200+ tips, strategies, templates and tactics to win at event marketing in 2018. Your practical event marketing plan to quickly grow your event and sell more tickets.
Why do you need it? Because you create great events.
But marketing them is a tough challenge.
After pouring your heart and soul into planning an event it can be heartbreaking to have empty seats or not to meet your revenue targets or, even worse, having your boss upset that the event did not meet the objectives.
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I am sure you will agree when I say that marketing your events is getting harder. People are busy, there are so many great events taking place and also a plethora of great online content.
So how can you break through the noise and reach your target audience? More importantly, how do you inspire them to come to your event?
My team thought I was crazy when I decided to put everything we know about event marketing and 10 years of data on what event professionals want in the most comprehensive free event marketing plan. This is your step-by-step guide to increasing attendance at events. The importance of event marketing is more critical than ever before. To save you hours of researching we have pulled together advanced strategies, tactics, trends, and event marketing examples to help you market your event more effectively, and see positive results.
Here are 10 of the event marketing ideas, tips and tricks from this post that really stand out and work to increase interest in your event (and, most importantly, ticket sales).
Keep reading if you want to:
- keyboard_arrow_right Implement an event marketing strategy that works
- keyboard_arrow_right Get three free templates to surprise your competitors
- keyboard_arrow_right Access hundreds of tactics that work, shared by the most brilliant minds in the industry
- keyboard_arrow_right Use the most advanced online techniques to sell more tickets
- keyboard_arrow_right Download your personal event marketing strategies pdf
We will update this page regularly, so bookmark it, share it, and check back often for all of the latest tricks and tips in event marketing.
[Most Recent Update: July 03, 2018]
TABLE OF CONTENTS
How To Market Events in 2018:
In January 2018 we conducted one of the largest pieces of event planning research ever completed. With 2,400 contacts and over 1,000 respondents.
Within the survey, we asked specific questions that pertain to event marketing. We are happy to release the results below.
Request it here if you want to obtain a copy of the research to publish on your site.
Social Media is the Most Effective Tool for Event Marketing
73% of event planners believe social media to be the most effective tool for marketing events. Email marketing is still a firm favorite for many, with 65% listing it as one of their most effective tools.
Facebook is the Most Popular Network for Event Promotion
With regards to social networks, Facebook is the most popular (88% reportedly use the platform). Over half (52%) agree that Facebook is the most effective social media platform for promoting events. LinkedIn is the second most effective social media channel (26%).
Budgets May Rise (a Little)
Most event planners believe that event marketing budgets will remain the same in 2018. 21% are confident that budgets will rise. Growth in the industry is evident with 44% reportedly having more clients than 12 months ago. 43% say the number has remained the same and only 12% report having fewer clients. Over half (57%) of event planners agree that budgets will be one of their biggest challenges this year.
Early Bird Rates Remain Most Popular Tactic
Time-limited offers reign supreme, with early bird rates being the most effective tactic for selling tickets and increasing registration. Almost a quarter state that discount codes are their most effective tactic.
Confidence in Experiential Marketing is Gaining
Almost a third (32%) said that experiential marketing was a priority for 2018.
Demand for Experiential Marketing is Increasing in 2018
Although almost the same number said it wasn’t a priority, the majority (58%) feel that demand for experiential is increasing.
Social Engagement is the Vital Ingredient
The majority of event planners feel that the key ingredients of a successful experiential campaign are a happy client, a strong message, and social engagement, with over 75% stating the latter.
Slow Growth in Influencer Marketing
Only a quarter of event planners said they plan to invest in influencer marketing. Despite this being one of the fastest growing tactics for online marketers, adoption amongst eventprofs is slow. A third said that they would not be investing in influencer marketing. Over 40% didn’t know if they would be investing or not, possibly indicating that the eventprofs are not yet familiar enough with influencers as a marketing tool.
More Event Planners are Embracing Video
66% of event planners and marketers are already using video as part of their marketing strategy.
If you would like a copy of this research for publishing you can request it here: State of the Event Industry Research 2018
Event marketing is the combined effort of activities taken to promote an event. Effective marketing creates a demand for your event through discovery and creating, and satisfying customer needs.
The key aims of event marketing are:
- keyboard_arrow_right letting more people know about your event
- keyboard_arrow_right getting people interested in finding out more information
- keyboard_arrow_right conveying how the event fills specific needs
- keyboard_arrow_right convincing people to attend
- keyboard_arrow_right creating a brand presence to attract sponsors, media and attendees to future events
- keyboard_arrow_right selling more tickets/increasing registrations
Event marketing is a process and the result of a number of different ways to spread your message. A number of traditional and new methods are often used to market an event and this is often outlined in your event marketing plan or strategy. Your promotional strategy may include printed materials, social media activity, content marketing, email campaigns, advertising, pricing strategies and many other tools and tactics.
Defining your objectives should be the starting point of the 5Ws Event Marketing Plan. If you have spent five minutes in any type of business in any capacity you know about SMART objectives.
Don’t get me wrong. There is great value in having SMART event marketing objectives. Specific, Measurable, Attainable or Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound, awesome stuff, great acronym. Business-wise having the ‘Objectives Talk’ to experienced event marketers is like telling you that in order to walk you need to move one foot after the other.
Since the 5Ws is an advanced event marketing plan, we guess you figured out by now the importance of objectives. In fact, you will find that most of the advice out there spends time harping on about how great objectives are with no real event marketing objective examples, which is what we will share here.
In terms of event marketing, we need to be really specific with our objectives. In a second, I will tell you about how we will go and implement a strategy to achieve them but let’s focus on some types of objectives you may have that are specific to event promotion and not to your event in general:
There can be plenty more objectives but you see how specific and inherent to the aims of event marketing these objectives are. Event marketing objectives can be uncovered by looking at your event vitals. They may come from your attendees' feedback, it may be your boss asking about them, it could be your desire for growth to inspire them.
