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January 2009
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March 2009

Sponsorship Page Reality

Sponsors are an important part of any event.  There are numerous event that wouldn’t take place without the support of their sponsors.  Over the last nine years I’ve carefully looked at web statistics for various events. There is a glaring statistic that comes to light as it relates to featuring your sponsors.  When people visit an event web site they aren’t interested in who’s sponsoring your event. Sponsorship is the one of the last things the average visitor deems important.  The graph below shows pageviews statistics from an event web site. The sponsorship page accounted for less than 2% of total pageviews over a 12 month period. The statistics below are from an event web site with 9 pages.


Beyond Sponsorship Logos on Your Event Site
You need to go beyond just featuring sponsors on your event web site.  The process starts with trying to find sponsors that your target market actually cares about. Look at the demographics and psychographics of your target market. Can you find a good link between potential sponsors and your target market?  Instead of just featuring your sponsors include them as part of your marketing.  Include sponsor coupons that your target market can redeem before or after your event.  Make sure that sponsors track coupon use. It won’t be difficult for you to find sponsors for your event if you’re providing your sponsors a definitive return on investment. Using a coupon is one of the easiest ways to show a direct return on investment.

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Simple Long Copy Advice

The other day I was speaking with my friend Ray Justice regarding long copy. For those that don’t know, copy is any words and text used in written material. When it comes to copy there always seems to be a raging debate about the length of copy. In my conversation with Ray we debated the pluses and minuses of long copy.

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Creating an Extraordinary Experience with Words

Words_and_story My dad emailed me the story (link) below a few years ago. It's an 800 word half-page personal narrative describing the extraordinary experience of flight. Even after a quick read, it’s a story that is difficult to forget.  There is no audio or video.  Yet the story (published in 1999) has no problem holding its weight in today’s overly saturated world of multimedia.

In the end, it’s an excellent example of the power of words.  I’m still a firm believer that words, especially written words, are the most powerful marketing tool on the internet. It's well worth 120 seconds of your time.

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An Important Event Web Site Statistic for Promoters and Event Planners


Over the weekend I spent some time digging into event web site statistics. Some intriguing information came to light when doing a comparative analysis of web stats from three very different events. The events compared include an air show, a brew fest, and an aviation safety event. Each event had a distinct demographic profile.  In spite of demographic differences, there were some very intriguing correlations in web statistics. Even when accounting for dynamic IP addresses, some specific statistics were within a percentage point or two for all the web sites.

Some Event Web Site Statistics
One interesting statistic was the number of times a user visited a web site (visitor loyalty).  Across all three sites, only 10% of visitors came to an event web site more than three times.  For the same three sites, approximately 70% of the visitors only visited each event web site once.  See the graphic above from an actual event web site. If visitors are only coming to your site once, you need to make sure the information you have on your web site is doing a great job of selling your event.  Are you trying to capture people’s name and email with an opt-in box?  For all the sites 60-75% of all visitors came to each site within 30 days leading up to each event. The more an event organizer spent on advertising their event, the greater the traffic to the site within 30 days of the event. 

Diligently Look at Your Statistics
If you have a recurring event, properly analyzing your web stats is an invaluable resource. Not enough event organizers look into their web stats. Digging into the data goes well beyond just the total number of visitors. Carefully look at what visitors on your site are doing. At the same time, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out when looking at your web stats. Knowing your stats can save you a ton of money on marketing.

If you haven’t already, be sure that you have a good analytics suite installed on your event web site. My personal favorite is Google Analytics.  Analytics is free and you can get some pretty amazing information. Pay careful attention to your statistics, it could be costing you dearly.

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Don’t Neglect Your Email List

What follows is a important email marketing lesson. In just over two years a friend of mine was able to build a home grown email list to about 5000 subscribers.  He drove web traffic to a landing page via a pay per click campaign.  On his web page, visitors were asked to sign up to receive additional information via email. For the first two years of his campaign my friend sent an email to his list once every 10 days.  The list generated tens of millions of dollars in sales leads.  Eventually the 10 day interval of emails slowed down. The last time my friend emailed his list was over six months ago.


Going Back to The List
Recently my friend tried to transfer his existing email list to a new email system.  The new email system requires all 5000 of his email subscribers to click on a verification link sent by email.  If the subscribers don’t click on the verification link their data won’t be imported into the new email system.  My friend prepped an email with the included verification link and sent it to his subscribers.  Of the 5000 subscriber on his list only 50 clicked on the verification link after his first email.  As one can imagine, my friend was floored that so few people clicked on the verification link. He didn’t have the expectation that a large number of people would click the verification link, but he did expect to get more than 1%.

