E-mail lends itself to personalization and is more efficient as a form of communication. It is also cost-effective.

For decades now, marketers have relied on broadcast approaches — exposing their messages to as many people as possible, with the emphasis on customer acquisition rather than retention. But more sophisticated “narrowcast” techniques have emerged, enabling marketers to direct their messages to the most likely buyers. For meeting professionals, adopting a narrowcast approach can dramatically boost the success rate of event-marketing campaigns.

One-to-one marketing can improve customer loyalty because it is inherently directed toward customer retention. For the event professional focused on driving registrations, this means communicating precise value propositions of events. Here are some basic principals of narrowcast marketing:

  • Permission-based. Attendees or prospects will more likely respond positively if they are offered the choice to subscribe — or not — to event information.

  • Personalized content. Ask customers for their content preferences when they register. Capture preferences from Web site visits, previous event attendance, surveys, and other interactions.

  • Proactive. Provide information such as agenda changes, cancellations, late additions, or promotional giveaways through e-mail alerts to attendees.

  • Medium of choice. Allow attendees to choose the communication method — be it phone, fax, e-mail, or postal mail — best suited to their lifestyles.

Using Internet-Related Technologies

Start with your organization's internal network. If your events are internal, post event information and related documents on an internal Web site. Create distribution lists to manage your communications more effectively and to facilitate communication among attendees. Focus on providing value to participants. They will appreciate a single site that combines speaker information, hotel and travel booking, and event registration and information.

Personalize and customize your external Web site. Create surveys, opinion polls, and the ability to customize Web pages for registrants' future visits. Once you know attendees' preferences, present only information relevant to them.

Facilitate communication with e-mail, news groups, and chat rooms. While e-mail allows two-way communication, news groups and chat rooms can often yield valuable insight. For example, if you notice heavy discussion of historical tours and little interest in sporting activities, you can add tailor-made, last-minute information. It's better to learn of these trends early than to attempt to resolve them on site.

Getting Started

Once your organization is committed to one-to-one marketing, begin with a few baby steps toward implementing it:

  • Provide exceptional customer service to attendees. Open communication channels by offering such options as fax on demand, telephone call centers, and electronic messaging.

  • Use Web-based applications. These include event registration; reminder services and alert notifications about important event changes; self-service information centers on your Web site; and interactive areas that help build online communities, allowing pre- and post-event dialogue.

  • Store and collect information on your attendees. Send only relevant information, and narrow the number of decisions attendees must make.

  • Use e-mail as often as possible. E-mail lends itself to personalization and is more efficient as a form of communication. It is also cost-effective.

  • Use surveys and questionnaires. Collect detailed information and provide feedback opportunities for your attendees. Effective feedback occurs before and after the event.

Edward Lang is a frequent speaker and meetings technology expert based in Fairfax, Va. Contact him at lang@patriot.net or (703) 798-9406.