Modern event marketing objectives go beyond being SMART - or subvert some of the SMART rules.
Tangibility. The measurable part is simplistic. Measurement is not what it used to be 30 years ago, it has evolved. Instead of measurable we could say Motivating. Motivational objectives are defined by a tangible end action. If you influence your prospects to take that action, you will have achieved your specific objective.
We will discuss how to move our audience through different actions to the one that really matters to us but, for now, remember that your event marketing objectives need to:
- keyboard_arrow_right Be precise
- keyboard_arrow_right Be action driven
- keyboard_arrow_right Be relevant to your main event objective
I don’t believe in realistic or achievable objectives. We’ve analyzed events that had very unrealistic and not achievable marketing objectives and crushed them within minutes of releasing their tickets. If you are a strong marketing person you will aim quite high. Especially with events, our task is not to throw a great party, our task is to change behavior, not move, educate, inspire, connect attendees. Realistic objectives translate into sad events.
Having said that, there is aiming high and there is delusion. What you don’t want to be is delusional and ignore basic event marketing dynamics. Once you take everything into account, you have to aim high.
What’s the point of keeping secrets?
We are all about sharing at EventMB, that’s why we decided to come clean and expose everything that is currently being used by every top event agency and sold as pricey consultancy.
Creating a strategy can seem daunting, there is simply too much going on. So we’ve compiled a list of the five main considerations to think through when creating your 5Ws Event Marketing Plan or as we like to call them,
The 5 W’s of Your Marketing Plan
Why: Start With Why, To Make Your Event Marketing Strategy Successful
Where: Use A Map To Increase Event Registrations
When: How Often Should You Send Event Marketing Messages?
What: From Fluff to Action. Your Event Marketing Campaign
Weigh: If You Don’t Measure Your Event Marketing, Then You Don’t Have a Plan
So - where do you start?
Here is your comprehensive marketing plan to get you started.
Why: Start With Why, To Make Your Event Marketing Strategy Successful
The starting point for all event marketing strategies should always be WHY?
What’s In It For Me?
The answer to this question outlines the key objective that will determine the success, or otherwise, of the event. This is the question that attendees, exhibitors and sponsors alike will ask themselves when evaluating attendance. This is the defining factor which will help communicate and determine your marketing strategy.
Why Should People Attend Your Event?
It isn’t about you. It is about the value to the participant and other stakeholders. What is in it for THEM? How does your event meet their needs? What are their pain points? How can your event solve a problem or offer a solution to them?
Three Questions To Ask Before Starting to Market Your Event:
- keyboard_arrow_right Why is this event important?
- keyboard_arrow_right Why should people attend this event?
- keyboard_arrow_right How will it bring value to the customer?
The Top 3 Reasons Why We Attend Events
It’s very easy to get lost in a sea of tiny motivations why we may go to an event. While these may all be valid, we really want is to zero in on the main drivers that make attendees purchase tickets or register for your event:
- keyboard_arrow_right Networking
- keyboard_arrow_right Education
- keyboard_arrow_right Entertainment
We can identify many more reasons why we attend events but at the end of the day, they could all be reconciled with these universal motivators. These are sometimes the most overt reasons why we say we attend events.
What Your Attendees Don’t Tell You: The Secret Reasons Why We Attend Events
You also need to take into account unconscious or unspoken reasons why we attend events. These are reasons we sometimes ignore ourselves or we are too afraid to say out loud. Here are some you may consider addressing in your 5Ws Event Marketing Plan or communications:
I Feel Alone
How can your attendees get to know more people, like them?
Make sure your social programme is rich and that you integrate with as many social networks as possible. Your guests will feel at ease by discovering that like-minded individuals are attending. Networking and safety.
I Don’t Want To Be At Work
Giving your attendees a chance for a couple of hours or days off work, while being paid, is a tantalizing prospect for many.
Make sure to communicate enough reasons for your attendees to justify to their boss why it is important to go to your event.
I Want To Drink, Eat and Party For Free and In Abundance
Most people won’t say so, but they are in it for the free meal and party.
Never skimp on drinks and food and make sure your parties are memorable. Some people remember events just for the after-parties.
I Am Broke
In a business context, events are a good opportunity to find contacts and clients.
Speed networking sessions or roundtables are a great way to give an opportunity for your guests to do more business.
My Boss Told Me To Go
Sometimes the boss forces employees to attend events.
Communicate to bosses to make sure you tell them how important it is to get their employees to come. Consider offering group booking discounts.
I Want To Get Away
Sometimes we all need a break. From life as usual, family issues, kids, and frustration associated with any of the above. Events are a great opportunity for a legitimate getaway.
Make sure that those who attend will have fun, relax and enjoy some worthwhile time away from home so they can recharge their batteries and go back to their families happier, and then pre-book a ticket for next year.
I Don’t Know Anything About Your Event Subject
We tend to think that only experts and gurus are the ones who should attend our events. Reality is that the majority of people attend events to learn about something they are completely clueless about. They won’t tell you that. Sometimes even the experts attend to learn.
Make sure to create different learning environments based on beginner, intermediate and advanced knowledge.
I Want The Goody Bag
This may sound stupid to you but I some people attend events just for the goodies and swag.
Don’t disappoint them!
I Want To Visit Somewhere New
Events can give people the chance to travel outside of their office or home location to explore and experience the unknown.
Try to select original locations and venues in cities that are within reach and offer something different.
I Don’t Want To Spend a Single Penny
Once they have bought the ticket, many guests don’t want to spend a penny more.
Offer all-inclusive solutions to keep your guests happy if you can.
Think Like an Attendee
Listen closely and think carefully about the benefits of attending your event from the attendee perspective. How will it bring value to the customer? Simply listing speaker names and features for your event (100 exhibitors, 20 keynote speakers....) is not effectively communicating a reason to attend.
