30 Jun 2013
Attendee Acquisition Strategies
Attendee Acquisition Strategies
By Danica Tormohlen, editor-at-large
Wouldn't you like to know how much your competitors are spending on attendee marketing? While there still isn't a definitive industry average available based on key criteria such as net square feet of exhibit space, number of exhibitors, attendance and cost per square foot, show organizers have provided some insight into the elusive number in a new survey conducted by research firm Jacobs Jenner & Kent.
On average, respondents spend 16% of their overall event budgets on attendee marketing and promotion, according to The Attendee Acquisition Challenges & Practices Survey, which polled 120 execulives who represent a cross section of associations and independent show organizers. Shows spend $27 to $140 per attendee and $56 to $200 per new attendee. "While the range is large, the results offer an attempt to quantify the cost per attendee," said Sam Lippman, president and founder, Lippman Connects, author of the survey and producer of the Attendee Acquisition Roundtable (AAR), which was held April 25 in Chicago.
Conducted in April, the Attendee Acquisition Challenges & Practices Survey asked show producers about their marketing and retention strategies, budgets, list management and outsourcing. In this feature, Trade Show Executive, the exclusive media partner of AAR, summarizes the key findings.
Budgets & ROI
In 2013, 19% of respondents increased their marketing budgets, while 69% are spending about the same as last year. A total of 25% of attendee marketing budgets are spent on direct mail, followed by 16% on email marketing. Despite the fact that show organizers spend the greatest portion of their marketing budgets on direct mail, 67% of respondents said it provides the worst return among tactics.
While direct mail continues to hail as the largest marketing expense. show organizers are clearly taking an integrated approach. Show organizers said personalized email and email marketing to specific demographics and product/sector interest segments provide the greatest returns.
Embracing Social Media
It's no surprise that a significant percentage of show organizers are using social media to market their events. In fact, 91% of respondents said they are using Facebook and Twitter. In addition, 82% are using LinkedIn and 73% are using YouTube.
But it's still unclear how effectively these social media channels perform, particularly given the staff time and resources dedicated to maintaining these platforms. In 2013, 39% said Facebook is the most effective in terms of attendee marketing, followed by 36% who said Twitter is most effective. Only 24% said that LinkedIn is the most effective, and 9% said YouTube is the best.
Attraction & Retention
Show organizers are deploying a variety of tactics to attract and retain allendees. Chief among them are educational programs, which are undergoing significant changes by 70% of show organizers. In addition, 64% of respondents are providing exhibitor tools to invite their customers.
Others are getting creative when it comes to attendee registration pricing. In fact, 36% changed attendee registration costs and 36% added more levels of pricing. This fact was also discussed at the recent Society of lndependent Show Organizers (SISO) CEO Summit in April. Sally Shankland, CEO, UBM Connect, discussed how she tested attendee value-based pricing models for the U.S. Psychiatric & Mental Health Congress, similar to dynamic exhibitor pricing models embraced by companies such as Reed and UBM. In year one, the medical conference and exhibition was able to increase attendee revenues by 23% and attendance by 9%.
"Most shows are experiencing late reg-istrations, and some as late as two weeks out," said Wayne Jacobs, president, Jacobs Jenner & Kent. "Testing different attendee pricing strategies is one way shows are trying to deal with late registrations." The next AAR willl be held September 19 at the City Club in Washington DC. The full report is available at www.lippmanconnects.com.
Reach Sam at (703) 979-4904 or sam@ lippmanconnects.com; Wayne at (410) 256-2206 or waynejacobs@jjkresearchcom