Whether you’re organizing a lecture for staff members or a conference for association members, attendance is everything. There’s no point in pouring your heart into planning an event if nobody shows up.
Luring in attendees is challenging enough for traditional events and even more so for virtual events. So to help you out, we’ve made this concise guide on how to market and drive attendance for your virtual events.
There’s something in here for novices and masters alike that you can do right now in your quest to draw in an audience.
So why bother with virtual event marketing? Well, 93% of event marketers believe events lead to valuable one-on-one customer engagement. From the obvious reason of generating direct business, research also shows that 64% of event marketing leads to increased brand awareness. So there are long-term benefits as well.
Additionally, when it comes to virtual events, there’s an added emphasis on pushing for better marketing. As much as 73% of event planners agree that virtual events will become even more common in the future.
This reality is further complicated due to the fact that the no-show rate for virtual attendees is 35%. This has culminated in an astounding 71.1% of event organizers agreeing that drawing in and engaging virtual attendees is their biggest problem moving forward.
But never fear. This industry has proven itself to be resilient. So get a jump on your competition by reading up on how to pivot to virtual events successfully.
Event Tech Provider
Before you get too caught up in this world of virtual event marketing, you can always get help from the experts, leaving you to concentrate on what you do best.
Throughout time, successful people and leaders have delegated or outsourced tasks to professionals, to those who specialize in specific areas the leader might not have experience in.
Well, when it comes to marketing your virtual event, you have the option of doing that too. Event technology is a booming market at the moment, with technology able to do some remarkable stuff.
We would recommend Fonteva Marketing Manager for an intuitive system that will streamline all your marketing needs.
Alternatively, you can do it yourself. So the big question is, how to create a killer content marketing strategy? Well, below, we’ve highlighted some key points that will come together to develop a master plan worthy of any prize event.
Know Your Goals
It’s perhaps stating the obvious, but knowing your goals is the jumping-off point for any virtual event marketing master plan.
When you plan a journey, with all the many things you’ll need and places you’ll be stopping, you need a destination in mind.
Such is the way with virtual event marketing. What is the final destination? It could be as simple as achieving (x) amount of attendees or making a certain percentage of profit from the event. Just ask yourself, why are we doing this?
It focuses your energy, and it motivates you when challenges arise. Every decision you make throughout the marketing process should be in reference to your primary goals.
Know Your Audience
Knowing who your audience is is essential for a successful event marketing campaign. Our guide on how to Know your target audience is the ideal place to start.
For example, it’s essential to know key demographic information like their age, where they live, what they do, and what they like. Who they are will define what kind of marketing content you generate and on what platforms your efforts are concentrated.
With Fonteva’s AMS system you can schedule and automate reports on these metrics, analyzing attendee data with an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop interface and built-in dashboards.
And aside from marketing, this knowledge of who your audience is and what they like will help you build a more personal and fulfilling event itself. And, if you can get smart event software to do the research for you, this process is made all the easier.
Create a Website
An event website is essential. It’s a central focal point from which you can keep people can be kept up to date with the latest news and buy tickets; and it’s your opportunity to build excitement for the event to come.
But perhaps more importantly, it stops your main website and socials from being oversaturated with event business. Your primary website is for your main business duties. You don’t want your website to be cluttered with conflicting messages.
And finally, take time to make it look good. How your website feels is how your potential guests will imagine your event will be. If you don’t have an in-house team to sort it for you, you can build your custom website efficiently and cost-effectively via website-building platforms like Wix or Squarespace.
Alternatively, an event technology platform will allow you to build a custom website and integrate with event app technology. This will not only give your platform a more professional look, but support a seamless management experience and a premium event experience for your attendees.
Create a Content Pipeline
When it comes to your content rollout, you need to have a planned pipeline. Now is not the time for improvising. The most straightforward way to do this is through an event management system that incorporates it as part of the event lifecycle. As opposed to a collection of documents and notes scattered across drives and pieces of paper, an event management system can automate, analyze, and easily display your content pipeline as visual data.
