Knowing how to market an event today means innovative evolution.
Q: What is the first mistake marketers make?
A: They depend on dated marketing strategies for their virtual events.
A quick email blast and flyers won’t bring people into your virtual event. There is just too much competition out there. Overall click-throughs and ROI have lessened considerably.
Our seasoned experts have compiled this comprehensive virtual events strategy guide that covers event marketing strategies that will guarantee you success at your next virtual event. We will cover:
After you finish reading this detailed marketing strategy guide, you will be ready to launch the most successful virtual event of your career.
Events like these take an enormous time, countless resources, and meticulous planning.
You can’t afford to waste time and energy on an event without using the latest effective marketing strategies of today.
And if you have any questions about any of these professional tips, feel free to contact our incredible marketing team about your next event. We want you to be a success.
Leverage Your Email List and Other Owned Media
If you’ve been working on your event for a while, you already have several tools at your disposal.
Social media followers, email list subscribers, and your website help you gain traction and bolster attendance. What are some of the most effective strategies?
Harness the Power of Your Email List
Email lists are a tried-and-true event marketing strategy, and there’s no doubt employing them could help market your event.
Exercise some caution when using emails. Promotional emails and spam flood the average consumer’s inbox, and you’ll want to stand out while avoiding becoming a nuisance.
Avoid sending emails to anyone who didn’t ask to receive them. Buying email lists may seem like casting a wide net, but you’re only ensuring most of your calls will fall on deaf ears. Make sure all your emails are relevant to the person receiving them.
Personalize Your Emails
Personalizing emails is a great way to grab someone’s attention. They’re more likely to feel like you care about them as more than just a number.
Include their name in the email’s subject line, address the email to them, mention their organization in the body, and personalize the “to field.”
Little details go a long way to capturing their attention and making them more likely to open your email.
Practice how to market an event effectively with customized emails catered to specific audiences. Avoid sending blanket-form emails. They will most likely look like spam and end up in the trash.
Here are our top 5 email hacks to increase virtual event participation:
Pro Tip: During pre-registration keep an eye out for key influencers and leaders in your field. Reach out to them personally with a customized email invitation. Float a possible sponsorship or guest speaking opportunity at your event. If they have a large following, see if they will share your event invitation with their followers and the organization. Build up the relationship with a follow-up call. They will remember you took that extra time.
Use Email Open Tracking
There are numerous benefits to knowing whether or not someone opened your email, and email tracking software allows you to take advantage of them.
This software will allow you to learn if your emails were eye-catching enough to get opened, how many times someone’s opened an email, how to time your follow-ups, and even which demographics are interested.
Send Effective Reminder Emails
When used sparingly, reminder emails keep audiences engaged. Don’t inundate your audience with emails. Your readers might unsubscribe if they find your notifications annoying.
That being said, there are numerous reminder emails you can send. Only use the alerts relevant to your event, or—better yet—let your email subscribers choose which alerts to receive. Here’s our recommended list of suggested reminders:
How to Market an Event with Bulk SMS
If you’re not getting a lot of traction through email, then you might want to consider bulk SMS. Though bulk SMS requires a lot of the same caution as email, it’s generally more direct.
Peer-to-peer texting (a.k.a. Peer2Peer, P2P, PtoP, et cetera) is a method of SMS that allows people to efficiently text large groups of people while keeping the line open to responses.
This allows the sender and recipient to have a back-and-forth conversation the way people text their friends and family.
Political organizations and nonprofits, in particular, have seen a lot of success with this method. It allows them to quickly answer questions, collect data, and field potential donors.
Using this method for your event could help you in the same way. If you’re running a nonprofit event, then utilize all the same marketing strategies listed above.
Otherwise, you can still use it as an opportunity to answer questions and direct people to where they can buy tickets for your event.
Create an Informative Event Landing Page
For any important event, build a custom landing page to share all information and collect registrations. Your landing page should be clear and clutter-free.
Store all event information and essential details on your landing page. Your landing page is also a great way to collect personal information for your mailing list and call list.
Display a field to collect this information clearly and prominently.
Maximize Your Blogging
For a lot of marketing projects, blogs are an underutilized resource. Not only can you publish a press release, but you can also use tangential articles to draw traffic to your site. For example, consider the following ideas:
The possibilities are endless, and your blog can continue to generate site traffic even after your event has concluded. This is a huge benefit for recurring events like annual conventions.
