Hormel Events — Tried and True Promotion

Overview

Every year, Hormel Foods Corporation – makers of Hormel® Chili, SPAM®, and home to a stable of global brands – hosts an internal meeting, spanning the course of one week, with a three-year group rotation. Years one and two bring the executive and management teams together, a group of over 200. In year three, attendance instantly doubles with the executive, management, and sales teams under the same roof.

Every year, we fight the same challenges most #EventProfs do. Last-minute attendee and agenda changes, session changes during the event… nature-of-the-beast type stuff.

Two key problems we set out to confront were:

  1. Unifying communication
  2. Increasing attendee engagement

With the DoubleDutch platform, the results after the event exceeded our expectations.

Results: Adoption Rates Year-Over-Year

2014 was year one, both in group rotation and with Hormel Events. Would it be the panacea? That might sound over-the-top, but the group is an interesting cross-section of users ranging from daily FB/IG/Twitter pros to quintessential technophobes. So, how did it go?

By the end of that meeting, 96% of attendees were active users. In our post-mortem with DoubleDutch, they confirmed what we already knew: Hormel Events was a hit!

Year two: 2015. Same group. How did that go? Once again, 96% active use. But then came the real test.

2016, year three. Double the attendees. Wider range of users. Exponential potential for entropy. How did that go?

93% active use. Our team was thrilled. By the end of this meeting, it was clear: the DoubleDutch platform would be a trusted resource for future meetings.

Of course, this didn’t happen by accident. The common thread that led to its success year after year is a strong promotion plan.

Driving App Adoption Through Email Promotion

Yeah, I know, everyone hates email. But email campaigns were an undeniable part of Hormel Event’s success. We had to capture our attendee’s attention and get them pumped up about the event. Our approach? Build a strong contact list, create personalized messaging, and have a strategic cadence of emails encouraging app adoption. Let’s break it down:

Creating Your Contact List

Once your attendees are in the DoubleDutch CMS, generating a contact list is easy.

  1. Export a new CSV from the CMS, naming it with the date & timestamp when it was exported. (e.g. Attendee List – As of 01-01-70 11-59P EDT.csv).
  2. Open the CSV and remove all columns, except:
    • First Name
    • Last Name
    • Email Address
  3. Import the CSV into your marketing automation software
  4. Craft your HTML content
  5. Preview the message
  6. Send a test
  7. Ask for edits from your team
  8. Send one more test
  9. Send final copy to all attendees

Tip: If you made the effort to break out attendees into Attendee Groups in the CMS, you have even more options for focused messaging. Talk about personalized marketing campaigns!

Personalized Messaging

Know your audience. How comfortable are they with technology? What devices / platforms are they using? In year one, after I emailed everyone their app credentials, I created an in-app survey asking about people’s comfort levels. Their response, or lack thereof, guided the way.

Then, speak to, not at, your audience. Try breaking the fourth wall, Ferris Bueller-style.

Most importantly, make your copy count.

Show your audience you respect their time. Yes, it’s a balance between terse and concise, but don’t waste one word. Set that expectation early on, and it’ll pay off later when it really counts (e.g. during the event).

Email Cadence

A common email cadence I have used year-after-year includes:

  • Save the Date – rolls out new event and/or app branding, starts building anticipation for the event.
  • You’re Invited! Or for execs: Exclusive Invite Inside
  • Welcome To (Insert App Name) – the Welcome Letter is sent from the DoubleDutch CMS giving new users their login credentials and download instructions
    • Getting Started (Insert App Name) – transitions existing users from last year to the new event, prompts new ones to download the app. Also has a brief explanation on logging in, where to find login credentials, and how to establish their profile in the app.
    • Newcomers to (Insert App Name) – aimed at new users, but sent to all attendees. Features a small FAQ on the app, with power tips for seasoned users. A win-win for all.
    • One Week Til’ (Insert App Name) – Get them pumped and remind them to download the app!
  • Tomorrow is the Big Day! – Remind attendees once again to download your app, encourage attendees to post their arrival selfies as they touch down at the airport and share what they are most excited for in the activity feed.

There you have it. Personalized messaging through email can drive app adoption, build anticipation for your event, and generate goodwill with attendees for future communication. And, it’ll help them have a great time! By the time the last speaker concludes, you’ll see it all over the Activity Feed: #BestEventEver.