Inspire your event strategy with these 25 creative event promotion ideas. Featuring competitions, retargeting, celebrity ambushes and more.
Attendees are the whole reason for any event you put on. Ideally every event you plan will be successful at generating awareness and selling tickets and event registrations. But how do you promote your event in a creative way that stays within your allocated budget?
The key might simply be a little inspiration. Many event promotion strategies like digital ads can be very effective, but can also take a serious bite into your budge. On the other hand, many event marketers are employing innovative promotion ideas that are able to squeeze more juice out of marketing efforts with less cost.
We’ve corralled 25 of creative event promotion ideas that you can use to improve registration numbers and reach new audiences without breaking the bank.
1) Optimize Your Event Registration Website
When used to its fullest, your event website is a promotional powerhouse. To optimize it, make sure you do the following:
- Connect a web analytics tool to monitor and learn from traffic
- Regularly A/B test design elements like site colors and headline copy
- Use heat mapping tools like HotJar to better understand and improve the user experience
Although it can be time consuming, taking these steps could help you increase conversions by 12%, just like UStream did in the example below. All it took was a slight variation in their CTA.
2) Turn Attendees Into Event Ambassadors
Ticket Boost campaigns are a natural way to reach new, related audiences who share the interests of your current attendees. Whenever a ticket is sold, the buyer can be prompted to share a special link via their social media or email. This link has a promo code that gives new registrants a discount. You can even take it a step further and offer a double-sided incentive by including a percentage refund to the link sharer for every new sign-up they get through their promo post.
Here’s an example of one enthusiastic attendee sharing the promo love:
Retargeting is a huger boon for event marketers. It enables you to conquer nonlinear conversion paths with the help of cookie-based pixel tracking for a more data-centric approach to event promotion. Start by having a firm grasp on your event data (this is where your event marketing software will really come in hand). Next, integrate your social or email campaign efforts with your chosen platform. After you’ve done that, craft personalized ads with messages like the one seen below.
Source: Race Roster
4) Segment Your Email Lists
There are lots of ways to segment your email lists for creative event promotion. Tools like Bizzabo’s email platform lets you segment by ticket type, location, industry, job level, contact role, age, and lead status.
Once you’ve selected your hyper-focused group, it will be easier to market to them. Write messages with personal subject lines, CTAs most relevant to their needs, and include a variety of tests to see what gets the most responses.
InVision is a global company that holds events across the world. Of course, an event in London is probably not relevant to a contact in New York City. In the below example, InVision targets NYC-based contacts for an NYC event.
5) Create an Event Community
Social proof and FOMO combine to create stellar event promotion opportunities. By creating communities like the one pictured below, future attendees can see the level of engagement and sheer number of other interested participants.
Communities automatically create major value for prospects. With free resources, interesting conversations, and the opportunity for networking, future attendees will surely benefit from their own participation.
The BLANK company Namely has created a special community for their event attendees called Backstage Pass. Members of this community have the opportunity network, share ideas and even influence Namely’s events.
6) Integrate with Your CRM
Event software integrations can make daily tasks simpler and less time consuming. For example, Zapier offers an array of integration options with programs like Salesforce which allows you to easily combine your CRM (or any other important business tool) with your favorite event management software. The result? Automated record updating and lead capturing that reduces the possibility of mistakes. Plus, having clean data ensures you save time while providing an above average attendee registration experience.
Integrating your CRM with your event management software via Zapier is a two-step process. As you’ll see below, you can select a trigger and a corresponding action from a drop down menu. No other code or action is required.
7) Integrate with Your Marketing AutomationPlatform
Integrations aren’t just limited to CRMs. You can also use Zapier to sync your event marketing software with your marketing automation platform. For instance, Zapier can connect HubSpot to your event management platform to streamline tasks 90 different tasks, including contact list building triggered by social media shares. You can learn more about event marketing automation here.
8) Run Departmental Contests
Capitalize on some friendly departmental rivalries by providing incentives to whichever employees can sell the most tickets. Some event management platforms like Bizzabo also enable organizations to launch group promo codes so that you can track the performance of one team vs. another team.
For smaller teams, organize the contest by individual contributor.
9) Partner with Another Event
Why not help out a fellow event organizer by joining forces and, more importantly, audiences? In many cases, partnering with other events can also help out your event. Take for instance what Brightcove PLAY did when they they teamed up with Content Marketing World. Brightcove created an invite-only PLAY Studio event for tech companies that overlapped nicely with an pre-existing event.
In her Event Heroes profile here on Bizzabo, the VP of Marketing at Brightcove told us about working with Content Marketing World. Their goal was to bring in prospects that are tangentially related to their target buyers list.
By creating a strong event brand, you can give and receive value from already established events throughout the year.
10) Limited-Time Offers
Offset a high base event registration cost with intermittent discounts distributed via social media and email marketing. By sending out offers throughout the year, you’ll be reminding your audience about your event.
You’ll also benefit from creating scarcity through small windows of opportunity for upgrades or discounts. Attendees who had already planned to attend could also use the reminder to complete their registration sooner than later.
Here’s a great example of limited time offers in action. Notice how Base turned up the notch with this reminder that there are only so many early bird tickets left.
11) Different Ticket Types
The psychology behind tiered pricing options proves that including multiple ticket packages can sneakily clue prospects in on the value of more expensive choices. Here are some popular ones to include:
- Streaming Only
- Multi-Admission or Group
You can also add extras like audio and slides from featured presentations or exclusive event swag as seen in this example.