Cutting Edge Social Media Strategies
Any marketer knows social media is a powerful tool. When advertising, use multiple social media platforms to maximize your social media presence to promote event blog posts, videos, and other engaging content.
Take advantage of platform features to better assist your event marketing strategy.
Use Video for Impact
Video provides a valuable tool for showing off your event. As an immersive and convenient format, always use this format.
Show off your event through traditional teaser videos which showcase exciting highlights, speakers, and engaging event activities. What makes a great teaser video?
Pull from your network of past and upcoming speakers to create testimonial videos. Ask your former and future speakers to share what they like about the event and what they’re looking forward to seeing.
Cut your videos for different formats—create short teasers for social media, then upload full content to your website or YouTube channel.
Make the Most of Live Streaming
Most social media platforms have live-streaming capabilities. Though these can range from rudimentary to robust, effectively utilize this feature to market your event regardless of the bells and whistles.
To best take advantage of live streaming features, try using the following pro tips:
Following these tips, you’re sure to achieve some success with your live stream. The main appeal of social media is the ability for people to interact with the influencers, celebrities, and brands they love.
As such, underutilizing this feature is a big mistake. You should respond to comments, react to people sharing your content, and engage with your audience.
How to Use Event Hashtags to Build Buzz
Create a catchy hashtag for your event. For example, TED always uses #TED or #TEDx for upcoming and past events.
Add the hashtag to your social media, emails, and reminders. When you want to track your event, just search for the hashtag. Encourage attendees, partners, speakers, and influencers to share the hashtag.
Typically you want a hashtag that lists the event name and its theme like MUSIC or CONNECT.
This gives the attendees a nice reminder about the event and connects all social media posts. Hashtags are a fun, free way to share your exciting virtual event with the world!
Leverage Stakeholders and Influencers
If you want to maximize the overall value of your event, collaborate with your partners and sponsors.
The relationship is give-and-take. Offer them VIP treatment. Find out what they need. See your virtual event from their perspective.
For example, a new tech start-up and event speaker might be looking for skilled beta testers for her company’s photo app prototype.
Find a way to meet this need, maybe by allotting time during the conference for the speaker to recruit attendees to download and test the new app.
Social media influencers are always looking for opportunities to
increase their overall clout and audience.
Partnerships between influencers often prove mutually beneficial. Your event gains a new audience online, and the influencer has an opportunity to speak about what they care about and gain more social media followers or sell their product/service.
Perfect Your Elevator Pitch
To reach top influencers, sponsors, and partners, perfect your one-minute elevator pitch – a concise summary of your virtual event and your organization.
Refine the pitch online and in person before approaching possible partners. Find the best avenue to reach these partners. You might find that they respond quicker via text or Twitter DM than by phone.
Make your communications personalized and specific. Learning how to communicate your event successfully and precisely can build valuable business relationships.
Take the time to ensure branding and overall event marketing is clear with your stakeholders. They should take advantage of every opportunity to act as an event ambassador.
Your sponsors, speakers, and partners can help you cast a much wider net through their networks and relationships.
Partnerships in Virtual Event Marketing
Sponsors and valuable partnerships offer you incredible opportunities for word-of-mouth promotion and ways to reduce overall costs.
When working with possible partners, clearly indicate the terms of the relationship. Will they provide sweet swag for attendees, proprietary software, or a cross-promotion? Maybe they will give you free ad space on their website to reach a new audience.
Partnerships are about balance. Find ways that they will gain value from this relationship. Be on the lookout for potential partners.
Look over event registration for names of key businesses, organizations, and influencers. Reach out with your elevator pitch. A partnership opportunity may only be a click away.
Pro Tip: Never judge a potential partner by their size. Often smaller partners will offer much more time and value for the opportunity to reach a new audience.
Convert Attendees into Promoters
Exciting engagement can convert your virtual event attendees into willing promoters. How? Find ways to connect with your attendees in a meaningful way.
An easy way to do this during registration is to ask if any attendees would like to be VIP event ambassadors.
Their primary task?
To promote the event to tier followers, engage with fellow attendees, and remain connected post-event. Review possible ambassadors, gauging their overall following and clout in your industry.
Other easy ways to increase engagement and promotion with participants include hosting competitions, encouraging attendees to share the event hashtag, and responding to tweets and comments in real-time.
