How Social Referral Marketing Stacks up with Other Top Attendee Growth Strategies

As a majority of event executives continue to report growing attendance remains a top challenge, many organizers have turned to additional marketing and audience acquisition strategies to grow their shows.

Beyond traditional marketing mainstays like event websites, email marketing, advertising, direct mail and public relations, new tools on the scene include social referral marketing, digital ad retargeting and digital influencer marketing.

How do these emerging attendee-marketing strategies work in an overall marketing strategy – and where are they most effective in the audience acquisition funnel?

Here’s a closer look:

Digital Ad Retargeting

How digital ad retargeting works:

Retargeting ads are a form of targeted online advertising served to people who have already visited your website or are a contact in your database (like a past attendee).

There are two types of retargeting ads: pixel-based and list-based. If you’ve visited and left a website, then noticed an ad for that website or those products and services on other web pages that is an example of a pixel-based retargeting ad.

List-based retargeting uses existing contact lists as the basis for targeting ads. For example, an organizer uploads last year’s attendee list to a social platform like Facebook in order to serve up early bird registration advertising reminders just to that list.

Where in the audience acquisition funnel digital retargeting ads are most effective:

Top-of-the-funnel awareness: Pixel-based retargeting ads can be effective for creating broad event awareness/impressions and helping re-engage past website visitors.

The downside? Pixel-based retargeting ads typically reach a lower audience volume since this kind of approach is based on how often people come to your event’s website, view pages and leave.

Bottom-of-the-funnel conversion/registration: With targeted messaging and when served to specific segments, like past attendees who haven’t yet registered, list-based retargeting ads can boost the conversion process to registrations – especially when ads feature FOMO-based promotions such as special discounts.

Social Referral Marketing

How social referral marketing works:

Social referral marketing platforms like Gleanin use the concept that potential attendees and registrants are your best marketers and can help market an event.

These social referral marketing platforms and tools make it easy for registrants to invite or promote event attendance with their personal and professional contacts — amplifying and expanding the reach of your event promotions beyond traditional known audiences.

Where in the audience acquisition funnel is social referral marketing most effective:

Top-of-the-funnel awareness: Like digital ad retargeting, social referral marketing can be used to increase broad event awareness among those who may not be familiar with an event.

Middle-of-the-funnel consideration: The fact that attendees share their intent to attend with their own networks is a big boost in improving consideration too. After all, 92 percent of consumers trust referrals from people they know.

Bottom-of-the-funnel conversion/registration: Social referral marketing is also a strong driver to increase conversions and registration. As an example, by using Gleanin UBM enjoys a four to five percent (on average) increase in registrations across its events in the EMEA region. And the HDI Conference & Expo saw an impressive 40+ percent of personal invites converting to registrations through their 2018 incentivized referral program with Gleanin! 

Digital Influencer Marketing

How digital influencer marketing works:

Digital influencer marketing is the strategy of using key leaders (aka influencers) to get a message out to a larger group. Rather than marketing directly to potential attendees, organizers can tap influencers as a bridge to connect their event with the influencer’s followers.

In recent years, high costs and the need for transparency when tapping celebrities or other well-known names have been hot topics.

Luckily for organizers, there is a growing cadre of micro-influencers – many of which don’t require formal contracts – that can be used as part of an audience acquisition strategy. As an example, organizers may tap conference speakers, many of who are micro-influencers in their own rights, with pre-written marketing materials, promotional or special offers that can be shared with their audiences via email or social media.

Where in the audience acquisition funnel is digital influencer marketing most effective:

Top-of-the-funnel awareness: Digital influencer marketing is also a strong strategy for increasing broad event awareness since micro-influencers’ sphere of influence often goes beyond typically known event audiences.

Middle-of-the-funnel consideration: Especially in cases where speakers are tapped as influencers, this strategy can help drive additional audiences to consider attending an event.

In the continued quest to reach new audiences, ad retargeting, social referral marketing and digital influencer marketing play a complimentary role in attracting and moving different types of attendees along the audience acquisition funnel.

To learn more about how Gleanin works and the benefits of social referral marketing, schedule a demo.

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