Discover how to boost registrations for your events through social media, email marketing, SEO, video and more in this comprehensive guide to event promotion strategies.
Event promotion can be frustrating if you don’t have a strategy in place ahead of time. With all the different methods and plans out there, it’s hard to know what which one to choose. However, once you understand each key technique, finding an effective and reliable system for increasing event registrations and awareness becomes a lot more manageable.
This guide is here to help you learn more about event promotion strategies with lots of specific suggestions for how to tackle it. Knowing how to think about your strategy as a set of grouped tasks will make it not only more manageable but easier to review and assess after the event is over.
What is an Event Promotion Strategy?
You’re probably already familiar with how to promote events, but what about the intricacies of an event promotion strategy? It’s basically a marketing plan that can be broken down into the various stages of event promotion, from pre-launch to live. These different strategies, or methods of promotion, include tools you’re already familiar with, like social media, event marketing software, email newsletters, and partner marketing. Any organized system for choosing and implementing specific marketing tactics to increase awareness about your event can be considered an event promotion strategy.
The most difficult part is discovering which promotion strategy is right for your event. Answering this question starts with learning about what options are available to you. This guide will help showcase some actionable event promotion strategies you can actually use to boost your event ROI.
Table of Contents
- How a Repeat Business System Can Be Used in Your Event Promotion Strategy
- Pre-sale Promotional Strategies You Can Actually Use
- Use Online Resources to Amp Up Email Marketing
- Driving Passive Sales: Let Social Media Work its Magic
- How to be Successful at Video Marketing
- Don’t Forget to Optimize Organic Search Results
- How to Use Display Ads for Event Promotion
- Boost Reach with Effective Partner Promotions
- Personalize Your Way to ABM Success
- Leverage your Event Technology Stack
One of the primary concerns event planners have is how will I get people to come to it? Monthly or annual affairs benefit from an already targeted list of prospects from previous attendees but one-time only events don’t have the same benefit. Here’s how a repeat business system can boost ticket sales for unique events.
What is a repeat business system?
According to a Harvard Business Review study, increasing customer retention by just 5% can create an average revenue increase of 25% to 95%. Moreover, the cost of acquiring a new customer, an attendee in your case, can be five to 25 times more expensive than retaining a current customer. Even if your event only happens one time you can leverage the power of repeat business in your event marketing. Learning how to harness the components of this system can lead to tremendous engagement.
What Do You Need to Harness the Power of Repeat Business?
- Data From Social Media Followers. Does your target audience align with your existing fan base? These followers are all potential candidates for repeat business. They’ve already “bought” into your brand by engaging with you online so inviting them to an event IRL is an easy sell.
- Guest Lists from Related Events. These can be from events you’ve planned in the past or ones that your company has hosted. If they had a good time before, they’ll probably enjoy this new event as well!
- Web Traffic Analytics. Knowing where your target audience finds you on the web helps you serve strategic ads that will let them know about your upcoming event. Since they already know and like your website, getting their attention in places they’re already hanging out will help you sell more tickets.
There are many tools companies can use to implement the repeat business system, but these are the main contributing options. Whatever tool you use, be sure to be very mindful of why your audience would want to give you more of their time and attention and address those needs in your marketing.
The three following examples from CoinDesk, Bizible, and Pharma Forum offer some great ideas of promotions you can conduct to propel the success of your event, from early-bird ticket sales to VIP sweepstakes and an event app that delivers networking value to your attendees.
- CoinDesk’s Early-bird Promotion
CoinDesk actually offered pre-sale tickets to next year’s event a day after they finished their current one! By offering an exclusive discount, they were able to capitalize in the attendees’ very recent memory of their positive experiences to sell more tickets to the next one.
- Bizible’s Creative Sweepstakes
Although Bizible was aiming to generate meetings at another event, the same principle can be applied to your event promotion strategy. Whether you choose to collect email, push social shares, or utilize referral links, a creative and enticing sweepstakes offer can get your audience excited to be involved.
- Pharma Forum’s Event App
Source: Pharma Forum
Take a page out of Pharma Forum’s book and offer an event app. While they utilized this technology to serve attendees who already purchased their tickets, you can still offer a free event app with features like networking profiles, social media connections, and games with real world prizes to get your audience excited about what’s in store when they decide to join you in-person. An app is also useful for increasing event registrations since users will already be using the technology.
