Meeting industry associations have a tough audience when they plan meetings for meeting planners—just imagine the challenges involved for the ChiefOfficer Council, Palo Alto, Calif., when the time comes to market its meetings to senior-level marketing execs across the world in every major vertical segment.
“One of the big challenges that we face being an organization for the level of marketers that we represent is that we always need to be on the lookout for the next big technology,” says Liz Miller, the Council’s vice president of operations. “We can’t be 10 steps behind in the latest marketing practice—we have to be 10 steps ahead. It is a pressure, but also a whole lot of fun in that we get to take chances on technologies people aren’t using yet.”
To market last year’s CMO Summit series--a peer-to-peer networking and thought-leader exchange event series held at the end of 2006 in San Francisco, Tokyo, and London--Miller was looking for a promotional and Web conferencing vehicle that wasn’t just your typical rich-media Web conference where you throw up an interface and there’s a video, she says. “We’re not only dealing with an audience that receives hundreds of e-mails daily, but they’re also incredibly tech-savvy. We have so much news to disseminate that by the third quarter of 2006, our membership was receiving two to three e-mails from us a week.” The biggest challenge was that open rates, which had hovered around 80 percent at the beginning of the year, had fallen to 45 percent to 50 percent by the time they were beginning to market the Summit.
“We were beginning to realize we had to have something that would really grab attention really quickly,” Miller says.
The Council turned to rich-media and webcasting company On24: “They showed us an example of the e-mail and rich-media links they could create for us. There was no question in our minds that this was something we wanted to leverage,” says Miller. Working with On24, the Council came up with a very simple way to encourage potential attendees to open the e-mail by offering to give them a personal video message from Cammie Dunway, CMO of Yahoo and a Council member. The draw of having a high-level member delivering a personalized message--and the flawless video and easy, clean interface--caused open rates to soar up to 99 percent; approximately 85 percent viewed the video message.
The Council further leveraged the video by integrating it into the overall marketing campaign for the Summit. “When we would start to call our membership, we weren’t just calling to say, ‘Are you coming to the Summit?’” Miller says. “Now we could say, ‘We’re calling to make sure you were able to see the video from Cammie Dunaway,’ and then ask if they need any help with registration.” Being able to reuse the link gave them more mileage than they would have gotten from an online ad, she says. “We were able to use the videos in our post-event wrap-ups, too.
“My first bit of trepidation when this was brought to my attention was that this would take a lot of time,” says Miller. “We are a very small and nimble association, and the thought of having to dedicate three or four people to accomplish the e-mail campaign made me a little ill. But it was a soup-to-nuts operation.“