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To say it’s a weird time for event marketing strategies is like saying 2020 has been a different year. We’ve gone through the wormhole, and the jury is out on whether we can get back to where things were, let alone what happens next.
But despite the worrying circumstances that surround the event industry, its uncertain future, we’ve already seen how resilient and determined the sector can be. And how new ideas and approaches, like virtual events, have been used to ensure that even without physical gatherings, some events can still be part of our diaries.
In many ways the fundamentals of good event marketing strategies never change, regardless of the level of global chaos. Success has always come down to the ability to reach community, sector or audience in a way that engages and involves them. And ideally makes them buy a ticket, or at least tick attend.
If that seems a little vague, don’t worry. EventCube has been at this since before anyone had even heard of immersive online banking workshops, and we’re always willing to share that knowledge.
Here are 13 event marketing strategies (that actually work):
It has been the Big Data Age for a while now. The wealth of information on everyone that has been filed away is mindbogglingly vast, and while this can sound scary it’s also very useful for digital marketing. Or any marketing for that matter.
By using relatively simple, free tools — for example insights on social media channels — it’s easy to see who is interested in your event (or past events), who might be if only they knew it existed, where to find them and the best way to grab their attention when you do. All that’s asked of you is to know what your event is about, and how to read the information. The groups you identify can then be used to make up a target online audience that you can target paid social advertising to.
Segmenting your audience into categories might mean dividing by loyalty level, from passionate advocate to blissfully unaware, or simply geographical location or gender. Whatever the parameters, you can then think about creating content to target each group. This is particularly important online, because there’s so much content around - anything remotely irrelevant doesn’t stand a chance. But it’s worth considering offline, too, i.e. using the press to reach a readership or region identified as potential attendees.
Many events miss a trick by simply using the event page or site as a glorified calendar. A page or website can and should be a hub that people visit ahead of the event itself for a better understanding of what they can expect. Blogs, videos, music and images are among the most effective ways to develop this, whether your hub is on social media or a purpose-built website. Think of it as a place where the event and brand personality comes through, or professional authority is put on display.
We don’t care if you love or loath it, social media is an essential part of all event marketing strategies. Thankfully, by now you’ve done the legwork and researched audiences, so you should know which networks to focus on and which to ignore. It’s also worth brushing up on best marketing practices for each platform you’ll be using, because they don’t all offer the same benefits or work in the same way. You’ll also need a budget to boost posts given the organic reach on platforms like Facebook is now very low, and if you’re going down that route original content is a good idea…
The content you post to social media or your website is important — it can keep audiences informed, develop a personality, and create a sense of community. For best results, some of this needs to be original. Producing written content like blogs gives you easy inspiration for social media posts, and can improve the search engine visibility of your event website. Video is particularly important and is now used by 81% of companies for marketing because it gets high engagement online — which add up to more visibility for your event.
Email maybe an old technology, but it’s still as important as its ever been - it's everywhere we look. By building up a GDPR-friendly (opt-in) mailing list you’ll have a direct line to the inbox of everyone who has ever expressed an interest in receiving information from you.
Email automation tools like Mailchimp, Active Campaign, Hubspot and the like, allow you to automate your email marketing, so you could send 1 email on Thursday, another on Monday and then send a follow up to people that didn't open it. It takes a huge amount of hassle out of a traditionally manual process.
Earlybird offers are a great way to drum up interest well ahead of your event — word of mouth impact alone is impressive, and they give you something to tell PR contacts and shout about on social media. You have less chance of attracting newcomers who’ve never heard of or attended previous events in this way, so for the most effective results consider prioritising those who have and will want a guaranteed spot again. Emailing your list with an offer will be a great way to get this off the ground.
Event partnerships are nothing new, nor are they going anywhere anytime soon. By looking for relevant allies, from magazines to corporate businesses, you can significantly boost coverage, piggyback on another marketing machine, or potentially even boost production budget through sponsorship money. A word to the wise, though — same sector does not mean perfect partner, so think carefully about shared voice and values.
Pre and post event press coverage that’s seen by millions is nothing to be sniffed at. If you’re really lucky (or just have the right partnership in place), live content from the event itself may be possible. A notorious minefield, you can start by compiling media lists of relevant contacts, then establish relationships and keep those people informed with updates on your event. And don’t forget to invite them, where possible.
It's a common myth that influencers are all sun-kissed Gen Z'ers touring the world on freebies, sporting the latest whatever and vlogging about some such. The truth is, influencers come in all follower sizes, and there are suitable matches for everything. Think about winning over trusted industry experts, revered critics, prolific thinkers and even academics who could promote the event, if public figures and pop icons aren’t your thing.
Probably not what you expected us to say in a pandemic. Nevertheless, you should never ignore offline opportunities when they suit. This could be anything from handing out samples on busy streets or paying for posters, to more clandestine guerrilla tactics. Not everyone has the resources or access, so it’s a quieter space, but you do limit the audience to localised areas.
If you know what you’re talking about, which you clearly do, why not use some of that know-how to consolidate your position as an expert, and spread the word about your event? So we implore you to talk at that conference, conduct those workshops with industry trainees and write a blog for another company. Don’t hijack the platform, but it’s fine to share your contribution with a nod to your upcoming event.
Event marketing strategies don’t end with the event. Once the curtain falls on your success it’s essential to take stock of what happened during the run-in and execution, analyse attendance and listen to feedback. Mine data on who was there, audit the digital campaign to highlight shortcomings and learn from the overall story. All of this research and information will prove invaluable when you’re starting this process again in the future, whatever the hell that brings.
Need more events advice? Take a read of some related articles below: