When it comes to running any successful event – whether it is in-person, virtual or hybrid is having people attend. So that raises the question of how do people find out about your event? That’s where promotion comes into play – using marketing communication to inform and excite your potential audience.
If you’ve previously been running in-person events and have yet to step into the world of virtual, or you’re just about to, then thankfully most of the promotional methods have the same core approach.
Partner With Other Brands, Companies and Personalities
When planning the virtual event consider strategically partnering with aligned brands, companies and personalities to leverage their audiences and promotional abilities. This could range from a single presentation to them being heavily involved with the entire conference. According to Markletic (2021) 51% of B2B companies use their business partners’ channels to help drive registrations.
For example, Microsoft is a key partner during the annual Adobe Summits, which is part of the larger Microsoft Adobe Enterprise partnership. For these summits it makes sense for Microsoft to promote the event as well as they want their involvement to generate a better ROI. It is your event partners’ best interest to promote the event and you may reach an audience that you may not normally be able to.
Ensure You Have Enough Time to Promote Your Event
There are a lot of factors, like event type and industry, that affect the time needed to successfully promote your event, but as a guide according to research by Markletic (2021) for smaller virtual events most marketers need between 3 and 6 weeks and for larger events most marketers need more than 6 weeks of promotion to reach the desired number of registrations.
Now it is more than just having enough time to promote your event but how you strategically use that time in conjunction with an effective marketing plan – your messaging, when you will perform your activities and how you will reach current or new audiences. During this time promotion needs to be on-going and to have a varied but consistent approach – for example don’t just post a link with the same copy to your event each day on Facebook. A very common approach is to highlight or announce a different speaker every few days on social media.
Generate Hype Across Social Media
For effective social media it is first imperative to maintain a yearly social presence – even if the social account may just handle an annual event. According to a survey EventMB (2018) conducted, they found the best social channel to build a community year-round was Facebook (57%) followed by LinkedIn (25%) and then Twitter and Instagram (both separately 7%).
Then it is important to choose the right channels – there are hundreds of social media channels, but chances are only a handful that will be relevant to your audience. We’ll be discussing organic here (paid will be in a bit) but it is important to prioritise which channels your audience will be using, and to ensure that enough time is spent on each channel – in most cases it is much better to do one or two channels very well than a handful with a mediocre presence.
We have seen some platforms, especially Facebook, that will essentially punish pages that are not consistently delivering quality content – the keyword here being quality. So, ensure content posted is relevant to your audience and keeps them engaged with your social media channel.
Hashtags can be a great way for people to connect prior, during and after the event – especially on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. Although be careful because some platforms, like Facebook, despite allowing hashtags tend to not favour them.
Run Paid Advertising
Paid advertising can be a good way to utilise your social media accounts to reach new or existing audiences. While this depends significantly on your event niche and target audience, but typically Facebook, Google and LinkedIn are the common choices.
For professionals LinkedIn is a great way to reach out to business or industry professionals or similar niches.
Facebook is great if you’re after a more general audience – especially since Facebook’s ad targeting is effective at targeting most niches.
Google is a good choice if people are actively seeking your event, or similar events, to help make your event appear higher on Google search results.
If you’re inexperienced with running digital advertising, we suggest seeking professional help to minimise poor results and wasted money.
Be Sure to Email Your Contacts
Your own contacts are a great starting point as it has been proven to be effective time and time again and is the most used channel for marketing events. You can reach out to customers, prospects, business partners, employees or any segments that would be interested – or have direct connections with those that may be interested in your event. Afterall, that customer-facing employee could use the information to pass onto potential attendees.
Instead of sending out a single email you should plan to do several – just make sure they are unique. Send one out when your event is announced, a week or so prior to when ticket sales close as well as one just before the day to get people excited for your virtual event. Another option is if you have a mailing system with the functionality to automate it based on the contact’s behavior – such as if they don’t open an email to resend it 48 hours later.
Continue Selling Tickets with On Demand
One of the huge benefits of virtual events is that you can potentially continue to promote your event after it has concluded by selling tickets on demand. This is especially true if the event had a focus on delivering content and would still be valuable to your audience even after the virtual live event has concluded.
We’ve seen client success stories where they have continued to sell tickets to their events by sending follow up emails to their audience. They may be reaching those who may not have initially been interested, or able to attend at that specific time or cost may have been an issue so (so you could offer an on-demand discount).
With Vircon we encourage event organisers to utilise on demand and for every event we include a complimentary month of on-demand, with the option to extend.
Leverage Your Website Audience
There is an exceedingly high chance of people visiting your website are already familiar with your brand, whether they are an existing or prospective customer, client, or lead. However, they may not necessarily be familiar or even aware of your event. Therefore, it is important to ensure your event is promoted clearly on your website – this can include different formats such as a banner, image, menu option, blog posts, pop-ups, slide-ins and many more.
The key point is to ensure there is a clear CTA so you can guide them onto the next step of the journey (typically the registration page).
BONUS TIP - Create a Registration Page that Converts
Regardless of how well you promote your event if the registration page is lacking then you will see a significant drop-off of potential attendees. This is the chokepoint of your promotional funnel so it is imperative to ensure this is converting as high as possible.
This includes the essentials such as:
- An impactful image – for instance of one or several of your presenters.
- The event name – Be recognisable, distinct, and relevant to your intended audience.
- When it will be held – Consider if your attendees may be in multiple time zones and how to communicate this.
- Event information – The ‘why’ they should attend (ie presentations, networking opportunities)
- Pricing – Will your event be free, have a set price, early bird discount or customisable ticketing.
- Call-To-Action – Make it clear what they are to do next such as registering or purchasing tickets.
When hosting events on our Vircon platform we automatically generate an effective registration page for your virtual events. We allow for highly customisable ticketing so you can tailor it to suit your event requirements – even down to each individual presentation!
Hopefully these tips can help you with promoting your next virtual event – the main point is to focus on ways you can reach and engage with your audience in a cost-effective way. With any form of marketing it is important to think outside the box.
If you’re ready to host your next virtual event and are looking for an all-in-one event management solution, reach out to the Vircon team here.