Boosting ROI with Data-Driven Segmentation and Messaging

Best Practices : Article

Below is an Event Marketing Case Study that provides direct correlation into the value of knowing your audience and understanding how this data-driven insight can drive long-term success.

An Event Marketing Case Study

Key Takeaway

Defining personas and customizing messaging for your defined audience leads to more successful marketing campaigns that enable you to enhance ROI and expand future growth opportunities.

The Problem

An analytics-focused professional association was beginning to experience declining revenue after five years of successful half-day local seminars held across North America. These events were primarily focused on local trends and practical application including: “learn it today, do it tomorrow.” With this in mind, they decided to host a national conference, the first in their 15-year history. The event would feature two days of interactive thought-leadership and their standard focus on practical applications and best practices. While the conference itself would generate addition revenue above membership dues, they also hoped that it would increase loyalty among existing members and enhance prospective membership.

After the launch of the conference, troubling situations including decreased registration numbers and low interest became apparent. Some of the identified challenges included:

  • The messaging being used was the same as the local seminars, lacking in differentiation and alarmingly it wasn’t resonating with the target audience.
  • Email open rates were strong, but click through rates were well below what they should have been.
  • The conference was in a crowded landscape of user conferences from local vendors to larger events within similar space.
  • The competition for registration/revenue and timing was tight.
  • The association wanted to target “everyone” as a potential conference registrant and messaging was too general.

The Approach

Finding opportunity in the problem and the importance of analysis.

Nothing is rarely ever one size fits all. It’s frequently not even one size fits most. New ventures undoubtedly attract new audiences and repel established ones. So, it’s no surprise that as the organization was attempting to scale, that the generic, locally targeted messages were missing the mark on a national stage. Today, messaging at all levels should speak to the recipient as an individual, even if it’s not an individualized campaign.

Before we could pivot and tweak the marketing plan, we had to put in the ground work and ask some specific questions: Why was this typically engaged community not acting beyond opening an email or visiting a landing page? What information and essential elements were not being answered?

The first activity that could help us answer some of these questions was reviewing the data from current registrants. By examining who had already been compelled enough to say, “heck yeah, I’ll be there,” we could identify and establish preliminary trends. In this case, most of the current registrants were mid-level managers and above, had the term “analytics” was a comment element within titles, and neither geographic location nor industry type seemed to be a factor. This was data that we could work with.

Armed with this knowledge, we took a deeper dive into email metrics such as who were opening the emails and who was or was not clicking on the links. Using member data-points such as seniority, title, and member status to see if we could identify similarities. Bingo! We had some trends forming based on career levels. Senior-level folks aren’t as concerned with what new tool or methodologies are trending, but they do care about how to grow their teams, what skills teams should be focusing on, and industry leaders who can share experiences to help them grow their business. We decided to segment our audience into three personas and developed specific messaging that would resonate best. Using the targeted messaging, we implemented across all areas of promotion (email, landing pages, social, collateral, and event website) so that they were more personalized and spoke directly to each of the audiences.

Email communication was further tailored and segmented to reach varying levels of professional experiences. This refined messaging matrix was then applied to personal outreach with paid and organic social media, where through additional testing, we began to learn more about the external industry audience/s and recognized where the association had room to expand and grow.

The Results

  • For a modest budget, the resulting LinkedIn ad campaign generated an astonishing 230% return on the ad spend. Moreover, the more than 20,000 impressions help to build brand awareness, bolstering reputation and increasing mindshare.
  • This deep-dive research proved to have broader implications. The lessons learned from this specific campaign offered value into recommendations for future educational series, provided insight for where the association should be focusing strategically and taught them more about how the industry was maturing and how they could solidify their place within it.

The Lessons

  1. Don’t just evaluate internally, look outside. At Virtual Inc. our approach involves an environmental scan to understand what’s happening across the industry of this organization and how can we use that knowledge to inform strategy and recommendations. Continually learn and understand industry trends.
  2. You have to know your audiences and what drives them. Remember, you likely have multiple audiences with diverse motivations. To understand your audience better, do research within your database and on platforms such as LinkedIn.
  3. Be flexible. As you build personas, create unique messaging that will resonate with them, and be prepared to adjust once you see how the messaging performs in that segment.


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