You want enough content at regular intervals that you achieve good exposure to prospective attendees, but not enough that people grow tired of seeing your logo.
Think of it this way: a fire needs wood to burn, but too much will put it out; a plant needs water to survive, but too much water will kill it. Likewise, your event marketing needs content, but too much, or you’ll start to drive people away.
And as for the nature of the content, your strategy should convey what your event is and why your specific target audience should engage in it. No more, no less.
Rebranding Your Socials
Yes, we said you shouldn’t bombard your primary socials and your website with event content. But a brief, calculated rebranding of your socials could be the perfect guerilla tactic to drive people into attending. Check out our guide on how to generate traffic with social media marketing to master this fast-paced strategy.
Post a Countdown
If people think they have forever and a day to make a decision on whether to attend your event, they’ll be less likely to commit.
If you tell people something is limited – or there’s a finite time to buy tickets – they’re automatically going to want a piece of the pie.
What’s more, it builds excitement for those that are already signed up. Countdowns build momentum and keep you on people’s minds without overwhelming them.
Create a Memorable Hashtag
Hashtags are frustratingly catchy. Even the ones you don’t admire live in your head rent-free like a pop song you’re scared to admit you like.
It’s easier said than done, but your event can live in someone’s head with a well-thought-out event hashtag.
In the context of this article, we’d like to highlight three reasons why blogging is a fabulous method of virtual event marketing.
Firstly, it keeps people up to date with your latest event news and allows you the chance to sell it like the premier event it is. That is your primary concern.
Secondly, with a simple grasp of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), your blogging can help your website rise in Google’s rankings, leading to greater credibility and more organic traffic and leads.
And thirdly, writing quality content is beneficial for industry credit. Being known for producing excellent blogs is good for your reputation and will push your name out there. You can even use this event-concentrated content marketing as a foundation for writing more blogs relevant to your field.
Since people have had personal or work computers, email marketing has been a staple of all of our lives. The reason why it’s lasted this long is that it works, and it’s easy too.
It doesn’t have to be too complicated; simply send casual, regular updates on the latest news of your events: unique offers, guest speaker announcements, new partnership announcements. We know you all have mailing lists, so use them!
Give Them a Taste
If you’ve got something unique to share with your audience, give them a small taste of what they can expect if they sign up.
People love video content, and it’s more accessible than ever to start producing your own videos- even if they’re shorter or more informal. Just look at this piece from our friends at Fonteva on the Power of Video: Your Ticket to Boosting Engagement & Impact. You’ll surprise yourself with what you can do!
Free Stuff, Discounts
So say there’s someone who is interested in your event but not quite ready to commit yet. Help them off the fence with some free stuff.
For starters, offer early-bird discounts, because everyone likes a bargain! Next, give them swag bags – physical or virtual – full of cool branded merch and vouchers and gift cards and other items.
After that, entice them with the chance to win stuff! Promote a prize draw or a cool competition where they could win great prizes.
Help From Your Friends
Here’s where having partners for your events becomes most effective. From your sponsors to your content creators to your partners in the supply chain, asking them to help promote your event is a huge value-add to your event marketing plan!
When they share your posts, that’s more exposure to followers of theirs you may not have access to. It’s mutually beneficial, too, so don’t be afraid to ask your partners for shares!
So there you have it, our concise guide on how to market your virtual events. As you can see, we’ve not reinvented the wheel. Many of the classic marketing techniques you used to attract in-person attendees can be transferred to the marketing strategy for your virtual events.
The fact that you’ve clicked on this article and read this far shows that you know virtual events come with their unique challenges. We hope you’re leaving us inspired and with some actionable ideas to try out.
If you have any questions — or you have some fantastic ideas of your own that we’ve not thought of, we’d love to hear from you!
This article was contributed by Harry Prince, Creative Content Manager at Spacehuntr.