With the end of the pandemic NOT in sight, putting together virtual, hybrid or in-person events in 2021 while conforming to COVID-19 guidelines is still quite the challenge, to say the least. Marketing these events online and getting a good turnout is another story.
As we’ve looked into various marketing trends in 2021, it seems the more authentic and creative your content is, the more successful you will be in your marketing strategy, whether it is for an event, business or new product.
But first, you must have a plan to reach that goal. Here is our step-by-step checklist to help you effectively market your event in 2021 and beyond:
1. Set an Objective
Before anything else, set an objective for your event. How many people do you ideally want to attend? How many people do you actually think will show up? How much are you willing to spend on marketing if any?
By setting a specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely (SMART) objective, it will help you foresee what a successful outcome will look like and take specific actions to reach that goal. Also, you want to ensure that your marketing messages are crafted in a way that brings your target audience closer towards your end goal.
Your goals should focus on attracting more participants for your event by reaching out to a greater audience. The great thing about virtual events is that since you are promoting your event online, you have the potential to reach an audience globally.
2. Identify Your Audience
In order to create an effective approach to promoting your event online, you will need to pinpoint and understand who you are targeting and identify their interests and motivations.
To begin knowing your audience more, create an audience persona for your ideal audience. First, decide what age group, gender and location you want to target. Second, identify attributes like type of profession, industry they work in or interests. Then, think about where they spend most of their time online and their media preferences. Lastly, knowing their motivations and goals will help you effectively decide which important aspect of the event to promote more.
3. Create a Landing Page with a Catchy Headline
Once you have set a goal and identified your target audience for the event, it’s crucial to determine an appropriate destination to send your audience to not only register for your event but also learn more.
Remember, simply driving people to the landing page is only half the battle. To really capture their attention and convince them to attend your event, you must first have a compelling headline or value proposition. Why should they attend your event? What will they get out of it? Short, catchy headlines always work best.
If you really want to make your landing page stand out, create a web banner for your event that contains not only the headline, but also a powerful image and key information about the event. It’s important to keep the design of your banner consistent and on-theme with the rest of your promotional content. See below an example of a web banner layout and how you can utilize it to lay out your event information.
Next, include a brief overview of the event that gives enough information to make your audience curious and want to learn more. You don’t want to be too vague but also don’t write chunks of paragraphs. A little background on the speakers will go here as well.
Supporting imagery and video content will also be essential for your event’s landing page. Add images from past events or add any social media content you are using to promote the event.
If you are running paid ads from other sites, make sure you have installed the right conversion code on your website to track exactly how many visitors come from those channels, whether it’s from Google, LinkedIn or Facebook. The metrics should be able to tell you what pages those visitors visited and whether or not you were able to “convert” them into customers or attendees.
Digital analytics like this helps you measure and make improvements to your page when you notice many people leaving a certain page without taking further action. The data also allows you to track whether your ads are working.
4. Reach Your Audience at the Right Moments Through Email Marketing
Statistically, over 40% of marketers believe email marketing is the most effective way to promote an event. Depending on how far out your event is, you should ideally plan to send out one email promotion per week prior to the event. However, it’s important to not overdo it as you don’t want to turn off your audience completely. Nowadays, most people’s inboxes are filled with promotions so you don’t want your event material to become mixed up with other junk.
Take advantage of email automation features available on most email marketing platforms, such as Mailchimp. With email automation, you can stay in touch with your audience throughout the “customer journey” without having to worry about doing something each week.
To make your emails stand out and immediately catch your audience’s attention, incorporate compelling subject lines and call-to-action. Remember, less is more. Don’t fill up your emails with every single piece of info about the event. Always leave a few breadcrumbs behind so they get compelled to click and learn more.
5. Provide a Sneak-Peek Video Clip
Video marketing is a highly effective form of content that provides marketers with an attractive, versatile, and a highly shareable medium that reaches out to their audience.
By creating a short brief video introducing what the event will be about, it can help create buzz and deliver a great amount of information in a much more compelling and engaging manner.
Even though the creation of a video takes more time and effort, the outcome of the audience’s interaction with the response to the virtual event will be worth it.
Make sure you create this video in the beginning of your event promotions and perhaps do another one when it gets closer to the event to get people excited.
If your event has the budget for it, it may be worth considering producing the video with a professional video production company. The more professional your video quality is, the more likely your audience will take your event seriously and feel enticed to attend.
6. Create Compelling, Authentic Content on Social Media
The use of social media is an essential and necessary part of event marketing. By using your follower base, whether on the company page or your own personal page, it is important to keep up with your followers and remind them in a timely manner about the event.
However, simply reminding people about when the event is and how to register, is simply NOT enough. In order to get and keep people’s attention, you must find creative, out-of-the-box ways to indirectly promote your event on social.
For example, post behind-the-scene videos of yourself or team members preparing for the event. Share a funny meme or video that is somehow relevant to your event. Tell the story of one of the speakers in a compelling way. Share photos or videos from past events to let people see what they will get out of attending the upcoming event.
Better yet take advantage of TikTok. Have someone on your team make a funny, inspirational or informational video relevant to your event which can easily be reshared on social media and possibly go viral. The popular content sharing platform makes it easy for anyone to create short videos which can go viral and gain an untapped, loyal audience.
7. Leverage Your Sponsors and Speakers
Remember, not only is it important to make your own audience aware of your upcoming event, but you should also take advantage of your event sponsors and speakers. Encourage them to share the event on their websites, social media channels and email distribution lists. If you want to go a step further, provide them branded content so they can post on their channels. After all, having a good turnout for your event is in their interest also.
Use your speakers as event ambassadors. Have them mention the event to their networks, whether online or in-person. Speakers are essentially the face of your event and integrating them in your marketing strategy as much as possible will be the key to your success.
by Tabasum Lutfi
Lead Digital Strategist at TriVision