The communications team might find key participations who remain very active online during the event. Engage with them for quick promotion. Some simple tips:
Make your interactions personal. Share participant comments, praises, and photos during the conference. Applaud super-active ambassadors and share their social info.
Don’t stop posting during the event.
You might be a little stretched thin, but continue posting original creative content during the event. Attendees want to get to know you. They want that special personalized touch.
Pro Tip: Use your hashtag to track questions and comments during the event. Use that time to interact one-on-one with your event attendees. If your attendees feel valued, they will happily share your message and brand with their circles. Always create a hashtag that lists your event and clearly states what the event is about like #ClimateActivistSummit. Encourage attendees to add the hashtag to all social posts.
Paid advertising can be tough and expensive, but you can make it worthwhile with the right targeting, messaging, and landing page.
Experiment with Facebook Ads
It can be difficult and expensive to work with Facebook Ads, so you’ll need to tread carefully. Experiment with different copies and formats.
Videos, lead ads, and stories all yield different results, and you need to find the form that works best for you and your audience.
Before you invest too much in Facebook Ads, start with a small budget and test the waters. Are your clicks and impressions proportional to your expenditures?
You’ll generally need to experiment before you find the “message to market match” that creates profitability before you can scale up your budget.
If after testing, you’re seeing very few returns, then perhaps a different platform will work better for you and your event.
Reach Audiences with Targeted Google Ads
To reach a broad audience, make sure people find your event when they google it. Utilize targeted Google Ads.
This pay-per-click system will allow you to put your event on the first page of Google when people search for things related to your event.
For the best results, you’ll want to use the Exact Match to make sure you aren’t showing up on irrelevant searches.
Ensure your ad will appear when people search specific phrases. You’ll also want to consider adding some negative keywords to prevent your ad from popping up on those searches.
Produce Short Catchy YouTube Teasers
Once you’ve got some video content under your belt, consider producing a few YouTube teasers.
Then your event’s name will pop up in front of relevant YouTube videos, though you’ll want to use some caution. Every YouTube Teaser should have:
Some YouTube ads are skippable, so you’ll want to format your videos accordingly. If you want to make sure your voice is heard, you either need to front-load the gist in the first five seconds or make sure your ad is interesting enough to avoid getting skipped.
Try not to let your videos get more than a couple of minutes long—if your content is longer than the video the audience is trying to watch, they’ll skip it.
Retarget Ads to Landing Page Visitors
Once someone has expressed an interest in your event, you don’t want to let those leads go. Retarget ads to people who’ve already visited your landing page.
Make sure they see your content on social media platforms, Google, and other avenues. This omnichannel retargeting will ensure your name is never far from their memory.
Activate Speakers, Influencers, Sponsors, & Partners
Your speakers, influencers, sponsors, and partners are perhaps your most valuable marketing assets.
Even if you’re from a smaller organization, your speakers, etc. can pull together the event with little to no paid ads.
Reach out to influential people and organizations in your space. Ask them to share the event video and consider inviting them to an affiliate program. Make sure you reach out to those with a mission that aligns with yours—especially if you’re running a charity event.
If they believe in your cause, they’re more likely to endorse your event.
Allow your influencers a degree of freedom. The people who follow influencers generally do so because they find their personality appealing. If you tell them to read from a strict script, it’s less likely to appeal to their audience.
Pro Tip: If you’re worried about a particular influencer delivering the wrong message, then develop a style detailed guide. Include a list of things they should emphasize and some rules about things they should avoid.
Organize Your Influencers
If you have numerous speakers and influencers you can employ, it can be difficult to keep track of who’s saying what and when.
To help you organize your influencers and create a coherent message, use a spreadsheet to track who’s endorsing your event, how, and when. Follow these five steps when organizing your guest speakers and influencers.
- Send an email to these influencers they can forward to their newsletter lists. Allow the influencers some freedom to modify the email so their audience recognizes the voice
- Follow up and gently nudge your helpers into sending their emails
- Ask your speakers to go live with a short promo video before the event
- Encourage speakers to share info about the talks they’re going to give, panels they’ll participate in, etc. They shouldn’t give away too much, but they share why they’re excited about participating
- Give them social media assets you create, like pre-written captions, infographics, and images
Before you know it you will have an army of excited influencers who will mobilize countless followers to be a part of your event.
