A guide to promoting your event online

Event marketing is a vast field and is not limited to the mere promotion of an event. It starts at the conception stage, while defining the content of the event itself (the product), pricing, distribution, and finally gets to promotion. This article focuses not on event marketing as a whole but, in particular, on event promotion. And, to narrow things down even more, we’re going to talk about promoting your event online. If you’ve got an event in the works and you’re overwhelmed by the possibilities and by the amount of things to do to promote your event online, read the guide we’ve compiled below and start putting our advice into practice right now.

It all starts with the event website

Your event website will act as a hub for all your online promotional efforts. Make sure you use an online event management platform so you can not only present your event but also sell tickets and give attendee all the critical information in the same place. If you use Metooo as your platform, apart from a beautiful customized event website and the ticketing system, you get other precious tools for your planning process, like invoicing, data collection and check-in management.

Maximize your event website efficiency by including complete information about the event:

  • date(s), start/end time, complete schedule
  • event venue and how to get there, preferably featuring a map and various transportation options as well as parking options
  • menu, if the event involves catering/meals
  • theme, dress code, if it’s the case
  • performers, artists, instructors, speakers
  • sponsors, media partners
  • a way for potential attendees to contact you if they have any questions
  • a photo gallery and videos from a previous edition, or, if this is the first edition, photos and videos featuring the venue, clips from your artists performing, your speakers or instructors at work or talking about the event

The power of email marketing

With the advent and increased complexity of social media marketing tools, we would be tempted to think email marketing is obsolete but the truth is that it’s exactly the opposite: it’s more powerful than ever. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • there are over 2.6 billion email users in the world
  • the majority of Internet users check email first thing in the morning as they wake up, rather than social media
  • the average click-through rate of marketing emails is of 3.57% (for comparison’s sake, the click-through rate of a Facebook ad is 0.07%)
  • for events specifically, a MailChimp statistic updated in 2018 says that open rate is 20.41%, click rate is 2.19%, and only 0.28% of users unsubscribe after receiving a marketing email related to an event

Create and grow a mailing list

So email marketing might look like the perfect tool now. But there’s a catch: first you need to build an email list of interested users who agree to receive email communication about the event. You need to start this process long before you actually start pushing and selling your event. And in 2018, users don’t give away their email addresses that easily anymore. One way to do this is to offer free items of useful content through your company website to those who sign up for your newsletter. This works best for professional events (conferences, seminars, workshops). Another way is to pre-announce the event and ask people to sign up for the newsletter to be the first to know when tickets are available.

Other ways to create and grow a mailing list include giving people the possibility to subscribe to your email communications when they purchase a product from you or when they spent a certain amount of time on your company website.

The golden rules of email marketing for events

Do not ever send emails to people who didn’t express their consent for you to do so. Otherwise, not only will the emails end up in their spam folder, but chances are in your country it’s actually illegal.

You don’t have to send the email invitation right away. Create excitement and anticipation by first sending an email announcement featuring the date, main artist/speaker/attraction/theme of the event, and mentioning when tickets will be available. Then, when time comes, send the actual invitation. Moreover, send a follow-up or two to those who didn’t purchase tickets the first time around.

Curate all aspects of the email invitation. Your subject line should be not too long, catchy, and mention one major benefit that the potential attendee would get from the event. The body of the email should contain all essential details about the event and call to action button that would send them directly to the ticket purchase page. If you use Metooo as your event platform, all these aspects are taken care of for you, with a beautiful email invitation that can be automatically sent by importing your mailing lists from MailChimp and Gmail. You can send up to 2500 emails per month and require access to additional emails if you need to.

Blogging and SEO for events

Blogging and SEO are another example of promotional tools you need to start using before you have all event details set in place. Search engine optimization takes time, up to several months. You need first of all to make sure that your company website has everything set in place SEO-wise. This means a logical, easy to navigate structure, flawless functioning with minimal load times, rich content, and a decent authority through links from other authoritative sites.

We do hope you already have a company blog. If yes, schedule a series of posts with updates about the event. What if you don’t already have a company blog? If the event is related to your company, now that you’re organizing an event and you want people to pay to attend it, it’s a good occasion to start a blog. If the event is a brand in itself, and it’s not related to the idea of a company, you should start an independent blog, just about the event. In all cases, there’s plenty to blog about when it comes to events:

  • updates about schedule
  • presentation of artists, speakers
  • behind-the-scene posts about the planning and set-up process
  • posts on topics related to the needs that the event responds to (educational, informational, entertainment)
  • testimonials of participants at previous editions (from guests, speakers, artists, sponsors, etc.)

The other side of blogging for events is to get other bloggers, in the relevant field of your event, to post about it. As soon as you have even a few main details about the event, prepare a blogger pitch and send it only to those bloggers whose audience would be genuinely interested in what your event has to offer. Unless your event qualifies as breaking news, prepare to have to pay for at least some of the posts.

