How Access Intelligence Grew an Event's Attendee Revenue 18%

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"Mapping out the email content for the entire marketing campaign from the first to the last email enabled me to really put myself in the attendee's shoes and think, 'what is my customer's journey'?"

That quote is from Sarah Plombon, marketing manager for Access Intelligence, in her 2019 SIPAward-winning entry for Best Success Story. For their 2019 Nuclear Deterrence Summit, she created an automated email marketing campaign that drove an 18% increase in year-over-year attendee revenue.


In addition, they had a 32% decrease YoY in the number of unsubscribes in their email database. The average open rate was 2% higher for the 2019 conference, and the highest grossing email in 2018 brought in $17,634 in attendee revenue, compared to $26,205 for the 2019 conference.

Reading Plombon's entry and looking at the work she did, there's a lot to like. Here are some elements that jump out:

Deepen customer relationships. "The automated marketing campaign was a strategic, customer-centric email campaign that deployed over a set period of time to previously established, specified and targeted audiences that created deeper customer relationships and enabled myself to more efficiently optimize my time via a more streamlined email marketing process."

Start work early. Plombon planned everything out two full months before the first campaign started—including scheduling each email months in advance. She discussed attendee goals and determined the appropriate target audiences. Then she chose the types of emails that had proven effective for those audiences. Examples include: Countdown to early-bird deadline; agenda sneak peek; check out who's attending; top 10 reasons to attend; pushing the 2018 highlights video (Access Intelligence does great video work); personal email from "staff member"; and you're invited.

Starting early helps in other ways. All of us wear many hats. By setting up all emails months in advance, it was an enormous time saver, allowing Plombon to focus her time on other marketing efforts for the conference (re-targeting, partnerships, etc.). Plus by writing all the email copy in advance, she was able to map out the customer's journey from start to finish. "This holistic view of my email marketing campaign ensured that attendees were efficiently and effectively communicated at the appropriate days/times of the marketing cycle."

Take time in writing the copy. She spent two full days solely writing email copy, which allowed her to see the email campaign as a whole, instead of stagnant, one-off email sends.

Drill down further with your audiences. From there, she created targeted audience segments, such as past attendees, government attendees, major industry leaders and academic attendees, and then crafted personalized, targeted email copy that spoke to each specific audience. The highly targeted and personalized emails resulted in a 38% YoY increase in the number of government attendees, as well as a 17% increase in academic attendees.

Save time by going automated. This allowed her to cut down on back and forth in JIRA (the project tracking software). "You spend hours going back and forth in JIRA for just one email send. Creating an automated campaign removes that via bulk edits and token utilization, streamlining the entire email marketing process."

Build a friendly, well-designed website. If the website for the 2020 Nuclear Deterrence Summit (Feb. 11-13) is any indication, the starting-early approach of Plombon is an Access Intelligence staple. Great photos appear, boxes populate the site for attendees, exhibitors and sponsors. A side box asks if people want to subscribe to the Nuclear Security and Deterrence Monitor. And Register Now appears in many places.

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…