Source: B2B Marketing Exchange
12) Get Featured in an Events Directory
Placement on a few well-trafficked digital events directories can lead to a huge increase in audience reach. Send pitch emails or self submit your event to a variety of lists. Choose ones that specialize in your event location or industry, like this example from Bizzabo that technology events for 2018.
13) Recap the Experience
Show future attendees what they can look forward to this year with a highlights reel or trailer from previous events. By sharing snippets from workshops and mixers, prospects can get a feel for the energy and tone of your event.
For Pulse 2017, Gainsight implemented energetic music, impromptu testimonials, and shots of fun and unexpected activities to convey the value of their event.
14) Feature Speakers and Partners in Your Blog
Take a page from the Growth Marketing Conference blog and share exclusive content from special guests before or after ticket sales have opened. Have your event partners create content that relates to their presentations or the event theme as a whole. Make each article shareable on social media and put a “Register Now” button in your header (like this one).
Source: Growth Marketing Conference
15) Create an Easily Explored Event Agenda
Create clean and crisp schedules that are easy for attendees to explore with tools like Bizzabo’s event agenda. Great design ups the perceived value of your event and makes it easier for prospects to learn about what they can look forward to after purchasing.
Look for a fully customizable tool with features like drag and drop and multi-track agenda building. Bizzabo client CoinDesk uses a sleek design that makes creating an event experience easy.
16) Offer a Complimentary Skill Certification Course
Does your event center around an audience that loves to learn? Why not give future attendees a mini video class for an in demand skill set? Natively host your content on your event website to increase traffic and overall event awareness.
Follow in the footsteps of LinkedIn Learning whose platform offers a wide variety of topics taught by expert instructors. Their model is easy for you to replicate. Simply ask guest speakers and interesting sponsors to be featured in video lectures your attendees would be interested in viewing.
17) Start a Podcast
Whether you choose to host it yourself or have a featured sponsor do it, there are a lot of great uses for podcast content in your event promotion strategy. Because Podfest is all about podcasts, it was absolutely necessary for them to include one in their event marketing plan. They use their show to update the community, feature interesting guests, and further establish themselves as authorities in the space.
Source: Podfest Expo
18) Early Bird Raffle Giveaway
Further encourage attendees to buy early by automatically entering them into a special contest when they purchase. You can include gifts like swag, a VIP upgrade, or free parking. The Austin City Limits Festival offers an entire package of goodies to one lucky winner who chooses to either enter their info in a form or connect to their Spotify account.
Source: ACL Festival
19) Use Snapchat/Instagram's Geofilter Tools
Getting attendees excited about engaging is easy when you add funny filters to the experience. Promote your event ahead of time by creating and adding them to your future event location. Include your event name, logo, and dates like the Historic Odessa Brewfest did in this example.
Source: Odessa Brewfest
20) Showcase Individual Sponsors and Special Guests
Event sponsorship promotion is a critical component of event marketing. Let your future guests get to know a little more about your sponsors beyond their logos. Share stories and anecdotes from individual brand reps in a “Humans of New York” style on your social media. Adding this person touch will also help prospects see how their values align with your event.
Source: Humans of New York
21) Celebrity Ambush Endorsements
Neil Gaiman famously entered a bookstore in the JFK airport, signed copies of his book “Trigger Warning”, and left them there for fans to find, announcing his prank after the fact via social media. Apply this tactic with celebrity guests who are up for a little adventure. Have them do their own surprise book signings or even surprise appearances at other company events.
Source: Neil Gaiman’s Facebook Page
22) Embed Registration Widgets in Different Webpages
Sure, your event website is the front-door to your event—it's here where most people will register for your event—but why not provide multiple doors? Some event registration tools allow event organizers to embed registration widgets wherever they see fit. Your main website, your blog, or even on the website of a partner—the online world is your oyster.
In the below example, the team at HubSpot INBOUND embedded a Bizzabo registration widget on a custom-made website.
23) Gamify Your Registration Process
Whether you choose to create an actual video game for your event brand or offer virtual badges for attendee benchmarks, adding a reward element to your event promotion strategy has the potential to make things a bit more interesting. The video game charity Extra Life has Leaderboards for all donations made before, during, and after their event, encouraging teams to out-contribute one another.
Source: Extra Life
24) Donate Event Ticket Packages
Increase event awareness by including special event ticket packages in related industry raffles and auctions. Not only will the winners get to brag about their exclusive prize to their audience of peers, all those who were entered will now know about your event too. You can also create your own virtual raffle with tools like AccelEvents that attendees can participate in regardless of where they’re located.
25) Sponsor a Wi-Fi Hotspot
Capture valuable marketing data by sponsoring a wi-fi hotspot in and around your future event location. You can even take it a step further and research which coffee shops, co-working spaces, or conference centers your target audience frequents and get your event brand known in that space.
As you can see from these examples, you can keep things simple by displaying your logo and allowing direct access. Or you can show off free services, new apps, and include more detailed forms.
Source: Trade Show Internet
Wrapping Up: Your Event Promotion Plan
These 25 event promotion ideas provide a wealth of inspiration for increasing event ticket sales and registrations. No matter how you choose to promote your next event, it’s good to keep these main points in mind:
- Follow the fun. If it’s not fun to you, why would your attendees feel any differently?
- Test out new tools. The events industry is experiencing in a technological Renaissance. Be sure to learn about what’s new out there as you begin to formulate your event promotion plan.
- You don’t know until you try. Even smaller event budgets have wiggle room to try out new free or cheap strategies. The best way to learn is by seeing firsthand what does or does not work for your unique audience.
Event promotion doesn’t have to be challenging or expensive. All it requires is a little outside-of-the-box thinking to pull it off. As long as you choose a strategy that is exciting to both you and your audience, you can’t go wrong.