The date is set, the venue booked and now it’s time to start thinking about driving attendance at your event. Whilst we appreciate that every event is different, from the goals, lead time, budget or audience, there are still many commonalities in marketing tactics that can be used. We’ve pulled together our best tips and tactics to help you successfully create an integrated event marketing plan.
Firstly it’s important to define what your goals are, whether its ticket sales or attendee numbers etc and starts to clearly map out who your target audience is. A clearly defined target audience is vital, as this will determine the marketing channels you use when promoting your event. Once you’ve defined your target audience, it’s time to set your budget and decide on the channels where you can best get it front of your audience. Clearly setting out your measurement tools from the beginning is also crucial, as this is the only way to know if your approach is working and how to adapt accordingly.
Once the above have all been set out, then it’s time to start pulling together your omnichannel event marketing plan. The best event marketing strategies follow a timeline, are highly targeted and follow a logical sequence, each promotion reinforcing the last.
A compelling website is a crucial component of your event marketing strategy and can be the make or break of your campaign. As the face of your event, your website is the primary place people will go to get further information and they will make a decision within a millisecond of whether they want to stay on the site. Below are a few of our tips on how to create an excellent event website that will drive more conversions.
The branding and design of your website are vital elements. Your site needs to be visual, well designed and most importantly build trust. Your visitors want to feel like they’re signing up for an event that they have confidence in.
The key facts
Whilst it might sound simple, be sure you include all the information about your event from speakers, directions, biogs, through to contact details. Users don’t want to have to spend time digging for information on your event.
Make sure your site is responsive
It’s important that your site works across all devices. A bad user experience will mean that you will have an unnecessarily high drop off rate and ultimately lower conversions.
Ensure your website has the capability to drive ticket purchases
If your event requires ticket sales, then it needs to be able to handle people buying tickets. This is often an afterthought and users are then faced with a clunky and badly functioning booking system.
Include prominent CTAs
If the purpose of your website is to sell tickets or drive attendance, then it needs a strong call to action. Make your CTA stand out with short and snappy compelling copy, contrasting colours and always located in easily visible spots.
Include your social media buttons
Driving people to follow your social media channels is a simple way to direct them to a channel where they can be fed more continuous content about your event.
Analyse the data
Set up your website at initial launch with Google Analytics and regularly analyse the data. This will help guide you on what are your most effective marketing tactics.
Your event needs to be found
Investing time in SEO is vital to the success of your event and is critical during the ‘discovery’ phase of a buyer’s journey. It might seem like a daunting task, but there are simple ways you can improve your findability, as Bizzabo details in their SEO guide here.
Blog and video content
Keeping your website up to date with fresh content not only helps your Google ranking but is a chance for your visitors to engage further with what your event is about.
Email is one of the most effective tactics for event organisers. With a staggering 91% checking their inbox every day, it is one of the top channels to help you build event attendance and should always be an intrinsic part of any event marketing strategy.
Create a comms plan
Forming a long-term email marketing campaign calendar is vital and will help shape other components of your event marketing strategy. Important dates of your event need to be identified such as early bird deadlines or new speakers added, and email content then planned around those dates. Your final email schedule should always encompass pre, during and post-event activities.
Segment your data
Creating dedicated mailing lists and targeting your content to each of these lists will always lead to higher conversions. New users, vs. the highly engaged, vs. a user that needs to be re-engaged should be identified and then content tailored to them. You will see a much higher success rate if they’re deeming the content as more valuable to their needs.
Create a sense of urgency
If your emails contain a sense of urgency you’re more likely to convert the less engaged into attendees. Map out key deadlines and time your content around these.
Include prominent CTAs
Every email is designed to encourage action. For those who have still yet to convert be sure to include prominent CTAs.
Improve your open rate
For your users to read your emails you must always provide value. This might include offering a prize, discount offers, alerting them to key dates or providing best practice tips.
A/B Split Testing
A/B testing is a brilliant way to track what content is resonating with your audience, and adapt accordingly. It allows you to send the same email to your database, but with one variant changed, such as the subject line. This then enables you to see which subject line has been opened more times, so that moving forward you can tweak your content in line with what resonates best with your audience.
For your email marketing to be highly effective it needs to be continually measured. From the offset decide how you will measure the success. Is it open-rate? Click-through rate? Engagement? Continually mix up your approach so that you can see what works and what doesn’t.
Social media is a must-have for any event marketing strategy, and can be one of the most powerful ways to create buzz around your event. People join social media networks so that they can connect and interact with their peers; characteristics you can use to your advantage when it comes to planning and promoting any event you are hosting.
Each channel is different, requiring different messaging, so it’s important to figure out each platform, what works on each, and what will enhance the likelihood of your content going viral and drive attendance at your event. For a more detailed explanation on each platform then Awario has a guide on the differences between each. With a clearly pre-defined target audience, you will be clearer on which channels to use and where to place the majority of your efforts. Ensure you continually refer back to your analytics to see which channel drives the most conversions, and therefore which channel to place most of your marketing efforts moving forward.
Decide your channels
Identifying the correct social media channels is key so that you’re not wasting efforts on a platform which your target audience wouldn’t use. Create clear, well populated and visual pages. This will help build credibility. Biogs should clearly state what your event is about, and always direct your audience back to your event website.
Select your tools
Managing your social media channels can seem like an overwhelming task initially, but with systems such as Hootsuite or Buffer you can easily schedule posts in advance, whether it’s around registration, countdowns, testimonials or the agenda. The systems will work out when your audience consume content best across each platform allowing you to post at times when you will see the most engagement.
Nobody likes text heavy content, and with a possible 650% more engagement with an image it’s always worth including visuals with each post. There are multiple programmes that can help you with creating graphic content, from Canva and Pixlr to BeFunky. Resize your images so they’re the correct size for each social channel; an image that displays well is far more likely to be re-shared.
