2019 brings the promise of even more virtual event technology, tighter marketing budgets, and droves of content competing for your audience’s attention. Never before have event marketers had more obstacles to overcome in order to drive attendance, secure exhibitors and sponsors, and meet event objectives.
Our goal is to showcase event marketing strategies that work, and because EventMB has unparalleled access to research and insights about the best event marketing strategies, we have enriched this list with real case examples, visuals, tools, templates and more to equip you for ultimate event marketing success.
EventMB is the resource for sophisticated event organizers, so since you are here, we assume you are already familiar with the basic concepts of event marketing. But before we get started, just so we’re on the same page, here’s a definition:
What is event marketing?
Event marketing is the combined effort of activities taken to promote an event. Effective marketing creates a demand for your event through discovery and creating, and satisfying customer needs.
The key aims of event marketing are:
- letting more people know about your event
- getting people interested in finding out more information
- conveying how the event fills specific needs
- convincing people to attend
- creating a brand presence to attract sponsors, media and attendees to future events
- selling more tickets/increasing registrations
Table of Contents
Marketing Before the Event: Build Interest and Inspire Action
Successful events don’t happen by magic.
Most of them have a succinct marketing strategy with directed actions and planning for before, during, and after the event. While many event marketers believe word of mouth and social media will help ease their marketing responsibilities, those things don’t occur in a vacuum. They are cultivated and earned in very strategic ways.
Here’s how you can begin doing that for your event:
Event Marketing Ideas to Help You Define and Ensure Success
All good event marketing strategy begins with identifying goals and building specific objectives. In its simplest form that means identifying why you’re having an event. Are you trying to:
- launch a new product
- build a loyal customer base or brand ambassadors
- teach people how to more effectively use your product
- meet a learning need in your industry
- create an additional source of revenue
Once you’ve identified the “why” behind your event, you’ll select a few objectives that will help you shape your offerings and how you will market your event. Here are some examples of types of objectives you may have that are specific to event promotion and not to your event in general:
This is just a sampling of objectives but notice how specific and inherent to the aims of event marketing these objectives are. Event marketing objectives can be uncovered by looking at your event vitals. They may come from your attendees’ feedback, it may be your boss asking about them, it could be your desire for growth to inspire them.
You will find that most of the advice on event marketing strategy insists upon the importance of great objectives without providing any real event marketing objective examples. This article will tell AND show you how to create successful event marketing strategy.
Modern event marketing objectives should be tangible. The measurable part is simplistic. Measurement is not what it used to be 30 years ago, it has evolved. Instead of measurable we could say motivating. Motivational objectives are defined by a tangible end action. If you influence your prospects to take that action, you will have achieved your specific objective.
We will discuss how to move our audience through different actions to the one that really matters to us but, for now, remember that your event marketing objectives need to be:
- Relevant to the main event objective
Go Big or Go Home for a Successful Event Marketing Plan
Forget about the hindrances of realistic or achievable objectives.
We’ve analyzed events that had very unrealistic and not at all achievable marketing objectives and crushed them within minutes of releasing their tickets. If you are a strong marketing person, aim high. Especially with events, our task is not to throw a great party.
Our task is to change behavior, not move, educate, inspire, connect attendees. Realistic objectives translate into sad events.
Having said that, there is a difference between aiming high and being delusional. Avoid delusion by paying attention to basic event marketing dynamics. Once you take everything into account, you have to aim high.
IDEA 1 – Document Your Event Marketing Strategies
You may have heard a goal without a plan or strategy is just a wish. The next step in successful event marketing is documenting your strategy. Documenting your strategy serves you in several ways. It:
- let’s you see each angle and logical progression in writing
- ensures everyone knows the process and plan
- gives you something to fall back on to consult for event decisions
- helps you see and measure what is bolstering or impeding your success
Use our event marketing plan template to help design your event marketing strategy. Now let’s walk through the steps in developing your event marketing strategy:
Check out our 61 free event management templates bundle and use the event marketing templates to develop your strategy with the information provided in this guide.
IDEA 2 – Establish a Strong Event Budget
Budgets are critical to event success and while social media and word of mouth have allowed event planners to stretch their budgets, neither of these marketing components have made event marketing free. It still requires spending and for that, you need a budget. 81% of corporate event planners surveyed said that budgets were a top priority for the coming year with a majority (54%) also stating ROI as a priority.
Event Pro Tip
CMOs Need to Prove the ROI of Events
How do you measure whether or not an event was successful?
Do you measure the number of email addresses collected during the event?
Do you check increased website traffic or sales immediately following the event?
The challenge with measuring event ROI is that there are so many factors to consider, and no way to be 100 percent certain that a particular increase or decrease in a number can be wholly or partially attributed to an event, or if it is due to something else entirely. This is why collecting ROI data for events is going to become a multi-faceted job.
Marketing teams will post surveys, collect mobile app data, and use other methods to determine whether or not they have generated the results they wanted.
Take a look at this research that we’ve done:
Most event planners believed that event marketing budgets would remain the same in 2018. 21% are confident that budgets will rise. Growth in the industry is evident with 44% reportedly having more clients than 12 months ago. 43% say the number has remained the same and only 12% report having fewer clients. Over half (57%) of event planners agree that budgets will be one of their biggest challenges this year.
So how do you go about creating a good marketing budget that will set you up for success? Try our speedy online tool for creating a solid event budget. We’ve even included a section for event marketing.
5 Tips for Creating a Successful Event Marketing Budget
Use historical data.
If this event has happened before, take a look at past marketing budgeting data, attendance, and other essential numbers. This helps in setting objectives and coming up with a plausible budget.
Plug in must-have’s and luxuries.
Add in everything you need to market your event and then create an addendum with things you hope to afford.
No detail is too small when it comes to budgets. Don’t forget to incorporate things like social media ads. We all want to believe our stuff will go viral but most of the time it doesn’t happen.
Understand where to spend your money.
Saving money on a budget is extremely important but so is spending money on the right things. Look into trends and understand what your audience is expecting. Go where your audience is and don’t worry about where they aren’t just because a marketing guru suggested it.
Analyze what your audience is likely to respond to.
Does early bird pricing get them registered or (historically) does offering a referral discount sign more people? Knowing what marketing tricks are effective for your audience is critical to your success.
IDEA 3 – Measure Your Event Marketing Strategies
Now that you’ve created a strong marketing strategy, you’re only half done. You need to find out how effective it is. What is the ROI (return on investment) you are getting after investing all your resources and advertising budget into influencing an attendee to purchase a ticket?
Event professionals are great ‘doers,’ but what about putting a system in place for measurement?
So let’s get down to business. Here are some steps to measure your event:
- Choose your analytics platforms (website analytics, paid ad analytics, event management software, etc)
- Know all your vitals (email click-through rates, video views, engagement with video, ads CTR, page conversion rate, etc)
- Run tests (A/B)
- Analyze often
There used to be a time when guessing reach was common practice. Event planners and marketers guessed and then tried to correlate results to campaigns. Those times are now gone. Measurement is easy and optimization is essential to success.
IDEA 4 – Include Personas in Your Event Marketing Plan
Measuring success will also help deepen your audience knowledge but you can’t wait for measurements to begin understanding them.
