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Feathr: Dynamic Digital Marketing for Events [Review]

By Becki Cross

Feathr is a suite of digital marketing tools to help you know, grow and monetize your event audience. Here is our review.

Feathr: Dynamic Digital Marketing for Events [Review]

Feathr: What Is It?

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Feathr’s “event marketing cloud” is a suite of digital marketing and monetization tools specifically designed for the needs of event organizers. It helps live events to fully leverage their online reach to boost registrations, enhancing sponsorship packages and to engage attendees throughout the year. Feathr uses big data to better promote your event to a relevant audience - think Google Analytics for events.

Feathr originally started out building mobile apps but noticed that the event industry is lagging behind in terms of best practices for online marketing. Shockingly less than 2% of event revenue comes from digital sources, which means many opportunities to digitally engage your potential event audience are being missed. As a result this first ever event-specific digital marketing suite was created. There are of course other solutions and competitors on the market but none offer the same functionality.

Feathr automates the most complex elements of modern digital marketing so event managers can benefit from an easy to use system with a fraction of the time and effort that is required to create and manage campaigns yourself manually. Feathr tests which ads perform the best and then focuses your budget where results are most likely to be seen. Feathr automatically segments your audience and gives insights into which people are worth targeting and which should be ignored.

You can add the Feathr tracking code to websites, registration sites and emails so that it can translate the big data into a full picture of your digital audience. No special coding skills are required, just the ability to paste a tracking code into your sites and marketing emails.

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The Main Categories of Features Are:

Analytics. The analytics powers everything and tracks traffic as a whole as well as individual behaviour, recording every interaction from every individual member of your digital audience.

Retargeting Automation. Retargeting reaches your website visitors with ads on other sites. Ads are only shown to prior site visitors meaning they are much more likely to notice and convert.

Landing Pages & Referral Tracking. Every sponsor and exhibitor can promote their involvement in the event through customized splash pages and HTML emails and you can reward those that drive new registrations.

“Sponsored Retargeting” (Audience Extension). Offer sponsors and exhibitors pre and post event exposure to your digital audience and harness a new digital revenue stream.

Review

Feathr is exciting and groundbreaking. Harnessing your digital audience and web traffic makes complete sense but for most event planners in small or medium sized event teams they simply do not have the time, skills or patience to master digital marketing (or enough budget to hire a data analyst) . This event marketing cloud does the hard work for you to give event managers the best chance of converting digital leads into sales and offering more to your sponsors and exhibitors, without which your event would probably not take place.

If digital marketing is completely alien to you, you will be relieved to know that all users of the platform are allocated an account manager to offer advice on identifying opportunities, design, timing and reselling price points. Feathr can also provide sample sales material to help you to upsell packages to your stakeholders.

If you have a dedicated digital marketer as part of your event team they may find the platform too restrictive and prefer to set up and manage these tools themselves so they have full control over all functionality and can make adjustments exactly as they wish. However some digital marketers prefer to work with Feathr and particularly for those that cannot access this in-house expertise the Feather system is set up for ease of use and speed which will appeal to most event planners and small teams. If you possess or are keen to learn digital marketing skills it is of course cheaper to set up everything yourself, rather than going through the Feathr platform, but time will probably be a big factor in this.

Whether you have one or 500 websites Feathr works across all of your event touch points. The exact same snippet of javascript code is added to your websites and registration site, it is not customised for each site as with some tools. HTML code can then be added to any marketing emails you are sending to ensure a 360 degree view and history of the interactions. To use Feathr you will therefore need to have access to the content management system for your website and basic knowledge of the back system to be able to add in the code. On sites built on WordPress this is particularly easy to do but on some sites this may be a little more difficult.

Feathr visualises the full timeline for each cookie to show every touch point (pages, ad, clicks) along the path to conversion. Instead of ambiguous reporting this gives insights into the sales funnel and what role the ads played.

In terms of set up, ideally you should have the tool in place as soon as your registration site goes live, whatever those lead times may be. Ideally this is at least three to six months before your event, but it could be a full year, or only 6 weeks prior.

Feathr segments your digital audience and slices and dices similar behaviours together to spot patterns and focus on those that are the most likely to commit to your event. 95% of websites have ad space which is open for auction and Feathr plugs into 75 ad exchanges. The analytics shows which creatives, or adverts, are performing better and shifts your budget to these, whilst still rotating the ads to ensure that “banner blindness” doesn’t sneak in. The system is constantly updated to give real time information.

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Another cool feature is referral tracking tool. So that you can track the real value of marketing affiliate campaigns. Sponsors will be able to see their performance. By offering co branded emails to your event stakeholders, where they are the only sponsor/exhibitor/speaker featured, this should be a real motivator for them to share and really push their involvement in the event. You can offer a special price for them to share with their customers and in return you can offer incentives too - such as for every 10 bookings generated they will be awarded an extra free place for the event or the partner generating the most bookings will have complimentary sponsorship of a refreshment break. The template only needs to be designed once and it simply pulls the information for each of the stakeholders. When your partners share with their networks, emails lists and social followers anyone that clicks through to the site and shows interest is then part of your digital marketing pool.

Your digital audience is a living asset and the opportunity to capitalize on this throughout the year could be really worthwhile in terms of extending or creating a whole new event revenue stream. Offering pre and post event messaging opportunities to your top sponsors and exhibitors (or to those that see the value and are willing to pay for it) is a great way to offer trackable data to enhance their event experience. No one ends up on an event website by accident so your pool of leads can be really valuable in terms of “off-season” advertising packages. It could be a good opportunity to cross promote similar events, magazines, free trials, white papers or other relevant products and services.

