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MHI grows event attendance by 24% and reduces CPA by 20%

Feathr Ads & Implementation Services

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The challenge

As a small team with limited bandwidth, MHI’s marketers typically contracted agencies to manage its digital marketing campaigns. For their upcoming biennial trade show, they wanted to take a more hands-on approach with greater transparency and flexibility to maximize their reach and grow event attendance.

The solution

For ProMat 2019, MHI used Feathr Ads and Implementation Services. With the help of the Feathr’s Implementation Services team, MHI reached new audiences, kept them engaged with fresh content, maximized event registration and attendance, and generated the best results MHI had ever seen from any of its events

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MHI’s signature event is ProMat – a biennial trade show that gathers people from all over the world to see the best solutions and innovations in the manufacturing and supply-chain industries; and most importantly, connects buyers with producers. 

For ProMat 2019, MHI’s marketing team had three major goals: to increase registration and attendance rates, grow the event overall (exhibitors, speakers, attendees), and lower the cost per acquisition (CPA) for its participants. 

In the past, MHI contracted agencies to manage its digital marketing campaigns, which provided regular reporting — but with limited analytics — they had issues with transparency and overall efficiency. When asked about the challenges of working with agencies, MHI’s vice president of marketing and communications, Carol Miller said, “with agencies, we weren’t getting data quickly enough to adjust campaigns on the fly, and there were too many layers between us and the campaigns.”

When Miller learned of Feathr Ads and its Implementation Services, she was excited to try a different approach. “We chose to work with Feathr so we could have more visibility into what we were doing, while also getting the help we needed to run campaigns and create content at scale,” she said. 

For ProMat 2019, Miller’s team collaborated with Feathr’s Implementation Services to plan campaign strategies, design collateral and ad creatives, and launch and optimize a series of promotional campaigns. Their campaigns began six months before the event and promotions ramped up as the event drew nearer. 

24%

Increase in attendance

11%

Increase in overall growth

20%

Reduction in CPA

Retargeting campaigns for awareness, conversions, and retention

While MHI’s overall strategy included traditional touchpoints like direct mail and print ads, it leaned heavily toward digital. Feathr’s Implementation Services team helped MHI create, track and optimize a variety of digital marketing campaigns around awareness, conversions, and retention.

For the awareness campaigns, the goal was simply spreading the word about ProMat 2019 to new and existing audiences. To accomplish this, they ran seven geofencing campaigns targeting the locations and dates of similar industry events, one email mapping campaign to a list of former attendees and registrants, and two lookalike campaigns to target new prospects that matched their existing audience. 

As prospects became engaged with the awareness campaigns, Feathr implemented event feature campaigns focused on converting prospects to registrants. Together, the two retargeting campaigns promoting event features brought in 1,958 registrations.

For retention, they launched several campaigns aimed at keeping registrants engaged and recapturing those who abandoned registration. Their cart abandonment campaign secured an additional 533 registrations. 

Lastly, since there’s no cost for admission to ProMat, they also ran upsell campaigns to help MHI generate revenue in other ways. As free events often see higher drop-off rates from registration to turnout (since there’s no upfront investment to attend), Feathr ran two campaigns to reduce drop-off and keep registrants excited about attending.

In addition to running all of these campaigns, Feathr’s Implementation Services also designed the creative assets – emails, ads, landing pages – and met weekly with MHI to do content refreshes as the event drew nearer. The teams tested out a variety of designs and styles, including some animated ads. 

For Morgan Pettrone, MHI’s content marketing manager, while their creatives were engaging at the start, “the sheer volume of exposure meant it was getting stale more quickly. Because of this, we had to change up our content frequently leading up to the show, and the Feathr team was available to help us make that happen,” she said.

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Ad from an email mapping campaign targeting a list of attendees and registrants from the previous ProMat event in 2018.

The results

ProMat 2019 generated the best results MHI had ever seen from one of its events. With the help of Implementation Services, MHI reached new audiences, kept them engaged over time with fresh content, and maximized event registration and attendance. Here’s a breakdown of the key results:


  • The campaigns attracted 935 exhibitors and 50,000 attendees, which resulted in a 24% increase in attendance and 11% overall event growth compared with ProMat 2017.

  • MHI decreased its overall CPA by 20% compared with ProMat 2017.

  • ProMat 2019 saw an increase in the number of attendees, but more critically, in the quality of attendees, both of which are the most important factors in keeping exhibitors coming back in the future.

  • The event had the highest floor density to date, with 4.5 attendees per 100 square feet.

"Feathr helped us set up, run, and analyze our campaigns, move our budget around, optimize our creatives – and kept us in the loop the whole time so we felt part of the process without the burden of too much work. Their Implementation Services is a nice in-between of doing everything in house versus getting an agency to do it all.”

Morgan Pettrone, Marketing Content Manager - MHI

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