Make the benefits clear and simple.
If potential attendees don’t understand the offering they will switch off. They will not spend time looking for a reason to attend an event if the advantages are not clear. On the other hand, if you can capture their attention by giving a possible solution to their troubles they are more likely to sit up and listen.
An event elevator pitch is a succinct summary to explain your event to someone without any previous knowledge of it. This is the offspring of your event objectives. It delivers on the premise of your all event marketing program. It is an opportunity to capture someone's interest and understanding. Think about the best way to communicate the vision and benefits of your event in a couple of sentences, or in 60 seconds.
Social media offers a fantastic opportunity to test and measure the success of your message to see what resonates the best. By using this A/B testing approach on your social media channels you have a low-cost opportunity for experimentation and nothing to lose.
Refining your event elevator pitch is an essential and worthwhile exercise.
SAY IT WITH USXYZ is the must-attend event of the year for surgeons who want to meet with the influencers in cardiology, stay on top of trends and advance their career. ABC is the event that will push the boundary of fun, with the strongest line up of performers ever put together, to entertain boys and girls under the age of 16, in Florida.
You can see where we are going with this. We are being specific, we are addressing directly the need our attendees and telling them how our events solve it. You will be able to expand later but for now, keep things high level and trust the process.
Convert Interest Into Action with this Simple Influence Trick
The better you understand your audience, the better your events will be. One way to improve your communications is for your event to develop a number of personas, which represent your core attendees and stakeholders. This makes it easier to tailor your event marketing messages to them.
Personas are fictional characters depicting your key and most typical customers and partners. By creating each persona you bring to life their personal details, background, and struggles, helping to picture who you are talking to and refine messaging.
For example, you may develop detailed personas for:
Laura, 21, Marketing Assistant
- keyboard_arrow_right Starting out in the industry in her first entry level job
- keyboard_arrow_right A power social media user across all networks
- keyboard_arrow_right Instagram is her favorite channel and she checks it and posts several times a day
- keyboard_arrow_right She follows a number of vloggers on Youtube
- keyboard_arrow_right Laura has never attended an event before
- keyboard_arrow_right She is hungry to learn more so she can progress up the career ladder
Pete, 36, Marketing Director
- keyboard_arrow_right Pete has very little time and big targets to meet for his boss at a well respected corporation
- keyboard_arrow_right He checks in on LinkedIn a few times a month but otherwise he doesn’t spend too much time on social media, or uses it for personal contact
- keyboard_arrow_right He has attended the event three times before
- keyboard_arrow_right He is considering whether having an exhibition booth at the show or even whether sponsorship could be worthwhile this year
Rosa, 42, CEO
- keyboard_arrow_right Rosa is the founder of a fast growing start up
- keyboard_arrow_right She is active on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
- keyboard_arrow_right Rosa is keen to meet people to share details of her company
- keyboard_arrow_right She has worked in the industry for twenty years and is very experienced and passionate
- keyboard_arrow_right She has attended other industry events but not this one
- keyboard_arrow_right She might be interested in attending the event if the attendee list and networking opportunities are appealing
The Higher Education User’s Group (HEUG) wanted to leverage its online community to generate interest and sign-ups for its annual international conference. Using audience personas, HEUG was able to generate content and teasers leading up to the event that would appeal to community members thinking of attending.
For each character, you should think about their motivations for attending the event, their fears, goals and pain points and what your event can give that will offer them true value. Also, consider where they usually hang out and, in the case of corporate events, if they make, influence or research the decision to attend.
The characters should be created from a combination of educated guesses and data, but they should be driven by your objectives and marketing priorities. As you gather more data the personas can develop and become more factual using information from event marketing software, survey data, website analytics, mobile apps, live response data and other tools.
Sample questions to answer for your persona profiles:
- keyboard_arrow_right How do they consume content?
- keyboard_arrow_right What technology and social media do they use?
- keyboard_arrow_right When are they most likely to interact and how?
- keyboard_arrow_right Who are their key influencers?
Download our Persona Template and get to know your attendees better.
Where: Use A Map To Increase Event Registrations
How would pilots fly a plane without a map? Crazy right? Yet, we think that not having a map detailing how to reach an objective is perfectly fine.
Maps don’t have to kill creativity, they are your companion to get to exactly where you need to be, your event marketing objectives.
To develop a map you need to learn about two fundamental elements: the attendee journey and touchpoints.
THE ATTENDEE JOURNEY IS EVERY INTERACTION AN ATTENDEE HAS WITH YOUR EVENT, BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER THE LIVE EVENT EXPERIENCE.
Throughout the attendee journey, there are numerous touchpoints with your participants and stakeholders.
A TOUCHPOINT IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOUR BAND TO COMMUNICATE WITH AN INDIVIDUAL.
By understanding all of the touchpoints within the event lifecycle you can gain a better understanding of marketing opportunities, as well as the opportunity to increase attendee satisfaction along the way.
Think about all the ways a stakeholder may come in contact with your brand. To help formulate this better, think about different scenarios and the steps they take. Where does the journey start and what are the paths of entry? Record online and offline steps from the marketing and pre-registration stage, right through to the post-event survey and follow-ups.
You should record both major and minor touchpoints. Every step and decision that may have influence over the attendee or event stakeholder.
Using post-it notes is a good way to map it out and refine the journey initially.
To explore and better understand your stakeholders is always a valuable exercise. The journey can be complex but even if it is only done on a simple level initially it can still be very revealing. You can then develop and build up from the basics.
It isn’t just the direct interactions with your company which have an influence either. Other indirect factors may funnel the attendee on the path towards your event, such as searching for management training and finding your event fits their criteria, noticing that a competitor is exhibiting at your event, checking out the ‘what's on’ guide for a local venue or realizing that an influencer they want to hear from is talking at your conference.