Features

Analytics
- Feathr tracks both aggregate site traffic metrics and individual behavior (time on site, frequency of visits, geo-location, pages visited, etc).
- Every interaction is recorded from each individual member of your digital audience, including touch-points, multiple properties (i.e. if you have a sister publication or a series of events) and email opens.
- This data is used to pro-actively “score” each visitor based on relevance, engagement, and probability of conversion, and create segments of the audience accordingly.
- Feathr visualize the full “path to conversion”, showing every step a registrant took along the way to checkout.

Retargeting Automation
- Feathr plugs into over 75+ ad exchanges and DMPs (Data Management Platforms) for global reach. This includes Facebook, mobile and video inventory as well as traditional web display ad inventory from AOL, CNN, Google, etc.
- The segments and scoring automate the process of running a fully optimized hyper-targeted ad campaign, showing your ads only to website visitors with a medium-to-high probability of conversion and tuning CPM (cost per thousand impressions) bid, frequency of impressions, etc accordingly.
- By focusing solely on the event industry, Feathr have a proprietary dataset of the site traffic patterns across 100+ events, so they know when attendees tend to buy tickets and the optimal time to reach them.
-Feathr’s bidding algorithms A/B test different creative, site placements, times of day, CPM bids, geo-targeting, and more to see what works, and automatically shifts your budget to the highest performing channels.

Landing Pages & Referral-Tracking
- Feathr has a built in “landing page” editor with templates for conversion-optimized single-page promoting your event.
- There is also the ability to create co-branded “referral pages” for sponsors, exhibitors, speakers, or media partners. Essentially data including the name, logo/image and message for each partner is pulled into the landing page so each one looks like it was custom-designed specifically for them.
- These pages are automatically tracked, to track how much site traffic came through each partner’s page, how many registrations were ultimately driven, etc so you can reward partners accordingly.
- An extra benefit of these landing pages is that because they are tracked, all visitors are added to your cookie pool and can be retargeted with ads accordingly (if they don’t immediately register).

“Sponsored Retargeting” (Audience Extension)
- In the same way that Feathr enables you to run hyper-targeted ad campaigns against certain segments of your digital audience, you can allow sponsors/exhibitors/advertisers to do the same
- These digital packages can be sold a la carte, bundled into the higher tiers or pitched as an add-on to existing packages
- Forthe event organizer this represents a new digital revenue stream monetizing an existing asset (site traffic). For the exhibitor/sponsor it represents a new channel to reach the exact same people they are paying to get in front of at the event, but now they can extend that engagement pre- and post-event
- Pre-event messaging could be “Stop by booth #123” or “Sign up for our sponsored happy hour”, post-event messaging could be “Special offer for attendees only” or “Download our whitepaper about this topic”. In either case the ads can be co-branded with the event, making them stand out.
- Feathr handles the optimal distribution of impressions.

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Who Is It For?

Feathr is focused on for-profit conferences, trade shows, and conventions ranging from under 1k attendees, through to large shows of 20k plus people. It is suitable for any event that aims to promote their event, increase their registrations or monetize via sponsors and exhibitors.

Pros and Cons

Pros
- Drive additional revenue for your event and better understand your digital audience with the only solution built specifically for the event industry.
- Only pay for the service whilst you are running campaigns.
- Support and account management is available to everyone as part of the package.

Cons
- If you have a dedicated digital marketer as part of your team they may want to do more changes manually then the system allows.
- Feathr is not currently fully leveraging the opportunities through social media, only focused on Facebook at this time.
- It costs more to use the Feathr platform than doing it yourself but this is offset by the time saving.

Prices and Plans

Pricing depends on the number of attendees. Below are the prices for events with less than 1k attendees.
The analytics are free.

Retargeting Automation and customer support is $69 per month* while campaigns are running.
Landing Pages and Referral Tracking is $299 per month while pages are being utilized. This is regardless of how many different bespoke pages you need for exhibitors and sponsors.

*This does not include the budget for actually purchasing the ad space, which is set by the user on a per-event or per-campaign basis.

In terms of the maximum costs, for events with over 20k attendees this rises to $199 per month for Retargeting Automation and $899 per month for Landing Pages and Referral Tracking.

You are not tied into a contract and so you pay nothing when your campaigns are not running.

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In Conclusion

If you are looking to know, grow and monetize your digital audience Feathr is the perfect companion for busy #eventprofs and for-profit events of all sizes. Even though this tool will require some extra time to set up it can result in better, targeted marketing.

If you have in-house skills and prefer to keep control and manage all of the functionality of your digital marketing campaigns yourself you may find the platform too restrictive, but for the majority of event planners this tool will be a real eye opener with the potential to virtually pay for itself through intelligent conversions.

Find out more here.

Disclosure: Reviews are paid for placements. While Event Manager Blog receives a fee to extensively look at the tool and review it in detail, the content of the review is independent and by no means influenced by the company. If you have any question please use the contact us section.

about the author

Becki Cross
Becki Cross is Managing Director of Events Northern Ltd, a UK event and conference management company established in 2004. Becki set up the business in her early twenties and is particularly passionate about conferences, innovation, entrepreneurship and the legacy of events. Becki is also the Deputy Editor, Community Manager and Contributor to EventMB, her dream job alongside event planning! Follow Becki via @beckitrain.
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