At Make Venues, we host many different sorts of events, for many different businesses. For some, events are mandatory, a part of the delegates role or job description. Others are a by-product of what the company does, for instance a training company trains professionals, but needs a place to do so.
However, there is a kind of event which is open and relies on effective marketing to attract people to their event, and to make it commercially viable. How they market, how they attract people and how they work within their communities can tell us all a lot about how to work with the people that attend our events to make them more productive, powerful and reach more people.
So here’s our guide to promoting your event online… successfully!
How to Strategically Promote Your Event Online
Like all good business, marketing is about preparation; proper research, planning, targeting, implementation and measurement.
But it's also about insight and understanding as well. While often marketing is characterised as a business shouting its message, online marketing specifically allows the business to listen too. This is especially relevant for those putting on events, it allows early engagement and the chance to adapt the event to meet the needs of those it is looking to talk to.
Event profs talk a lot about ‘community marketing’ and this is essentially about how it starts. Events, by their very nature, exist to serve a community, so how can you find those people, talk to them, listen to them and bring them together at your event.
Let’s start by looking at the campaign strategy for the event, possibly the most important part of promoting a successful event online.
1. Conduct Market Research
Market research is crucial to a successful event. Without it, you risk creating an event in an overly saturated market, misunderstanding your marketplace or miss a potential external factor that would put a spanner in the works.
Market research is, at its simplest, collecting, analysing and interpreting data on your customers, competitors, the industry and every other factor that will influence your event and your audience.
In this case, it’s the very beginning of your events entry into its community. What brings them together, be it their profession, their interest, their geography or their passions, it’s about understanding the type of person and where they are and building marketing strategies that will speak directly to them.
Many events exist because the community created them, so often this information is already at hand and the event organiser will have an excellent understanding of their audience. At this point, growth can be found in trying to grow the community wider, using the event as an instigation point to bring more people together who share the same interest.
2. Identify Your Target Audience
Covered somewhat briefly in the above section, but identifying your target audience is important because it's about breaking down the audience beyond what they do professionally and beyond why they are at the event.
To get started, it may be helpful to utilise your existing customers to find out just exactly which other demographic insight you can draw on. What industry are they from? What are their buying habits? What messages do they respond to? Are they predominantly male/female? This data can be found in reporting tools such as Google Analytics or your CRM (if you have one and is maintained regularly).
Creating a customer persona or ‘customer profile’ is key to understanding exactly who your customers are, and what pain points they are experiencing. Detailing everything from their interests, how they buy, what channels they use, and how you can help, customer personas are great for creating targeted and more personalised content to your customers.
One of the latest developments in profiling an audience is ‘emotional data’ not just who and what they are, but how they feel about certain things? This can be anything from their favourite colour, to the type of music they like, and their opinions on sustainability, family or society etc.
3. Develop the Identity of your Event
Much like creating a brand for your business, the same needs to be done for your event. Your event needs a personality, a unique selling proposition that speaks to your audience and your potential audience.
Now is the time to use the information you have gathered about your audience, their pain points, their emotional data as well as their typical profile data, and use it to create the identity of the event.
This will come out in design elements, in the use of photography, language, the development of the logo and even the content of the event itself.
4. Decide on the Marketing Channels
Now you have somewhat of a strategy, it’s time to think about the tactics that you are going to implement. In today’s online world there are a number of online marketing channels to choose from; social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc., email marketing, SEO, PPC, and many more.
Use the data derived from your target audience research to decipher which platforms they’re on and actively using. If your audience is prominently B2B, they are most likely not going to be found on Pinterest, so find out exactly where is best to target for the best engagement and to spend your campaign activity wisely.
Online marketing is especially good at focusing your efforts (and often your budget), digital platforms have great knowledge around who is using their services and can help you reach the right people who want to hear from you, and not disturbing those who won’t.
5. Set Objectives
What is a campaign without objectives? How do you know if you succeeded? A marketing objective can be as simple as ‘we want to sell 200 tickets’ but for an objective to be effective and drive tangible, measurable results they need to be SMART.
For anyone who has never stumbled across ‘SMART objectives’ before, it stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.
Tips for Promoting your Event Online
Now you know your event inside out, your target audience, your key message; the works. It’s time to drill down into the actual tactics of promoting your event.
How exactly are you going to promote your event online? What specific actions are required? Let’s take a look.
1. Create a Content Calendar
Now you have your key messages, target audience etc. it’s going to be relatively easy to put together a content calendar that resonates with your audience.
As with all events, utilising established techniques such as ‘behind the scenes’, event updates, quotes from speakers, footage from last year (if applicable), testimonials, and polls can always be hard-hitters.