Create an event hashtag
For any event a hashtag is key as it will help you track any activity around that keyword, and make it much easier for you to spread the word. When creating your hashtag there are a few things to keep in mind
– It needs to be short. With 280 characters to play with in Twitter, your followers will be much less likely to use it if they can’t fit it in their tweets.
– It must be unique. Search for your proposed hashtag before you use it. It will be far easier to track if you’re not contending with another.
– It must be relevant. It must reflect your event. A hashtag that bears no relevancy to your event is far less likely to be shared.
– It must be memorable. During the event, you don’t want your attendees constantly searching for the hashtag. Create something they can easily remember.
Make sure your hashtag is used across all promotions, so that your audience become familiar with what it is. When we say everywhere we mean everywhere, from every digital image you create, your email signature, the website etc. Continually track the hashtag to see what people are saying; this will help you better engage with your audience and allow you to also tweak your marketing content where relevant.
Make it easily shareable
Make it easy for your sponsors, fans and attendees to share your content with ‘click to share’ buttons. For your sponsors, give them pre-written tweets and provide a link to downloadable audio, video, graphics, blog posts etc so they’re more likely to share your content.
Promote your speakers
Promote your speakers with a headshot of the speaker and a powerful statement. This helps give people a glimpse into that speaker and understand more about what their presentation might be about. Whilst giving your speakers additional exposure it also is more likely to be shared by them to their own social media audiences.
Identify key influencers
Whether they’re journalists, bloggers, or just those who are noticeably more active on social media give them the assets they need to update their audiences on your event.
Post often about key deadlines
If driving ticket purchases, then use urgency to drive these purchases, posting whenever early bird ticket sales or registrations are about to end.
Run a contest
Prizes are one of the easiest ways to incentivise your audience to share your content.
Create an event on Facebook
Ensure that your event page is listed as an upcoming event on your business page, and give users the option to subscribe to upcoming events. Be sure to add the correct data for the event, as Facebook’s algorithm will then recommend your event to users on a variety of factors. Share the event on your timeline, amending the audience preferences so that you’re able to target users by location or language
Go behind the scenes
Whilst preparing for the event, share behind the scene pics to create a buzz leading up – this helps make fans feel like insiders with behind-the-scenes glances at the event production.
Retweet posts from excited attendees as well
These posts are free marketing to potential attendees.
Install Twitter vending machines or photo booths
A simple way onsite to engage your delegates and to encourage chatter about your event.
According to Forrester Research, one minute of video is worth 1.8 million words. Video is a great way to convey what your event is about and create multiple engagement opportunities for your audience. Once created, video content can be leveraged everywhere, from your website and newsletters through to your social media.
The sizzle reel
If this isn’t the first time you’ve run this event then hopefully you have a wealth of video footage that you can repurpose for a promotional video. This is a great way to remind previous attendees what a great event last year was and also attract new delegates. Be sure to finish it with a resounding CTA.
The testimonial video
Nothing works better at establishing credibility for your event than a testimonial video. People are far more trusting of real customers speaking in their own words about an event they’ve attended.
Live video means that events can be accessible to a global audience. It is still not being used to its full capacity at events so it is an easy way to set yourself apart from your competitors.
For those events which have a shorter lead time and don’t have time to wait for SEO to propel them to the top of the search results, then paid search can be a really effective marketing tool to convert visitors into actual event attendees. Whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn ads or Google AdWords, below are our tips on using pay-per-click (PPC) to get the most out of your marketing budget.
Defining your conversion goals
Before you set up a PPC campaign you need to have well-defined conversion goals. This might be ticket purchases, registrations or newsletter subscriptions. Having pre-determined conversion goals allows you to select the appropriate keywords and create ad copy around these goals.
Which platform to use?
There are several platforms that offer PPC advertising, with the most popular being Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn. The platform you use will be determined by your target audience, but it is always worth testing across multiple platforms to see which one is driving the most conversions and adapt accordingly.
Determining your budget
Firstly identify what your ideal customer acquisition cost is and determine your starting budget from this. You can always adjust from here, and constantly optimise the campaign to improve the performance.
Keyword research is king
The keywords you choose are very important in determining whether your PPC campaign will be a success. With PPC you want to target ‘buyer’ keywords and not just general keywords that will end up costing you money without delivering results.
Your event ad needs to grab the attention of the individual performing the search, so you want your title as well as your description and display URL to include the keyword that brought the individual to your ad. By producing several versions you can then discard the ads that are underperforming and allocate more of your budget to those ads that are resulting in conversions.
Test and optimise
By continuing to test different copy, ad words or landing pages you can have a more realistic picture of which variants turn an ROI.
A blog is great for businesses because it allows for a company to attract not just general web traffic, but qualified web traffic. These qualified visitors who are actively seeking information with a specific problem in mind, are more likely to turn into leads or customers.
Give insight into your event
Blogs are a great way to give further insight into your event, whether it interviews with your speakers, content around presentation themes, or updates on sponsors. They also support your social media strategy, providing a wealth of content that can be used to share across your channels. Invite your speakers to write guest posts, and in return write blog content for their sites. Post-event do a round-up blog summarising the event.
It is extremely important to be consistent in publishing content so that your website is always associated with containing fresh content. This will help your Google rankings whilst also be building credibility for your event.
Answer your customers’ challenges
Think about what your customers are searching for when you want them to land on your site; these search words are the keywords in which you want to rank for. When writing your content, it helps to make a keyword list that you can enter into tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner to double check and ensure they are the most-trafficked keywords that relate to you.
Harriette Wilmoth, Marketing Manager, Banks Sadler