Event email marketing is a juggling act. With so many moving parts, you might find it difficult to keep up with the increasing demands to stand out in each recipient’s inbox. While some event marketing platforms like Bizzabo offer email marketing tools, you can also leverage a variety of other marketing automation platforms to assist.
- StreamSend is aimed at helping event organizers with specific features that allow users to upsell, customize opt-in forms, and other tasks that thwart the most common email marketing headaches. Companies can also utilize StreamSend’s built-in database software that can help organize and manage multiple lists at once.
- BombBomb is an email marketing tool that lets you record, send, and track videos within your messages. Videos are a powerful conversion tool but they can often be a bit tricky to plan, film, and share. BombBomb streamlines the whole process so you can get face-to-face with future attendees online.
- ActiveCampaign is another email marketing platform that event organizers can use to promote ticket sales. They offer lots of features to help you figure out what you can improve in all your campaigns! ActiveCampaign even has Split Testing so you can increase engagement by figuring out what your audience responds to the most.
No matter how you choose to go about marketing your event, make sure you know the best tools and practices for email marketing, especially when it regarding event invitations.
Did you know you could have attendees do some of the event promoting leg work for you? Creating passive sales on event social media is pretty simple. By building share incentives into your event marketing plan, you can easily crowdsource additional sales. Here are some great ways to get those sales:
- Social Sharing Ticket Discounts. Offer retroactive discounts to event attendees who get additional guests to attend your event by sharing a unique link on their social platforms. This provides additional incentive to attendees who’d want a discount on their recent ticket purchase, but moreover is an opportunity for registrants to have an accompanying friend.
- Battle of the Hashtag. Turn event hashtags into contests by awarding behind-the-scenes tours or headlining speaker meet-and-greets to those who get the most likes on a post about your event.
- Sponsored Prizes. Organize co-marketing giveaways that include donated gifts from event sponsors for some extra social media love.
However you choose to promote your event online, crowdsourcing attendees and turning them into passionate advocates is a great way to earn passive sales towards your event.
Video marketing is a great way to personalize your event invitations, follow-ups, and promotions. Forming genuine connections starts with being sincere and there’s no better way to showcase authenticity than with a well executed video.
Did you know that in Vidyard’s 2017 Video in Business Benchmark Report, 90% of viewers claim video promotion was the primary reason they decided to purchase? One way to help get those benefits is by empowering your audience with value-packed content. Make sure your videos are centered on experience and not sales, when done successfully a great video promotion will naturally result in event sales.
Event attendees would appreciate bonus recorded lectures, live Q&As, a series of video-based e-courses, or some other extra that they can access to without having to spend money. If your offer is truly valuable, people will be more inclined to trust your brand and get excited about the wealth of opportunities your in-person event can provide for them.
Your event website is one of the most important parts of your promotion strategy—it’s where attendees will look at for event information and updates. When it comes to your event SEO strategy, there are some pretty specific event website hacks every planner should know.
- Optimize for Voice Search. Offer content with very specific keywords or purposes so your event pages can easily reach the top of voice-search results from smart devices. Remember that the top three spots on Google’s search results get 41.1% of all clicks on that page.
- Rank High for Event Specific Keywords. Spend more time targeting long-tail keywords than short ones. Long-tail keywords are more specific, target a niche audience for your event, and tend to be over three words. These will have a much lower search volume and allow your event page to stand out more.
- SEO-Centric Event Site. Build your web pages around these keywords by offering content that fills each phrase in a unique and relevant way.
- Mobile Responsiveness is Key. While less tickets are bought through mobile devices, many event-goers research events on their phones before completing a purchase. Make sure your website is mobile responsive and not just optimized.
- Only use high-quality links. Google and other search engines are able to recognize non-reputable links, relying on these will likely result in site penalization by these search engines. A high-quality link is characterized by being embedded in reputable sources, located near the top of your page, and linked through your targeted keyword for the page. If a link looks a little dodgy but is useful for your post, tag it with "no-follow" parameters.
Unlike search or text-based ads, display ads are online advertisements that appear on relevant websites and social platforms to target a specific audience. While traditionally display ads have been deemed less effective that its search ads counterparts, the low-cost price tag and visual elements are worth testing as part of your holistic event promotion strategy. Here are some tips.
- Hyperfocus your marketing for a smaller audience with a higher ROI. Target URLs your audience visits, apps with content relevant to your keywords, location-specific settings, demographic filters based on your prior research.
- Find out what works for your audience. One low stakes investment is static image ads. They’re great for testing different options without too much financial commitment.
