Best Practices: How a Software Company Drove Event Attendance with LinkedIn

Replicon Used LinkedIn Sponsored Updates, InMail to Increase Event Traffic

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Replicon used a LinkedIn sponsored update to promote event.
Replicon used a LinkedIn sponsored update to promote event.
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Replicon, a Bay Area company that provides workforce management software, wanted to raise awareness of its products through an integrated content program centered around live events, using LinkedIn to promote the events to specific job titles.

The company, founded in 1996, provides cloud-based software to manage employees' time and attendance, as well as professional services such as project management and billing.

"We really have a full gamut of audiences -- depending on the product suite -- from HR to the COO," said Brett Chester, VP-online marketing at Replicon. "For time and attendance needs, that's basically HR or payroll titles. For our professional services tools, a lot of COOs are pushing these down through their organizations to ensure operational efficiency."

In order to raise awareness of Replicon and the breadth of products it provides, the company launched a content program that would focus on the topic of "Culture vs. Compliance," targeting specific titles through LinkedIn.

"These are very hot topics in the Bay Area and in New York, where startups are flourishing," Mr. Chester said. "A lot of organizations are pressing for culture to be the driving force of how they make decisions on their employee systems, for instance, having unlimited vacations -- which is a great thing to have, but how does it affect the company from a compliance perspective?"

He pointed to recent legal troubles at companies including Staples and CVS, which are facing class-action lawsuits involving employee compensation.

"We wanted to get out in front of everyone and make sure they know this topic exists," Mr. Chester said. "If companies push too far to one side or not far enough, they could end up in potentially some trouble."

So Replicon created an event series called "Culture vs. Compliance," featuring a presentation by Brian Dixon, an attorney at law firm Littler Mendelson who specializes in labor law compliance. Replicon put on four events in the Bay Area and two in New York. It promoted the event series primarily through LinkedIn, using sponsored updates and sponsored InMail.

"Strategically, the goal was to drive at least 50% of those who registered to attend the event," Mr. Chester said, noting that average event attendance is about 30% of registrations.

Replicon teased the event with a LinkedIn sponsored update, with a headline reading, "Your company culture might get you sued," and an infographic promoting the event series. It followed up with a sponsored InMail message to LinkedIn users with HR, payroll manager and higher-level titles.

Within the first two weeks of the campaign, the sponsored updates delivered over 90,000 impressions, with an average click-through rate of 1.33%, compared with the LinkedIn average click-through rate of 0.31% during that same time period, said Victor Lin, digital marketing manager at Replicon.

"A lot of it was due to good copy resonating with our target audience," Mr. Lin said.

"Over the course of the campaign, we tweaked the message as we were learning and improving."

The event achieved the campaign goal, with an average attendee rate of 51% -- and in some locations, such as Silicon Valley, the attendance rate topped 60% of registrations.

As for ROI on sales, Mr. Chester said it is still too early to gauge the effect, since the product has a lengthy sales cycle of up to one year.

Here are some lessons learned from the campaign:

1. Use a mix of tools on LinkedIn. "We utilized a marketing mix that no one had used before in the same way, creating a teaser concept through a sponsored post with an infographic, following up with InMail," Mr. Chester said.

2. Understand the target audience's needs. "When you truly understand your audience, who they are and what they need, then you are able to say, 'We have something you're looking for'," said Mr. Lin.

3. Create content to use in the sales cycle. "The intimacy of the content was a critical success point," Mr. Chester said. "It wasn't supposed to be thousands of people in the room, but an intimate conversation between leaders." Replicon also created a printed book called "Surviving 2015 and Beyond: New Year, New Laws," which it distributed at the event and could also be used in the sales cycle, he said.

4. Develop an "event in a box." The program was so successful that now Replicon is taking the same format and rolling it out in other markets. "Internally, we are calling it an 'event in a box'," Mr. Lin said. "We ran it first in San Francisco and the Bay Area, then we picked up the same materials and dropped it in New York, and we will begin it next in Canada."