The Lesson
When you build your email list, it is imperative to stay in constant contact.  The point above expounds on the importance of engaging your list on a regular basis. My recommendation is to engage your list at least once a week. Setup an email autoresponder to automate your marketing. When engaging your list, focus on the list’s desires and on delivering valuable information. Regardless of your efforts not everyone is going to stay on your email list. People come and people go. Your objective is to try and keep as many people on your list as possible.  As of yesterday - my friend said that about 150 people, of his list of 5000, had be verified and added to the new system.

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The Most Important Line in Email Marketing

Email_subject_line Yesterday I had a great strategy meeting with my friend Doug Doebler. Our discussion was about email marketing. A few years ago Doug accomplished some pretty amazing things with real estate and email marketing.  If you’re interested in the World’s best beach towns, be sure to check out Doug’s web site. Having said that . . . Some people swear by the usefulness of email marketing and others consider it a complete waste of time.  During our discussion Doug and I talked about the small nuances that can make a big difference in any email marketing campaign.  One of the topics we discussed was getting people to open email.  The truth is that most marketing emails don’t get opened - ever.  My average email open rate over hundreds of emails is between 40-50%. Those open rates are from double opt-in home grown email lists, not list brokers. There are a lot of marketers that espouse that the email subject line is the most important factor in open rates.  I disagree.

There is one element more important than any subject line for getting your email opened . . .    

The Most Important Email Element
I’ll admit that there are rare times when a clever subject line will get someone to open an unsolicited email.  But more often than not, people look at who the email is from before looking at the subject line. Think about the last time you received an email from a friend . . . In most cases, regardless of the subject line, you opened the email. Getting people to open your email is about trust and credibility. Your name carries more weight than a fancy subject line. Therefore your first priority should be to establish trust and credibility with the people on your email list.

It’s About Trust
One way to establish trust and credibility is by delivering valuable information up front. If someone signs up to your email list, don’t try to sales pitch them right away. Start by giving them information that is valuable to them.(Not what YOU think might be valuable.) By delivering value up front you become a trusted adviser. You become like a friend to the recipient. It’s by far the best way to get more people to open your email.

Building Trust
Can you think of ways to build trust and credibility with your email list? Find out what interests your target market and give it to them. Intently focus on what’s important to the people you’re emailing.  It’s up to you to find information that your target market finds valuable. Save the sales pitch for after you’ve established some trust and credibility. If you follow the above advice, you’ll do far better with your email marketing campaigns.

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Interactive Event Marketing

Interactive_event_marketing It has never been so easy and inexpensive to interact with your target market. In, “Leading People to Provide Feedback,” I wrote about the importance of collecting feedback from your target market.  Your target market represents the people most likely to attend your event. Today I’d like to take the feedback process one step further. This step involves integrating target market opinion when you’re planning and marketing your event.  Instead of getting into specific techniques for collecting feedback, I’d like to approach the concept from a strategic level. Think of it as food for thought.

Never Assume What They Want
A huge mistake made by several event organizers is assuming their target market’s wants and needs.  This happens frequently. Especially when events that are organized by committee.  Event organizers plan events around their wants and needs, not the wants and needs of their target market.  The problem is what event organizers want from their event and what their patrons want are usually completely different.  One might argue, “I’m organizing my event and paying for it, so I can do whatever I want!” I’m not going to argue with the previous statement.  But I will ask the following question: Would you rather have a very successful event, or have 100% control over your event?  (You can only choose one.) The most successful event organizers let patrons help plan their events via patron feedback.  Feedback can come in many different forms. Feedback includes email, blogs, surveys, and everything in between.   

You Can't Integrate Everything
You’re obviously not going to be able to accommodate every suggestion or request. I understand that patron requests can go beyond the budget and scope of your event. But it's in your own best interest to give patron feedback serious consideration. The cliche of "It's the thought that counts," actually applies in this situation. People are much more likely to get passionate and excited about things where they have input, even if it’s only perceived input. You want to involve your target market throughout your marketing cycle. Make patrons feel like their part of your event before it event begins.

Are you involving your target market enough in the planning and marketing of your event?  It’s not always an easy question to answer, but it’s an important one to ask. If you make an effort to involve your target market, the likelihood of having a successful event goes up dramatically. It can be as simple as sending an email and asking someone, "Hey, what do you think of this?"

