🚀 The Event Playbook: Proven strategies to level up your next event!

🚀 The Event Playbook:
Proven strategies to level up your next event!

event marketing strategies

How to Market an Event: Event Marketing Strategies to 7X Attendance

Do you have a 21st-century virtual event marketing strategy? Massive shifts transformed events during the pandemic. Marketers can't ignore how audiences radically changed how they interact in online communities, conferences, trade shows, corporate gatherings, and more.

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. 

No worries. 

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: 

  • Provide event opportunities to connect before, during, and afterward
  • Program virtual networking sessions
  • Allow for interactive discussion forums
  • Build community through active social media groups
  • Help attendees build relationships and stay engaged
  • 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 marketing is a great way to reach your customers

    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: 

  • Always test and tweak your campaigns to make the most out of them
  • Add an opt-out option to comply with privacy regulations
  • Keep branding the same between the event website and emails
  • Schedule updates, confirmations, and emails ahead of time
  • Always review your click-thru rates for improvement
  • 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 is a woman sitting at a table with a laptop and a cup of coffee while opening emails

    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.

    You can refine your email strategy as needed, ensuring your event doesn’t go unnoticed. Fortunately, numerous free online tools will help you accomplish that goal—like CloudHQ and Streak CRM

    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:

  • Confirmation (after ticket purchase or event RSVP)
  • Schedule Update
  • One week until the event
  • The day before the event
  • One hour before the event
  • Daily recaps
  • Event recaps
  • How to Market an Event with Bulk SMS

    a person using a cell phone with a bunch of email vector images coming out of it to symbolize 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

    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.

    a mockup landing page for an upcoming event with the words "elementum" in large print

    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:

  • Industry news. If your event centers on a specific cause or industry, there’s likely relevant news you can touch on. Whether you briefly touch on industry happenings or take a deep dive into how a national issue affects your cause, there’s no shortage of news to cover.
  • New tech relevant to the event. Just like industry-specific news, there’s no shortage of industry-specific technologies popping onto the scene every day. Whether you’re discussing new software for donation collecting or how the latest iPhone affects your industry, you’re sure to find something to discuss.
  • Profiles of speakers. Of course, the main draw to any event is its speakers.
  • 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

    a close up of a camera with people being filmed in front of it to symbolize an impactful video

    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? 

  • Grab your audience in the first four seconds with a strong hook
  • Show how your event will solve a common problem
  • Always include a clear call to action like registering for the event
  • Keep the video short and punchy, less than 30 seconds
  • If you can’t fill all the info in one teaser, make a cohesive series of event teasers
  • 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:

  • Set goals and make plans. Are you interviewing an event speaker? Are you delivering an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour? Are you holding an online Q&A? No matter what you’re using a live streaming feature for, you don’t want to improvise. While you want to leave room for audience interaction, you’ll still want at least a plan for your live stream. Even if it’s just a bulleted list of topics you want to cover, be flexible and ready.
  • Prepare your space. Though you don’t need a fancy studio to live stream, check that your background looks nice and fits your brand’s tone. If your brand is more casual and you have a steady hand, you might run your Q&A while taking a walk. If you prefer a more professional, formal tone, stay at your uncluttered desk or speak against a screen. Invest in a small tripod or another stand and good lighting.
  • Interact with Your Viewers. The entire point of streaming is to give your audience the chance to interact with you. Don’t hesitate to answer their questions, acknowledge their comments, and laugh at their jokes. This live interaction is what sets streaming apart from regular videos.
  • Encourage Sharing. The ability to share is one of social media’s most powerful tools. By encouraging your audience to share your live stream or their reactions to it, you’re extending your reach into their social network and increasing your viewership.
  • two laptop computers being used to stream a live event

    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. 

    two people shaking hands in front of a laptop

    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: 

  • Be engaging and authentic
  • Be timely
  • Be original
  • Avoid scheduled posts
  • Applaud specific attendees during the event
  • Reward the most active social media followers with a shout-out
  • Create a leader-board or contest
  • Address any problems or tech issues immediately
  • Maximize post-event engagement
  • Try live-tweeting during the event
  • 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

    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

    a computer screen showing a google ads page

    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

    a person is holding a phone with a logo of the youtube app displayed

    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: 

  • A compelling hook
  • A problem with a solution
  • A call-to-action like registering for your event
  • 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

    a man sitting in front of a computer monitor with a spreadsheet in front of him

    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.

    1. 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
    2. Follow up and gently nudge your helpers into sending their emails
    3. Ask your speakers to go live with a short promo video before the event
    4. 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
    5. 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.

  • Post-registration emails (welcome email, follow-up, reminders, tips, spread the word, updates)
  • Text Messages or Facebook Messenger – these campaigns get far and away the best open and click-through rates
  • Phone calls and/or Ringless voicemail
  • Organic social – on your page, profiles, speakers, groups, etc
  • Retargeting ads – upload your registration list to target with ads (for attendance and/or your next event)
  • BONUS: 10 Virtual Event Promotion Hacks

    a man holding a microphone in front of a podcast host's computer

    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:

    1. 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
    2. 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.
    3. 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
    4. 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.
    5. Use a contest to create “The Viral Effect” awareness about your event. Make it interesting, have them do something on video
    6. Create a quiz to attract people on Facebook
    7. Run ads to speaker followers & common interests
    8. 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)
    9. 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)
    10. 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

  • Conversion Tracking – If you have a marketing team running multiple types of outreach and promotion campaigns, especially if those include any paid ads, you’ll want to consider utilizing conversion tracking to see which traffic sources generated leads and sales, and UTM tracking links to break down those main traffic sources into specific channels and campaigns (eg: to separate organic social from paid social).
  • Engagement – Tracking engagement is an effective way to know how people interact with your brand. With certain tools, you can also track the demographics of who’s interacting with your brand on which platforms, which helps you better tailor your advertising to the people you’re trying to reach.
  • 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: 

  • Specific and simple
  • Measurable and achievable
  • Limited
  • Timely
  • 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: 

  • Virtual event registrations
  • Cost-to-Revenue ratio
  • Overall satisfaction
  • Customer conversion
  • Lead generation
  • Social media engagement
  • Social media mentions
  • Media mentions
  • a man in a black suit standing in front of a crowd during a political campaign event

    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:

  • Build brand awareness by increasing virtual event registrations by 500 in the next month
  • Build event awareness by tweeting about the virtual event daily and increasing Twitter impressions by 10%
  • Drive sales revenue by generating leads (200 accounts) via virtual event registration
  • Increase customer retention post-event by scheduling 50 personal consultations
  • Encourage 150 attendees to download the event app
  • Hire an engaging virtual host that increases questions asked per session by 25%
  • 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.

    Need Help with Marketing, Outreach, and Promotion for Your Virtual Event?

    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. 

    We & Goliath

    We & Goliath is an award-winning, top 100 worldwide event agency known for increasing conference attendance by 7X and profits by 3X through beautifully designed virtual, hybrid, and in-person events. Since 1999, their team of innovative strategists and creative designers has worked with global enterprises, SMBs, non-profits, and other organizations to engage audiences and exceed expectations.

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