By Ronnie Higgins
When it comes to successful event planning, there are attendees, and then there are MVAs — your most valuable attendees. If you can identify which attendees drive the most revenue and find ways to focus more on their needs, you can boost event retention, increase marketing ROI, and attract more sponsors.
Competition for the best attendees is stiff: In the U.S. alone, 18 million events occur every year, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the event industry will grow 44 percent by 2020. To attract and retain the most valuable attendees for your event, you can’t rely on outdated processes and inefficient technologies. You need to wow your best attendees and keep them coming back.
You have opportunities to engage your most valuable attendees all year long, but many event coordinators forget that. They’re satisfied to send a single “thank-you” email blast and move on to the next event.
To keep your event vibrant and growing on a year-over-year basis, it’s important that your MVAs to know they matter. Don’t use email to spam them; instead, send targeted, personalized communications to thank them for their attendance and request their feedback. Not only will you increase your open rate by 20 percent, but you will also receive valuable information to make next year’s event even better. This is also where tools like a marketing automation platform (e.g. Marketo, Makesbridge, SharpSpring, etc.) and outbound email engine (e.g. Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, etc.) and strategy are key.
Follow these three strategies to reach your MVAs and make them the biggest drivers of your event’s success:
1. Identify them. Before you reach out to your MVAs, you must figure out who they are. Look at your data to pick out the attendees who drive the most revenue. For instance, look at the job titles, traffic sources, and locations of some of your repeat attendees and see what they have in common. Maybe they all work in the same industry or were all sold through the same channel (email, social media, etc.).
Whatever their similarities, use this information to find out who brings the most people, who buys the most tickets, and who stays at the event the longest. Those are the MVAs you’ll want to target.
2. Get in their eyelines. After you gather data on your MVAs, follow them around the internet. Something drew these attendees to your event, so go to any platform—digital or otherwise—that they frequent and continue building rapport with them via targeted messaging and other methods. If you’re always in front of them, they’ll never forget you and they’ll continue to feel valued. Plus, if you’re lucky, they’ll tell their friends, who can prove to be MVAs themselves in the future.
Use the technology at your disposal to analyze where your team needs to invest its time and resources to have the greatest impact on your MVAs. Social media often provides the best advertising ROI for events, so find the channel that will pay the highest dividends.
Don’t settle for free posts; instead, make strategic investments in sponsored social media content. Social media channels are pay to play, most especially Facebook. Last year, Ogilvy & Mather discovered that one Facebook page with a half-million likes reached only two percent of its audience with each post. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone paying attention—organic reach simply isn’t enough. Analyze the demographics of your MVAs, then pay to put your social media content in front of them.
3. Align with the right sponsors. Putting on an event your MVAs want to return to is about more than just the right speaker or session. Lining up sponsors whose brands speak to your MVAs can also show that event organizers care.
Research the social media channels where your MVAs have a presence and note the brands they interact with, visit, and mention most often. Facebook’s Insights feature can allow organizers to sift through your list of MVAs to see which pages they frequent, their spending habits, and other information. Use these findings to work with sponsors who appeal to these MVAs.
By using technology to target your MVAs and eliminate unnecessary time wasters, you can grow your event and optimize returns over time. How would you target MVAs at your next event? Leave a comment so that other marketers can offer their perspectives.
Ronnie Higgins is with the team at Eventbrite, helping event planners level-up their registration game. Born and raised in New Orleans, he enjoys nothing more than helping people get together — whether it’s for a conference, class, or a city-wide party like Mardi Gras.