How To Get Started With Influencer Marketing In The Meetings And Events Industry

Although influencer marketing is not new, the past few years have brought about such explosive growth that it now has its niche within the marketing industry. The most recent statistics suggest it will continue to grow and to reach a market value of $6.5 billion by the end of this year.

A variety of industries has adopted influencer marketing with positive results, so it’s not surprising that professionals in the meetings and events sector are considering using this strategy. But how exactly can meetings and events executives get started? In this post, we discuss the power of influencer marketing and share practical insights on how to make it work in the meetings and events industry.

Influencer Marketing: What It Is And What It Isn’t

Some event organisers may be reluctant to mix marketing and influencers. This is often due to the misconception that influencer marketing is about working with celebrities who are followed by millions of people and who have very high booking fees. Another thing that contributes to the reluctance are some high-profile cases where influencer marketing has failed – and in the worst cases, backfired – damaging the credibility of both parties.

RELATED: Influencer Marketing In The Meetings Industry

These misconceptions take away from the real definition of influencer marketing: a form of digital marketing that involves the collaboration between brands or organisations and people who have an audience of their own in a related or the same field. Influencers are experts in their subject matter and can help consolidate the voice and authority of those they collaborate with. If your goal is to give unprecedented visibility to your day conference or event and present yourself as a thought leader, influencer marketing is a strategy to consider.

Why Influencer Marketing Works

One of the reasons behind the power of digital influencer marketing is that it works as word-of-mouth marketing, which, according to industry experts, is one of the most trusted channels and a critical contributor decision making. As several studies show, consumers are more likely to trust a message coming from an influencer than from a company so that it can be more effective than advertising.

Moreover, influencers are real people who have already attracted an audience due to the image they project. They have already demonstrated their power to build a brand around themselves and connect with an audience at a personal level, so it makes sense for event organisers to leverage that in their favour. The first thing to consider is how to use influencer marketing at events within a compliance framework.

Approaching Influencer Marketing Within A Compliance Framework

Following the growth of influencer marketing, some countries have attempted to regulate the best industry practices officially. The details vary from country to country, as you can see in this overview, but overall there is a requirement for disclosure, transparency, and integrity so that the audience is aware of the influencer – organiser relationship. You can do this via in-post hashtags, videos, or written content. As an event organiser, it would be helpful to be proactive in applying compliance requirements, even if they’re not strictly enforced in your country.

RELATED: One Year Of GDPR And The Outlook For Your Organisation

How To Implement Influencer Marketing In The Meetings And Events Industry

Moving into the basics of influencer marketing campaigns, the first thing you need to know is that much of their success revolves around the issue of fit between the influencer and the event. The fit must exist in terms of voice and audience so that the campaign comes across as relatable and genuine. Also, consider how the influencer’s voice and interests match your event objectives. Fit should be the guiding consideration throughout the entire process. The following steps are:

1. Finding Influencers

If you don’t work with marketers agencies or a marketing professional, do research online to identify the influencers that can attract a targeted audience for your event. The easiest way to get started is to identify a few keywords associated with your conference or event and do a search for influencers who rank high for the same keywords. You can do this using social listening tools like the ones listed here.

Also, remember that not all social media platforms draw the same type of audience. The most suitable platforms for events are Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, but depending on your audience profile, you may want to look for influencers with an active LinkedIn or Snapchat presence.

2. Look For Engagement Metrics

Follower numbers don’t tell the whole story. Some macro-influencers have over 1 million followers, and yet their engagement rate is below 1 per cent, and algorithms only show their content to a small percentage of their audience. When looking at their profiles, check for influencer-audience interactions in the form of comments and shares. After all, influencer marketing it’s about interpersonal connections.

Micro-influencers (those who have between 1,000 and 10,000 followers) may be best suited for event marketing since their engagement rates are up to 60 per cent higher than those with more followers.

RELATED: ROI and KPI: Measuring The Success Of Your Conferences and Events

3. Choosing Influencers

Ideally, you should gather a list of 20 or 30 influencers, depending on the size of your event. Narrow it down to 10-15 and contact them directly, specifying why you think they’re a good match for your event. You should expect that the more well-known and the bigger their audience, the less receptive they might be, so maybe a bottom-up approach is best. And remember that you don’t need to limit your choices to a single influencer: choosing more than one means you maximise your chances of getting an excellent influencer-delegate fit.

4. Put Things In Writing

Since you’re entering a business relationship, you need to put all terms and conditions in writing. Be sure to leave room for creativity, so content appears authentic. Some suggestions on what to specify include:

– Compensation.

