Picture this. It’s 9 AM. Coffee is brewing, and you’ve just logged into Twitter to catch up on this morning’s news. You scan to find out what people are getting up to and then we see it... hashtag galore over an industry conference you had no idea was happening!
We’ve all been there. We’re only human. but missing the boat on attending an important industry conference is something that needn't happen in this day and age. With many physical and digital events to choose from, the search for the best industry conference can sometimes feel a little overwhelming, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Media monitoring tools can act as your right-hand by helping you with your third-party conference planning, from cradle to the grave.
Finding the best industry conference
A quick keyword search on a news monitoring platform can fetch a list of industry conference-related articles, no matter how niche your industry may be. Narrowing the search down by location can also be useful if budget is tight and you want to avoid trekking around the country to mingle and find leads.
Event organisers sometimes love to blow their own trumpets, but you no longer have to rely on their word to gauge the success of an industry conference. By looking at previous year’s editorial and social media coverage, and the tonality of the articles, you can make unbiased and informed decisions as to which option is best to book.
You can also make use of social media monitoring tools to help with identifying and tracking key influencers in attendance. This is a great way to effectively build desired relationships with them and make sure your brand has a presence in locations where they hang out.
Reading industry publications and blogs may be a slightly more old school way of researching industry conferences, but it works just as well. For those working in Marketing, we previously created a list of our personal favourite magazines, blogs and conferences to start off with.
Making the most out of exhibiting
Once you’ve found an industry conference that looks promising in lead generation and brand awareness, it's time to shout about your attendance from the rooftops! Add the event link to email signatures and the website, tell customers during phone calls and invite them by email too. Find out which social media platforms your targeted audience and influencers mostly use and engage with them on these channels. Social media can be an easy and effective way to increase attendance by leveraging existing event creative and assets like registration pages. Start by publishing a blog post a couple of weeks before the event – perhaps a short, Q&A-style interview with the conference speaker, or an excerpt of the planned presentation – and include a call to action that links to the registration page. Use LinkedIn Sponsored Updates and LinkedIn Text Ads to target specific demographics in advance of the event. Finally, schedule a series of tweets starting 2 weeks prior to the event. Vary the copy, and include images where possible, such as speaker photos.
Consider a 4-week paid search (SEM) campaign leading up to the date of the conference too. You can either create a separate campaign focused on specific keywords and search queries related to the conference topic, or temporarily replace (or rotate) your current SEM ads with copy that drives event registration.
When crafting landing pages, remember, no-one cares about how wonderful your product is. Every ounce of copy should be dedicated to convincing the reader why he/she should invest their precious time attending the conference. A registration page should provide more than just a form and a tired repetition of email copy. An effective registration page, one that maximizes conversion rates, reinforces the value of the event – perhaps by providing additional, more detailed information like speaker bios or an agenda. Bullet points that are easily scannable at a glance are a useful technique for highlighting key messages. Don’t just list topics – instead, provide specific, concrete things that the reader will learn, discover, gain or take away from the event.
Studies show that starting email promotions more than 7 days prior to an event increases the size of the audience by 36%. Following the initial invitation, send a second, reminder email a week later. Try sending last-minute reminders in the form of “forwarded” emails from the assigned sales representative, including the contact’s first name and a personal note (e.g. “Jane, wanted to make sure that you saw the invitation to this great event we’re hosting next week …”).
Most business professionals live and die by their online calendars. (Translation: if it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t exist.) Make sure that you also include a prominent (and functioning) “add to calendar” link or button on the thank you/confirmation page, confirmation email, and all reminder emails.
On the day
On the day of the industry conference, it’s important to listen to conversations taking place about the show online so that you can successful insert yourselves into the discussions. This helps your brand remain relevant. You'll quickly be able to spot if there's a particular keynote happening that’s creating a lot of buzz and can check it out. Perhaps the speaker is trending, or maybe it's the theme of the talk. Either way, such insights will help you optimise your future industry conference strategies.
It's worth remembering that many people follow event hashtags without actually attending, thus reading post after post saying “come and say hi at booth 20” can get rather boring. Use your imagination and creativity - take photos, write inspiring posts and quote interesting facts learnt from the presentations. After all, it’s these kinds of posts that are likely to receive high engagement. Don't forget to tag the speakers too as this will help grow your network!
Tracked conversations = precious gold mine
Conversations hold a vast amount of information beyond who said what. By analysing and dissecting the data you can see:
- Individuals interested in certain topics - this kind of personalised information can be relayed to your sales team and help them to better personalise their pitch and close more sales!
- Highly engaged posts - this helps with judging who the influencers were so you can network with them and explore future collaborations.
- Key themes and trends - this could provide the basis for future strategies or blog posts.
- Peak times of the day that had the highest engagement - this can help you understand what time is best to choose for a speaking timeslot for future events we attend.
Let’s face it: most business inboxes get flooded every day with conference invitations. If your campaign is getting lost in the crowd, hopefully these proven tips and techniques for increasing registration and attendance will help! One of the most powerful ways you can improve the ROI of attending events is by keeping the leads you generate from it hot! The longer you wait to contact potential clients, the quicker they slip away. The success of your industry conference planning strategy is ultimately defined on the event’s ROI, so don’t let cold leads overshadow the hard work you have put into your detailed plan.