The team was set to move forward with preparations for 2020’s largest, premier email marketing summit in the southern hemisphere. However, as COVID-19 quickly progressed from a known virus into a global pandemic, the future of live events was left uncertain. We had a tough decision on our hands, to cancel, postpone or entirely change it up by going virtual. Luckily we went with the latter.
This was the first time we would host EMSA as a virtual event. Backed by our small in-house marketing team we were able to pull off the unimaginable. With over 1000+ registrants and more than 50% attendance rate, EMSA 2020 has earned the title as the most successful in our event history.
So we’re going to show you how this event marketing success was all made possible by demonstrating the impact made at every step of the customer journey that helped boost our attendance, engagement and loyalty metrics.
1. Setting Your Goals & Campaign Strategy
The goal was simple. Get more attendees to our event. All there was left to do was strategise how we could effectively attract, nurture and convert our qualified leads. Our first step was to build a bullet-proof campaign funnel that made sure no stone was left unturned in our pursuit for conversions. And thus, the EMSA campaign funnel was born.
From here, we were able to establish an entire list of resources we needed to cook up in order to market our event to the masses. We began by consulting our resource checklist before we moved forward with our event promo:
- Speaker assets
- Speaker bios
- Profile pictures
- Google display and search ads
- Facebook + LinkedIn display ads
- Email nurture campaign for non-purchasers
- Email workflow for attendees
- Eventbrite ticketing page
- EMSA landing page
- Organic social post content + schedule
- Virtual Event Platform Set-Up
- Event Agenda
- Provider Selection for Audiovisual
Product Selection Process
You already have enough on your plate as it is, so technical difficulties should not be a hurdle to add to your list of burdens. If you’re planning on hosting a virtual event you need to make sure you choose the right audiovisual provider that can guarantee a rich, frictionless experience for yourself, your speakers and also your attendees. That’s why we highly recommend shopping around and making sure your chosen tech provider ticks all the right boxes:
- Easy of use
- High-level of audio and video production
- Live dashboard reporting to monitor event statistics
- Can host the projected number of attendees
- 24/7 customer support and live troubleshooting
- Audience engagement & interactive features for Q/A, group chats and live discussions
- Variety of virtual spaces including break-out rooms
- Reception “Lobby” page
- Can support multiple speakers and resources (slides)
- Can set up access to the live recordings on demand
2. Reaching Out to the Right People
Before we dove headfirst into pumping out our media assets, we wanted to fine-tune our audience targeting so we were speaking to the right people. While we didn’t require a ticketing system for EMSA, we still wanted to take advantage of our Eventbrite integration to extend our reach and target audiences searching for similar events. We also leveraged our existing email database to create new Similar Audiences in Google Ads and Lookalike Audiences in Facebook.
Once we had taken the guesswork out of our audience-targeting we could begin the launch of our media assets which marked the official announcement and invitation to our prospects. We allowed for a three-month lead time to promote the event. From here the chase was on. We wanted to retarget and nurture back every prospect that visited our Eventbrite and EMSA landing pages and didn’t convert. This was made super easy with Vision6’s direct integrations with Google Ads and Facebook Business integrations.
Here’s an example of the type of rem-marketing ads across our social channels:
EMSA Social Media Ad Examples
3. Engage Your Audience With Promos & Reminders
And we didn’t stop there. We wanted to keep our event top-of-mind by sending out regular reminders to our database. As this event was 100% free we didn’t have any promo emails lined up for the special offers or early bird promotions.
To build the hype, it came down to promoting our best asset… our stellar line-up of both international and local speakers. In the 6-weeks leading up to the event, we elected to run a drip campaign. We chose to shine the spotlight on certain speakers each week, teasing our subscribers with a little bit of information about them and their killer sessions.
As these were spaced out over each week we were constantly comparing our data looking for areas we could improve to keep those engagement rates flying high. So here’s a few of our email tips and tricks that sent our subscribers into click-frenzy:
- Video Teaser: An attention-grabbing video is the perfect way to build hype and give your subscribers a little taste of what’s to come. By simply including a teaser video in our one of speaker spotlight emails we received a click-through rate that was 6 times higher than the industry average. Here’s an example that one of speaker’s shared on their social channels:
- Date and Time of Send: By trial and error we saw that Friday 11am reaped the best results in terms of engagement. But before you start scheduling all your emails on Friday, we recommend checking our email metrics report which is updated with the latest benchmarks every month. Using this real-time data is a great place to start your email testing.
- ‘Add to Calendar’ CTA Button: The add to calendar link was one of our CTA buttons which received a lot of action in our email campaigns, especially for our reminders. While you can’t prove how many attendees actually added this event to their calendars, the intention and interest was certainly there. In Vision6 we have an ‘Add to Calendar’ link which automatically creates the ICS files for Apple Mail, Gmail, and Outlook or other.
In order to go full-circle, we wanted to combine a promotional mix of paid, owned and earned media. So the easiest way to earn free promotional activities was to reach out to our speakers. To make it easier for them we provided all the assets they needed to promote their sessions on their social media channels.
4. Make Sure Your Attendees Don’t Miss a Thing
Just because we got them through the door (or in this case the virtual door) doesn’t mean we cut the cord to all communication channels. It’s just as important to keep your attendees engaged during the event, especially when it’s virtual.
So to begin by maxing out the virtual space we sent out automated reminders to encourage our attendees to tune in and stick around throughout the day. We opted for the ultimate power combo: email and SMS. However, we didn’t want to pester our attendees with the constant buzzing of text notifications. So we made sure our SMS reminders were only used when absolutely necessary. For example, when attendees were likely to step away from their desktop or laptop screens.
Here is the basic automation blueprint we used for our virtual EMSA Event:
5. Nurture Them Back to Your Doorstep
The show may have wrapped up but our efforts certainly didn’t stop there. As our first virtual EMSA we were pretty chuffed with the turnout. But more importantly, we wanted to know what our attendees thought. By using the Vision6 survey forms we are able to gather all the intel we needed to officially rate the event a success; recording an NPS score well-above industry average.
Tip #1: Make sure you have your survey ready to send to all attendees. It’s best to send out your email surveys either at the end of the event or within the next couple of days, while it’s still fresh in their minds.
Tip #2: Make sure you always include a survey question that will help you measure your NPS scoring. For example: Would you recommend EMSA to a friend or coworker?
At the end of the day, our aim was to bring value to our attendees, but also to those who weren’t able to tune in on the day. After all, we spent a lot of time getting them through the door now it’s time to make them stay. Providing recordings and additional resources is a fundamental step in facilitating the start of this relationship. That’s why our post-event email nurture campaign not only provided the highly requested event recording but also additional resources that will prove useful to many of our attendees.
Looking to get on top of your event planning this year? Log-in or sign-up for a free trial account today and take our new event management feature for a test drive. You can easily create, manage and track performance all from the one platform!