Develop attendee, exhibitor, sponsor, etc. personas
The better you understand your audience, the better your events will be. One way to improve your communications is for your event to develop a number of personas, which represent your core attendees and stakeholders. This makes it easier to tailor your event marketing messages to them.
Personas are fictional characters depicting your key and most typical customers and partners. By creating each persona you bring to life their personal details, background, and struggles, helping to picture who you are talking to and refine messaging.
For example, you may develop detailed personas for:
Laura, 21, Marketing Assistant
- Starting out in the industry in her first entry level job
- A power social media user across all networks
- Instagram is her favorite channel and she checks it and posts several times a day
- She follows a number of vloggers on Youtube
- Laura has never attended an event before
- She is hungry to learn more so she can progress up the career ladder
Pete, 36, Marketing Director
- Pete has very little time and big targets to meet for his boss at a well respected corporation
- He checks in on LinkedIn a few times a month but otherwise he doesn’t spend too much time on social media, or uses it for personal contact
- He has attended the event three times before
- He is considering whether having an exhibition booth at the show or even whether sponsorship could be worthwhile this year
Rosa, 42, CEO
- Rosa is the founder of a fast growing start up
- She is active on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
- Rosa is keen to meet people to share details of her company
- She has worked in the industry for twenty years and is very experienced and passionate
- She has attended other industry events but not this one
- She might be interested in attending the event if the attendee list and networking opportunities are appealing
Brighton SEO, a popular marketing conference, was able to generate interest by directly targeting a highly influential audience with a desire to learn. Audience personas helped tailor event content to exactly what attendees wanted to learn. By doing that they were able to sell out in 10 minutes.
The Higher Education User’s Group (HEUG) wanted to leverage its online community to generate interest and sign-ups for its annual international conference. Using audience personas, HEUG was able to generate content and teasers leading up to the event that would appeal to community members thinking of attending.
For each persona, you should think about their motivations for attending the event, their fears, goals and pain points and what your event can give that will offer them true value. Also, consider where they usually hang out and, in the case of corporate events, if they make, influence or research the decision to attend.
The “characters” should be created from educated guesses based on data, but they should be driven by your objectives and marketing priorities. As you gather more data, the personas can develop and become more factual using information from event marketing software, survey data, website analytics, mobile apps, live response data, and other tools.
Sample questions to answer for your persona profiles:
- How do they consume content?
- What technology and social media do they use?
- When are they most likely to interact and how?
- Who are their key influencers?
Ready to get started? Of course you are!
Download our persona template and get to know your attendees better.
IDEA 5 – Use Surveys and Polls to Uncover the Best Event Marketing Ideas
Another way to get to know your attendees is to ask them what they want through polls and surveys. You can use polls to answer questions like:
- Preferred length of conference or preferred days (over a weekend or during a week)
- What social media platforms they are active on
- Preferred discount or way to register
In addition to using polls to provide attendees with more of what they want, you can use polls on social media to influence attendees and potential attendees to interact with your content so that they see more of it in their social stream.
Asking opinions also makes attendees feel valued.
IDEA 6 – Gather Digital Data from Your Event Marketing Tools
Audience analysis helps you speak the language of your ideal attendee and thus, sell more tickets. But it also helps you cut costs because by producing smaller, more targeted marketing campaigns, you increase your effectiveness and conversions, meaning you pay less for acquiring each attendee.
If you’re using event management software, apps, or other event tools, you can combine data from those with any of your website analytics to get some pretty powerful insights.
By reviewing the digital data about your audience, and analyzing their needs, desires, and pain points, you can create targeted campaigns addressing these things. In doing so, you are casting a smaller net, but one with better return.
IDEA 7 – Map Processes to Understand Your Audience’s Journey
Every item or service sold has a buying process. It’s likely your attendees in each of your personas has a way they consider and purchase tickets.
For instance, a younger person may read reviews and poll their tribe to find out who’s going or they may simply be assigned to go by a higher up. Knowing who makes that decision, what goes into it, the length of time it takes, and what drives the final outcome is important to your event marketing process.
You can better understand the buyer’s journey by mapping the process visually. Here’s how:
PROCESS MAPPING IS A VISUAL EXERCISE TO BETTER UNDERSTAND A FLOW OF WORK.
Process mapping can be a useful exercise to lay out the attendee or stakeholder journey and identify key elements and crossroads throughout. Process mapping can help to crystallize how to influence specific outcomes and develop the strategy behind what you want to achieve.
This exercise will also identify where potential tools can be used and their primary purpose. You want different channels to be used effectively and in different ways, rather than broadcasting the same message with a broad brush approach across all platforms. The purpose of each channel can then be refined.An Example of Event Process Mapping
IDEA 8 – Attract More Sponsors Greater Event Marketing Budget Flexibility
In addition to attendees, you’ll use marketing to attract sponsors to your event. This is another key reason why event data analysis is important. Your sponsors will want to know who they’ll reach at your event. You’ll want to:
- Provide info on your attendees. Grab those marketing personas as well as all data you’ve collected.
- Create a flawless sponsorship proposal.
- Be clear about deliverables and the data they can expect as well as when. To be competitive, you’ll want to ensure they receive data they can act on. Providing it (only) a few weeks after the event is over isn’t helpful. Giving them real-time information can make your event one of their preferred.
- Ensure you approach the decision maker and target that person with all sponsorship-directed marketing.
Worried you’ll forget something?
This 10-step event sponsorship checklist outlines the essentials needed for a successful event sponsorship agreement.Event Sponsorship Checklist
Event Pro Tip
Always put the promotional spotlight on sponsors as well as your strategic partners. Once they see you are advocating them, ask for reciprocation if they don’t automatically do it in return. It never hurts to ask, the worst the can say is no. And sometimes, asking is the push they need. Your partners can serve as advocates that will help double your promotional reach.
IDEA 9 – Market to Exhibitors Who Align With Your Event
Now that you have sponsorships taken care of, don’t forget about your exhibitors.
Like sponsors, with exhibitors it all comes down to the ROI of event attendance. You need to do more than attract their ideal demographic. They want access to decision makers within that demographic who are in the market for their product or service.
We’ve already pulled together 100 of the best ideas for trade show booths to help guide you along.
Here are a few easy ways to get them interested:
- Show them past data for exhibitors who offer similar services, are the same size, or in the same industry. Historical data is a good predictor of future success. This includes showing return on investment and outcomes whenever possible.
- Name drop about their competition. If a competitor of theirs is an exhibitor tell them.
- Show off the tech you use to measure traffic, sales, networking exchanges, and meetings. Knowing they have access to real-time heat maps and other tech may help them make up their mind.
- Build in exclusivity. Explain how location selections are made and the benefit of renewing year after year. Don’t talk about plenty of time to make decisions. Instead, focus on scarcity and exclusivity to drive a decision.
- Show them testimonials from other exhibitors.
- Share creative ways you’ve ensured exhibitors get in front of the decision makers and crowd. Create content that will help them land more sales. Creating an exhibitor toolkit shows you care about and understand their needs.
- Select a site exhibitors enjoy or want to attend. Use a venue that is exhibitor-friendly, not one that requires over the top setup fees and small windows of set up and tear down.
- Do your research to understand exactly what they’re looking for in an event. Incorporate that in your approach. If you have other events that may suit them as well, suggest them.