Social media marketing for events

We know you couldn’t wait to get to this part, as, chances are, social media is the first thing you think of when you start preparations for promoting your event online. But we believe social media marketing only works at its best if the previous aspects were well set in place before you start working on it. Here are the main aspects about social media marketing for events that you need to keep in mind.

Social accounts setup

Start by thinking which social platform is best for promoting your event online. Not all platforms are suited to all events, and you need to spread your efforts wisely. It will be physically impossible to continuously and effectively promote your event with the same intensity across all platforms. Instagram and Pinterest are more suitable for events with a strong visual and creative side. LinkedIn and Facebook are more suitable for professional and B2B events. Actually, a special mention about Facebook, its precise ad targeting tool make it perfect for all events. In other words, you just can’t afford your event not existing on Facebook. Twitter can be suitable for a wide array of events especially when we think of flash sales and Q&A sessions.

A good practice is for your event to have a presence on as many platforms as reasonably possible and relevant, and use each platform for different purposes and for different types of messages. The platform that you will rely the most on will be the one that answers this question: “Where do my potential attendees spend most of their time?”

You can also decide not to create separate social media accounts/pages for your event, but to promote it from your company/brand page. This makes sense if you have a base of loyal and engaged fans and if the event itself doesn’t provide such a vast quantity of content as to justify separate accounts.

Content best practices

First, a general note: the type of content that you post should be tailored to each platform. Moreover, each item of content should respond to one of these needs: inform, educate, entertain. Nobody, not even your most loyal fans, wants to continuously see posts that look pushy or sounding like an infomercial.

Video content is a must

No matter what type of event you’re planning, make sure you include video content in your social media efforts. Video marketing is here to stay and will only grow bigger in 2019, since video content:

  • has the highest organic reach across all social platforms (and a higher chance to get shared by users!)
  • gets higher conversion rates than other types of contents
  • makes consumers more confident in a product’s features when making purchase decisions online
  • best depicts events because events are facts in movement, events are interaction, events are not static entities but things that “happen”. And any entity that happens is best communicated through video.

How you can use video in your event’s social media strategy:

  • performance demonstrations of the artists featured at your event
  • mini instructional videos or mini video courses & tips from your speakers/instructors
  • video interviews and testimonials from participants at past editions of the event
  • a video trailer of the event as a whole
  • a video tour of the venue
  • live streaming on video across social platforms during the event
  • videos from the current edition of the event, to promote the next edition

Adapt the type of videos to the platform. For example, on Facebook, a live streaming video can last up to 4 hours, while on Instagram, a live streaming video can only last 1 hour. Also, on Instagram, a regular video post can last up to 1 minute, while a video in an Insta story can only last 15 seconds. And last, but not least, a video uploaded directly to Facebook will have a much wider organic reach than a video link from Youtube posted on Facebook.

Advertising campaigns

Social media offers the most precise option when it comes to targeting your ad campaigns, and you should take maximum advantage of this. Start by creating various buyer personas for your ideal attendees, by incorporating demographic, geographic, and social information. Then think of the interests your attendees might have (hobbies, topics, publications) and add those to the ideal profile. Then tailor your adds based on it.

An important note we need to add: we saw earlier that conversion rates for social ads are on the lower side. Which is why your ad campaigns should focus mostly on creating awareness for your event, on acquiring loyalty for your brand, and on getting them to subscribe to your newlsetter.  Do not be disappointed if your ad campaigns do not lead to that many direct sales of tickets.

Hashtags

Creating a hashtag for your event is a must. Think of something catchy, recognizable and easy to remember, and communicate it across all relevant promotional outlets (even offline). Stimulate your attendees to use the official event hashtag whenever they post content on social media during and after the event. This way you’ll be able to identify all user generated content about your event and use it to promote future editions and include it in reports towards your sponsors and partners.

Get influencers on your side

Needless to say, influencer marketing is here to stay in 2019. Having a web influencer at your event is as important now as having the editor of a major magazine was a few years ago. But as the industry grows, unless you have an astronomical budget, you won’t be able to afford the major influencers, just as 10 years ago maybe you couldn’t afford a TV ad campaign.

This is why, when searching and selecting influencers to invite and ask to cover your event on social media, you should be focused more middle-tier and small-tier influencers. Having an instagrammer or youtuber with a few thousands or tens of thousands of followers/subscribers can be extremely efficient. The condition is that their audience has to match your ideal attendee profile as much as possible. When searching for influencers, focus on looking not so much at the number of followers, but at their engagement rate: how much do thier followers like and comment their posts? How much are the influencers themselves involved in the discussions?

Make it easy for the influencers to cover your event on their social platforms before it happens, by providing complete info and suggested posts. Also, make sure you offer discounted tickets for their followers through a discount code (on Metooo you can easily generate discount codes as part of your ticketing policy). You can even offer a few free tickets that influencers can organize giveaways with, which will create even more excitement and buzz around the event.

To conclude

There is much more to say about each aspect of promoting your event online. We are working on detailed articles about each of the tools we presented here. But if you follow these guidelines, you are already set to building your promotional strategy in a coherent way. We hope we inspired you to take the first steps for a sold-out event!

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