– Inclusions and exclusions (accommodation, event tickets, comp tickets to give away, etc.).

– Guidelines when referring to sponsors.

– Platforms you want or need to use.

– Hashtags to use and to avoid.

– Content schedule.

– Whether you need to review the content before publishing and what’s the review process.

– Engagement metrics to be reported (likes, comments, direct messages, face-to-face interactions, etc.).

5. Experiment With New Formats

Instead of having influencers promote traditional presentations, you could try conversation-oriented formats like fireside chats, which are a useful resource for meeting planners. These are informal chats between two parties, a less intimidating and more relatable version of panel discussions. During a fireside chat, you could have the social influencer acts as a moderator drive the conversation between two speakers.

You can also integrate the influencer’s presence with your content marketing strategy using popular formats like pre-event videos, or having them co-host a webinar or a podcast after the event.

6. Make Influencer Marketing Measurable

Influencer marketing can generate ROI up to 11 per cent higher than other marketing strategies. Quantifying results is getting more comfortable, as there are new channels and tools developed all the time. The most important things you should track are:

– Engagement levels: Is content being liked, shared, and commented on? Does it generate conversations among your audience?

RELATED: Marketing for Associations: 4 Reasons to Use Google Analytics

– How many people take action as a result of the influencer marketing campaign? Here, “taking action” would be directly linked to the event goals, whether they are getting new members, generating interest in future events, or finding sponsorship leads.

Conclusion

Influencers have their place in event marketing and industry events since they can boost organic growth and give voice to an event in ways that resonate with your audience. As long as partnerships are built with a focus on genuine advocacy, influencer marketing has a phenomenal ability to reach broad audiences and establish personal connections that drive loyalty,

Get in touch if you’d like to implement influencer marketing at your association marketing, your conference, event, or as a complement to other marketing strategies.

5 Key Elements for Successful Conference Promotion

Conference planning is a demanding task to manage and implement. From the months of preparation to the environment leading up to it and balancing the needs of delegates and speakers on the day. There is nothing more disappointing to a conference planner than having unsold conference tickets as ticket sales are a direct indication of how well you promoted the event. Conference promotion can make or break your event, but before we get to that, you need to consider the following aspects:

Clarify Your Objective And Target Market

What is the purpose of your conference? What would make it a success? This comes down to figuring out exactly what your target audience wants.

For a conference and its promotion to be a success, this needs to be addressed. Once you have established this, you should then have a clear objective and purpose based on the needs of your audience.

Topics And Agenda

Once you have clarified your objective, you need to then decipher which topics and questions your speakers should be addressing. What agenda will help them relate to your target audience best?

Guests And Facilitators

A capable facilitator is crucial to you’re the success of your sessions or workshops. You will need to find someone who is articulate, agile and has enough knowledge of the topic to ask the right questions.

When it comes to selecting your guest speakers, it will prove highly-beneficial if you recruit individuals who have an online presence.

Picking someone with the relevant expertise and experience is a given, but the more credible they are the better as this will boost awareness around your event when you start to promote it (more on this later).

Now to avoid a futile attempt at hosting an event, use these 5 key elements for successful conference promotion.

Create Videos

This is the direction online advertising is currently moving in. Incorporating video into your online promotion will result in higher, more responsive engagement. Don’t panic, it can be done inexpensively.

Just create a simple interview-style video with your guest speakers highlighting the objective and major topic of your conference. Ensure the mention the value in attending.

Thankfully, there are DIY video editing applications that are capable of producing professional looking results and which allow you to work off of templates. All that is required of you is editing the clips you choose to upload. You can even add sound.

Email Campaigns

Email campaigns are very effective for conference promotion. The ROI on email promotion averages at 38:1. Some may say it is a dated method of promotion but the numbers and results state otherwise.

Again, there are incredible, user-friendly tools for doing this. MailChimp will allow you to shift all focus on the content.

This application allows the user to upload a list of recipients, manage subscriptions and track the open rates.

The only real work you will need to do is create engaging content to include in the mailer. You can also send out emails in phases, such as announcing early bird tickets, competitions, surprise speakers and “preparing for the event’ emails.

Create a Conference Hashtag

Social media will be your most powerful means of promotion, and when looking to have engaging conversations with your audience, Twitter is the most popular social media channel. You will also be able to leverage your conversations and connections on LinkedIn.

You can start by creating a conference hashtag. This will encourage people to engage in online conversations.