IDEA 10 – Expand Your Event Marketing Reach with Influencers
While only a quarter of event planners in our research said they plan to invest in influencer marketing, it is still one of the fastest growing tactics for online marketers.
A third said that they would not be investing in influencer marketing. Over 40% didn’t know if they would be investing or not, possibly indicating that the eventprofs are not yet familiar enough with influencers as a marketing tool.
If you can identify a genuine affinity between an influencer and your event, it can be a powerful combination in terms of marketing your event more widely, if they are keen to work with you.
Ensure that influencers have the freedom to create authentic content. It is tempting to be prescriptive and dictate the messaging, imagery and output that you want influencers to use but this can be a turnoff for their followers.
Listen to their advice and thoughts on what will resonate best with their audience and be willing to take a risk on what they suggest.
Instead of working with one celebrity name with hundreds of thousands of followers, it can be more cost-effective to work with a number of hyper-targeted influencers with thousands or tens of thousands of followers instead.
The audiences of micro-influencers can be more focused on niche interests, meaning that the ratio and interaction can actually be greater and more effective, offering a scalable way to combine influence and authenticity.
It can also suit event marketers who are looking to pay for the experience, instead of paying for endorsement.
How to Request Popular Bloggers and Influencers Write About Your Event
If you don’t have the time to write blog posts on your own or you’re looking for more media coverage, another way to take advantage of blogging is to get popular bloggers to blog about your event.
This is similar to guest blogging, except you won’t be writing the post. It comes with numerous benefits, including that it can save you time and money since the blogger is doing most of the promotional work for you once you work out your agreement.
Contact bloggers in your niche and let them know about your upcoming event. Kindly ask them if it’s something they’d be interested in covering on their blog.
There may be times when you have to pay for a sponsorship, but that’s not always the case. To entice more bloggers to write about your organization, invite them to your event.
If you know of bloggers who have attended your event in the past, or who are planning to attend this time, get in contact with them. They’re clearly already interested in your event, and chances are their friends and followers will be, too. You might offer an incentive, such as free admission, to convince bloggers to cover your event.
Keep these tips in mind when contacting bloggers:
Don’t send a press release without an invite to the event; it’s rude.
In fact, don’t send a press release at all. Personalize your pitch, and bloggers will be much more likely to respond.
Remember that media coverage isn’t a right, it’s a privilege. Build a relationship with attending bloggers for a better chance of earning coverage. For example, subscribe to their blog and social channels, and comment on their blog posts leading up to the event and long after, especially if you plan on inviting them back next year.
Keep in mind, however, that inviting bloggers to your event does not guarantee positive reviews or live coverage, but it can still lead to cost-effective marketing, exposure to new audiences, and a boost in brand awareness.
IDEA 11 – Attract the Ideal Crowd With the Right Event Venue Selection
Your venue selection can be an integral part of your draw and your marketing. There’s tons of content that can be leveraged about your host city and your venue. We’ve compiled a list of 350 awesome venues for your next event.
Drawing an audience using venue selection as a marketing strategy
Understand your venue’s unique selling proposition.
What makes them different than anywhere else? Is there an intriguing history? A captivating work of art or architecture? An award-winning menu? Play this up as part of your marketing.
Market the physical and emotional benefits of your location.
People make decisions based on emotions. Romance them.
Use your venue’s brand.
What’s its claim to fame? What does it do better than anywhere else? How does it tie in with your event mission or your brand? Talk about those connections using the language you use to sell your event. For instance, if you use “family-friendly” to describe your event because that’s what your audience is looking for, make sure you point out all of the things about your venue that ties into that concept. Connect those dots for your audience.
Use marketing channels that flatter your venue.
If you have a gorgeous venue, post lots of pictures.
Talk to your venue about their marketing resources.
A partner relationship can increase your content and marketing collaterals. Which brings us to…
Venue promotion ideas and co-marketing the event
Your venue courted you to bring your event to its spot. They have a lot of marketing resources. Some of those things include content like blog posts, videos, and articles on their venue and the surrounding area.
They may also have technology that affected your venue selection that could be easily levied for marketing purposes such as digital signage, venue web presence, social media channels, etc.
Along those lines, don’t forget to leverage destination marketing resources like that of the convention and visitors bureaus. They have content and resources you may not have thought of. They can also plug you into the local community to increase your reach.
When leveraging your venue and convention bureau, remember there’s no reason to approach this as if you were asking them for a favor. This is a partnership. A successful event for you benefits them and the community as well. Leverage and create a mutually beneficial relationship from which to build now and in the future.
IDEA 12 – Play Up Your Programming in Your Event Marketing
Programming also plays a big role in your marketing. If you embrace programming trends such as virtual or augmented reality, you have a unique value proposition when it comes to marketing your event. Look for ways to stand out in:
One popular trend is creating an ethos of caring. For example, programming that addresses the challenges and opportunities from a local perspective. Sessions about solutions to such challenges (e.g. lack of clean water) lead by local entrepreneurs, can show accomplishments and explore assistance opportunities.
Bringing in a speaker that people are interested in can expand your event reach as some speakers have fans who come to see them. Also, bringing in local experts can add a unique flavor to your event that attendees can’t find elsewhere.
Drive interest through exclusivity. Not only through exclusive invitations but VIP programming and options. The latest use of exclusivity can be seen in creating roped-off communities and enveloping the attendee in complete seclusion at your event.
Interaction was the buzzword just a few short years ago and it’s still very important in programming. But the learning experience is now much more than just feedback from the audience. Try a popular presentation format like roundtable discussion where attendees get to know one another and learn from experience in actionable ways.
Trade show elements.
Create a memorable trade show and event experience. Projection mapping, interactive exhibits, LED content walls, and augmented reality can all help produce something unexpected.
Now let’s talk about digital marketing and other social forms of marketing. Before you continue, check out these quick ways to improve your event marketing.
IDEA 13 – Optimize Your Event Website for Greater Conversions
There are a lot of working components involved in your event website or landing page.
Keep in mind you’ll want to optimize your content for search engines so that it can be found easily. But even with perfectly optimized content, you’ll need to use paid ads to ensure your content is seen.
A good event website is:
- search engine optimized
- designed with the user in mind (both desktop and mobile)
- includes good site content from a human perspective
- enables social sharing
Easy Event Site SEO Tips
SEO (or search engine optimization) is always evolving. It’s an area you need to be reading and learning about all of the time. But there are a few basic tips and best practices that you should be implementing now. They include:
- Placing your event name, your primary keyword that is important to your event, and the city in the website’s title tag.
- Adding the event name and primary keyword to an H1 (header one). For instance, if your header reads “Come Join Us!”, you might consider rewriting it to read, “Come Join Us at <Name of Event>, the best event for <Keyword>.
- Adding the address of your event and a Google map.
If you don’t know what keyword to use for your event, try playing around with Google’s Keyword Planner or Moz’s Keyword Explorer. If you haven’t spent any time using these planning tools, you may be surprised how different words have radically different search traffic. For instance, at the time this was written, “story telling for kids” yielded 12,100 searches while “story telling for children” brought in only 3,600. Know how your audience is searching for what you offer because the difference between two similar words can be extraordinary.
