Event Marketing: 7 Tips for Boosting Virtual and Hybrid Event Registrations
As we move deeper into 2022, event marketers have their work cut out for them. Businesses are increasingly focused on a return to in-person events, making it increasingly challenging for event marketers to register attendees for virtual and hybrid events.
At the same time, most event marketers are still getting used to promoting hybrid and virtual events and the related growing pains. For example, someone who’s been planning in-person events throughout their career might be inclined to put more energy into planning the real-world experience while treating virtual attendees as an afterthought. As a result, it becomes that much harder to tap into a truly global audience of prospective attendees.
The good news is that it’s possible to stand out in a world that’s all Zoomed out. With these seven tips for marketing your virtual and hybrid events, you’ll attract more attendees from across the world while simultaneously ensuring those who attend in-person have unique experiences.
1. Develop an Event Strategy and Marketing Plan
Unfortunately, you can’t just decide to have an event, create content to promote it, and expect great results. Instead, you need to spend time creating and refining an event strategy to determine your goals, what type of event you’re going to put on, and what ideal attendees look like. Here are some examples of event goals that could shape your event strategy:
- Boost brand awareness
- Generate revenue or pipeline
- Engage or educate customers
- Engage or educate employees
- Develop better sponsor/partner relationships
Once you’ve ironed out your event strategy, it’s time to craft an event marketing plan that outlines how you’ll accomplish your objectives and ensure people see your content. Your marketing plan should include detailed information about the following:
- Event website
- Email campaigns
- Event theme and value proposition
- Event messaging
- Graphics and design
- Co-marketing and sponsorships
- Social media marketing
2. Emphasize Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Strategies
Although the events industry has made progress in prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), there is still a ways to go.
If your goal is to convince more folks to attend your next virtual or hybrid event, you need to deliver a diverse speaker roster while taking a proactive approach to ensure your event is as inclusive as possible. Some ways to do that include booking event venues that are service dog-friendly, letting attendees choose their pronouns on badges or your event app, and building accessibility into online experiences.
3. Promote Your Sponsors and Leverage Their Audiences
Getting the best results from your next event starts with onboarding the right mix of event sponsors and ensuring you deliver value to make it worth their while. Keep in mind that you don’t have to wait until the event begins to start holding up your end of the bargain.
By promoting your sponsors ahead of time and thanking them for their support on social channels, you can help them raise brand awareness while also tapping into their audiences — and boost event registrations too.
4. Implement Thoughtful Pricing Tiers
Rather than expecting virtual attendees to pay the same amount as in-person attendees, consider implementing pricing tiers to make remote attendance more appealing.
According to our research, 80% of virtual events are free to attend. Still, virtual event pricing strategies will likely change as more events return to in-person and event planners reevaluate event budgets. Whatever route you take with your pricing tiers, you must remember that the price you charge should make sense with the event experience you’re delivering.
For example, if your virtual experience is on-demand videos only, you may want to go the free route. If your virtual experience includes networking, 1:1 meetings, entertainment, and more, you can get by charging attendees a meaningful fee. Here is an excellent example of hybrid event pricing tiers from INBOUND 2022:
5. Personalize the Attendee Registration Experience
You have two very different audiences to think about if you’re planning a hybrid event. The more personalized the ticketing and registration experience, the more likely it is that prospective attendees will be able to see themselves at your event. Here are a few ideas for personalizing the registration experience:
- Unique landing pages: Because each audience will have a different experience, you can create dedicated landing pages for each group of attendees and customize messaging accordingly.
- Explain the experience: On your “Why to Attend” page or section of your event site, be sure to highlight and explain what each audience can expect.
- Leverage design for clarity: In the INBOUND 2022 example above, you can see that the in-person options are in orange and the virtual options are in blue, creating a clear distinction between the hybrid event options.
Here’s a great example of a registration page from Pride Summit 2022 — which is hybrid this year — that explains exactly what each attendee type can expect from the event:
6. Level Up Your Email Marketing Game
Similarly, you’ll also need to segment your audience when reaching out via email. If someone is planning to attend the event remotely, they may not want to read about all of the fabulous amenities and experiences folks who attend in person will be able to enjoy. Here are a few tips:
- Be sure your launch email entices your audience to sign up by including agenda items, speaker profiles, and more.
- Keep your event marketing emails short and sweet with a clear CTA that drives them to your event registration site.
- Include a link to your COVID-19 policies and procedures so people can decide whether they’re comfortable attending in-person or would prefer to attend virtually.
- Don’t forget to leverage past event content in your email marketing efforts as a selling point to boost registrations. Link to a section on your event website that features links to past keynotes, sessions, and other content to entice prospective attendees to register.
Get more tips: The Secret Science of Email Marketing for In-Person Events
7. Invest in an Event Experience Partner
Maximizing your event marketing dollars to hit your event goals is much easier when you have the right tools in place. When you invest in an event experience platform, managing the entire event from conception to completion is a breeze. Here’s what to look for in an event management software partner:
- Attendee management
- Content management
- Marketing features
- Reporting and analytics
- Customer support
- Attendee engagement
- Dynamic content delivery
- In-Person event orchestration
- Martech integrations
By investing in event management software that caters to every type of event in every format, you’ll be able to successfully pull off an event that achieves your goals and proves ROI. Plus, you get access to a wealth of data you can use to plan future events and the strategies around them.
Lastly, you need event software that works with you (not against you) and simplifies your high-stress life as an event professional. If event plans change and you have to pivot from in-person to virtual or hybrid or vice versa, the right software will pivot with you seamlessly. Schedule a demo with Bizzabo, and see how we can help you increase hybrid and virtual registrations.