September 10, 2016

How inbound marketing can boost attendee numbers for business events

5 Demand Generation Best Practices for IT Service Companies - Personas

Being asked how inbound marketing can boost attendance numbers for business events? Maybe someone is questioning the investment of resources or doubting the value of inbound. There are several responses to give when challenged on taking this approach to increasing turn out at a conference, networking event or webinar.

Inbound Targets the Right Audience

51% of event organizers have not been able to increase their attendance numbers. — State of Event Marketing

Whether the business event is brand new or already established on that industry’s calendar, registration promotion should be a priority. To amp up attendance numbers, think first about the value your event has for an individual attendee.

According to the State of Event Marketing survey, “47% of event organizers do not have a well-defined buyer persona).” Yet inbound focuses on defining target audience segments. The marketer should do this for each business event separately to insure that resources are being invested in targeting the right population to increase attendance numbers.

Inbound Gets Your Event Discovered

84% feel that attending events is an important part of their job. — State of Event Marketing

Business event attendance is an expected part of the job for many roles across industries. Yet when it comes to organizing the event, few event organizers stop to determine who would actually benefit from attending their conference or trade show. With the buyer personas in mind, and a deep understanding of their challenges, the marketing team can better plan content marketing to appeal to different potential attendees.

For instance, the inbound marketer touting a conference addressing the SaaS market might appeal to the C-suite audience with content related to the keynote speaker or thought leadership panels. Yet for the IT team members, a focus on panels detailing technology attributes and advantages could be a greater draw.

Inbound content marketing also takes a focused, data driven approach to driving traffic to the event’s registration page. The event might be promoted in a newsletter, short video interview with a keynote speaker, blog articles highlighting the nuggets of wisdom from some of the scheduled presenters, as well as via social channels and email.

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Inbound Adds Value, Builds Trust

79% go to professional events specifically to learn something. — State of Event Marketing

Contrary to the interruptive practices of outbound, inbound marketing aims to employ awesome content that appeals to prospective leads by adding value and building trust. Carry this sentiment through to the landing page for the event signup. Inbound best practices for conversion can make a difference here too. For example:

  • Make it easy to convert. Streamline navigation and simplify the form to make registration easy.
  • Use striking visuals. Don’t clutter the landing page with hotel information, quotes from planned speakers, and directions to the event location.
  • Focus on what people need to know to convert and save the rest of the information for the thank you page, follow-up email and future communications.

Event marketing success. Source: State of Event Marketing

Inbound Measures Success

59% of marketers have no way to measure or track the ROI of their events. — State of Event Marketing

Even after the event is over, the work is not done. Now is the time to pore over the metrics to determine success against key performance indicators. Ticket sales are an obvious indicator of success (when weighed against all costs), but other considerations might be:

  • # of repeat attendees
  • # of follow up inquiries
  • $ sales generated post event
  • # of advance registrants for next event
  • # drop outs who don’t turn up to the actual event

Inbound Nurtures

47% of marketers plan to increase spending on their events. — State of Event Marketing

Practicing inbound marketing means organizers will continue to communicate with registrants to cultivate their enthusiasm for the event. Also, when the event is over, the marketing team might reach out:

  • soliciting feedback about the event
  • prompting social media shares to foster a sense of community afterwards
  • following up with gated content offers related to the registrants’ specific event behaviors.

Focusing only on how inbound marketing can boost attendee numbers for business events is a tactical mistake. Think bigger. Inbound marketing makes sure the resources going into promoting an event are spent targeting the right people. With inbound best practices, the organizers will see more attendees in the seats, but also a greater number of people who value being at the event.

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Hubspot. (2014). The State of Event Marketing.
Maya, T. (n.d.). 9 Eventprofs Share their Most Important Event KPIs.