Remember too, all of this event marketing strategy works together to influence your search engine rankings. Even social media mentions can indirectly influence SEO rankings.
IDEA 14 – Create Content as the Cornerstone for Your Event Marketing Campaign
Content marketing takes time because it is centered on relationship building and gaining the know, like, and trust of attendees. You can create the content yourself or pay someone to do it, but either way, it’s going to take some resources.
If you invest the time in creating content for your ideal attendee, it will get you noticed and people will want to learn more about your event.
However, content marketing is an ongoing undertaking. You need to build those relationships between events to keep them going strong.
If you want to create useful pieces for your ideal attendee, that help in building the relationship between your event and those who enjoy it, content marketing is a very powerful tool.
Event Pro Tip
Whether your event is new or old, starting a blog that puts the focus on the purpose, goals, and educational aspects behind your event can prove to be very beneficial. It will also boost organic search results around your event and give you content to promote via your social networks. Tap into your industry network or local community to enlist guest bloggers. Bonus: They will likely share their content on social media.
Set a pre-event blog schedule to improve efficiency
In addition to creating good content, setting a pre-event blog schedule and editorial calendar can help you master the content resource. Set it up just as you would any event planning calendar tool but instead of event planning tasks, you’ll plot out posts and content.
It helps ensure you have a nice strong mix and allows you to see what your audience is responding to. It’s also a good way to test the success of posting different types of content and testing the send schedule.
Event Pro Tip
If your event is featuring guest speakers, focus on their session’s outline to create promotional content for your event. This creates intrigue, interest and may speak to your guests’ needs.
Encourage speakers, sponsors and more to contribute/share for quality content
You don’t have to, nor should you, create all of the content by yourself. Speakers and presenters often have content they can contribute, whether it be original or a repost tailored to your audience.
Sponsors could be tapped to post as well as exhibitors.
You can get content from the visitor’s bureau or a local celebrity or leader.
And be sure to lean on different members of the planning team for event content.
Event Pro Tip
Remember content on your blog needn’t just be words. You can do videos, use infographics, pictures, memes, and image quotes.
IDEA 15 – Enable Social Sharing for Greater Reach and Interest
Social sharing is a must for word-of-mouth marketing. The easiest way to do this is to add social sharing buttons to your blog content.
For sharing to be successful, you want to make it as frictionless as possible. If it’s hard, people won’t do it.
In addition to ease, there are a couple of other tips that will help you increase social shares. You should:
- Ask for them. If you want someone to share something, simply ask them to.
- Add a plugin that allows for easy pre-populated tweets or use ‘Click to Tweet’ to make it easy for content to be tweeted.
- Create content that evokes an emotional response: inspire, entertain, educate.
- Use evocative images and add a subtle watermark for your event. If they share them, people will know where they originated.
- Use gamification or other incentives to get people to share.
Event Pro Tip
Tap into your past attendees, your raving fans, and highlight their testimonies to showcase how worthwhile your conference or event is to attend. If your registration numbers are substantial, add a counter button to your site as people register, so the proof is in ink.
IDEA 16 – Use Paid Ads for Wise Event Marketing Budget Spending
Only a few years ago, you could post as much as you wanted and your posts would be seen by everyone who followed you.
Those days are long gone.
Today, the savvy event marketer understands they have to use paid ads.
Paid ads function slightly differently on every platform so take the time to learn the individual nuances for each tool. However, they do have a few things in common as well as some best practices that work regardless of platform:
Target your audience for cost savings.
Take the time to get to know how to use the targeting filters for each platform. Most social media platforms will allow you to send an ad to everyone but it’s not effective for most event planners since “everyone” is not likely your target audience. Target people through advertising that meet your ideal demographic. Some ad platforms will let you drill down to some very fine minutiae.
Learn about Facebook’s pixel.
This easy to install code helps you better understand and build your audience.
Place your ads on websites your ideal audience frequents often.
Use retargeting ads for people who have been to your site and leave without purchasing a ticket.
Place your ads on websites that share the same keywords as you are using for your event.
Target people in your event location.
If travel costs are minimal, your event will be even more attractive to the first-time attendee.
Research the ads that get clicked on the most.
For Facebook, these are ads that don’t look like ads. Your design has a lot to do with whether people will click or not.
Use a clear call to action.
Be sure someone looking at your ad knows exactly what’s expected of them. You have their attention now tell them what you want them to do.
Make your ad visually appealing and ensure it stands out.
You want to drive clicks. You won’t do that with a few bland sentences.
Use the analytics tools on the platform to see what’s working and what isn’t. Adjust accordingly.
Social media offers a fantastic opportunity to test and measure the success of your message to see what resonates the best. By using this A/B testing approach on your social media channels you have a low-cost opportunity for experimentation and nothing to lose.
IDEA 17 – Put Social Media to Work in Your Event Marketing Process
According to our study, 73% of event planners believe social media to be the most effective tool for marketing events.
With regards to social networks, Facebook is the most popular (88% reportedly use the platform). Over half (52%) agree that Facebook is the most effective social media platform for promoting events. LinkedIn is the second most effective social media channel (26%).
Event Pro Tip
Registration platforms that allow sign up by connecting a social network can save time for the registrant and often pull richer data such as bios, pictures and mutual connections between attendees. It can also encourage better social media sharing.
Now how do you use social media as part of your event marketing strategy?
Here are several things you need to know about successful social media marketing.
Social Media Best Practices to Start Using for All of Your Events
Don’t be salesy.
Never use social media just to push out sales messages. It’s not an effective strategy. Instead, work on sharing interesting and relevant content and building up your following organically through conversations and interactions. A few easy tweaks to your social media can create an impact and help transform your social media communication.
Optimize your social media account bios.
Social media account profiles are often outdated and not being used in the most effective way. Here are some ways to improve the descriptions of the most popular social networks:
- Facebook page name, short description, number of likes, as well as the number of people talking about the page. Take advantage of all of the opportunities found in the “About” section to fill in information about your brand, adding a list of links to other channels and keywords to support your branding efforts.
- Use the one clickable link you are allowed in your Instagram bio description to enable your audience to pursue your call-to-action and update it regularly.
- With just 160 characters in your Twitter bio, make the most use of hashtags, emojis, and consider using a URL in addition to the hyperlink below your bio.
Prepare snippets of regularly used links and hashtags in the notes app on your phone and in a document easily available on any computer. Ensure you can access regularly used pieces of content and images from a folder too (logos, headshots, websites, mission statement, etc.).
Add a call to action to your social media images.
Make the most of all images to maximize the call to action. Also look for CTA buttons built into some social media networks, like Facebook, to try some creative designs to highlight the action you want your audience to take.
Encourage colleagues and employees to connect with your brand on social media.
Encourage people to connect with your brand and share your content by making it easy to do so. Provide links and empower them with information so they can help you. Not everyone will participate, but you’ll have more help when you ask for it than if you never do.
Create relevant video content quickly.
Video content has the ability to capture your audience’s attention and inspire sharing, which is great if your goal is to expand your reach. 70% of marketing professionals report that video converts better than any other medium. There are several inexpensive apps available on the market that can help you create unique and entertaining video elements for your social media channels on the fly.
Vary the types of content you post (and when).
