Event Marketers Identify Best Practices for Year-round Attendee Engagement

September 9, 2016

By Elizabeth Johnson

With the rise of digital entertainment options and the fall of attention spans, now just eight seconds on average, engaging attendees beyond a trade show or event has never been more important, or challenging.  Year-round attendee engagement has become critical for building a strong event brand and maintaining attendee retention rates. 

On Event Manager Blog, Kerry Creaswood explained how engagement adds power to events. She wrote, “Event marketing is no longer about creating sales pitch opportunities. It’s about getting customers to form a connection with a brand and building relationships. Customers who see a good deal, might make a purchase. Customers who feel emotionally connected to a brand will make a purchase, but they will also recommend those products and services to others. They will also continue to be loyal to that brand into the future. This is something that has played out for years in content marketing, and now it is coming to fruition in the event marketing niche.”

Trade show and event marketers have identified three overarching best practices to keep that positive connection going in between events and keep their brands top of mind until it’s time to register for the next event. Within each practice, the tactics are flexible and can be customized to fit the interests of the event’s audience.

1.       Offer something of value.

“Post-event engagement is about creating something of value that your prospect can't or won't want to turn down. What I've found works is actually setting up "executive round tables" for prospects to meet with current customers to have an "idea exchange". The thing most high-level people want is to know other high-level people. If you can facilitate that conversation, you're showing value and connecting them with people who are already your brand ambassadors,” said Virginia Case, CMO at Strategic Tactical Marketing.

2.       Spread out the opportunities for engagement.

“We do several things throughout the summer to keep our presence in front of attendees and prospects. They include promoting DDW On Demand which attendees receive online access with registration, but is also a product sold to non-attendees; producing a post-show issue of our newspaper, DDW Daily News; sharing photos from our photo station throughout the summer using #tbt campaigns on social media; and sharing attendee stat infographics on Instagram,” explained Alison Moser, director of marketing, Digestive Disease Week.

3.       Tease the upcoming event.

“One thing we do is a ‘sneak peek’ video. We interview the course director of our postgraduate course the previous year, as the course is being planned, and use the video in social media and email as one of the first tactics in our marketing plan. The sneak peek has been very successful in terms of email and video performance,” shared Martha Sauchuk, director of marketing at the American Association for Study of Liver Diseases.

So ,while our attention spans may now be shorter than a goldfish’s, by applying these best practices to their marketing year round, event marketers can ensure their trade show stay on top of attendees’ minds and create brand ambassadors. 

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