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5 Easy Steps to a Successful Event Retargeting Campaign

5 min read
Feb 25, 2016

Imagine that you're the owner of a retail clothing shop. Hundreds of potential customers visit your shop each day and look at your products. Some buy – yay!

But some don't buy. They leave the store and go home. Lost business, right?

Maybe not. What if you could remind each of those potential customers of their interest in your products by showing them targeted ads on billboards and signs that they pass throughout their day? That would be a pretty powerful campaign, wouldn't it?

Unfortunately, that isn’t possible with today’s billboard technology. But there is a digital equivalent: retargeting.

Retargeting works by targeting people who have visited your website, using ads on other websites. For example, when somebody visits your event's website, and then leaves and goes to nytimes.com, you can show an ad promoting your event to that person on nytimes.com.


retargeting-graphicRetargeting works by targeting people who have visited your website with ads on other websites.


Retargeting is one of the best digital marketing tools for converting existing website visitors into customers.

This is by no means a recent technology. Unfortunately, as tends to be the case in the event world, it hasn't seen the same pace of adoption as in other industries. The good news is that we’re starting to see more and more organizers add this best of breed tool to their marketing setup.

But the bad news is that most retargeting campaigns are poorly optimized. And the difference in results between optimized and non-optimized retargeting campaigns can be huge. So even though event professionals are beginning to use retargeting, few actually run optimized campaigns, and so many are leaving money on the table.

This guide is meant to help solve that problem. With some thoughtful planning and ongoing attention, an optimized, high ROI retargeting campaign is well within reach.


An optimized, high ROI retargeting campaign can be reached.
Did you know? An optimized, high ROI retargeting campaign can be well within reach.


If you follow these 5 steps, you'll have an optimized retargeting campaign boosting registrations for your event in no time.

These steps can sometimes be confusing, so we've put together a checklist that makes it super easy to follow along.


1. Segment Your Audiences

Not everyone who visits your website is the same kind of person. Some are interested in attending. Some are interested in exhibiting. Some might be interested in your publication. So why would you treat all these people the same? You shouldn't.

Instead, set the groundwork for dealing with different audience members uniquely with segmentation.

How you do it is simple. Most tools that facilitate retargeting (like AdRoll or Feathr) allow you to segment your audience by URL. So, you can pull everyone who visits a page like www.yourevent.com/why-attend into a group. This group is likely made up of attendee prospects - people interested in attending your event.


Segment your audience by URL.


Do the same for your “Why Exhibit?” or similar page to group exhibitor prospects together.

Pro tip:  Use wildcards to make grouping visitors to many pages within the same directory super easy. For example, if you have a section of your site where all information related to exhibiting lives, you can group visitors to any of the pages within that section by using a wildcard URL. The wildcard is usually an asterisk (*), created by pressing Shift+8 on your keyboard. It would look something like this:



2. Use Unique Ads to Target Your Different Segments

Now that you’ve grouped your audience into useful segments (like interested attendees and interested exhibitors), you can communicate with them in specific, appropriate ways.

Attendees, for example, might be swayed by a ticket discount, celebrity speaker, or venue highlight. Include these things in your ads to speak to their main considerations.

Exhibitors on the other hand, are probably more concerned with attendee stats and proof of ROI. Show information in your ads like total registered attendance (maybe with a year-over-year growth figure) and testimonials from other exhibitors to get them over the line.


3. Test Incentives

Test the promotion of discounts, buy-one-get-one tickets, after party access, etc. in your ads. Sometimes prospects only need a small nudge to get off of the fence and register.

Pro tip: A report by enterprise analytics company MicroStrategy found that a discount for first time customers was their highest ROI promotional strategy.


4. Find the Right Times of Day to Run Your Campaigns

Most retargeting platforms allow you to choose daily start and end times for your campaigns. Common logic might suggest running campaigns during working hours, say from 9am to 5pm, but simply running with that assumption could prove costly.

Instead, use your existing registration data to find hotspots in your daily registration activity. You might find that the busiest time for attendee registrations is actually before or after work hours.


Use your existing registration data to find hotspots in your daily registration activity.


This isn't a set-it-and-forget-strategy though. It's important to also test other times of day with additional campaigns to discover other potential hotspots.

Don't forget to do this separately for exhibitor registrations as well. You may discover that exhibitors tend to register at different times of day than attendees.

Pro tip:  Feathr does this analysis and optimization automatically. Our software tests the conversion rates of your campaign at different times of day and then auto adjusts the schedule of your campaign to prioritize the times of day that convert the best. If the software discovers a time of day that's just a dead zone, it will remove it from the ad schedule altogether.


5. Run Campaigns Targeting Visitors Who Have Already Registered

On first blush, retargeting may seem to only have useful applications in the pre-sale process. And while retargeting may prove most valuable to you in that use case, there can be tremendous value in using retargeting for post-sale engagement. Here are a couple of examples.

Qualifying Registrants

Do you run a show where registration is a two step process, with attendees filling out an initial form online and then needing to submit additional information to qualify themselves and complete registration?

This second step of registration can sometimes lead to a huge loss in attendance, with a large percentage of registrants never submitting the additional information needed to complete the registration process.

Run a campaign against this particular audience segment encouraging them to click-through and submit their supporting information.

Driving Foot Traffic

Many trade shows and conferences are free to attend.

This can be a good strategy for increasing overall registrations and for having a large attendance number to advertise to exhibitors. But getting registrants who have no financial buy-in to actually turn up is a big challenge. This attendee attrition is a huge pain point for organizers.

Retargeting can be of huge value in this scenario. Run a retargeting campaign towards these attendee registrants highlighting features of the event that are likely to encourage actual attendance – like a giveaway, an especially impressive exhibit, a big name speaker, etc.


Time to Get Started

So there you have it, Feathr’s 5 tips for creating and running effective retargeting campaigns.

Of course, this list is by no means exhaustive. But it’s certainly a great place to start. We’re confident that if you implement these tactics, you will start to see significant improvements in your retargeting campaign performance.

Good luck – and stay soaring!



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