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How the International Bar Association uses event PPC to deliver over 50% of their event delegates

Learn how IBA partners with Tag Digital on event PPC audience acquisition campaigns to drive impressions and conversions.

The International Bar Association (IBA) Annual Conference is the premier worldwide conference for legal professionals to meet, share knowledge, network, build contacts and develop business, drawing over 6,000 attendees each year.

In addition to the flagship event, IBA hosts over 55 smaller events. And while some sell out after just a single event promotion email, for other IBA conferences, it’s a challenge to keep attendance growing – especially as the events move across continents.

Jennie Castro, Head of Marketing for IBA, recognised an opportunity to use event PPC campaigns to support growth across the organisation’s entire event portfolio.

We spoke with her to learn more about how she began with a small PPC pilot programme and how event PPC campaigns have become a cornerstone of the IBA’s audience acquisition strategy – with one recent programme generating nearly 1M impressions and delivering over 50% of the event delegates.

The Importance of Piloting

For Jennie, the road to event PPC campaign success began with a small pilot campaign. “To test the waters, we targeted a few small IBA events where we didn’t have a huge database or were having a bit more difficulty getting bums in seats,” explains Jennie.

She added, “for the first year, we started with a small test budget.” During that initial test, the IBA saw increased website traffic and conversions. Jennie shared those results with others within IBA to justify a request for a formal event PPC line item in her 2018 budget – a line item that has now grown to cover over 20 events in 2019. 

Jennie says the pilot was also a critical first step to make sure all IBA’s tracking mechanisms were set-up properly. “It didn’t make sense to go broad-brush with a large event PPC campaign until we knew we could measure changes in our website traffic and gauge conversion lift.”

Lessons Learned

As the IBA’s use of event PPC has grown over the last several years, Jennie shared the lessons she’s learned.

First, the pilot approach was extremely effective to gain support from others within the organisation. Since her internal audiences aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of PPC marketing, Jennie also created a short two-page brief that explains, in layman terms, how PPC works with examples of ads from IBA’s campaigns. She says, “this was an extremely effective education tool for our internal stakeholder team.”

Second, for the IBA, the best success has come with Google and, surprisingly, Facebook. “Our success with Google AdWords makes sense because everyone uses Google and it has tremendous broad-reach,” says Jennie.

However, the IBA expected LinkedIn would outperform Facebook. But Jennie says that because Facebook has invested far more in available advertising refinements, “our Facebook campaigns have performed very well – and at about a third of the cost of other platforms.”

Third, Jennie says working with a specialised event PPC agency like Tag Digital makes what can be an overwhelming process easy and simple to follow. “PPC is constantly changing, not to mention the challenge of trying to understand the complexities of bidding strategies. It would be impossible to keep up with all the changes.” 

She explains that Tag Digital’s simple briefing form made the process of getting started completely manageable. “They were with us every step of the way, explaining what was needed for everything from ad creative to the tracking mechanisms to implement. Once we set-up the initial framework, escalating to additional campaigns has been easy.”

And Jennie says because Tag Digital specialises in the event market, they “get” the unique nuances of how to structure event PPC campaigns to hit important milestones, like early bird deadlines, or how to generate new sponsorship inquiries – which has helped the IBA generate higher results for its events.

Learn more about using event PPC to increase impressions and conversions for your event by contacting the Tag Digital team.