10 Steps for Creating a Great Event Marketing Plan
If an event doesn’t have a marketing strategy, does it even make a sound?
In this blog post we’ll explore event marketing strategies and examples—and our best practices for creating a successful event marketing plan.
You’ve spent months sourcing your tech and your speakers, debating whether it’s worth going back to in-person or staying virtual, and building out a packed conference agenda.
The core components of your event are in place.
Phew! Time to take a breather, right?
Not quite. (Sorry.)
Managing an event is one thing. Marketing it, getting people excited and getting them to attend is a whole other quest. And even your event marketing strategy is just one component of your larger event strategy.
But setting up effective marketing strategies is one of the best ways to maximize the impact of your event.
10 Event Marketing Strategies to Make a Splash
OK. It’s time to promote your event. But the question is: Where do you start?
Like most marketing plans, there’s no one right or wrong solution to creating your event marketing strategy. It’s a matter of picking and choosing which strategies work best for your unique event.
The following list of steps will hopefully serve as a resource for creating your own event marketing plan that successfully reach the target audience and maximize registration.
1) Design a stellar event website
The event website is where your prospective attendees convert to actual attendees. For that reason alone, it’s arguably one of your most important pieces of marketing collateral.
An exceptional event website is a marketing strategy in and of itself, as a positive user experience will yield higher enthusiasm for the actual event. With that in mind, invest considerable time and effort into building an event website this is well-designed in terms of both appearance and user experience. The example below may serve as a helpful reference for website design.
When developing the aesthetic of your event website, make sure to let your event brand shine. Using consistent colors and fonts on all pages will unify the brand and keep the event memorable in the minds of website visitors.
2) Develop a serial event content strategy
Because an event is a singular moment that attendees are looking forward to, building anticipation within event marketing campaigns will help to drive action.
Content marketing is the go-to channel for building up momentum before the event. More specifically, episodic content that focuses on a “behind-the-scenes” aspect of the event can be an effective way to develop considerable excitement. A great example of this would be the speaker series from Brightcove’s PLAY 2018 event.
This series of interviews (created in either video or text format) features individuals that will be speaking at Brightcove’s flagship event and dives into the background of each speaker to give attendees a fuller scope of their expertise. This interview series does well to offer engaging and consistent content to viewers in order to increase excitement for the event.
3) Plan nurture email campaign for your event
Similar to a serial content strategy, creating an email marketing strategy that involves sending several emails over a period of time is an effective way to keep the audience engaged.
The idea of a nurture email campaign is to gradually nudge the recipient towards the desired action (i.e. registering for the event) through a series of emails. The timing of each message should be spread out so as to not flood the recipient’s inbox and create an unpleasant experience.
In addition to timing, your emails should be segmented so that each message is as relevant to the recipient as possible. Filtering for job description, geographic location, and industry are good ways to ensure relevant messages are sent to the right people, ultimately leading to higher click-through rates and thus more registrations.
For more email marketing tips for live events, click on the CTA below to access the Email Marketing Ebook.
4) Articulate your event’s value proposition
This relates to the age-old question that marketers must answer: What’s in it for me?
Attendees should be able to understand exactly what they will be receiving as a result of attending the event. Not being able to clearly communicate the value proposition through your marketing efforts is a sign that the event content must be better organized and articulated.
Prospective registrants will want to how they will benefit from attending the event and the clearer of their understanding, the more likely they will attend.
A lot of times we actually don’t break even and we take a little bit of a loss but we’re OK with that. We want people to know that you’re not paying for our salaries. We’re trying to do this for you and invest everything back into the customer experience. That shows up in the AV and the quality of speakers on stage and that shows up I the networking opportunities of meeting other attendees.
—Danielle Launders, Community Events Manager, Moz
5) Devise specific event messaging for decision-makers
To state the obvious, the ultimate goal of an event marketing plan is to maximize registration. To be more specific, that also means to convince the right people.
Often times a person may very well want to register for the event but it is their manager or another high level executive who must sign off on the purchase. In these instances, it makes sense to create marketing collateral that directly addresses the concerns of these decision makers in order to speed up the buying process.
The marketing team for Zoomtopia are well aware of the “convince your boss” pain point and to create a more frictionless buying process, they attached a pre-drafted letter that employees could send to the relevant decision makers to help convince them to sign off on the event registration.
