Stephanie Geiger
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“If you build it, they will come.” Anyone who has planned an event that involves real people and not baseball-playing ghosts knows this is simply not true.  A lot of work goes into promoting an event and encouraging attendance, but much less work is done tracking how successful those efforts were. Sure, the stats around number of registrants, number of attendees, budget, and profitability are widely watched and reviewed, but those metrics alone are not enough for the sustainable and successful marketing of events. You need to look at how they got there and why they made that decision. Doing so means measuring not just the event, but the event marketing.

Here are some tips from the GovEvents team to help with the planning and tracking of your event marketing:

  • Make a Plan and Plan Ahead – The government event world can get pretty crowded. From April through June there are over 550 events listed on GovEvents, with more added every day. If you don’t have an event marketing plan in place, you could have a hard time standing out. Be sure to include realistic and targeted goals in your plan. Monitor these benchmarks and be prepared to change tactics if needed.
  • Use Tracking URLs – Once you’ve created your event website you’ll want to monitor where your visitors are coming from. One way to do this is to turn a simple URL – myevent.com -- into a tracking URL – myevent.com/?utm_source=email. By creating a unique tracking URL for each of your marketing components, you can easily identify what is and isn’t working. Many marketing sites have built-in features allowing you to create tracking URLs, but if you aren’t using a marketing site, check out Goggle’s Tracking URL Builder. 
  • Landing Pages – Rather than directing all marketing to your main event web page, create landing pages that correlate to the audience you are trying to attract. For example, create a page that highlights all of the defense-related content at your event. This page (with a tracking URL) can then be used with emails sent to the DoD and targeted social media promotions. By targeting the landing page to the correct audience, visitors are immediately shown how your event applies to them. You can then compare the traffic each one gets, the length of time those visitors spend on the site, as well as the eventual conversion to registrant. For reference, the top twenty-five percent of conversion rates for sites are at 31% or higher. Tracking these specific pages not only enables you see the success of marketing campaigns, but better tailor content leading up to the event.
  • Tag Your Event – Using social media channels to promote your event is an easy way to reach a large audience quickly and receive instant gratification. Establishing a hashtag specific to your event can help unify your messages. For example, GMarkU uses #MarketChatLIVE to promote its Breakfast Series. Since hashtags are not registered like websites, be sure to do a little research on the one(s) you’ve selected.
  • Get Professional Help – Marketing to the public sector and/or industry can be challenging. Enlisting the help of a company that specializes in reaching your target audience can ensure your marketing dollars are being spent in the right place on the right tactics. It can also give you time to focus on other projects. Even if you get professional help, it is still a good idea to implement the tactics mentioned above.

Whatever marketing tactics you use, make sure the vendor or platform used can provide metrics on traffic they are driving to your site. Then it is your responsibility to use your site analytics to track what they do once they get there. Understanding the journey people take to register for (and eventually attend) your event helps make the marketing more targeted and personal resulting in a more engaged and energized event.