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Attendee Acquisition for B2B Events is Changing

busy convention center hallway with attendees walking toward exhibition entrance
As the industry continues its steady course to full recovery, event marketers are mixing tried-and-true methods with the latest technologies in their attendee acquisition strategies to boost event performance.

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Business-to-business (B2B) events have undergone a significant transformation as the industry recovers from the pandemic. Event organizers have had to adapt and innovate to meet the needs of attendees while event marketers explore ways to drive registration and participation. CEIR’s Attendee Acquisition Trends Driving Growth study provides a comprehensive overview of strategies and approaches used by B2B exhibition attendee marketers today to achieve their goals as they continue to push through this time of recovery.

In response to the changing landscape, roughly one third of event organizers report having adjusted their offerings to align with attendee needs, demonstrating a proactive approach by organizers to cater to the evolving requirements of their target audience. This shift calls for a heightened focus on delivering value and relevance to attendees.

In the process, the use of marketing automation technology has surged. A strong emphasis is placed on lead nurturing, converting leads to registrants and engaging with registrants to maximize turnout rates. These approaches reflect the pivotal role that technology plays in streamlining the attendee acquisition process and enhancing overall event outcomes.

High-Performing Marketing Tactics

While different sectors exhibit varying levels of activity in using traditional marketing tactics, it may be surprising to learn that telemarketing recently emerged as the most effective traditional marketing tactic for driving registration. Additionally, organizers report that collaborations and relationship selling tactics have proven to be effective in boosting registration for events, highlighting the significance of forging meaningful partnerships in the attendee acquisition process.

Furthermore, strategies such as offering early bird specials with discounted hotel rates, VIP attendee programs, and streamlining registration processes for repeat attendees and organizations sending multiple staff have been identified as particularly impactful in generating registrations.

What the Future Holds

Looking ahead, marketers have shifted their focus toward refining their attendee acquisition efforts for future events. A key takeaway is the importance of personalized messaging in targeting audiences and building connections to drive registration for B2B exhibitions. Marketers are sharpening their digital strategies by ensuring the delivery of compelling event content, reaching out to young professionals, exploring attendee potential in both established and emerging markets, and harnessing the power of social media to foster engagement and participation.

CEIR recently released its 2024 CEIR Index Report, which analyzes the 2023 B2B exhibition industry performance and provides an economic and exhibition industry forecast through 2026. As noted by CEIR Vice President of Research Nancy Drapeau, the industry is moving in the right direction and the outlook is strong in coming months with full recovery expected in 2026 (read the full blog here).

As the industry pushes forward, organizers and marketers are poised to navigate the evolving terrain armed with insights and approaches tailored to meet the demands of a dynamic and rapidly evolving business environment.

The Attendee Acquisition Trends Driving Growth series of reports is free for CEIR subscribers and IAEE membersclick here to download yours! Also explore CEIR’s full library of research and reports here.

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