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A framework for using digital marketing to drive new exhibitors and sponsors

An eight-step framework for how organisers can use PPC to drive new leads for sponsors and exhibitors.

These days, many organisers use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising for marketing their events

But PPC isn’t just for building awareness and driving attendee ticket sales. 

When finding new sponsors and exhibitors is an ongoing challenge across every sector, and some of the biggest competition for attention and eyeballs is sleep, organisers can use PPC digital campaigns to drive new leads for paid partnerships. 

The benefit of using PPC campaigns to target potential exhibitors or sponsors is that they provide high ROI, are easy to set up, allow for laser-precise audience targeting and give insights into what is working and isn’t.

Inspired by the discussions around this topic during the recent Lippman Connects Exhibit Sales Roundtable, the Tag Digital team has put together an eight-step framework for using PPC to drive new leads for sponsors and exhibitors, harness the power of digital data and grow revenues.

1. Define your target audience

Whether a PPC campaign is for attendees or partners, the first step is to think about their unique characteristics. Identify important attributes such as location, job titles, other demographic information like age or interests, and what kind of challenges they typically face. 

The answers to these questions help define keywords, audiences and other types of digital targeting to tap into their online behaviours. For example, if someone searches for “drive more leads in finance sector,” this is a good indicator of someone looking for new opportunities to generate business.

Similarly, you could build audiences of job titles such as “sales professional” layered with “finance,” and use that audience in your PPC campaign to create awareness and excitement about your event as an outlet for making those desired connections.

2. Think about the user experience

If someone wants to learn more from your PPC ad, they’ll click on the ad to learn more. Does that web page or landing page appeal to the types of audience you want to attract? 

For example, does it showcase the benefits of your event from an exhibitor or sponsor point-of-view? Typically, potential partners want to know facts and figures such as previous visitor totals, the exposure you offer, and typical leads or revenue generated, if available.

A few other tips:

  • Is the copy benefits-oriented, clear and concise, around 250 words?
  • Is there a video you can include?
  • Are the call to actions easily visible?
  • Is the form short and straightforward, only gathering the essential information for an initial contact?
  • Do the page and form clearly render on mobile?

3. Craft the message

In the quest to find the maximum number of potential partners, the best way to maximise reach is to run paid campaigns for search, social, video & display. This kind of integrated approach covers all users in both a push and pull mode.  

A well-crafted and relevant message on the landing page helps you achieve a high-quality score — which means you pay a lower cost per click on your ads. 

You’ll want to track how the ads are performing in reaching potential partners and exhibitors. The good news is that it is easy to test and change copy based on the results you’re receiving. We recommend a minimum of two versions of copy, but you can have up to eight versions to gather more granular insights.

4. Plan the creative approach

With so many sources fighting for attention, strong campaign creative makes your PPC ads stand out. 

Images and even video can be used on Adwords and Facebook to create ads designed to catch the eyes of potential partners. In general, with exhibitor or sponsor campaigns, we recommend showcasing images of a busy event, people doing business at the event, or highly-engaged attendees having a good time!  

Like the content message, test various creative approaches — especially within industries, different geographic locations or job titles — to understand what approach works and for what audience.

5. Establish the budget

One of the most popular questions is, “how much budget should I allocate to a digital PPC campaign?” 

Our advice is to start small, determine what’s working and then add to the budget once you see what is performing. 

As an example, an average exhibitor lead generation campaign of about $5,000 allows you to test several platforms for an approximately 8-week campaign. If you’re getting high-quality leads, then you can keep adding budget. 

However, when you determine a budget based on Cost of Acquisition, typically a budget will max out at around 30 percent of your overall results, and spending any additional budget doesn’t yield sufficient ROI to justify the additional budget spend. 

6. Track the results

One of the most important aspects of any digital marketing campaign is tracking to understand what specific activity drives what leads.

Tracking is usually set-up by adding Google Tag Manager to your website and landing pages. Don’t forget to also include this information in any third-party forms connected to your organisation’s CRM.  

It’s also worth tracking visitor conversions to see how many visitors register on the back of your exhibitor campaigns. And don’t forget to think about tracking URLs for systems like Salesforce, Marketo or Google Analytics to allow you to analyse performance against all other channels.

7. Prepare the reports

When asked questions like, “how much was spent? how many leads were created? and how much revenue was generated?” you’ll need reports to answer the tough questions.

Tools like Swydo, Google Analytics, Salesforce and others make it easy to understand the traffic generated to your website and even the quality traffic is converting to leads.

Once the leads are in, work with your sales team to understand quality, average lead to sale and average revenue per sale to calculate ROI and determine which best-performing campaigns to invest in more.

8. Remarket for more leverage

Drive more revenues by offering to remarket your exhibitor and partner’s content to your and your partners’ audiences. 

For example, run a PPC campaign promoting a sponsor’s new white paper with a call-to-action to learn more at the company’s booth at your event — all funded by your sponsor of course! 

Remarketing sponsor and exhibitor content provides more exposure and eyeballs, driving new revenue streams and increasing the likelihood partners will want to work with you.

PPC is a powerful marketing strategy to acquire new leads for both attendees and partners. To test the waters with a pilot program, contact the Tag Digital team for information.