There is no excuse for doing the same kind of content over and over again. Use different content formats, like video or slideshow, to see what kind of content your audience responds to best. Vary content lengths and times to test out which work best for your audience. Challenge your assumptions, make educated guesses and track the results so you can continuously tailor your strategy to its most effective point.
Make sure you create targeted content for a specific group. A well-crafted message to a small, but specific group of people has the power to do more than mass mailings. Test sending out targeted messages to a select group, tracking the percentage of engagement that comes from that small message and comparing to bulk messages. One option to test this out is to use an Instagram direct message to deliver a 15-second video with an invitation to your next event to a group of up to 15 people. You might also want to try creating highly targeted audiences on Facebook and then choosing to send a message only to that group.
Beware of automated posts.
We all know the dangers of automated posts. Pre-planned messages created a couple of days earlier can seem wildly inappropriate when the unexpected happens. Be ready to react and pause your scheduled content.
Up the fun factor.
To resonate with your intended audience you need to be a native and that means speaking their language. The inclusion of .gifs, memes, and emoji in marketing messages have taken off in a way that no one would have expected. Central to the best uses of all these new “languages” is emotion and, in particular, humor. Don’t be afraid to be funny on social media, your website copy, and in your email subject lines.
Want a few more social media tips? Don’t forget our Social Media for Events Guide.
Need help documenting your social media strategy? We have social media event marketing strategy templates for that.
IDEA 18 – Use Live Video/Live Stream in Your Online Event Marketing Plan
Live streaming has gone mainstream and everyone finally has the technology to do it themselves.
Social media has embraced live streaming as its future and all of the online giants have developed their own live streaming applications for mobile devices and continue to make it their priority.
Live streaming is ideal for capturing the moment and can be used for behind-the-scenes glimpses of pre-conference activities, how-to’s, quick interviews, live demos, and breaking news.
These are some of the platforms available for social media live streaming:
If you are looking for the largest audience possible, Facebook Live is the answer. Broadcasting on Facebook Live means all those who used to see your posts are much more likely to once again so it is a great way to bring back and revitalize your Facebook page
Facebook is in a bit of competition with itself as it rolled out its latest update of Instagram which included a live streaming service called Instagram Live. Instagram is the most pared down of any of the big three mobile streaming services available right now. Where it succeeds is in the same place as its main competition, Snapchat – with FOMO (fear of missing out).
YouTube has been in the professional live streaming business for years. Now though, live streaming is available to all. YouTube Live videos can be posted on all platforms that allow embedding and will have a much deeper archival value because of optimized search engine discoverability. If you are less concerned with capturing the attention of those online and back and forth engagement at the same time as your live broadcast, YouTube’s live streaming options might be the best of the best.
Video is one of the best ways to market events and engage attendees. It’s fairly inexpensive to create and yet it gets noticed and shared.
66% of event planners and marketers are already using video as part of their marketing strategy. Are you?
IDEA 19 – Streamline the Registration Page for Fewer Abandoned Carts
One area you might not consider when thinking about your event marketing strategy is the registration page, but it is critical to user experience.
If a potential attendee reaches your event registration page you want to ensure they complete the process and don’t abandon their booking. That’s where good event marketing practices come in.
10 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR EVENT REGISTRATIONS LOVE YOU WITH A BETTER USER EXPERIENCE
Your guests want a smooth registration process. If you don’t give it to them, they’ll go elsewhere or nowhere at all.
- Give them all the information they need to make a decision about your event in a concise manner.
- Auto-populate forms.
- Allow for multiple registrations at once with auto-population. This is extremely helpful to the assistant registering multiple execs.
- Test the speed of your website. No one wants to wait for loading.
- Enable easy social sharing so that registrants can share that they’re going to your event.
- Offer a variety of payment options.
- Provide guidance and pop-up help boxes.
- Enable a chat feature if people have questions. Remember, ticket purchases are emotional buys. If you make them wait for an answer, they may decide against attending.
- Avoid using Captcha. People hate those.
- Ensure the best in cyber security in your registration and protect your data. If necessary, let people know how their information is being used. For instance, if you’re using facial recognition make sure they know what you’re using it for and how it is stored.
IDEA 20 – Select an Event App That Helps with Marketing
Your event app also plays a role in your marketing as many of them now facilitate the process. They can help you build community and stay in the forefront of attendees’ minds.
Key features to consider in selecting an event app that will help you improve your marketing efficiencies are:
- Messaging and chat capabilities
- Social feed and connections to improve social sharing
- Leaderboards and custom achievements
- RFID integration to show who’s nearby and improve interaction
- Customizable branding
- Reporting and ROI analytics
Event apps have evolved into engagement engines, enabling real-time networking facilitated by beacon technology. This means richer networking experiences for your attendees and ways in which monetize them. Check out these ways to make money with your event app.
Trend Alert: Eventtech Offers New Event Marketing Opportunities
Take a minute to consider the apps you have installed on your smartphone. Chances are, you use at least some of them for productivity, organization, and collaboration.
Have you ever considered how you could use any of these existing apps to help you market events?
Mobile event apps are apps that are created to make the event experience even better for people who are attending. However, the opportunity to use technology to create great event experiences isn’t limited to apps.
Interactive technology and virtual reality are just two bits of technology that will have a big impact on events now and into the future.
We will continue to see how apps like Snapchat will be used in event marketing. It would seem as if this app could be extremely important when it comes to providing a behind the scenes look at the event, or for creating more engagement in the event.
It will be more interesting to see what further advances come out of AI, facial recognition, and augmented reality in the near future as they continue to evolve and are adopted on a wider level.
IDEA 21 – Set the Right Price for More Event Sales
Pricing plays a big role in someone deciding to attend your event. Your pricing can become more attractive, and thus influence ticket purchases, through a variety of pricing strategies.
EARLY BIRD PRICING. Time-limited offers reign supreme, with early bird rates being the most effective tactic for selling tickets and increasing registration. Almost a quarter of the event profs we surveyed stated that discount codes are their most effective tactic.
However, if you choose to use an early bird rate never extend it. This devalues your event and encourages waiting to buy. The entire reason to use an early bird rate is to drive purchase. If buyers see you extending it, you’re conditioning them to wait.
PENALTIES. Instead of the expected early bird booking rate, some event planners are using reverse psychology. By having standard tickets and a “late booking ticket rate” it can start to change people’s approach to buying at the last minute as no one wants to incur a perceived penalty rate.
LIMITS. Others don’t set deadlines when the ticket prices will increase, instead, they have a limited number of tickets available at each pricing bracket, the price of which increases as each block sells out. This drives a sense of urgency and is more likely to encourage action on behalf of the attendee.
PREMIUM TICKETS . Offer a VIP or premium ticket. Even if you don’t expect to sell many premium tickets, having a more expensive ticket type available is a great psychological trick to make the other tickets look more attractive and drive demand for event tickets overall.
If you’re interested in additional pricing strategies, check out our event pricing strategy guide.
IDEA 22 – Master Email Marketing to Stay Top of Mind
Email is not dead!
In fact, email marketing is one of the most popular methods event planners use to communicate.
However, overflowing inboxes and spam filters mean that only a fraction of emails are opened, let alone read or clicked on.
With a few tweaks and changes, you’ll be able to achieve much more from your email campaigns.
