It’s no secret that conferences can be expensive, but you have to spend money to make money, right?
If your marketing budget allows for it, conferences offer great opportunities to network, educate, renew motivation, and discover new tools. But if your business isn’t seeing a return on investment, or if your marketing budget is thin, attendance can seem like an ominous investment.
Marketing Budget: Are Conferences Worth It?
When it’s all said and done, companies end up diving deep into their marketing budget by spending anywhere from $1,000 on the conference ticket alone, to around $15,000 for the complete experience. Conference expenses can include:
- Conference registration fees
- Workshop tickets
- Vendor Booth: vendor booth fees, placement in the hall & size, vendor booth swag
- Conference: upgraded pass (*to meet influences, get all recordings, all-inclusive food, etc.)
- Marketing/Self-Promotion – Business cards, company branded t-shirts, etc.
- Meals & Entertainment
- Incidental expenses – fees & tips
Sure, attending a conference can undoubtedly provide a return on investment– but what happens if it doesn’t? What if after attending multiple conferences, there is little to no interest from new clients? It may leave businesses wondering where else they could have effectively invested the money.
If a business decides not to attend a conference, where will it reallocate the funds of their marketing budget? Is there a way to reach conference attendees without physically being there?
Substitute Conference Attendance with a Digital Marketing Campaign
Even when a business decides against attending a conference due to marketing budget limitations, they shouldn’t miss the opportunity to leverage the event. Companies can still make connections, start conversations, and generate leads without being physically present. Instead of spending on a conference, reallocate funds without breaking the bank by creating an effective digital marketing campaign to target conference attendees.
Before creating a digital marketing campaign directed at conference attendees, it’s essential to define goals and understand how to achieve them. Consider the objectives, audience, and best channels that can be used to reach them.
Afterward, specifics such as the marketing budget allotment for the digital campaign, how will content be distributed pre and post event, and any key pillars reviewed as well. Every aspect of your digital marketing campaign should revolve around an understanding of your audience’s interests, problems, and aspirations.
2. Understand your Audience
The most important part of creating a digital marketing campaign around a conference is knowing the audience and attendees. What are their interests, and where do they spend most of their time online? The key is to target and tailor as much content to these individuals as possible. Businesses should ensure they have an effective communication strategy in place. What is the brand voice? Is it a casual or formal event? Having an understanding of your conference audience will help effectively utilize funds from the marketing budget.
3. Ways to Target Attendees
Now that a strategy has been laid out and you’ve come to understand your audience, it’s time to start actively targeting prospects. There are a few different ways businesses can dip into their marketing budget to enhance the digital campaign.
- Facebook Ads Targeted at People in the Location of the Conference: If businesses are looking for ways to make sure they utilize their marketing budget effectively without actually attending an event, one strategy is to consider Facebook advertising. With Facebook ads, companies can target those with devices within the convention center. They can run ads to attendees, push them to a landing page, and build customs audiences used in other marketing campaigns.
- Google Adwords Targeting Searches Related to the Event: Google is responsible for 96 percent of all smartphone search traffic and 94 percent total organic traffic. Repurpose funds from a marketing budget by running search ads with Google AdWords targeted at those searching the name of the conference. If they’re searching for items such as registration info, businesses can run ads targeting these individuals specifically and direct them to landing pages that are relevant to their search. It’s an inexpensive way to reach attendees, without having to leave the comfort of an office.
- Interact with Social Media Posts that have the Conference Hashtag: Businesses can interact with individuals who are posting using hashtags related to the conference on social media. Whether it’s on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, many of these conferences have hashtags that attendees can use when they post photos and videos of the event. Interacting with those using conference hashtags can be another way to network with conference attendees without actually being there. Although meeting and networking with individuals in person is one of the best benefits of attending a conference, utilizing a business’s marketing budget with digital marketing is another way to make up for not being there.
- Out of Home: Utilizing targeted ads meant specifically for the conference attendees is a great way to spend your marketing budget. OOH advertising is a great way to improve awareness and it’s a great substitute for conference attendance. OOH advertising has a great ROI and is one of the most trusted forms of advertising today.
Although attending conferences can be useful for introducing a business’s brand to potential clients, utilizing funds from a marketing budget to reach out to conference attendees through a digital campaign can be equally as useful, and half the cost.