand to a broader audience.”

Nearly 80% of Associations with Events Have a Good Understanding of Why Their Attendees Attend And What they Value

Survey Question: Does your organization have a good understanding of why attendees attend your events and what they most value?

Seventy-nine percent of associations with events say they understand their attendees’ motivations to participate in their events. This compares to 21% that do not have a good understanding of these motivations or say they are unsure.

Besides Growing Total Attendance, Associations use Events to Increase Membership

Survey Question: Which of the following best describe your overall attendance marketing goals for your largest, most important event?

It’s no surprise that most association events have a goal to increase attendance, but the other top goal is to use events to increase total association membership. Following these top two attendance marketing goals is to drive total exhibit-floor traffic and attendance numbers for exhibitors.

Enhance Educational Sessions is the Main Tactic to Achieve Attendance Marketing Goals

Survey Question: What has your organization been doing more recently specifically to reach event attendance goals?

To reach their attendance marketing goals, associations are mainly enhancing their educational sessions and providing more networking opportunities. The top three attendance marketing tactics found in the survey are: (1.) adding educational sessions, 57%; (2.) reviewing attendance marketing tactics and processes, 53%; (3.) adding networking opportunities, 51%.

What’s Next?

You likely have a good understanding of your audience and what they need and want. But if you find your organization among those without a clear strategy—or perhaps with a tired one on autopilot—it’s time to take action. It is tempting to add more educational sessions, different speakers, or more exhibitors. But first, let’s take a step back.

Members and prospects don’t want more stuff. They want measurable value. A savvy engagement marketing plan begins with an irresistible value proposition that proves the ROI of joining your organization and attending your event. Once you have a clear value proposition, you can build on it to drive membership and attendance with compelling engagement marketing.

Looking to increase event attendance and member acquisition? Contact us to help you develop a value proposition and a complete engagement marketing strategy.

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