How to triple your event response rate…taking a lesson from direct mail

We recently began a multi-channel event recruiting campaign.  The goal was to get as many target market prospects to our event as possible. 

We began by launching a broadcast email wave.  We send everyone on our list a customized email.  A day later we called everyone and either spoke with them or left a voice mail message.

We ended up with a 3% response rate.  Not bad for enterprise security at the executive level.  Then we tried running the same campaign against another list.  We came across the second list almost by accident and only decided to try it because we still had seats to fill at the event. 

The difference between the first and second list was noticeable within the first hour of calling.  You can just tell when one of your key variables like list, improves.  The calls are warmer, the resistance is lower. 

Fast forward through days of calling and emailing.  When the dust settled, the final response rate ended up at…drum roll please…a whopping 9%. 

All we did was change one key variable, the list, and our response rate tripled.  We didn’t change the script, the email copy, the offer or the presentation, only the list. 

Okay, so what’s so special about the second list that it caused the response rate to triple?  The short answer is that the second list was based on behavior and not just demographics.

The first list was just names and titles based on where someone worked and the geography.  The second list was a list of people who had shown up at a similar event.  The second list was an attendee list for an event that was somewhat similar to ours.

The key was that people on the second list were not only demographically within our target zone, but more importantly, they had recently demonstrated the behavior we wanted them to do, namely come to our event. 

Any good direct mail professional will tell you that the best responders are those people who have responded to a similar offer in the recent past.  Direct mail professionals have all kinds of formulas and metrics to help them identify the people most likely to respond.  The one that applies here is called Recency.  Another key one for them is Frequency. 

The long and short of it is that if you can get your hands on lists of people in your target market, who have attended the kind of event you are trying to fill, do it.  This kind of list will respond at a much greater rate, as compared to ones based on static demographics.


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