Matchmaking is currently highly popular with B2B event organisers. For this service to be successful, the following aspects should be taken into consideration in the planning process.
52% of trade fair, conference, and B2B event organisers consider B2B matchmaking to be a crucial success factor for their event. This was revealed by a survey that we recently published in a Converve white paper. The publisher m+a Verlag reached a similar conclusion in the run-up to this year’s trade fair symposium in Frankfurt: 49% of participants see a need to expand matchmaking services.
Of course, more and more B2B event participants expect a measurable return on investment for their attendance – this applies to exhibitors as well as sponsors and visitors. In this context, the focus lies on the kinds of new contacts an event participator manages to acquire.
However, it is often the case that event organisers only start thinking about matchmaking, particularly software-supported matchmaking, at the very end of the planning process. At this point, they attempt to put the cart before the horse – which often fails.
Converve has been providing business networking solutions for 18 years. We asked our project managers, software developers, and communication experts what they consider to be the most important success criteria for matchmaking work, and the answers they gave are presented in the list below.
The right timing
Make it as easy as possible for participants to register. Lengthy registration forms will scare people off. Not only are B2B event visitors deciding to participate at increasingly later times, they are also starting to prepare for their visit closer and closer to the date of the event.
Based on our experience, we recommend activating software-based matchmaking 2-4 weeks before the event. By then, participants must also have optimised their profiles for matchmaking, e.g. by providing a link to their LinkedIn or XING profile. Start a countdown (e.g. “Only 12 days to go until you can arrange meetings”) to add a level of suspense.
Understand the decision-making and power structures on the market and arrange matchmaking accordingly
Which group of participants should be able to view which other group of participants and be able to request meetings? Should visitors be able to arrange meetings with one another via the platform? Should exhibitors be able to actively contact visitors to arrange a meeting, or should only the reverse apply? These conceptual questions depend on the respective market and must be taken into consideration when planning B2B matchmaking.
Effective use of payment and discount codes
Discount-, VIP- and early-bird schemes can boost registrations many weeks prior to the event. Matchmaking will only work once a relevant number of active participants use the platform in due time before the event.
Active registration for matchmaking
Participants must be able to consciously decide to participate in matchmaking. Data-protection regulations aside: you won’t succeed by simply entering all visitors into the tool, as this will result in too many “inactive” individuals on the platform, which will lead to frustration for “active” participants.
Gatekeepers as a quality guarantor
Similar to a bouncer at a club, the person(s) responsible for the matchmaking platform should examine all registrations and decide who is and who isn’t allowed to participate. This ensures a high quality of participants and prevents misuse or spam. For example, with the Converve platform, you can set up rights management in a granular way, e.g.: “Mr Schmidt is responsible for all new registrations for the participant group ‘Buyers from Norway and Sweden’.”
Get participants involved and maintain contact
Personalised messages such as “Additional participants have registered who meet your search criteria” encourage matchmaking participants to log into their profile and actively use the platform. Another good practice is to announce suitable event formats – “Further workshops have been added that correspond with your interests”, for example.
Contact inactive participants
If registered participants have not yet arranged any meetings via the platform, send reminder emails to precisely this target group, in line with the motto “Event XY starts in 6 days – arrange your meetings now via the matchmaking platform”. The Converve platform allows you to address such groups of people in a targeted way.
Telephone marketing geared at exhibitors or visitors
We recommend the targeted use of telephone marketing campaigns, in order to inform exhibitors or VIP visitor target groups about the matchmaking service and to conduct a quick phone tutorial. This also allows you to find out whether the stored contacts (e.g. stand constructor or marketing decision-maker) are really the right people for arranging matchmaking meetings, or whether a different company employee might be better suited for this (e.g. a sales representative).
Placing messages from sponsors
Based on certain criteria (e.g. foreign address, job title), you can deduce special needs the participants may have and then place targeted sponsoring messages – e.g. offering a VIP shuttle from the airport, hotel offers, or ads for the International Visitors Lounge.
Initial kick-off email
When addressing (potential) participants of a matchmaking platform for the first time, don’t bombard them. Reaching out to participants in a targeted way – ideally with a personal touch – promises more success than a scattergun approach.
Short and simple registration forms
Keep the registration forms as short as possible and don’t ask for too much information in the first step. A straightforward registration process is crucial for the customer experience. Collect the information required for matchmaking at a later point or have it generated via a social login.
Don’t use too many different platforms
Large trade fairs in particular often experience the phenomenon of a multitude of platforms and providers being involved in the process. One platform to register participation, another for CRM, and a further platform for the event website, plus one for email marketing, the event app, reporting… This increases the level of complexity and makes the exchange of data between systems more difficult.
Avoid the need for different passwords
In relation to this, we should also mention the password issue. Make things as easy as possible for your participants and avoid the requirement of several different passwords for your services. Always consider the customer’s point of view!
In an ideal case, the registration process for the event (ticketing) should be directly connected to the matchmaking service. If this isn’t possible, export the ticketing data and fill it into the matchmaking registration forms. This will make it easier for participants to register.
Less is more
In all your communication with the participants, consider how you can offer the best experience for your customers. What information do the participants really need? What can you leave out?
Communicate via the platform instead of just by email
The Converve platform also allows you to communicate with your participants. This means that all relevant information can always be found in one place and participants don’t need to spend ages searching for details. This makes participation much easier.
Use explanatory videos
Don’t presume that your participants know how everything works – instead, inform them about the advantages and the mechanisms of matchmaking. Here is an example of informative and emotional video communication:
Employ matchmaking managers
The first German trade fair organisation recently established the role of Matchmaking Manager (Reed Exhibitions Deutschland). This shows how important this issue is. Matchmaking is crucial for securing the future success of trade fairs and B2B events.
The Converve team has already supported 3,000 events in setting up and operating successful matchmaking platforms. Get in touch, so that we can discuss a suitable concept for your event!