Create an Affiliates Program
Regarding today’s top event strategies as a whole, affiliate programs are a beneficial avenue for promoting one’s products. This begs the question: what are affiliate programs?
Affiliate marketing is the act of a separate company/organization promoting another company’s products and receiving a profit.
With this understanding, here are some things to consider when creating an affiliate program: defining your commission terms, choosing who to invite to promote the product, creating a promotional email and social media posts, creating a signup page, and writing/scheduling the welcome, onboarding, and reminder emails.
Create a Multi-Channel Notifications & Reminder Campaign
Maximize attendance with a multi-channel reminder campaign.
Tip: Leverage marketing automation software to schedule personalized email, text, phone, and/or ringless voicemail reminders.
BONUS: 10 Virtual Event Promotion Hacks
Want to be original? Nothing goes further than a carefully planned PR stunt or red-carpet-level awards ceremony. Add an extra element of exciting pizazz to your virtual event. Here are some creative strategies to get more views on your event:
- Host a Sneak Peek event – Gives attendees a taste and something tangible to share. Also serves as a good dry run if your speakers need technical practice
- Create an Awards Ceremony – Get nominations from others and invite people yourself. Make it fun and exciting. Create an awards image and a page for each winner. Can have massive SEO value if you do this right.
- PR stunts – Needs to create a strong emotion to work – Generate laughter, love, and awe; or use brand attack and scare brands about bad coverage
- Guest podcast and blog outreach – Make a list of relevant and popular podcasts, blogs, and other websites. Collect contact info and offer to speak/write.
- Use a contest to create “The Viral Effect” awareness about your event. Make it interesting, have them do something on video
- Create a quiz to attract people on Facebook
- Run ads to speaker followers & common interests
- Setup individual events on Facebook for each speaker or track and set the speakers as co-hosts (this gets your event to show up in their Events tab)
- Set up an event on Eventbrite for free “sneak peek” events or afterparties. (Eventbrite has good organic reach but doesn’t allow external registration URLs like Facebook so not good for your main event)
- Switch your list. Invite the right people to the wrong event. ie: think outside the box about who would be interested in your event and why others could get value
Before you know it you will have an army of excited influencers who will mobilize countless followers to be a part of your event.
Track All Virtual Event Analytics
Don’t forget Analytics and Conversion Tracking to understand which channels are driving traffic and registrations
Make Targeted ROI Goals for Your Virtual Event
When calculating your overall virtual event ROI, consider the difference between value and cost. Value refers to any value that your organization receives post-event and includes free publicity, partnerships, event revenue, or even generating new leads.
The event cost refers to anything that has a clear price like paying staff, flights, and swag. Set specific goals before your event to ascertain success. Your goals should be:
Why should you set clear goals?
Without clear achievable goals, it is impossible to know if your event had any success.
Too many organizations host numerous virtual and in-person events without taking into account what their specific end goals should be. The result?
Many organizations waste a lot of time on events without maximizing end value like gaining partnerships, media attention, or adequate revenue. Common places to gauge value include:
For example, in small political campaigns, hosting big community events with free food often gains a lot of attention.
However, if the campaign staff doesn’t calculate the cost (ex. Renting the fireman’s hall and hiring local caterers) against the value (ex. Getting 1,000 signatures for ballot access) then they might not know if the event was truly successful.
Did the event cost $10,000 but the staff only added a dozen signatures?
That’s nearly $1,000 per signature!
What if the event gained national media attention due to a publicity stunt? Or the local candidate gained a valuable presidential endorsement. Now the overall value may greatly outweigh the financial cost.
Examples of ROI GOALS
Your ROI goals may relate to engagement, generating new leads, educating your attendees, driving up sales revenue, and more.
Charting out specific and attainable goals for your virtual event will help everyone keep focused and make decisions directly related to achieving these goals.
To make life a little easier, here are some examples of ROI goals that you might apply to your virtual event:
Track your ROI goals with several tools including CRM, surveys, event staff reporting, event management software, business intelligence platforms, or web analytics platform.
Surveys during and after the event for staff, attendees, and speakers not only track engagement and satisfaction but can offer ways to improve future events.
Calculating overall ROI can become quite challenging. Using comprehensive software to aid in calculating your overall event value will save you time.
Do you want expert help to grow your audience? We can assist with email marketing, postcard marketing, retargeting ads, social media contests, or strategic promotional partnerships. Don’t wait. Let’s partner together for your next successful virtual event.