Use something simple like the acronym of your event name followed by the year. This can be easily monitored. Include the hashtag on all your branding online and on the day/weekend of the conference. This way, when delegates attend, they will utilise the hashtag when posting online.

Further to this, look for relevant conversations that your target audience might are engaged in and join in. Offer value in your responses and you will get the right attention.

For hashtags specifically related to your conference, conduct a search on Twitter using keywords that are connected to your industry, then join in on those conversations. This method of conference promotion is entirely free, it just takes a lot of effort.

Create Valuable Content

Instead of push-marketing, why not instead give your target audience interesting content that they can use and share? Try to establish your brand as a thought leader on specific industry-related tropics.

Share information on guest speakers and their influence, insight into the topics they will be covering and why. Be relatable, be valuable. Do not simply promote the price and submission deadline for the conference.

Why is it valuable for delegates to attend your conference? Other than industry insight, it is about networking.

After you have announced your guest speakers and keynote speaker, ask them to talk about your conference to their own audience. Having someone credible speak about your event will generate invaluable interest leading to an increase in ticket sales.

Search Engine Optimisation

According to Eventbrite, search (Google) can drive between 5-10% of ticket purchases or registrations.

You can achieve this by ensuring your pages (landing pages, web pages, blogs) are SEO-optimized.

Do the following to rank higher in Google:

  • Add your event name, a keyword, and the location of your conference (city) in your title tags
  • Include your event name and relevant keyword in the “Header 1’s” of your pages
  • Finally, add the address of your event and embed the google map location of your conference on your pages.

If you are unfamiliar with keywords, view this guide. To use keywords to your advantage when actioning conference promotion, you need to discover which key phrases are relevant to your event.

Use Google’s Keyword Planner to understand keyword performance, test multiple keywords, and compare keywords to each other.

Related: Social Media Marketing for the MICE Industry

Conference promotion takes a lot of research and commitment. There are many different methods such as influencer marketing and even outsourcing your marketing altogether. If you need expert advice or a proficient support structure, get in touch with me.

ROI and KPI: Measuring The Success Of Your Conferences and Events

Event planning and marketing are extremely important concerning ROI and measuring this impact can help professionals appreciate which tactics have worked and those that may need to be improved. Although this may appear to be common sense, many organisations and professionals fail to utilise these efforts properly. There is no doubt that identifying and interpreting these factors are daunting tasks and yet, such a lack of insight is quite pervasive in the modern corporate landscape. It has been shown that up to 59 per cent of all marketers have few (if any) plans in place to gauge the ROI of a conference. Even fewer know how to enact the plans in place.

Related: A Quick Guide To Integrating Social Media Into Your Event Communication Plan

The main issue is that such a topic will typically involve numerous metrics and from the point of view of a marketing specialist, it can be quite easy to become overwhelmed. It is for this reason that a more cautious approach should be taken. By identifying KPIs and similar influences, it is much easier to appreciate what may need attention and the best practices that should be maintained for future events. This strategy can be broken down into a handful of crucial steps. Each has its own merits and specific approaches. We should first take a look at why discerning the ROI for an event is critical regarding the success of an organisation. Let us then examine how association executives and similar professionals can leverage these variables to create a well-rounded and insightful ROI measurement template.

Why Interpret the ROI of a Conference?

A conference can be seen as one of the most important milestones for a company (or a group of companies). The receptive nature of all participants is an excellent means to understand the efficacy of existing marketing campaigns as well as a product appeal. Ultimately, a conference is intended to increase interest and to drive further revenue down the sales pipeline.

It is for these reasons that a well-rounded approach must be adopted. The result will be a heightened ability for Professional Conference Organisers (PCOs) and decision makers to expound upon how their strategies are affecting the perception of the organisation in question.

Now that a basic appreciation of the broader aspect of measuring event ROI has been established, we will delve into the different tools at the disposal of the corporate business world.

The Power of the Survey

Most NPOs are already well aware of how a survey can provide the insight and clarity necessary to gauge the effectiveness of a recent event. However, some will baulk at this prospect because they believe such studies are incredibly time-consuming. This makes sense in a way, for collating data from a huge event is indeed challenging. Still, this methodology must be embraced.

It is a myth that a survey should take place only after the conference has finished. On the contrary, engaging with participants through online questionnaires and face-to-face liaisons during the event will help to provide additional data that may not otherwise be possible.