Event Marketing Touchpoint Examples:
- keyboard_arrow_right The content of your event - the sessions, speakers or performers
- keyboard_arrow_right Event website
- keyboard_arrow_right Mail
- keyboard_arrow_right Social media profiles of the event
- keyboard_arrow_right Exhibitor brochure
- keyboard_arrow_right Advertising on search engines, magazines or social media
- keyboard_arrow_right Discussion about events on social media or forums
- keyboard_arrow_right Videos of the previous event
- keyboard_arrow_right Session content from previous events
- keyboard_arrow_right Registration page
- keyboard_arrow_right Event app
- keyboard_arrow_right Search engine presence
When Prospects Become Attendees: Decision Time
Think about how people decide whether or not to attend your event and try to understand their behavior and process. What are the determining factors? What is the tipping point?
These are just some elements which may play a part:
- keyboard_arrow_right Reviews
- keyboard_arrow_right Peer recommendations
- keyboard_arrow_right Web search
- keyboard_arrow_right Price
- keyboard_arrow_right Comparing to other events
- keyboard_arrow_right Professional accreditation or certification
- keyboard_arrow_right Speakers and performers
- keyboard_arrow_right Time of the year
- keyboard_arrow_right Event venue
- keyboard_arrow_right City hosting the event
- keyboard_arrow_right Country of the event
There could be several combined factors which tip the balance over to the decision to attend. Understanding these triggers helps to perfect your marketing strategy.
Even if you are planning an event with expected or guaranteed attendance, such as an internal team building retreat, a CPD (Continued Professional Development) training course or a company annual meeting, you still want to reach a tipping point for buy-in from your attendees. Personas will be really helpful to create a really strong offering for your key audience. Although guests in these instances are obliged to attend and do not have to be persuaded to buy a ticket, if you can achieve some anticipation and engagement prior to the experience they are likely to get more from it and the dropout rate will be lower.
Considering every touchpoint along the journey will help to identify gaps, strengths, and weaknesses to enable improvements to be made to your marketing offering and communication strategy. It may enable you to streamline and speed up the process to make it simpler for the attendee and quicker to reach the tipping point to convert the potential attendee into a confirmed participant, or to encourage them to engage more closely with the experience to follow.
The Event Marketing Fundamental Your Competitors Don’t Want You To Know About: Process Mapping
PROCESS MAPPING IS A VISUAL EXERCISE TO BETTER UNDERSTAND A FLOW OF WORK.
Process mapping can be a useful exercise to lay out the attendee or stakeholder journey and identify key elements and crossroads throughout. Process mapping can help to crystallize how to influence specific outcomes and develop the strategy behind what you want to achieve.
This exercise will also identify where potential tools can be used and their primary purpose. You want different channels to be used effectively and in different ways, rather than broadcasting the same message with a broad brush approach across all platforms. The purpose of each channel can then be refined.
When: How Often Should You Send Event Marketing Messages?
Effective frequency is the number of times a message needs to be heard before someone takes action.
In most cases, it is unlikely that someone will take action the first time they hear about your event. Often, it will take several mentions before an individual will take a proactive step. This could be buying a ticket or enquiring about the possibility of exhibiting at the event.
There are lots of studies about effective frequency and what this magic number is. Many marketers swear by the rule of 7. However, for the entertainment industry the average touchpoints needed is actually 9.5 and for not-for-profits, this rises to an average of 16.3*.
If you can determine and plan numerous touchpoints for stakeholders to encounter your event marketing you vastly increase your chance of a successful sale or engagement. Of course, the result is not guaranteed but it is always wise to plan to surpass the minimum number of touchpoints required to trigger action on behalf of the stakeholder.
By conveying a strong message you can build trust and familiarity with the potential participant, sponsor or exhibitor. Ensure that potential attendees and partners can find you and that you can give reminders to those that have the event on their radar but haven’t yet taken action and booked their place to attend or exhibit.
If it is a paying event you need to give enough reasons for people to find a way to register. If someone is unsure you haven’t yet proved to them the value of attending and you need to work harder to convince and reassure them.
If planning an internal event with expected or guaranteed attendance, you may have to work even harder to be heard in advance as your guests could view it as low priority and something to be shelved and not thought about until the day. In terms of your event, you will need to consider how you can inspire attention or provoke thoughts or action ahead of the actual event if that is what you are looking for.
For both of these circumstances, being on trend and using new tools can be an effective way to stand out and get noticed. By earning respect as an innovator, leading the way and doing things differently, you can inspire those involved in your events and hook them. Make a strong stance that this is not a repeat of previous events and demand full attention for the journey ahead.
What: From Fluff to Action. Your Event Marketing Campaign
We discussed the Why, Where and When. Now, it’s the time to decide what are we going to do. It’s time to translate strategy into action. A great strategy without massive action is just an exercise in style (fluff or fresh air).
To make a step towards action, we need to start asking ourselves and our business some tough questions and give some honest answers.
What is your priority? Selling tickets, getting more sponsors or increasing the awareness of your event? These are considerably different reasons behind an event marketing strategy. We have discussed them in Why. You need to dig down into your event vitals and see what is the outcome you want from your marketing efforts. Do you want attendees to click on a registration link? Do you want them to see the video from last year so they can learn more about it? Do you want more exhibitor leads?
Give a priority to your objectives and pick no more than two. Too many directions give no direction.
Let’s say you want to sell 50% of your tickets to new attendees. Where should you engage? What are the touchpoints or the assets you should involve in your plan? We figured this out in the Where section. The process mapping and persona exercises will help you to move from a general objective to specific actions you need to take on different media or touchpoints.
Your personas will also define the tone and manner you need to adopt to engage with different audiences and get them to take action.