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Leading People to Provide Event Feedback

Last week I had an interesting experience with a client. It centered on a new online marketing campaign to the client’s house email list.  We decided to start the campaign by identifying the target market’s interests. The first email sent to their list was an informal survey.  Within a few hours of being sent, over a hundred people had replied with their feedback.  The deluge of feedback was ironic because nothing was stopping people from previously sending feedback on their own. Anyone could have gone to my client’s web site, clicked on the email link, and sent their own feedback.  Yet that never happened.


People Need to Be Led
Here is a little secret of human psychology . . .  People are silently begging to be led. Just because someone can write you a suggestion regarding your event, product, or service doesn’t mean they will. Today’s web sites are cluttered with so many options that people don’t know where to start. You need to lead people on a path to action.  If you want feedback on your event, lead them in that direction. Something as simple as an email can evoke that response.

Here is an excerpt from the informal survey sent to my client’s email list:

“To ensure that we are giving you the information you really want to know I am asking for your help. Please reply to this email with any interesting questions or ideas you might have to include in the series. Feel free to ask me anything and I'll try to incorporate as many answers possible.
If you don't have a question, maybe you have a suggestion? All you have to do is hit reply to this email.”

I’m working from the assumption that you already have an email list.  If you’re looking to build a list, check out “List Building & Your Event Marketing.”  Feel free to take the verbiage above, modify it accordingly, and use it to get feedback from your own target market.  It’s one of the simplest and most cost effective ways of getting valuable feedback on your event.  If you integrate patron feedback you will create a better event that more people will want to attend.

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Ride a Winning Ad

Winning_ad_event_promotion Do you ever reuse advertising for your event? As humans we have this drive to constantly create something new. This happens frequently when it comes to advertising for events. We often try so hard to create something new that we forget to step back and to figure out what actually works.

Rerun Successful Advertising
I would argue that event organizers are better off rerunning an ad (or a web site) that gets a decent response than trying to create something new for creativity’s sake.  The cost of creativity is usually your time and money. A great success model to emulate is classic direct response advertising. The magic of direct response ads are rooted in great headlines and compelling body copy. Some of the most successful advertisements in history have been run for years without any changes.

How to Find a Winning Ad
Finding a winning ad has never been easier. You can track advertising effectiveness with Google Analytics. Let’s use print advertising as an example. Make sure that all your print ads include a strong call to action that includes your web address. You might want to consider running different domain names for various ads. Specific domain names make it a little easier to test your ads. After the ads have run, go back to Analytics and see which ad drove the most people to your web site. The ad that drove the most people to your web site is the winner. The above example lacks specific details, but should give you some ideas to start.

When advertising and marketing for your event you a far better off going with something that you know works. Why mess with something that is going to help put “butts in seats”? Find the ad that works and don't be afraid to use it over and over. You can create a new ad when your winner stops paying you dividends.

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Dealing with Harsh Event Feedback

Have you ever received a really nasty email regarding your event? Customer service over the Internet can be a bit tricky at times. Today most of the feedback event organizers receive is going to be over email. Most people give very gracious feedback. Yet there are always a few people that are a little harsh with their feedback. The truth is a small number of people complain, just because they’re given the opportunity.  You are best served trying to address every piece of feedback, even from unreasonable people. Here are a few quick tips for delivering customer service over email.


Step Back
It’s important not to take negative feedback about your event personally. When you organize an event you’re emotionally vested in that event. The initial response to a harsh email might be to respond with an equal tone. It’s not worth it. Take a step back and make sure you don’t respond defensively.  Give yourself time to cool down. I find that waiting 24 hours to respond to an email helps.  In that time, try to honestly consider where your patron is coming from.

The Magic Phrase
Use the following phrase to defuse any harsh feedback about your event, “Thank you for your email.” Then continue your email in an understanding and appreciative tone. Someone who just wrote you a very harsh email is probably not expecting a thank you response. I’ve used the “thank you for your email” all the time. It’s amazing how that simple phrase calms people down. Event patrons have written back apologizing for their initial email. 

Respond within 48 Hours
A timely response is huge in customer service.  Try to respond to people as quickly as possible. Within 48 hours is a good rule of thumb. The quicker you respond, the better your chances for resolving a patron complaint. I fully realize that quickly replying to an email might not be at the top of your priority list, especially right after an event. Utilize a trusted member of your team to field initial emails. When a team member responds to a patron’s email, make sure they CC you on the email. You can respond with a follow up email.

Taking the higher road is the best way to go in addressing feedback for your event via email. Initially it might pain you to “be the better person,” but it will pay off in patron loyalty and appreciation. Most people are reasonable when you genuinely try to help them. Read through “The Mystery of Online Customer Satisfaction” for some interesting insight on customer service.

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