START BUILDING YOUR LIST NOW
As soon as you decide to host an event, get up a holding page with an email capture form to start collecting the details of interested potential attendees. The rate of email sign-ups can help you to decide whether to host the event in the first place.
WRITE TO AN ACTUAL PERSON
Use the personas you developed (as explained earlier in this post) to guide your writing and ensure your message is optimized for the target audience. If you imagine marketing to a real person it can help you nail the messaging for greater success.
KEEP IT SHORT
Keep your email focused and short so it isn’t too overbearing. If necessary, split it into several smaller emails to make it more punchy, and enable a more specific subject line.
SIMPLIFY YOUR TEMPLATE DESIGN
A simple email design template is more likely to pass spam filters, it will save time testing across different email clients and work better on mobile. You want it to appear exactly as you designed it to look.
A huge percentage of your audience will check their email from their smartphone. Make sure your email design is responsive and test it. This includes having enough white space to make it easy to open hyperlinks from a mobile device.
TEST DIFFERENT SUBJECT LINES
Most people decide whether your email gets opened based on the “from” and the subject line so you should spend as much time creating the subject line as you do on the content of the email, trying out two or three variations. Most email marketing technologies will allow you to test a number of different elements on a small segment, and then implement the best performing results to send to the rest of your list.
CLEAN YOUR LISTS
Emails go out of date fast so be sure to purge your lists regularly, otherwise, it could affect your send success rate. Also, ensure that you don’t send blanket ‘register now’ emails to people that have already booked their place. This only causes confusion. It is especially important that you comply fully with GDPR.
DON’T OVERLOAD PEOPLE
You can normally judge which events are struggling based on how frequent their emails get in the last couple of weeks before the event. Check and coordinate the emails being sent out to your list, especially within larger teams.
USE YOUR EMAIL DATA TO DO MORE
Create a script that adds anyone who subscribes to your mailing list to your CRM. You could even automatically pull in their job title from LinkedIn too.
Timing your email is important to get it opened. The email won’t drive conversions if no one even opens it. Hopefully, this isn’t the first email you’re creating for this group. If you have some historical data about open rates and time sent, review it before you decide when to send it.
ONE IS NOT DONE
Do you know the phrase, “One and done”? That is never the case with email marketing. In email marketing, you are creating an impression. While you don’t want to be bothersome, view your emails as part of a multi-touch campaign. Don’t just send one email and be done with it. Follow up.
As well as your subject line, take the time to do some A/B testing on your email templates, phrasing, button placement, color, and links. Anything that required a choice on your part, from words to design, will either drive action or suspend it.
EFFECTIVE CALL TO ACTION (CTA)
An event email’s call to action is most common “register now” but if you’re doing a series and a marketing campaign it may be “learn more.” You can use different words to spark interest such as “Join us in Palm Springs” or a register now button that reads, “You bet I’ll be there.” Get creative and see which CTAs bring the best results.
Brighton SEO launched tickets with a bang following a long build up on social media and email marketing channels. They wanted to make sure if you were a potential attendee of their event and online on Monday at 10am there was no way you wouldn’t know about it.
IDEA 23 – Use Print to Ensure All Event Audience Needs Are Met
In today’s hectic world with everyone desiring information yesterday, it’s hard to believe that print is hanging on but it is. it’s really popular with some audiences.
Before you spend a large amount on print collateral, understand whether your audience likes print or prefers a treeless approach.
Depending on your budget, you can create your own design using one of the easy-to-use applications and websites, buy one from a designer or brief a design professional.
Whatever you decide, your flyer should fit the tone of your event and attract your ideal attendee.
Here are some pointers to keep in mind.
- Give people a focal point. Clean flyers are more appealing. Avoid the clutter.
- Craft a clear call to action.
- Use a color palette that is pleasing to look at, otherwise, you may turn them off before they even figure out what your event is about.
- Make your message clear. If they can’t tell it’s an event flyer, they won’t know how to RSVP or register.
- Include social media sharing details or a QR code (and options for easy sharing in the electronic version of your flyer/e-flyer).
- Use versions of your flyer as your social media profile covers.
- Consider that in this digital world, printed information can sometimes be more effective and less likely to get buried. Nowadays receiving something exciting through the mail is a novelty.
- Experiment with size, texture, weight, cut out elements and gloss or matt effects.
There’s no reason to create your event invitations from scratch. We have you covered with event flyer and invitation templates. But just in case you do want to create your own and need inspiration, check out these 100 awesome examples.
IDEA 24 – Build Hype to Boost Event Ticket Sales
Marketing is about getting the event name out there and getting people excited about attending. Now that you’ve used some of these other strategies and tactics to get people to know more about your event, you want to get them excited about it. You can do this with the following methods.
MICRO-EXPERIENCES BEFORE THE EVENT
You can use experiential marketing to get people talking about your upcoming event. Micro-experiences, like creating a dancing flashmob, provide an inexpensive way to get attention.
There are a lot of overlaps between marketing and advertising. If you’re unclear on how to use advertising effectively for your event or you just want some examples of amazing event advertising, read Event Advertising: 92 Examples to Inspire You.
Webinars can be an ideal way to drum up interest in your event. You can interview a speaker who will be attending, cover a topic that you’ll cover more in-depth during your event, host a roundtable discussion on a topic of interest, or feature an open forum where you allow audience members to ask anything they want. You can also cover unique topics such as speaking to the executive chef of your venue or the technology vendor on interesting ways to get the most out of your event app. Remember to save the webinar so people who couldn’t join you live can still get value from it later.
44% of the US population has listened to podcasts. They’re extremely popular for those on long commutes, those who exercise, or want to multitask while performing a physical activity. Just like in a webinar, you can interview all sorts of people affiliated with your event. Don’t forget to do a podcast for those who are on their way to attending. It’s a nice pre-welcome they’ll remember.
Event promotions are often lumped in with swag, and while promotions can be swag, there are other things event planners can use to promote their events. For instance, there are “bring a friend” promotions, animal ambassador or mascot promotions, celebrity endorsements and much more. Best of all, they needn’t cost a lot. There are so many cheap event promotion ideas that we’ve compiled a list of our favorite 100.
NOTIFYING MEDIA AND INDUSTRY PUBLICATIONS
Notifying the media and industry publications is a good way to get some PR. When you do, provide them with a reason as to why your event is newsworthy. For instance, don’t just tell them your association is hosting a meeting downtown. Tell them it’s the biggest gathering of such-and-such professionals in the US and the world-renowned speaker is coming out of retirement to speak to this special group. If you have a local connection, mention that too. If their focus is industry, tie that together for them. Finally, look to establish a relationship with the reporter. They’ll be more likely to cover your ideas and contact you for more details.
The media isn’t the only group you should be building relationships with. There are event marketing and PR agencies that you can hire for additional help. There are also common services that are essential to events. Look to build relationships with photo and video partners, for instance. They will help you convey your professional image. Finally, affiliate partners can help you sell tickets. In those arrangements, you provide a commission or portion of each ticket price to them for spreading the word to their tribe.
Now that we talked about all the preliminary event marketing you can do to achieve tangible results, let’s cover the activities you should be doing during the event.