Now it’s time to go on with the What, your event marketing campaign, where strategy becomes action. An event marketing campaign is a glue that ties objectives to tactics. Campaigns work as funnels to move our audience to action via multiple steps.
Going back to our objectives, you want to sell 50% of your tickets to new attendees. Your analysis tells you that Mark, a pneumologist, spends his time on Facebook and Youtube, he also reads forums and the association magazines. He wants to stay up to date with the latest developments in research and to be a better professional. He is the ideal attendee but he has never attended a conference. You want him to purchase a ticket.
Here is what your campaign could look like:
Create a programme that reflects latest developments in the relevant field. Get the best speakers in the industry
Collect the most popular session from last year and use the video on Youtube and Facebook
Use paid advertising to promote the video in the geographic areas where your attendees tend to come from
Also use all internal marketing assets (emails, social followers) to drive traffic to the video - your existing attendees can help you to get new attendees!
Collect video views on Facebook and/or Google remarketing lists
Create an ad focused on the learning opportunity your event offers
Create a landing page with the video and clear registration link
Promote the ad to the remarketing lists you have accumulated
Test different versions of the landing page to optimize conversions
This is only one way to collate together all the steps in your strategy with a campaign that has the clear goal of selling more tickets by influencing attendees through many touchpoints, many times and in different ways. Don’t expect that one tool will give you sales, there is no causality in event marketing. A does not take you to Z, A+B+C+D+E (repeated many times and optimized) will = Z.
In the next section, we are going to give you a ton of tactics to achieve your objectives through different touchpoints. We kind of did all the work for you so you can choose the strategy and the tactics that work best. Before we move into that, we can’t miss a final step in every respectable strategy: measurement.
Weigh: If You Don’t Measure Your Event Marketing, Then You Don’t Have a Plan
Are you ready to jump to action?
Not so fast amigo!
The example above is a fantastic way to sell more tickets for your event. How effective is it? What is the ROI (Return on Investment) you are getting after investing all your resources and advertising budget into getting Mark to purchase a ticket?
Event professionals are great 'doers' but what about putting a system in place for measurement?
So let’s get down to business, the steps to measure your event:
- keyboard_arrow_right Choose your analytics platforms (Web analytics, Ad Analytics, Event Management Software, etc)
- keyboard_arrow_right Know all your vitals (email click-through rates, video views, engagement with video, ads CTR, page conversion rate, etc)
- keyboard_arrow_right Run tests (A/B)
- keyboard_arrow_right Constantly analyze
- keyboard_arrow_right Optimize
There used to be a time when you guessed reach and tried to correlate results to campaigns. Those times are now gone. You can measure everything and you can optimize on the go.
Your next event marketing campaign starts with the actual event and ends the day before next years’ event. There is no time to stop and analyze. You may pause a campaign because you sold out or you surpassed your objective. You can discard a campaign if it is not performing and switch to something else, quickly! No time to waste.
Modern event marketing is dynamic and continuous. It requires an incredible level of flexibility. Measurement is a constant activity that someone in your team needs to be accountable for.
Listening and observing your attendees and event partners can enable you to react and pre-empt issues, as well as providing insights and learning for how to improve future events. Never before have we had such opportunity to listen to our stakeholders, understand them and take action based on actual evidence. Event planners have the opportunity to involve them more fully in the whole event experience, for instance by co-creating the conference programme, voting on the event destination, and getting honest input into some of the event decisions. Likewise, if a sponsor and exhibitor can see the valuable relationships and communication around the event it will be easier to get them to sign on the dotted line. This level of engagement and buy-in is what will truly define the success of your event from the perspective of all stakeholders.
If you are a seasoned event professional, or if you have worked your way through the Event Marketing Strategy guide, you will have your objectives clearly mapped out and goals defined. This section focuses on different types of event promotion ideas and tactics which you can put into practice right away to start seeing success from your event marketing.
As there are so many event marketing tips and tactics to cover we have structured this section with:
Tips and Tactics Specific to Different Event Marketing Channels
Take away specific event marketing ideas to use across every marketing medium you are using to market your event more effectively:
It is important to identify which communication channels are right for your event audience and to use them effectively. We have gathered a comprehensive list of tips to make sure that you benefit from the learnings of experienced event planners and event marketers and get it right first time.
Email marketing is one of the most popular methods event planners use to communicate, however overflowing inboxes and spam filters mean that only a fraction of emails are opened, let alone read or clicked on. With a few tweaks and changes, you’ll be able to achieve much more from your email campaigns.
Start Building Your List Now
As soon as you decide to host an event, get up a holding page with an email capture form to start collecting the details of interested potential attendees. The rate of email sign-ups can help you to decide whether to host the event in the first place.
Use the personas you have developed (as explained earlier in the post) to guide your writing and ensure your message is optimized for the target audience. If you imagine marketing to a real person it can help you nail the messaging for greater success.
Keep It Short
Keep your email focused and short so it isn’t too overbearing. If necessary, split it into several smaller emails to make it more punchy, and enable a more specific subject line.
Simplify Your Template Design
A simple email design template is more likely to pass spam filters, it will save time testing across different email clients and work better on mobile. You want it to appear exactly as you designed it to look.
A huge percentage of your audience will check their email from their smartphone. Make sure your email design is responsive and test it. This includes having enough white space to make it easy to open hyperlinks from a mobile device.
Test Different Subject Lines
Most people decide whether your email gets opened based on the “from” and the subject line so you should spend as much time creating the subject line as you do on the content of the email, trying out two or three variations. Most email marketing technologies will allow you to test a number of different elements on a small segment, and then implement the best performing results to send to the rest of your list.
Clean Your Lists
Emails go out of date fast so be sure to purge your lists regularly, otherwise, it could affect your send success rate. Also, ensure that you don’t send blanket ‘register now’ emails to people that have already booked their place. This only causes confusion. It is especially important that you comply fully with GDPR.
