By Michelle Bruno, MPC
For years, trade show marketers have employed a variety of channels to attract attendees. The ability to track the effectiveness and costs of employing specific channels enables marketers to allocate budgets and make better decisions. Despite its name, social registration is perfectly positioned to compete with other marketing channels for marketers’ attention.
What We Know About Marketing to Attendees
The marketing channels currently being used by exhibition marketers include a range of traditional and digital tactics such as email, direct mail, print advertising, social media, online advertising, search engine marketing, exhibitor complementary tickets, and telemarketing.
There are a couple of things to consider when using multiple channels:
- The effectiveness of some channels is easier to measure than others. For example, it is easier to attribute an individuals’ attendance to the receipt of a pre-populated registration link via email than it is to a direct mail piece.
- Channels have to be constantly evaluated against the alternatives. Cost per acquisition or cost per attendee (CPA) is one metric marketers can use to compare channels in order to arrive at the optimum mix and budget allocation.
- Marketers have to consider all channels in the marketing mix. Each channel functions differently. Some are more suitable for specific audience segments. Others have more ability to reach prospects at specific phases in the conversion funnel.
Social Registration as a Marketing Channel
Social registration—a way to leverage the social media networks of registrants to increase the number of pre-registrations and attendance at trade shows—is one of the most promising marketing channels to emerge. Its effectiveness is highly measurable. It provides marketers with a cost per attendee, and it functions as other channels do with an aim to drive attendance.
Social registration can also deliver crucial metrics to marketers:
- Number of individuals who opted to register socially
- Number of invitations sent by social and email registrants
- Number of pre-registrations generated from social and email invitations
- Number of attendees generated from social pre-registrations
- Number of intentionally posted status updates
- Cost per pre-registration (CPR)
- Cost per attendee (CPA)
How Social Registration CPA Compares to the Industry
CPA metrics on social registration are competitive with attendee marketing costs across the exhibition industry. The study “New Attendee Acquisition Benchmarks & Practices” conducted in 2015 by Exhibit Surveys and Lippman Connects in the U.S. pegged CPA at an average of $31.74 (about £21) among survey respondents who “represented a higher proportion of larger shows than the event industry as a whole.”
Two recent case studies on social registration compiled by GleanIn in the UK reported a CPR of £7.14 and a CPA of £14.29 (on a show with 3,769 registrants) and a CPR of £9.72 and a CPA of £18.51 (on a show with 14,210 registrants). Interestingly, the case studies also showed that pre-registrants who engaged with social registration converted to attendees at +14.5% and +8% respectively.
Based on cost per attendee alone, social registration is an attractive marketing option. But, the appeal doesn’t end there. It is easy to deploy and provides marketers with access to an untapped reservoir of potential attendees. As more marketers learn about its benefits, social registration will rightly take its place among other powerful and cost-effective mediums in the attendee marketing mix.
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