Marketing During the Event: Amplify Attendee Engagement and Sponsor/Exhibitor Satisfaction
If preliminary event marketing is about getting people to know, like, and trust you, marketing during the event is all about a people focus: focusing on attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors.
Event Marketing Ideas to Engage and Satisfy Your Audiences
IDEA 25 – Create an Immersive Atmosphere for Greater Impression
Events are a great escape.
Even professional meetings or corporate events get attendees out of the office atmosphere and into an environment that likely different than their job. This is a good thing.
You can further create an indelible experience by playing up that immersive atmosphere. The idea is to make them feel like they’ve entered a world of possibilities that is engulfed in our event branding.
Experiential marketing combines a cool marketing campaign with a heightened, often thrilling, experience. Advertisers and marketers used to tell customers how products and services would make them feel. Now, they’re showing them and sometimes on a grand, outrageous scale.
Studies have shown that events make people more likely to buy. Even at exorbitant, one-time costs, these ventures often pay off because they create an indelible impression and skyrocket engagement.
Experiential marketing immerses participants in a world like none other. Check out this example from Mattel’s Barbie, which transformed an ordinary bus stop into Barbie’s world.
How about a scary immersive experience? Large conferences like South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas are bastions of experiential marketing so competition is steep to stand out. But A&E’s the Bates Motel (a television show prequel to the movie Psycho) is in a class of its own. A&E built a fully operational replica of the Bates Motel. Guests could stay, enjoy all the hospitality of a traditional roadside motel, and some not-so-traditional “fun,” creating a night to remember. Doubtful many guests showered that evening.
Want additional experiential marketing ideas for your event? Read our article featuring 100 Inspiring Examples of Experiential Marketing.
TREND ALERT: Experience Is No Longer a Buzzword
Speaking of experience, if you’ve ever rolled your eyes at somebody who used the word experience where you have always used the word event, you are not alone. When new terms become popular in marketing, it’s natural to be a bit skeptical. After all, how many words and phrases are popular for a few months and then disappear? Well, it turns out that replacing the word event with experience many not be a bad idea after all. It certainly isn’t worthy of ridicule. Events today are more than what happens when they occur. Thanks to social media and other technologies, communities form around events that create engagement before, during, and after the event.
For examples of this, consider events that cater to sci-fi, anime, and comic book audiences. Not only do people form online communities as a result of these events, they often meet in person and hold supplementary events throughout the year.
Check out our 2019 event trend report for more of what’s on the horizon.
IDEA 26 – Include Digital Signage in Your Event Marketing Plan
Nothing welcomes a group to its own oasis of fun quite the way personalized digital signage does.
Sure, there’s venue signage but don’t forget other places to reach your attendees such as hotel marquis and airport welcome signs.
If your event is large enough, you may even be able to persuade local businesses with signs to welcome your group. The Visitors and Convention Bureau in your host city should be able to help.
IDEA 27 – Impress Guests with Welcome Kits and Personalized Communication
Welcome kits and personalized communication make guests feel at home immediately. This can include a swag bag, snacks, local maps and recommendations, home conveniences and things they may have forgotten (like toothpaste), and additional comforts like slippers or a sleep mask.
Another nice idea is discounted coupons to hotel offerings and local points of interest. You can even use this as a sponsorship opportunity so it doesn’t come out of your marketing budget.
Speaking of sponsorships…hotel room sponsor deliveries make a big impression.
Make arrangements for something special to arrive at their doorstep. Healthy snack, a wine and cheese tray, beanie hats for a sudden change in the weather, or any other delivery that would meet a need or quench a desire adds a nice touch.
If it’s really beautiful, you’ll also likely get a few social shares of photos so make sure you include a hashtag on your card.
IDEA 28 – Make a Great Impression With Your Event Environment
The event environment and stage design play a big role in setting the scene. An impressive event environment gives your attendees great reason to take pictures and share them on social media, putting them to work as event marketers for you.
Be very cognizant of what impression you’re making at all times, especially in the beginning. Opening doors to congregate before the “magic” is ready is not advisable. Have everything in place first. Look to make a big impression.
If you have the budget, projection mapping can transform any space without hours of physical setup and teardown.
We collected 131 brilliant stage design ideas for 2019 if you are in need of some thought starters.
Finally, don’t lose your audience with bad flow. Your exhibition flow is essential to a good experience. Think about and monitor traffic and footfalls to make sure you do your best to break down log jams. Beacon technology can help with real-time insights.
Capitalize on Content Opportunities
An event is rich in content. Used correctly, you have social media posts for months.
In addition to covering all of the exciting things going on at your event, don’t forget about the content that can be derived from sources like slideshares and other presentations. If speakers have handouts, create a central repository for them.
If possible, make recordings of presentations available before you get home so eager attendees can enjoy them later in their room or catch up on sessions they couldn’t make while they still have time to talk about them with one another.
IDEA 29 – Include Live Streams in Your Event Marketing Mix
Event planners are doing some really exciting things with live streams.
Some are broadcasting all of their event presentations as part of a virtual ticket.
Others are providing portions of the sessions for free to entice people to join them next year.
Some planners are live streaming guests arriving, evening festivities, interviews with sponsors or exhibitors, and so many other things.
Some are live streaming contests or even karaoke.
The options are limitless. And if you’re looking for the 15 best live streaming apps for your events, we’ve got you covered.
IDEA 30 – Put Videos to Work at Your Event
You can use videos in much the same way you would live streams. You don’t have to spend tons of money on lighting and production quality.
A branded opening or onscreen title and an off-the-cuff approach ate very popular these days.
Check out these ideas on how you can incorporate video in your next event.
IDEA 31 – Make Your Event a Social Media Content Machine
Social media during your event is a full-time job.
You need to be sharing and listening, being part of the conversation and getting the conversation started.
It can feel very flattering to an attendee to have their content shared by your event, one of your event team, or even a speaker.
Ensure you communicate the event hashtag. Put it on all collateral, and the event app, as well as posters, signage, and tabletop cards.
Periodically throughout the event, perform searches for keywords, your venue, your speakers’ names, your event title, and other words that people could use to post about you.
Offer plenty of photo ops and drive sharing by talking about it, providing plenty of charging stations for electronics, and encouraging posting through gamification or contests.
EVENT PRO TIP
Social sharing is hot and drives traffic to your event page! Google search has a share feature on everything you search on, so get in on the action for your event. Create incentives for your past attendees or new attendees. Give them an offer they can’t refuse and reward them if they share your event with friends.
For entertainment and to increase social shares, you can have Tweet walls in public places or before sessions begin. Tweet walls work using hashtags and they project what others are saying about your event using the hashtag. It’s fun to see your tweet on the big screen and many people will tweet just to see it up there. Creative event planners have also used tweet walls to run contests and crowdsource options.
Another way to use social media at your event is by employing photo booths. Many photo booths not only give the attendee a fun souvenir, but the picture can be branded with your event branding through a frame and you can give attendees the option of uploading it to social media through the booth. Since the booth automatically tags it, you needn’t worry about attendees forgetting a hashtag.
IDEA 32 – Excite Event Audiences with Contests and Drawings
Contests and drawings often help with word of mouth marketing.
There are social share contests where you can base winning on a public vote on social media. For instance, you can host a contest for best event picture and invite the public to vote on them.