Don’t Overload People
You can normally judge which events are struggling based on how frequent their emails get in the last couple of weeks before the event. Check and coordinate the emails being sent out to your list, especially within larger teams.
Use Your Email Data to Do More
Create a script that adds anyone who subscribes to your mailing list to your CRM. You could even automatically pull in their job title from LinkedIn too.
Timing your email is important to get it opened. The email won’t drive conversions if no one even opens it. Hopefully, this isn’t the first email you’re creating for this group. If you have some historical data about open rates and time sent, review it before you decide when to send it.
One Is Not Done
Do you know the phrase, “One and done”? That is never the case with email marketing. In email marketing, you are creating an impression. While you don’t want to be bothersome, view your emails as part of a multi-touch campaign. Don’t just send one email and be done with it. Follow up.
As well as your subject line, take the time to do some A/B testing on your email templates, phrasing, button placement, color, and links. Anything that required a choice on your part, from words to design, will either drive action or suspend it.
An event email’s call to action is most common “register now” but if you’re doing a series and a marketing campaign it may be “learn more.” You can use different words to spark interest such as “Join us in Palm Springs” or a register now button that reads, “You bet I’ll be there.” Get creative and see which CTAs bring the best results.
Your event website should include all of the key information about the event, including the basics; event date, time, venue, location, cost to attend, schedule, how to sign up and frequently asked questions. Here are some other proven website strategies:
Bespoke Landing Pages
If you can serve up content that is tailored to what your audience is looking for it will have a much better chance of conversion. For event marketing to succeed, you need to make it personal.
Think about your specific elevator pitch and how it will appeal directly to each persona you have developed. Set a consistent message on how to sell your event to this specific stakeholder and start to segment your audience accordingly to enable you to increasingly personalize your communications.
A “Why Attend” page needs to convey in simple terms why someone should make the investment and come to your event. It can help an attendee to obtain financial sign-off and justification for the expense.
Most of all, you want to make sure you are appealing to your ideal attendee. Working on the event personas we discussed in the strategy section is a good way to focus on your audience and create a more appealing business case.
Live chat is an enabled feature that allows website visitors to key in a message or question to you. It saves them navigating your website trying to find the answer. It also makes visitors more likely to convert, particularly if their ticket purchase is hinging on one query and that question can be answered right away.
If a potential attendee reaches your event registration page you want to ensure they complete the process and don’t abandon their booking. Don’t fall down at the final hurdle!
Keep It Simple
Social Media and Integration
How Did You Hear About The Event?
Final Reminder Email
Depending on your budget you can create your own design using one of the easy-to-use applications and websites, buy one from a designer or brief a design professional. Whatever you decide, your flyer should fit the tone of your event and attract your ideal attendee. Here are some pointers to keep in mind.
- keyboard_arrow_right Give people a focal point. You don’t want the flyer to be too cluttered.
- keyboard_arrow_right Have a clear call to action.
- keyboard_arrow_right Use a color palette that is pleasing to look at, otherwise, you may turn them off before they even figure out what your event is about.
- keyboard_arrow_right Make your message clear. If they can’t tell it’s an event flyer, they won’t know how to RSVP or register.
- keyboard_arrow_right Include social media sharing details (and options for easy sharing in the electronic version of your flyer/e-flyer.
- keyboard_arrow_right Use versions of your flyer as your social media profile covers.
- keyboard_arrow_right Consider that in this digital world, printed information can sometimes be more effective and less likely to get buried. Nowadays receiving something exciting through the mail is a novelty.
- keyboard_arrow_right Experiment with size, texture, weight, cut out elements and gloss or matt effects.
Never use social media just to push out sales messages. This is never an effective strategy. Instead, work on sharing interesting and relevant content and building up your following organically through conversations and interactions. A few easy tweaks to your social media can create an impact and help transform your social media communication.
Optimize your Social Media Account Bios
- keyboard_arrow_right Facebook page name, short description, number of likes, as well as the number of people talking about the page.
- keyboard_arrow_right Take advantage of all of the opportunities found in the “About” section to fill in information about your brand, adding a list of links to other channels and keywords to support your branding efforts.
- keyboard_arrow_right Use the one clickable link you are allowed in your Instagram bio description to enable your audience to pursue your call-to-action and update it regularly.
- keyboard_arrow_right Google will pull relevant keywords found in the bio to identify relevant results depending on what someone has typed into the search field.
- keyboard_arrow_right With just 160 characters in your Twitter bio, make the most use of hashtags, emojis, and consider using a URL in addition to the hyperlink below your bio.
Add a Call to Action to your Social Media Images
Encourage Colleagues and Employees to Connect with your Brand on Social Media
Vary the Types of Content you Post (and When)
Test sending out targeted messages to a select group, tracking the percentage of engagement that comes from that small message and comparing to bulk messages. One option to test this out is to use an Instagram direct message to deliver a 15-second video with an invitation to your next event to a group of up to 15 people. You might also want to try creating highly targeted audiences on Facebook and then choosing to send a message only to that group.
Beware of Automated Posts
Up the Fun Factor
Live Video/Live Stream
Live streaming is ideal for capturing the moment and can be used for behind-the-scenes glimpses of conferences, how-to’s, quick interviews, live demos, and breaking news.
These are some of the platforms available for social media live streaming:
If you are looking for the largest audience possible, Facebook Live is the answer. Broadcasting on Facebook Live means all those who used to see your posts are much more likely to once again so it is a great way to bring back and revitalize your Facebook page
Where Facebook Live’s biggest benefit has been re-engaging with a brand’s followers, Periscope and Twitter working together provide a better outlet for organic discovery from those who have never followed your account before.