Technology plays an important role. Mobile applications and dedicated pages within the website associated with the venue are both effective means to garner much-needed input. There can even be times when the results of such a survey are markedly different from those associated with other key performance indicators. This disparity can be quite useful, for it might be able to “fill in the blanks” about any ROI unknowns (such as the user experience and even how comfortable the attendees were). This is also an excellent way to calculate brand lift; how effectively the event impacted the perception of the brand through previous marketing strategies (2).

Tracking Attendees

This process involves much more than merely counting the number of individuals who participated in a conference. In many ways, attendee tracking can be correlated with a method that marketing executives are already familiar with. This approach is similar to observing the number of hits on a web page and the amount of time spent within a specific section. When we translate this into the world of event ROI, such tracking revolves around knowing other variables. These can include:

  • Which sessions and days drew the highest number of participants.
  • Speakers and topics that seemed to grab the attention of the clients.
  • Stalls and exhibitions that fostered the most interaction.

How can this be accomplished? Traditional methods such as the surveys mentioned above represent more organic approaches although once again, technology can play an important role. The scanning of QR codes by visitors and even the use of RFID wristbands are becoming more commonplace as mobile computing power continues to enjoy an increased presence. The bottom line is nonetheless simple. Knowing which segments of a conference were appealing to the attendees is another robust means to interpret the ROI of the end-user experience effectively. These figures can then be coupled with more concrete data such as conversions.

Social Media (Once Again)

It would be remiss not to mention the pivotal role that social media can play within a conference. Some important event ROI factors which can be appreciated through this interactive medium include:

  • Customer (and visitor) sentiment.
  • The number of impressions.
  • Engagement rates.
  • Word of mouth and similar personal feedback.
  • Big data such as the demographics of the attendees, their professions and their regions.

Related: Social Media Marketing Productivity: Putting Your Best Foot Forward

There are still some steps that need to be taken to focus upon the correct KPIs. The measurement objectives must be clear from the beginning. It is prudent to dedicate time to monitor online conversations and (potentially) provide feedback to any questions that visitors may have. Finally, online guest interaction should go without saying. It is often the case that event attendees will be more likely to respond to enquiries via a social media platform such as Twitter or Facebook than they would through static questionnaires. This medium is a valuable tool that should never be overlooked.

Mobile Applications

Another key area of interest lies in the role that mobile applications now have within the conference management sector. These handy widgets can offer a nearly unparalleled amount of real data. Tracking relevant metrics is now a very real possibility, and little will be left to intuition. Some of the information which can be collated includes the use of networking, forum posts, the number of downloads of a specific piece of software and even the time of day that the application was accessed. These and other insights should be categorised based upon their importance as well as the relevance to the event itself.

Related: Mobile App Marketing for your Business or Organisation

Another notable benefit of the modern mobile app is that many software platforms enable these metrics to be followed through a centralised software package. This is much more efficient when compared to tracking numerous blog responses and social media posts. Still, application monitoring should be used in conjunction with these other methods.

A Proactive Stance

While we have placed a great deal of focus upon the role of technology, taking a personal and proactive stance cannot be overlooked. In this respect, quality should be emphasised as opposed to quantity. Attempting to meet hundreds of individuals during the event will only hamper the entire measurement process. It is much better to meet a few dozen people each day and interact with them on a one-on-one basis. There are several advantages to such an organic tactic. These include:

The ability of the guest to provide the marketer with personalised insight in regards to their impression of the conference.
The undeniable power of professional networking.
The attendees will be impressed by this “personal touch” and may be more likely to further engage with the product or service being offered.

There is no doubt that interpersonal interactions with conference guests will lead to a positive outcome. However, a word of caution should be mentioned. It can be exceedingly easy to allow this approach to overshadow the methods discussed above. It is therefore wise to set aside a specific window each day towards this task. Otherwise, valuable insight in other areas may be lost.

A Top-Down Approach

It is wise to appreciate how the event is gauged from a macroscopic point of view. In simpler terms, this event ROI can be measured as the total cost of executing a conference. This concept needs to be broken down into two subcategories. These are:

The quantifiable costs (sponsorship, physical expenditures and the price of the venue, for example).
Qualitative concerns including the time and effort spent organising, promoting and executing the conference.

The sum of these two variables will represent the total cost of the event. This can also be summarised as the difference between the net profit concerning the gross profit. By understanding the financial expenditures, the logistics and the sheer effort, it is much easier to make future decisions in terms of how a conference should be held. These results can be made even simpler by comparing recent figures to past events. Was one more effective than another or did a specific event serve to increase the overall ROI massively? If so, it would be prudent to examine any differences that were present. Positive attributes can be leveraged while potentially damaging approaches can be ablated from future projects.