Other contest suggestions include:
- VIP meet and greet
- Introduce the speaker contest
- Business card drawings for attending the trade show
- Passport contests (get a stamp for every spot visited at the event)
- Scavenger hunt contests
- Free event or session tickets
- Sponsor giveaways
TREND ALERT: Giveaways Will Move Away From Things and Focus More on Experiences
As a whole, consumer trends are turning away from the enjoyment of things and focusing more and more on the enjoyment of experiences. Marketing efforts, as always, follow these trends closely. Evidence of this can be seen in advertising campaigns. If you watch television commercials, for example, you will see more focus on people enjoying the experience of using a product or service than on the product or service itself, or you will see the depiction of people enjoying the experiences they have thanks to the time saving or convenience of the product.
Event marketers who want to connect with potential customers will also pay attention to this trend. Rather than showing up to events with trinkets such as t-shirts and keychains, they will focus on giving people an experience in return for their attention. One way to do this could be offering people who leave their contact information bleacher seat tickets to watch a local minor league team play or free admission to the a nearby zoo or amusement park.
Marketing After the Event: Keep the Event Live 365 Days a Year
Did you think your work was over just because the event is? Hardly.
This is an opportunity so many event planners miss because they’re exhausted and busy. However, through all of your hard work you have assembled a group of interested and loyal fans. Are you just going to leave them there with nothing to do?
Of course not!
We wouldn’t be asking the question in that case, would we? So after your event ends and you’ve had a bit of a nap, it’s time to get back to marketing and strike while the proverbial iron is hot.
IDEA 33 – Keep Your Event Top-of-Mind With Email Communication
Remember that drip email campaign you worked on to get people to your event in the first place?
Well, you’re going to get back on it.
The first email should always be a “thank you” for attending. Wherever possible, personalize the communication. You can do so with the attendee’s name, their track, or events or sessions they participated in. If you used facial recognition, you could even pull into photos from the event that they were in. By doing so, your communication appears to come more from a friend than a stranger.
Pay close attention to the subject line. You want to make someone want to open it immediately. Remember the first one sets the tone. If you use a boring subject line, they won’t open it, nor will they open any of those that come afterward.
For instance, if you’re sending a “thank you” email, don’t just write “thank you for attending” in the subject line. Instead, give them a reason to open it, like, “We miss you. Here’s a gift.” And give them a special something even if it’s just a link to content. Since we’re on the topic of content…
IDEA 34 – Improve Event Content Accessibility to Become a Resource
Your event likely produced a lot of content that your attendees are interested in. That may include:
- Speaker presentations and slides
- Recording and videos
- Workbook pages
- Deeper learning
- Sample chapters of speakers’ books
Create a repository for all of these things and decide who has access to them: only attendees, anyone with a code, or the whole world.
Giving it to just your attendees creates exclusivity and a reason to come next year; while providing a code lets attendees share these resources with others, which could make others want to come next year.
Providing a shareable code also makes it worthwhile for employers to send one person so the whole office or department can benefit from the resources.
Finally, making them open to everyone helps others realize the amazing learning and fun that they missed out on. It also plays on the law of reciprocity where we feel obligated to others who give us things for free.
IDEA 35 – Use Event Apps to Stay Connected
With an event app, it’s easy for attendees to stay connected and find those they networked with at the event. They can continue their discussions on event topics, ask one another questions, create wiki pages to add to one another’s knowledge, access content, share news, and more.
From an event planning perspective, it allows you to stay top of mind and bypass the clutter of an inbox.
The app is often branded to your event so it’s a constant reminder of the fun that was had and the knowledge that was attained.
Plus, you spent quite a bit of time convincing them to adopt the app. Don’t let them simply cast it aside. Give them reason to log in.
IDEA 36 – Employ Post-Event Surveys to Ensure Needs Are Met
Event planners love surveys because they provide us with a good source of data, but they’re only as good as those who fill them out and only benefit future events when the data is acted on.
Human nature has it that those involved in creating something often feel a desire to see it succeed.
If you involve attendees in shaping the future of your event, they’ll be more likely to want to see it flourish, particularly if you act on their suggestions.
IDEA 37 – Keep Your Event Blog Going
So many event marketers create such phenomenal pre-event content on their event website prior to and during the event, and then let the content flow stop completely once the event is over.
Don’t do that!
An external or public blog is one that everyone has access to, including the search engines. For SEO purposes and to keep your event audience engaged, continue to post content on your blog that you want everyone to see, such as fun pictures of your event, event recaps, special thanks, and video teaser clips.
You want to share content that will make the public want to attend your next event. Your goal should always be engagement, the ultimate show of that being a ticket purchase next year, and you do that by creating good content even after the event is over.
IDEA 38 – Continue to Advance Your Event Reach After the Event With Social Media
In social media after your event, just as before, images and videos receive some of the highest interaction.
Share pictures of your event, your food, your venue.
Create image memes and quotes using pictures from the event.
Create video compilations using pictures set to music, paste together interview snippets, video testimonials, and other reminders of the amazing time everyone had.
You can also use video that you fast-forward to show your entire event, build up to tear down, in 30 seconds.
IDEA 39 – Secure Next Year’s Event Registration Commitments Now
Attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors may not be thinking about your next event right after this one ends, but it’s the ideal time to connect with them and get them thinking about next year.
With sponsors and exhibitors, you should have ROI info and data for them shortly after the event ends. Use it as an intro to follow up with them. Discuss whether your event met or exceeded their expectations. Talk about opportunities for next year using scarcity to drive commitment.
For attendees, providing them some round-up numbers and incentives to book early is a good one to get people on board early. One conference used deeply discounted hotel rooms as a way to get attendees to book immediately after their event.
It’s never too early to ask.
IDEA 40 – Get More Attention With Testimonials and Referrals
Testimonials and referrals from happy event attendees can be an effective way to persuade others to attend and more cost-effective and persuasive than paid advertising. Here are some tactics to help you capitalize on this opportunity:
Don’t be afraid to ask to quote someone or to use feedback from their evaluation form. Also, asking for feedback with a camera can be powerful to share as a video testimonial.
Provide an Incentive
Incentives can be very effective if you find one that your audience values. In the case of event attendees, discounts on attendance are powerful. You can be very creative with these discounts by giving them a discount code to share with friends or by taking a dollar amount off of their registration fee for every person they sign up. If they sign up several, they could potentially cover the price of their ticket. This drives a lot of people and makes it worth their while to encourage friends and peers to attend.
Set Up a Special Landing Page
For attendee referrals, set up an event landing page just for them with their discounted registration fee and a welcome message. This will make attendees feel like they have a secret code to give out and that kind of exclusivity feels good to people.
Event marketing strategy requires a three-pronged approach when it comes to timing. There are activities and strategies that should be performed before, during, and after the event. For best results, all three stages are important as they help you build momentum. If you neglect to build on one, they all will suffer and you will have to rebuild and start all over. If, however, you carry the marketing strategy through into the following event, you will more than capitalize on the prior event’s success.
Also, keep in mind that your marketing strategy is interconnected. For instance, producing good content, increases the likelihood that your audience will engage with it, attend your event, and create their own content that you can use to improve your word of mouth marketing. Having a strong marketing strategy makes your marketing work easier in the long run.
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