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The technology sector has been responsible for some great marketing techniques. Probably one of the most effective is Growth Hacking. It’s a strategy utilised by technology start ups to achieve growth quickly. The growth hack has relevant applications for Event Managers and Marketers who run a regular event each year or are marketing a new event – in effect a re-start or start up.
The technology space is populated by paid for and free events that are aimed at particular attendees; usually one off’s around a particular theme or topic – with the objective of being full to capacity. These ten tips can be applied to any type of event and will drive more traffic to your event website. I have used the formulae successfully in many of the events I produce in the technology space.
Create Irresistible Sticky Content
Before the strategy starts you need the tools to create interest and acquire the attention of the appropriate attendee group to pull them toward your website. Your website is where the magic happens and they sign up for the event! Make sure your website is attractive, informative, well-designed, the registration process is simple and there is some great content at the checkout stage to for registrants to share or even create an incentivised referral system to facilitate a cycle of success.
By having a good understanding of your attendee profile you can create stimulating content that will appeal. Video, images, infographics as well as interesting stories around your event are some of the tools you need to develop for your growth hack to create a viral buzz. But remember you must make sure that the content design includes a mechanism to link back to the event website.
There are specific ways of maximising your chances of moving your website up in Google and other search engine search rankings. In general this is about making sure that your meta tags (key words), blog page content, opportunities for visitors to share and link back to the irresistible content on your website are all in place.
If you can't afford to pay an expert to maximise your SEO then search for resources on the internet and teach yourself this valuable skill.
Email is still the main means of mass communication for many marketing campaigns. Email provides key support to event-led marketing strategies or standalone events. You need to ask yourself if you have your database well administered – the data base is ‘fresh’ to minimise bounce backs and ‘not opened’ communications – and key to your growth hack.
Your database should be able to discern a particular target group to suit the event. The event and the attendees must be aligned in the database so that your communications are effective.
Visually rich, text light emails that are drip fed to your target group will both acquire and retain attention. The register or buy function must be clearly visible and inviting. Again, an incentive can be used to encourage the receiver to either share the content or implement the registration/sales call to action. But it’s important that your content is always different.
Previous visual and textual communications may be ignored. Similarities between each communication should only be based on strong messaging points such as a logo or venue identifier. The reader should always look forward to unwrapping!
Make sure you are linked to all the relevant social channels where your attendees reside. Encourage social sharing of tweets and posts by offering a benefit for doing this. This could be linked to an incentivised referral system where the sharer will be compelled to share in order to receive the benefit. It could be a special goody bag given out at the event or some other incentive that compels the ‘sharer’ to amplify your message and create the critical mass needed for a ‘viral buzz’ around your event.
Start a Blog
You have some great content, now use it. It’s going to be found on Google and other search engines. Populate the blog with stimulating content and stories about your event, the people and production elements involved and information relevant to the event theme. Encourage shares of blog articles to start the viral buzz. This can be encouraged by being more creative than just using standardized icons that signify share channels.
If you have the resources you can even gamify the share function. Invite guests to blog too.
Look out for relevant blogs associated to the event theme or the industry/consumer sector that the event attendees are part of. Simply email the blog administrator requesting a guest spot on their blog.
If you are not ‘fronting’ the event then encourage your client and their keynotes speakers, entertainers, chefs and any other interesting personalities that are key to the event to guest blog. You can support them on which blogs to approach with a prepared format for the request as well as provide them with content suggestions and visuals for an article that will stimulate blog readers to share. Remember that more shares of content equals more views of your website!
Build Personal Brands
As an Event Planner or Marketer you should now be aware that having a strong personal brand based on your expertise and professional values is important to develop both face-to-face and online relationships. With the Internet as a vast information source your personal brand will be researched and scrutinised. To get more people looking at your event, make sure the key people that are that are ‘fronting’ the event have a positive personal brand. So should you – this helps event buyers when hiring an agency, producer or supplier.
Editorial referral is like gold-dust! If you have relationships with journalists and publications associated to the attendee profile, then use your network to get your message out there.
Online publications and daily news bulletins are perfect PR channels as the reportage is always shareable. Make sure that you have prepared visual and textual content that you can send to journalists and publications to make their lives easier. Remember digital publications turn-around period from submission to publications may be one or two days, but traditional print periodicals have a much longer – some even 3-4 months - turnaround.
For events where celebrities or a unique performance or ‘happening’ is involved you can approach mainstream daily newspapers, TV and radio channels to feature them. But do your research so that what you suggest and for which show, slot or page topic is suitable.
Engaging a specialist company that puts out your event details to listings websites can be expensive. You can search Google for both local and international event listings websites.
The DIY approach is much cheaper and you can tailor the content and message you want to get across to a specific audience and style of publication. Both the publishers and their audience will appreciate relevancy and tend to take in more of the message. But make sure that you provide a link back to your website. Here interested parties can see and share sticky content and register to attend your event.
To summarise, Event Planners need to use these tips in the context of a four stage cycle of success. First, you must carefully plan the content appropriate to each communication channel you are going to use to growth hack your event as well as have your website designed and built. Make sure your SEO is at optimum and social channels, email database and communication system is in place.
Second, to acquire potential attendees you need all guns blazing! Blog posts, guest blogging, emails, social channel communications, listings - the lot!
Third, to retain interest of potential attendees who haven’t bought into your event, continue the process but remember that the content should be continually evolving and this keeps their interest as they are unwrapping something fresh each time you communicate with them.
Remember always – where appropriate - have the action button or purchase link ready on as many communications channels as possible. Once they sign up, you have completed the fourth stage of the cycle of success!