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by Nathan Bieck, KCSAE Allied Director

Her name was Holiday (fitting for the season) but we were asked to call her Holly, and according to online review sites, she was affordable and quite possibly the best fishing tour guide on the river. “You won’t need any live bait today,” she said. “Also, ditch that extra set of rain gear and move that bag to the back of the boat. The water is high today, and we don’t want your dry clothes getting wet,” she said.

Almost every year, I try to go on a fishing trip with some buddies. This year, the group decided to ditch our egos and invest a little more money in an expert guide to help us catch more fish while also helping us safely navigate the constantly changing currents and high water of the Crooked Creek River.

Last year, the group caught 81 fish. This year, with the help of our expert guide Holly, we caught 201.


Meeting and event planners are always looking for ways to add value to their services and one way to increase value and drive awareness and attendance is through enhanced digital marketing efforts. Digital marketing, like the Crooked Creek River in Arkansas, can change daily. Meeting and event planners for small organizations and large associations and non-profits, want to deliver on the full potential of digital marketing, but understand they need the help of an expert or guide to make that success a reality. That help can come in the form of an online technology and or a live digital marketing expert.

Think about it a bit more…when your car needs maintenance, you call a mechanic. If a water pipe bursts, you call a plumber. When you need to buy something quickly for your partner or kid(s), you get the Amazon app, and without much training, get online and do it yourself.  Sure, you can spend hours reading an owner’s manual or watching YouTube videos or run to JC Penny, but why.  Do you really need to have a detailed understanding of the complexities of your four cylinder Subaru? The answer is probably no as you simply want it fixed and fixed correctly.

Today’s associations, non-profits and government organizations need to look to do things differently when it comes to online engagement and awareness building and a great first step is to identify and or leverage experts to organize, measure and report on the creative data and find meaningful insight into which efforts are working, which aren’t, and why. Oh yeah, these experts don’t have to be a person either.


Meeting and event planners are pulled in a number of different directions. It’s a fair statement to say that you can’t measure success without first setting some goals and metrics to strive for.  It’s also fair to say that you can’t measure success without the feedback and input from your colleagues and team members, so before you set goals, make sure you communicate to your team or your Board of Directors, the “Why” as this will ultimately get everyone rowing in the same direction and on the same page both from a high level and fiscal standpoint.

That fact holds true no matter what you’re attempting to measure, from digital marketing success to membership growth success, to improved attendee participation, without goals you are limited to two basic analyses:

“We seem to be making some progress.”


“This doesn’t seem to be working for us.”

Kind of vague, huh?  Setting the goal will help with focus and get everyone away for the “vague” statement.


The beauty for meeting and event planners is that digital marketing efforts are 100% trackable and can be based on specific key performance indicators (KPIs), developed and assigned by you, your team or your board, etc. Simply saying, “Expose target audience to new event content, which will make them register for the upcoming event” isn’t enough. Set yourself up for success by providing as much detail as possible.

Being specific with details will better prepare you to execute your digital marketing campaign by serving as a roadmap. Furthermore, it helps you pinpoint what works and what doesn’t. How are digital marketing metrics measured for success? You’re probably thinking: new first time attendees or increased membership.

A successful campaign can be determined by much more than just those types of conversions!

Ask yourself:

These are all valid goals to aim for and to discuss with the “expert” as they are backed by analytics data you can gather over time and re-act to appropriately.

As mentioned earlier, having a trained guide doesn’t necessarily mean a real person either.  When it comes to social media engagement, there’s a number of free tools and “expert” guides to help get started such as Sprout or Hootsuite. The beauty is that these web sites also have a number of rich resources, blog articles and wiki documents by experts in the industry, aimed at guiding organizations, both large and small, and helping them get started immediately and with little to no cost upfront. The path to success begins with a guide or perhaps an organization (not necessarily a person), who is committed to helping you and your team navigate the complex digital ecosystem and realize the full potential and value of digital marketing.

As you look to changing things up and being more focused on your digital marketing strategies, below are some KPI’s to consider from a web site standpoint.  These KPI’s will differ with each vertical or area you’re looking to focus on, but if you’re looking for some high level metrics to start with, you should think about starting with these below.

  1. Overall web site traffic
    • Tips for sending more traffic to your website:
      • Optimize all pages on your web site with relevant keywords
      • Consistently publish and update content throughout your web site
      • Promote your content on social media channels (LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.)
      • Create targeted promotions and specific landing page with an offer
  2. Traffic by source (This useful website traffic metric sheds light on exactly where your website visitors are coming from)
    • Google Analytics has four main traffic sources:
      • Organic Search:These users clicked a link on a search engine result that brought them to your web site
      • Direct Visitors:These users typed your web site directly into the search bar, or perhaps have it bookmarked and returned to visit the site
      • Referrals:These users were sent to your web site when they clicked a link from another web site
      • Social:These users came to your web site after finding your social media profile or content post
  3. New Visitors vs. Returning Visitors
    • The value of this dual metric is that it helps you determine how relevant your web site content is over time. Multiple visits can indicate you are providing information that people find valuable enough to keep coming back to your site for
  4. Exit Rate
    • Here’s a marketing metric that is very specific and reveals quite a bit about your web site design and overall user experience.
  5. Conversion Rate
    • Google Analytics can help measure the number of conversions made on your site.

For example, conversions could be:

  • a new attendee or member responded to a blog post,
  • a completed resource download,
  • a lead form completion
  • a new like or follow on your social media page(s)

Once you have selected the digital marketing metrics for your campaign, putting together a marketing measurement template is something else to consider as it’s easy and provides valuable insight.


Once you’ve worked with your team to establish buy in, as well as worked with some experts or read through some expertly written white papers or wiki documents, be individual and unique in the overall member or attendee experience throughout your digital marketing.  Instead of spamming your members with a generic promotional email, look at email open rates to identify the specific types of content with which members are engaging. If a member recently purchased the “Meeting Package #1” with your association or non-profit, send them information about your additional online articles or interactive roundtables they should consider viewing before attending the live event. The bottom line is that people are more likely to engage and share their experience if it is personalized for them and speaks to their most recent needs and requirements.


Digital marketing is changing and meeting and event planners must understand their organizations gaps and how to close them quickly. Today’s organizations are required to do more with their mobile and desktop data as better targeting, formats and relevancy become essential. The path to success begins with a dedicated guide (not necessarily a person), who is committed to helping organizations navigate the complex digital ecosystem and realize the full potential and value of digital marketing.




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