Facebook is in a bit of competition with itself as it rolled out its latest update of Instagram which included a live streaming service called Instagram Live. Instagram is the most pared down of any of the big three mobile streaming services available right now. Where it succeeds is the same place its main competition, Snapchat - FOMO (fear of missing out).
YouTube has been in the professional live streaming business for years. Now though, live streaming is available to all. YouTube Live videos can be posted on all platforms that allow embedding and will have a much deeper archival value because of optimized search engine discoverability. If you are less concerned with capturing the attention of those online and back and forth engagement at the same time as your live broadcast, YouTube’s live streaming options might be the best of the best.
Testimonials and referrals from happy event attendees can be an effective way to persuade others to attend and more cost-effective and persuasive than paid advertising. Here are some tactics to help you capitalize on this opportunity:
AskDon’t be afraid to ask to quote someone or to use feedback from their evaluation form. Also, asking for feedback with a camera can be powerful to share as a video testimonial.
Provide an IncentiveIncentives can be very effective if you find one that your audience values. In the case of event attendees, discounts on attendance are powerful. You can be very creative with these discounts by giving them a discount code to share with friends or by taking a dollar amount off of their registration fee for every person they sign up. If they sign up several, they could potentially cover the price of their ticket. This drives a lot of people and makes it worth their while to encourage friends and peers to attend.
Content marketing and blogging are some of the most popular and effective tools in attracting attention and they are here to stay. One post isn’t likely to make your event a sell out overnight but done well it can help improve your reach; help people know, like, and trust your event as a resource; and cause people to get excited about it. If these things aren’t happening in your content marketing, it’s not them. It’s you.
Deliver Content in a Medium Your Audience Enjoys
Content Needs to Match Your Strategy
And, by the way, heavy-handed selling is not an effective strategy in content marketing. Your goal – regardless of what your event goal is – is to be helpful to your ideal attendee, not sell to them like an infomercial.
Find Out the Most Effective Time to Post
Use The Right Tone of Voice For the Audience
If you invest the time in creating content for your ideal attendee, it will get you noticed and people will want to learn more about your event. However, content marketing is an ongoing undertaking. You need to build those relationships between events to keep them going strong.
If you want to create useful pieces for your ideal attendee, that help in building the relationship between your event and those who enjoy it, content marketing is a very powerful tool.
A video is one of the best ways to market events and engage attendees. Video content can be fairly inexpensive to create and yet it packs a big punch. Create short, budget-friendly videos that are sure to impress. Here are some interesting ways you can integrate and expand upon your event video content:
Try promoting the guest speakers or presenters that are being featured by asking them to submit video clips or photos to include in your promotional video. You could also highlight the venue or city you are visiting for the event. Anything that would intrigue your guests is a great option to feature in your marketing video efforts.
Video Within Your Event App
Ask the teams to record and submit their videos prior to the event, or give them space within the event programme, and then play the best ones in front of the audience. This gives your guests a chance to interact and use their creative skills. It can also be a great team building activity and always provides a good source of entertainment for the group.
Video Booth Recordings
You can also integrate a thank you message into your recap that shows appreciation for your attendees, speaker, and any special guests. Showing your guests that you value their participation and attendance is key to gaining their continued support.
We have looked at event marketing tips that are specific to different marketing channels but what about techniques that are universal to your whole event marketing strategy? These tactics are based on many years of experience and higher level learnings from top event professionals and marketers, which you can implement alongside your own tactics for greater success.
Use Scarcity To Drive DemandIf your event sells out it will encourage attendees to move more quickly to secure their place at future events. Consider using a smaller room/venue and selling out as a strategy to increase early demand for future events.
Never Extend Your Early Bird RateIf you choose to have an early bird rate never extend it. This devalues your event and encourages behavior that should be discouraged. Instead of the expected early bird booking rate, some event planners are using reverse psychology. By having standard tickets and a late booking ticket rate it can start to change people's approach to leaving it to the last minute as no one wants to incur a perceived penalty rate. Others don’t set deadlines when the ticket prices will increase, instead, they have a limited number of tickets available at each pricing bracket, the price of which increases as each block sells out. This can give a sense of urgency to people which can be communicated in your event messaging and is more likely to encourage action on behalf of the attendee.
Launch Tickets with a BangMap out your event marketing plan leading up to the tickets going on sale. This may include a series of emails, social media advertising, scheduled social updates from the founder, the event and all of the speakers and sponsors. Make sure that any potential attendee of the event knows about the release date and that they need to act to secure their ticket.
Encourage Ambassadors and Give Them Special TreatmentGive your ambassadors and past attendees discount codes they can share and track the code provided so that you can see how far the referrals are reaching. Provide them with visual content to share and specifically ask them to. Have a referral contest to increase word-of-mouth marketing and offer a refund off their own ticket or perks based on the number of sign-ups they influence. Not only does this appeal to the people receiving the discounts, but their referrers feel special that they are able to offer an exclusive opportunity to their tribe.
Create an Online CommunityIt is easier and more cost-effective to encourage someone to return to your event, rather than finding and recruiting a new attendee or headline sponsor each time. Keeping the conversations going all year round and building a sense of community around the shared interests and vision of your attendees is a wise strategy.
Create topical discussions around your conference to encourage the discussion before, during and after the event. Even if an attendee cannot make the session there can still be valuable learning and sharing which keeps your event in their mind.
Tap into EmotionsMost people think that it’s logic that drives the key decisions that we make in life, whether professional or personal, but actually, it’s our emotions that are responsible for just about every decision we make – including the events we attend. As human beings, we are both rational and emotional. Logic drives our thoughts, but it is our emotions that drive our actions, led by our desires and aspirations. As an events marketer if what you are proposing doesn’t hit an emotional high note then the chances are you’re not going to make that event ticket sale. However, which emotion you should focus on really depends on your content, your audience, and their needs and aspirations.
