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Boosting Event Numbers with an Effective Retargeting Strategy

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Sarah Mayo

Marketing Director

Freeman EMEA

Aidan Augustin

Co-founder and president


How heading online can help draw in the crowds

Our Perspective

A personalised marketing approach is a must nowadays — it’s important to not only understand the audiences who we design and deliver brand experiences for, but also to create event communications and online assets that resonate with them on an individual level. The event website tends to be the first place people look when they want to find out more — be it an experiential music festival, a conference aimed at tech professionals, or an industry specific exhibition. Here, tactics like SEO and Google AdWords make a website easier to find, but what happens when a user leaves it without registering, purchasing a ticket, or signing up to the mailing list? 

Enter retargeting — a type of online advertising that uses web cookies to market a product, service, or in this case, event to those who have visited a website and then checked out before a conversion is made. On an initial website visit, the user will often look at things like event timings and locations, the speaker line-up, the brands attending and key takeaways, and then dip out as they process the information and continue to surf the web. Re-targeting comes into effect at precisely this point — a carefully timed and targeted web banner advertisement will appear on these other websites, reminding people about the benefits of attending the event. 

Increasing engagement through tailored campaigns

Retargeting also allows brands and organisers to narrow their focus. Instead of purchasing space on websites they think their target audiences might be visiting, the event advertisements will appear wherever people who have demonstrated an interest in the event happen to be. This means conversion rates are likely to be greater — highlighting that this portion of the marketing budget has been utilised effectively — and it will help to ensure the event draws the most relevant audience. 

These campaigns can also be tailored to reflect event timings or locations to capture local audiences. For example, a brand may wish to launch a last-minute attendee push two weeks out from its London event, and at the same time choose to kick off a campaign six months out for its New York event. The content of the campaigns can also be updated depending on engagement levels, conversion rates, and importantly, if there is anything new to share about the event, such as new speakers, features, or registration deadlines.

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Continuing the conversation post-event

These days, it’s important to continue the conversation with visitors throughout the year to ensure our events remain top of mind. At the post-event stage, brands can leverage CRM retargeting to distribute email communications to visitors — segmented based on data gathered from the latest event — as well as web banner re-targeting. Both of these types of re-targeting can be used to promote early bird rates for next year’s event, encourage participation in post-event surveys, and drive people to other, similar events that might be of interest.

Partner Perspective

Aidan Augustin, co-founder and president, Feathr, shares his perspective on retargeting.

Retargeting is all about showing the right online advertisements to the right people at the right time. It’s a great tool for the brand experience industry to leverage. Not only does it allow companies to reach their audiences in a personalised way based on their browsing behaviour, but it can be used to nurture those who have already registered or purchased tickets. By targeting them with advertisements that include additional event information, such as speaker highlights or details about the dedicated event app, audiences will be more likely to attend on the day.  

Personalised communications are a growing necessity — the use of digital for mass communication has had its day. Just like direct mail drops declined as people migrated online, now that our email inboxes are overloaded, it’s easy to miss an email or two. This means email communications on their own are not as effective as they once were, and as such we should focus on reaching audiences where they already are. 

The key trend I see emerging in the brand experience space is around sponsored retargeting, as it presents an additional revenue stream for the organising or host brand. They can sell space on their event website to event partners such as headline sponsors, or brands that are activating at the event and top-tier exhibitors, and leverage the data from these web ads to create specific retargeting campaigns. It means partner brands can get in front of those who visit the event website — ensuring they are aware of their presence at the event, for example — which can make their event experience more effective, while also driving sales for the organiser.

Retargeting and other forms of personalised advertising provide a compelling medium for brands to engage their target audience wherever they browse the web. While the specific formats of ad units and devices will continue to evolve, personalised advertising will always be a key element of the brand marketer's toolkit.

Looking to grow your brand reach through re-targeting and other digital solutions? Check us out here.

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