Thoughtful tactics like this are what separates predictable marketing strategies from exceptional ones.
6) Turn event attendees into advocates
Remember that event promotion does not only have to be from the organizer’s side. Attendees can also advocate on your behalf by encouraging their networks to register for the event. This can happen as a result of genuine enthusiasm from attendees but creating an incentive to share the event is also an effective solution.
This is particularly useful for virtual and hybrid events, when attendees are looking for ways engage with events past their computer screens.
Bizzabo’s TicketBoost in action.
The TicketBoost feature in Bizzabo’s event management platform is one tool that helps event professionals do this. Attendees receive a retroactive discount if people register with the link they shared on their social media networks. This incentivized way of sharing your event organically through your attendees’ social networks easily turns your attendees into event advocates.
7) Create visuals from previous events
Sometimes it is best to show people why they’ll enjoy the event instead of telling them. Effective event marketing plans should include images and videos from previous events to help potential attendees visualize what it will be like to be part of the event. Using video testimonials helps to further solidify the experience within the minds of prospective registrants.
It’s no good just saying ‘come to this event, it’s going to be great for X, Y, Z reasons’ – you should SHOW it. If it’s an event that has happened previously – then get to sharing videos and photos of previous successful events, maybe even video testimonials from those who attended.
—Andrew Pickering and Peter Gartland
Co-founders, Andrew & Pete
8) Coordinate event co-marketing initiatives with sponsors
Just as attendees can take part in the event marketing plan, sponsors can also collaborate to create co-marketing strategies. Sponsors also have a strong incentive to have a high number of attendees as that will mean a larger audience for their own onsite marketing goals.
Be creative and proactive in creating co-marketing strategies that serve both you and your sponsors’ interests. A simple way to do this is to include sponsors’ logos and brand colors on marketing collateral. The below example shows how Bizzabo and CloserIQ came together to co-promote an HR event.
9) Launch targeted event social media campaigns
Both paid and organic forms of social media campaigns are go-to solutions for marketing your event. Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind when forming organic social media campaigns:
- Use short, shareable hashtags and captions.
- Use collateral that is easily shareable such as 5 second videos, eye-catching images, and well designed infographics.
- For virtual and hybrid events, share the ways they can engage with the event before and beyond the day-of.
For paid social campaigns, the strategizing can become more complex. Specifying your target demographic, serving different types of ads, and constantly optimizing your reach and conversions are key to sustaining a successful paid social campaign. Of course this differs by social media platform but the general best practices for quality paid social media campaigns remains true across channels.
If you’re specifically interested in event promotion on Facebook, check out the video below.
10) Measure event success with relevant KPIs
All good marketing strategies consist of a variety of channels that aim to convert the target audience. However, simply executing on different initiatives does not constitute a successful strategy.
While it may feel satisfying to have campaigns in AdWords, email, and social media happening at the same time, these initiatives mean very little if the success is not defined or being measured. For each marketing initiative, set specific KPIs to properly measure success over the course of the campaign.
How many times is your event website being shared on social? What is the click-through rate for keyword biddings on AdWords? Establishing KPIs is essential to understanding the performance level of each campaign.
The ultimate KPI that any event marketer wants to measure is the total number of event registrations. More specifically, they want to know which channels are leading to the most completed registrations.
To get accurate insight into this question, your platforms should be integrated so that each database is able to talk to one another. Being able to integrate all campaigns to the main event management platform is key to properly attributing to each registration to the correct campaign.
The resulting insights will inform future event marketing strategies by indicating which channels are most effective. Software integrations make it easier to keep track of progress while keeping KPIs clean and consistent across platforms.
If you’re looking to learn more about event data integrations, click on the button below to access our ebook on the topic.
Wrapping Up: Crafting a Successful Event Marketing Plan
We’ll be the first to admit: it can feel overwhelming to devise an event marketing strategy that works. The good news is you have a lot of tools at your disposal, and you don’t have to (and, in some cases, shouldn’t) use them all.
Next time you put together an event marketing plan, consider how you could:
- Build an on-brand event website
- Create a serial content strategy promotional content
- Use hybrid events to boost engagement and reach
- Leverage your partners, sponsors and even attendees
- Take to social media
- Segment your messaging
- And, most importantly, measure your success.
It’s your event. Make some noise for it.