According to EventMB’s State of the Event Industry Research, finding sponsors was the second biggest challenge facing event planners with 49% admitting they struggle with it. Yet without sponsors, most event budgets would dwindle down to paper plates and public parks. Sponsorships enable event planners to do so much more. But these special companies don’t just sponsor our events out of sheer beneficence. They expect their needs to be met, as well.
It’s not enough to feel like you are meeting their needs. You must ensure they feel that way, too. But how do you know? Understanding their needs ahead of time and measuring data that speaks to them is one way, the other is retention. Are they coming back year-after-year? A large majority (74%) of event planners feel that sponsor retention rates have stayed about the same in their events. However, 17% say they are decreasing and only 10% report an increase. This is a concern especially because event planners have more analytics tools available than ever before. You must use those to ensure sponsors’ needs are met and exceeded.
Sponsors want a strong return on investment. They may also long to improve brand awareness and/or want something of value in return. There may be a lot of moving parts in a big sponsorship, so event planners also need to be able to ensure all promises are met. Plus, let’s not forget the importance of having an impact and creating a sponsorship experience they’ll long remember. All of this goes into creating loyal sponsors. The basics are easy but the coordination of these things can present challenges. Event tech can help. Here are some of our favorite types of event tech to help you create an event environment that will satisfy your sponsors and keep them coming back.
The Keys to Event Sponsor Happiness and Retention
Sponsors want ROI and their business goals met. It’s important as an event planner that you understand what the sponsor considers successful in both areas. For instance, ten warm leads from a conference may seem like a good return to you, but they may get that on a regular day during lunch.
Knowing their business goals will also help you ensure they achieve them or at least chart a path and establish measurement toward doing so. Keeping all of these details and analytics straight requires solid event management technology. Here are a few tools that can help you keep the details straight and delight your sponsors at the same time.
Meeting Business Goals Improves Event Sponsor Satisfaction
According to EventMB research, sponsor satisfaction (42%) and revenue (32%) are what most event planners use to measure sponsor success. But are those things enough to see the big picture? They are a start but you can also use tech to assist in increasing the flow of traffic, producing more leads, and generating revenue.
Improving Awareness with Beacon Technology
Sponsors need technology that allows for easy meeting setting, but you needn’t stop there. Announcement features and beacon technology can ensure attendees get notified when they are nearby important activities, lounges, and sponsor booths. This can dynamically increase traffic. Use tech to invite guests to something special based on the attendee’s specified interests. Major League Baseball, for instance, is using beacon tech to reach out to fans to offer them seat upgrades at the game.
You can allow sponsors to cover the cost of the tech, providing yet another draw for them to participate in your event.
Texting/SMS Delivers Their Message
Another popular sponsorship we’re seeing is push or text notifications. Event planners are using these in a variety of ways including adding a number of guaranteed texts as part of sponsorship packages or sponsoring the technology in general.
Why are so many event planners and conferences adopting text messaging systems?
Easy: numbers. This tech has an 80-90% open rate (exact numbers vary by study), as opposed to a good email open rate of 15-18%. (Industry and device type widely affect this number.) However, you don’t want to abuse the potential here. Using texts for sponsor announcements like the lounge opening or announcing the contest winners will drive traffic. It will also condition attendees to continue to look at those types of messages for important, timely information. If you sell text opportunities to all of your vendors, and they push out multitudes of non-valuable (from an attendee perspective) messages like, “Come see us at Booth #X,” attendees will quickly become programmed to ignore this potentially important channel.
Data Analysis Provides Actionable Information for Event Planners and Sponsors
If your event provides access to decision makers in their ideal demographic, sponsors will flock to your event…once. In order to retain them, you need to ensure they’re receiving the data they need to calculate or derive a solid return on investment. In addition to your normal event management software reports, you may want to consider the following technology:
Demographic Reports Help Sponsors Self-Select
Providing in-depth demographic analysis on your event website (outside of a download), allows sponsors to decide whether they are a good fit for your audience or not. Your event sponsor prospectus should include all basic demographic information including any activity history you’ve collected in the past. There’s no need to address specifics about individuals, but it is helpful to extrapolate and project general data based on stats. For example, if transactions occur on your exhibition floor, you might find the data shows that 75% of attendees are mid-level decision makers who tend to come ready to purchase. The average spend for this demographic is $500 (£375/€440) at the event.
Some planners may be concerned that making this type of niche data available may turn away sponsors. However, it’s more important to attract the kind of sponsor who will be successful at your event and less about attracting large quantities of sponsors. Success builds loyalty and good word of mouth. If you “sell” a sponsor on your event who turns out to be a bad fit, they won’t see a return on investment and will likely tell others about their experience.
WiFi Analytics Reveal Hidden Information and Preferences
WiFi is not only an expectation for attendees, but it’s also a great way to gather data on them, their device usage, demographics, etc., which is all valuable information for sponsors. You can also deliver a targeted ads campaign based on attendee actions and interests on the guest WiFi. You can view heat maps, dwell times, and WiFi traffic/usage patterns. Depending on the length of your event, you may also grab some insights critical to sponsors on the first or last mile of their customer’s journey as witnessed at your event.
Traffic Flow Analysis Helps Future Event Sponsors
Using beacon technology, you can tell where your attendees are, what they’re spending time doing, where logjams are, and what’s the hottest spot on the floor. While that gives you amazing analytics for your current sponsors and their placements on an exhibit floor, the possibilities don’t stop there.
Apply these findings to next year’s event and designing the sponsorship packages. Now you know where your audience historically migrated. You can also capture what may have motivated them to do so. Was it natural traffic flow of the room design or an engaging booth that influenced flow? Making notes of that and sharing is in future sponsorship proposals will only make them stronger and more appealing.
Ease of Participation Builds Future Event Sponsor Interest
Making it easy for your sponsor to achieve their projected return on investment will cause them to sign up again in the future. One of the ways you can use technology to accomplish this is by using an online, searchable sponsorship platform to assist sponsors and potential sponsors in finding their ideal sponsorship. Don’t make them wait on a return phone call from you or your staff. Give them the ability to find and select what they want at the moment. Choose a technology that allows for searching by keyword, category, or even event floor location.
Chatbots Answer Questions to Facilitate Sponsorship Purchases
You may even want to consider setting up a chatbot to answer basic sponsorship questions. This is not difficult to do through Facebook Messenger or a third-party plug-in on your website. With a chatbot or “chat now” feature, answers are provided and interest may be acted on without delay regardless of a potential sponsor’s geographic location or time zone.
Drip Marketing Keeps You Top of Mind
You’re asking for a sizeable investment in your event with each event sponsor, even the small ones. It’s hard to get them in the state of mind to sponsor if they only hear from you once a year just prior to the deadline. Instead, stay top of mind through newsletters and/or a drip marketing campaign. Let them know what’s new and exciting this year. Give them insights into the kind of data you’ll be collecting, or a new market you’re approaching. Consider them a partner in your success and you in theirs.
Event tech helps you deliver on sponsor promises as long as you have the right mix. You want something that will assist you in bringing them value and help you track and measure ROI for them, all while making your life (and theirs) easier. Helping your sponsors meet their goals is one of the key components in building a team of loyal sponsors who come back year after year.
We’ve shared our favorite event tech for sponsors. Now it’s your turn. What are we missing?
About the AuthorMore Content by Amy Kelley