MCE Trendspotting: Attendee-to-Sponsor Engagement

July 21, 2021 by lmiller
Filed in: News Tag: MCE Trendspotting

Amongst the many challenges that we’ve experienced over the past year and a half, one glimmering light in the event industry has been the continued support of sponsors and exhibitors. Many of these companies have experienced their own limitations, including travel and budget restrictions, but have found creative and effective ways to take part in IEEE events.

A key trend that must be acknowledged is the shift in attendee-to-sponsor engagement as many events transitioned to virtual and hybrid models. While organizations may still secure booth space and commit staff to attend, they are missing the organic foot traffic of the live event audience. Attendees, now at home or their office, are filling their breaks with checking in on work and personal obligations, grabbing lunch or a snack, or taking a break from the screen altogether.

In this evolving virtual and hybrid environment, attendees need more of a push to interact with exhibitors. As event organizers, there are a few ways that we can help build and encourage this engagement through our existing resources:

  1. Train sponsors/exhibitors on your virtual platform. Depending on which platform you use, you may have added capabilities that can be of value to exhibitors, such as attendee messaging and banner ad placements. Understanding this may help exhibitors optimize their experience and achieve added visibility that they were not previously aware of.
  2. Remind attendees to visit sponsors/exhibitors. Throughout your conference, consider incorporating these reminders into communications that are already planned, such as opening remarks, housekeeping slides, and push notifications.
  3. Drive attendees directly to sponsor/exhibitor booths and websites. Utilize your event communications, such as pre-event promotions, daily event emails, and social media with direct links to where attendees can learn more.
  4. Incorporate sponsors into your conference program. Identify speakers or session topics where your prominent sponsors have a natural connection to the content. You may also offer video ads to play prior to highly anticipated sessions.
  5. Invite and encourage booth staff to participate in networking sessions throughout your event. It can feel quiet sitting in a virtual booth all day while participants attend sessions, so this additional networking may help your partners attract more leads and achieve their goals.

Bonus Tip! Provide metrics when possible. Since the event landscape has changed, you may need to show the value of their participation at your event in new ways. In addition to providing lead capture capabilities, consider other metrics that will highlight the value and efforts your event provided, such as overall traffic and visitors, email impressions and clicks, and social media impressions.

Sample: The 2021 IEEE PES General Meeting offered leaderboard ads to their Platinum Sponsors. These ads were featured in pre-event and live event promotions sent to the PES GM mailing list. 

Our sponsors and exhibitors play a crucial role in the overall success of IEEE conferences and events. While it may require a little more effort, the payoff will be worth it for all parties.

If you have noticed a shift in attendee-to-sponsor engagement or have discovered ways to improve the sponsor experience, share your experience in the comments below!

This article was written by:
Lea Provost
Sr. Program Manager, Audience Development Strategy Services
IEEE Meetings, Conferences & Events