Working with Bloggers and InfluencersIf you can identify a genuine affinity between an influencer and your event, it can be a powerful combination in terms of marketing your event more widely, if they are keen to work with you. Ensure that influencers have the freedom to create authentic content. It is tempting to be prescriptive and dictate the messaging, imagery and output that you want influencers to use but this can be a turnoff for their followers. Listen to their advice and thoughts on what will resonate best with their audience and be willing to take a risk on what they suggest.
Micro-InfluencersInstead of working with one celebrity name with hundreds of thousands of followers, it can be more cost-effective to work with a number of hyper-targeted influencers with thousands or tens of thousands of followers instead. The audiences of micro-influencers can be more focused on niche interests, meaning that the ratio and interaction can actually be greater and more effective, offering a scalable way to combine influence and authenticity. It can also suit event marketers who are looking to pay for the experience, instead of paying for endorsement.
Dark Social84% of social sharing happens via dark social - online conversations that are not trackable by marketers. This is driven by copying and pasting links to share via email, text message, chat and messenger apps, such as Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Line, and WeChat. Micro-influencers can have a big impact on dark social. Although difficult to influence, encourage, control and monitor, dark social should definitely be front of mind when it comes to your marketing strategy.
Capitalize on Binge CultureIt is becoming commonplace to binge on content such as TV shows and books. This behavior is now evident in events with many attendees purchasing several event tickets or upgrades in one go. Event planners can capitalize on this by cross-promoting their event and targeting attendees events of a similar nature.
Use Growth Hacking TechniquesGrowth hacking refers to an analytical approach that favors small scale, less expensive experiments to prove a (marketing) point that can be later expanded into a full marketing program. As budgets globally shrink, event marketers focus on those offline and online tools that deliver value, they test different alternatives and roll out small-scale campaigns to gain immediate feedback from customers.
Experiential Marketing and Pop-Up EventsTake the event message to your audience, by locating a pop-up interaction in a high-footfall location. This offers passers-by an opportunity to be a part of the moment before it disappears, fueling the need to capture and share on social media and can help to promote your larger forthcoming event.
Pay with a ShareGet attention in the lead up to an event by offering a free resource in return for a tweet or post, to ensure interest and maximum sharing. Opportunities within the event itself can be a great tactic to increase activity and FOMO (fear of missing out) to those not present.
Photo-worthy MomentsThe aesthetic of your event is more important than ever as you know that every interesting element and angle is likely to be shared. Event planners are spending more on big props, nostalgic, quirky and awe-inspiring features.
SMS Text Message
The use of text messaging in business and corporate environments is becoming commonplace. 98% of text messages are read, and 90% are read within three minutes - unprecedented conversion levels that can’t be ignored by event marketers.
VIP Experiences for All EventsConsider what VIP perks your audience would be willing to pay for. Conferences are starting to offer different layers of tickets, with perks such as top seating, meet and greets, speedy check-in, exclusive lounges, food and beverage upgrades and extra education settings.
All the major festivals are offering VIP packages at a premium price tag. Glamping in teepees or a choice of accommodation options, dedicated parking close by, porters to help with bags, hot showers, luxury restrooms, exclusive DJ sets and late night bars are some of the perks being offered.
Premium pricing is also being used at exhibitions for those wanting fast track entry, VIP entrance, access to meet and greets, complimentary refreshments, priority seating, access to seminars and VIP goodie bags.
The landscape for event marketing has matured and become more sophisticated in many ways, with lots of exciting developments. Looking ahead, there are many new opportunities for event marketers on the horizon. Here are the top trends we expect to take notice of in 2018 and, most importantly, tricks to include in your own event marketing strategies right away:
Combined Campaigns Rule
Living Images and Photo-worthy Moments
It is easier to explain quickly with pictures and video why someone should attend your event, faster than you can paint a picture with words.
Focus on Pain Points
A way to engineer this acceptance and relationship building is to provide a sequence of ads, perhaps three adverts to be shown in a specified order, rather than just a single “buy/act now” message. A drip marketing campaign on social media can create awareness and the three stages may be to introduce the event, explain why the viewer needs to attend the event, and finally to invite them to come to the website before hopefully a conversion is made.
Snapchat and Instagram Domination
Snapchat still has a loyal fan base, however, growth is stalling as Instagram and Facebook integrate many of the features which previously differentiated it, and their user bases have surged ahead.
Marketing Your Event Just Got a Whole Lot Harder
Maximizing Last Minute Registrations
Premium Ticketing and Pricing
Meaningful networking and matchmaking are the tools that will secure effective marketing and incredibly high satisfaction rates.
Event Technology Integration
There are many tools and applications available which give a dynamic and user-friendly experience to all aspects of event planning, tying all data together for stronger decisions. Mobile event apps, for example, are apps that are created to make the event experience even better for people who are attending. However, the opportunity to use technology to create great event experiences isn’t limited to apps. Interactive technology and virtual reality are just two bits of technology that will have a big impact on events now and into the future.
Smart event marketing professionals select tools that talk to each other and make sense of the incredible amount of data coming from each dashboard.
BONUS VIDEO: Event Marketing: 5 Tactics to Sell Out
If you can’t see the video, click here.
Phew! There you have it. Over 200+ tips, strategies, templates and tactics to win at event marketing in 2018. Your practical event marketing plan to quickly grow your event and sell more tickets. We hope that you are feeling inspired and raring to go, to put this theory into practice. Creating your most successful events yet is now within reach if you follow this event marketing masterclass.
We will update this page regularly, so bookmark it, share it, and check back often for all of the latest tricks and tips in event marketing.
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* Karla Straker Cara Wrigley Michael Rosemann, (2015),"Typologies and touchpoints: designing multichannel digital strategies", Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, Vol. 9 Iss 2 pp. 110 - 128