We try not to get too wonky in this blog, but now and then the evolving tech world imposes itself on even the least wonky of us. Event planners who resist the emerging marketing power of the internet are destined to become the brick and mortar retailers of the event industry. It took Macy’s and JC Penny too long to recognize the power of Amazon. As a result, brick and mortar retailers have almost rendered themselves obsolete. Just try to rent a movie at a Blockbuster or buy a book at a Barnes and Noble, and you’ll get the point. Event planners who embrace the marketing power of their websites and social media will be the Amazons of the event industry.
In a recent article in Event Intelligence, Mitra Sorrells wrote a lucid summary of the latest internet marketing technology called Retargeting.
“If you spend any time browsing products from online retailers,” she writes, “you have likely experienced retargeting. It’s the term for that seemingly magical way that products you looked at – a coat on Amazon for example – suddenly appear in ads in your Facebook feed and on other websites you visit. Advertisers hope that by seeing that coat again and again, you will eventually decide to purchase it.”
Usually people don’t end up on an event website by accident. If they visit your event website, they are signaling interest. “Breadcrumbs” is the term Aidan Augustine, co-founder and president of Feathr, a digital marketing platform, uses for bits of traceable data that Web users leave as they visit websites, or pages on Facebook, or use hashtags on Twitter.
Augustine explains that planners can track their website’s traffic, including visitor’s specific actions and patterns of behavior in Feathr’s dashboard, to get a clearer view of how people engage with their brand online. That information can be used to create ad campaigns directed at people who have visited your site but not yet registered for the event.
Once the people who have shown interest in your event have been identified, you can track them across the internet by placing ads on the sites they visit most frequently; pop-ups like, “Don’t forget XYZ event coming to Ft. Lauderdale in November.”
The process for ad placement is known as real-time bidding. Digital marketing platforms like Feathr coordinate that bidding through ad exchanges, which are online marketplaces that match advertisers’ criteria – who they want to reach and how much they are willing to spend – with websites that have advertising slots to sell.
“In a split second an auction takes place, and whoever wins at auction, that‘s what determines what ad loads on the website,” Augustine says.
UTILIZING THE EVENT WEBSITE AS A SOURCE OF REVENUE
In addition to using retargeting to promote their events, Augustine says planners can also create a revenue stream by charging sponsors and exhibitors a fee to have their ads shown to registered attendees in the weeks leading up to an event.
When it comes to attracting customers in the modern age, the meeting and event industry is no different than brick and mortar retail – if we don’t constantly modernize our marketing techniques – we’ll be Sears before we know it.