- Stick to the basics. Focus on the three most common ad sizes found through the Google AdWord’s Display Network. These include the Leaderboard (728x90), Inline Rectangle (300x250), and the Skyscraper (120x600).
- Keep things simple by having only one call to action. Viewers should have a good idea of what they’re getting when they click your ad beforehand.
- Choose bold images. If your display ad is filled with too many words or dull pictures, your audience might scroll past without taking a second look. Instead, make sure your design elements streamline the visual experience with bold fonts and images that pop.
Another great way to leverage paid promotion is through retargeting ads.
An effective partner marketing event strategy is rooted in a clear understanding of your event goals, extensive preliminary screenings for partners, and strategies for guaranteeing collective buy-in. While most events don’t require too many different partnerships, putting in the effort early on will help make sure your promotional strategy is a success.
- Understand need. Why do you need a partner? What can you do with a partner that you cannot do on your own? Before reaching out to potential partners, ask the right questions before getting started to help set and achieve goals.
- What value will you be providing your partner? Find out why your partner wants to work with you, what they expect to get out of the promotion, and what they are willing to contribute. Most importantly, make sure you are able to deliver on the aligned goals you come up with, ensuring you foster a long-lasting mutual relationship from the get-go.
- Test out potential partners with smaller projects. Was the communication and teamwork effective enough to work together on promoting an entire event?
- Start off with a stakeholder meeting. Not only will this be a great opportunity to introduce everyone, you’ll also set the right tone for event and ensure a smoother workflow. Be honest and transparent about your needs — maintaining an “open door” policy for both sides to ensure that all questions can be addressed quickly and easily.
- Divide and conquer. List out every task and assign specific members of the team to execute each item. It will be easier to hold everyone accountable and get the job done.
- Establish a documented workflow. Don’t let missed emails or mismanaged tasks slip through the cracks, particularly when considering if you will want to continue working with this partner for future events.
Showing interest in partnering means very little if the company you’re interested in working with doesn’t seem to be on the same page or offer the resources to help you and your event succeed. Keep these points in mind to ensure healthy event PR.
Account-based event marketing revolves around establishing and targeting a set of ideal attendee accounts for your brand and, more importantly, creating campaigns that are tailored specifically to their needs.
The most effective account based marketing strategy for event promotion makes use of a diverse set of principles. Devoting time to understand the individuals who make up your ideal audience helps build long-term relationships while increasing their potential interest in your events. While there are many fundamentals associated with account based marketing, here are a few cornerstones for any event promotion strategy.
- Create dynamic offers that are a perfect fit for your target audience. Use analytics to create a social report on your prospects and create tailored campaigns based on this data. Try, for instance, segmenting potential audiences by industry, by job title, or company size.
- Fully customize your landing pages. All of your copy, images, offers, and forms should be unique to your targeted viewer. You can even go as far as to include the prospect’s name at the top to really emphasize the extent of personalization you strive for.
- Use Google Alerts to gather and act on social intelligence. Set up and study the information to determine what current initiatives and challenges your target audience is engaging with. Knowing what your prospects care about will help make your ABM marketing more specific and timely.
In addition to aligning sales and marketing efforts, these tips will help you achieve the core of truly successful event promotion through ABM. Diligently segmenting and targeting is easier said than done, but this is a great place to start.
Your event promotion strategies should be facilitated by your event technology stack — the technology that makes your event come to life, from your event software and email marketing tools to your event app. Many of these were mentioned in this list and are tools that become crucial when forming your event promotion strategy, but more importantly in determining the success of your event.
Consider taking an event technology assessment to see how your current tools are helping deliver a successful event—from generating event awareness to engaging your attendees— and where there is room for improvement.
As you can tell, there are plenty of ways to enhance your event promotion strategy. To tie it all together, here are some ideas you should remember—regardless of which promotional strategies you end up employing:
- You don’t have to start from scratch! There are plenty of amazing tools and resources to aid you in creating the perfect event promotion strategy. Find the one that works best for you by keeping your goals in mind, and understanding how these tools will help you deliver those targets time and time again.
- Be as specific as possible in everything you do. Getting to know your audience is the foundation of any successful marketing plan.
- Ask for help when needed. There are plenty of people, companies, and teams that are happy to team up and promote your event. Be sure to take advantage of what your network has to offer.
Use these ideas and examples to create an event promotion strategy that propels your event to the next level. With the proper resources and information, your event promotion strategy will become crystal clear and easier to carry out.