Measuring ROI from a Post-Event Perspective

It would be erroneous to believe that the ROI of an event should only be measured before and during the event itself. On the contrary, post-event evaluation is a powerful tool that must never be ignored. There are several benefits when this approach is embraced. Executives and PCOs can communicate with hands-on staff and other stakeholders to determine which practices worked the best and which areas might need to be refined. Of course, some factors tend to be ubiquitous within nearly all events. Examples here can include:

  • The appeal of the venue.
  • The number of attendees in relation to previous years.
  • The success of any promotions and marketing campaigns.
  • How effective the booths worked in conjunction with seminars and other presentations.
  • Whether or not there was adequate publicity provided in advance.

Related: 4 Concepts To Understand Digital Transformation in the Event Industry

This type of evaluation should be scheduled well in advance of the event itself. Otherwise, the team may become immersed in other issues. Making stakeholders clear of their post-event evaluation roles will help to provide an additional layer of clarity into the measurement process.

Appreciating the Fallacy of Outdated Concepts

Now that we have developed a broad appreciation of some of the techniques which can help to interpret the ROI of an event, it is wise to do away with common misconceptions that are still pervasive in today’s world. To put it simply, what may have worked well a few years ago could be outdated today.

The first mistake is assuming that attendees will automatically return to a conference regardless of its perception and outcome. The fact of the matter is that the sheer number of professional events has increased and no longer is it entirely necessary to attend such gatherings to glean valuable information about a company. Webinars are one example of how technology has forever modified the conference landscape.

Secondly, being “better” is hardly sufficient in such a competitive environment. While there is nothing wrong with raising the proverbial bar, conferences need to be different and memorable. This will help to capitalise on ROI while influencing guests to return to future gatherings.

Another fallacy is the belief that ROI can be influenced by “freebies” such as trips, hotel accommodations and similar perks. If anything, these may very well take away from the benefits of the product(s) being presented. Gimmicks are old and outdated. A good product should be able to stand on its own without the need for glitz and glamour. Another issue with this approach is that it will become immeasurably more difficult to determine if any change in ROI was the result of the conference itself or ancillary offers.

Finally, trying to measure a programme that offers dozens of different seminars and topics is nearly impossible. The more metrics are present, the more muddled (and potentially incorrect) the results will be.

All of these approaches can and will dramatically affect one’s ability to interpret the ROI of an event accurately. It is best to adhere to the rules listed in the previous sections to enjoy a higher level of clarity.

Putting it All Together

We can now see that applying the correct measurement tools for events is necessary to determine the ROI and ultimately, to identify the core KPIs that may have had a positive or negative influence. It is only through a marriage of each of these methods that executive stakeholders will be able to accurately appreciate the impact of the approaches that have been taken.

Having said this, such an analysis can be a difficult task. It may be prudent to outsource these efforts to a dedicated in-house (or third-party) team of experts. Even a professional conference organiser is likely to have a tight time gathering, collating and interpreting these variables. Executives need to be aware that implementing such strategies well in advance of a conference is pivotal to determine which factors affect the final return on investment.

We should furthermore mention that the impact of each of these methods will differ depending on the demographics of the attendees. For example, a younger crowd will likely utilise resources such as social media and mobile phone applications to a more significant extent. Therefore, it can be argued that a more considerable amount of importance should be placed upon these measurement techniques.

It, therefore, makes a great deal of sense to approach any seminar, symposium or event with the right tools at the right times. The methods that have been mentioned in this article are intended to provide this very same clarity. By interpreting the data collected, it is much easier to modify a particular approach or even to scrap one which may not have been producing the required results. Event management is no easy task, and it involves much more than the hands-on strategies often emphasised on the day of the conference itself.

The bottom line is that the ROI of a conference can and will have a genuine impact upon the future of any corporation. Although a great deal of emphasis has been placed upon the world of digital marketing, face-to-face interactions forge strong connections, and they can be the final determinants concerning increased revenue generation. Please feel free to use this white paper as a quick reference guide as well as a resource for further inspiration.

Frank M. Waechter | fmwaechter.com
Digital Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Inbound Marketing, Growth Marketing, Data Analytics for the Meetings Industry, Events Industry and Associations. Conference and Event Activation, Live Marketing, Onsite Engagement.
Carrer del Mestre Joan Corrales 107-109 08950 Esplugues de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain
Phone: +34 691 328 572

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