But to really drive engagement, it’s suggested to include specific pain points in your content calendar, address problems and offer solutions - become an authoritative source of information. That emotional data we mentioned? Use it to offer them something different, insightful content, angles and information on a parallel subject that they may not have considered before.
Tap into user intent, drive engagement through identifying and producing quality content around long-tail keywords such as questions. Such as if your event was about ‘productivity in meetings’, you could create a piece of content around ‘how do you avoid long meetings?’
If you’re struggling for ideas, alsoasked.com is a great starting point to understand what your customers are talking about, as well as investing some time into social listening.
2. Utilise SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
If you have a website you have most likely heard of the marketing channel that is search engine optimisation, or SEO for short. A free, creative means of getting your content in front of your customer’s faces organically. No need to allocate budget spend, just man-hours.
There are many ways in which SEO can help promote your event online, from optimising your event pages to target relevant keywords (realistically you’ll have more success with niche phrases) and long-tail keywords for addressing user intent through blog posts.
The important thing to note is SEO takes time, unlike paid advertising and social media the results are not immediate - so make sure to plan for this in plenty of time of your event to ensure maximum engagement.
3. Create an Events Page on Facebook
Creating an event page on Facebook - or one of the many other social networks - is the bread and butter of promoting an event online, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. Consider also events on LinkedIn and Clubhouse as well - they are more out there, but you’ll find them if your audience is there already.
Simply create the page, enter all the relevant information and you now have a central hub to share content, post updates, and raise awareness for your event.
4. Consider Paid Advertising
Whether you’re utilising Google Ads, Facebook Ads or LinkedIn for all your paid advertising needs - promoting your event through paid ads can be a quick, immediate way to drive tangible results.
All the platforms, especially Facebook provide an in-depth means of targeting your exact audience. Through specifying age, gender, interests, work, locations etc. you can make sure you’re targeting the EXACT people that you intend to, opposed to other tactics that may be more generalised.
5. Be Consistent
Possibly the most important aspect of promoting an event online successfully is consistency. Without consistency, the campaign will lack focus and a voice, and your audience will catch onto this.
Much more than ensuring you’re mentioning the same event date on each post and channel, the tone of voice, key messages and content need to be relevant on all platforms. Enable customers to pick up right where they left off on Facebook if they stumble onto your website or LinkedIn.
6. Request Self-Promotion from Speakers
Chances are that speakers will promote the event regardless as it is good awareness for them, but it doesn’t hurt to give them a little nudge in the right direction.
Utilising speakers from your event can be a great, simple way of reaching a larger audience - and thus more signups with minimal effort. Ask them to do a video, give them your messages and marketing collateral and encourage them to share it. It will build your community and your audience.
7. Ensure Registration is Simple
Less of a tactic and more of a must-have for promoting your event online - make sure the registration process is easy.
There is no point promoting your event, spending money, allocating time and resources to drive people to a registration form that is too long and causes users to bounce.
It may be worth doing some testing beforehand to identify areas that could be improved. With forms, it’s important to only have what you absolutely NEED, do not add more fields for the sake of it.
8. Utilise Remarketing
Remarketing is a great tool to take advantage when promoting an event online. Your audience is already there, all you need to do is supply is content.
Whether you’re utilising previous website visitors or an audience from a previous campaign, you can be sure that these users are interested in one way or another.
9. Turn Attendees into Ambassadors
This is definitely easier said than done, but turning attendees into ambassadors for your event/brand is one of the best ways to promote your event. Having actual customers marketing your event for you is - well, free marketing!
And with “92% of individuals trust word-of-mouth recommendations” it’s an extremely effective way to promote your event online that could also even extend to your brand.
The difficult part is getting people to advocate for your event. But a good place to begin is to start a conversation with your audience.
10. Start a Conversation
Sometimes, and rightly so, people don’t respond to marketing messages (well at least when that’s all your posting). Starting a conversation with your audience is effective at building relationships, trust and that important word that was just mentioned, ‘ambassadors’.
Take the stance that this is their event as well as yours, make them feel welcome and involved and they will be more likely to attend your event and share it with others.
Promoting your event online takes proper forethought and planning to execute successfully. You need to think about the bigger picture, not just whether you’re using Twitter or not, but tapping into the right tone of voice and understanding your audience.
If you’ve settled on an event but haven’t decided where to host it yet, look no further. With award-winning venues across Westminster, Leamington Spa and Bristol, Make Venues provides the perfect setting for any event; conferences, meetings and much more.
If this is of interest to you, contact our team today on 0808 168 5876, or get in touch via our enquiry form for more information.