From brand exposure to increased registration sales, event organizers know, just how important it is to market events well.
Unfortunately, many event organizers find themselves in marketing analysis paralysis, overwhelmed by all the noise, and unsure of where to start.
RegFox is here to help!
Marketing neither has to be mind-numbing nor complicated. To make it easier for you, we’ve taken a chunk of the thought labor off your plate by creating this guide to event marketing.
If you’re wondering when to get started, the answer is, as soon as your event planning starts—not after you’ve already locked in all the fine-tuned details. Below, we cover five of the most effective marketing tools, and how to leverage them for event success.
Building Your Marketing Toolbox
Tool 1: Email
Across all the possible channels to drive sales through the roof, email ranks as the top tool by professional marketers. If that surprises you, take a look at HubSpot’s state of marketing annual report, for proof of the high ROI provided by email. A great email marketing campaign will generate more registration sales, keep your attendees informed, and allow for smooth communication between you and your attendees.
Capturing attention over email, however, can be tricky. In 2022, the average email open rate hovered at just under 17%. Most promotional emails sail straight past the eyes of the customer and drown in a sea of unread messages. That said, there are specific best practices to ensure your emails stand out.
Email Tip 1 - Write a Clear and Compelling Subject Line
Your subject serves as a crucial communication opportunity. Many people will skim the subject line of emails to determine if they are even worth reading. Take a few minutes and consider the subject line of your email and make sure it is clear and compelling. Share the big idea of your email in the subject line, and make sure to tell the customer what’s in it for them.
Avoid vague or clickbaity subjects.
✘ “Now Is The Time”
✘ “OMG I can’t believe this [MUST READ]”
Clickbait subject lines are overused and may backfire on you. Sure, clickbait might get more clicks initially, but you risk losing interest—and worse, trust!
Instead, use specific and intentional subjects.
✔ “Last Day to Buy Half-Price Registration for The Financial Literacy Conference!”
✔ “What to know before coming to the Sci-Fi Convention tomorrow.”
With a purposeful subject, you communicate the key takeaway and increase the odds that the right people will open it.
Email Tip 2- Keep the Body Brief
Have you ever had the experience of scrolling through an essay-like email only to find one necessary piece of information near the bottom? It’s exhausting. Worse, if people open your email and see enough text to write a doctorate, they may turn right around and leave your email.
Huge blocks of text are one of the fastest ways to drain brain energy. Do your customers a favor and make your emails interesting and short enough to scan in 15 seconds or less. Simply put, get to the point—fast.
Email Tip 3- Include a Clear Call to Action
Before you begin writing an email, take a moment to ask yourself this question: “After reading this email, what do I want my attendees to DO?” Then, make an incredibly easy path for them to do exactly that.
For instance, if your goal is to upsell your attendee to a VIP experience, provide the VIP registration link. Every email you send should have a purpose.
Pro tip: Put your call to action in the very first line of your email. Some people will jump straight into the CTA, others will read the rest of the details, and some will decide it’s not relevant to them. Regardless of the outcome, you do your attendees a favor (and save them some time) by telling them exactly what’s in the email.
Email Tip 4 - Let the personality shine
The world is filled with boring and lifeless emails. Incorporate your first-person tone and personality into your email. If you’re organizing a company ski trip, there’s no reason for your email voice to read like a legal document. Many event organizers are so concerned about being professional that they strip all the fun and personality out of their content. Nothing kills excitement faster.
You can be professional and on-brand without sounding robotic and flat. Think about how your audience likes to communicate and find a way to surprise and delight them with each email. In doing so, you will build positive anticipation and set the tone for your event.
For example, in the email about arrival details, don’t say,
X “Due to the high volume of people in attendance, expect traffic and be prompt.”
Instead, try something like,
✔ “It’s gonna be a full house, folks. We recommend you arrive early, grab a drink, and start connecting with the group!”
Email Tip 5 - Make an Irresistible Offer
Lastly, you can never go wrong by incentivizing people to subscribe to your emails. Make them an irresistible deal and be generous with your offer.
For example, you can reward subscribers by offering a raffle entry and a discount code for VIP registration.
Never knock the power of incentives. When used purposefully and generously, they can pay dividends. If people can save money by staying in the loop, they are much more likely to stay subscribed—and happy!
Tool 2: Social Media
If the phrase “social media promotion” makes you roll your eyes as you picture curated images and cliche captions, it’s time to think again.
When done well, social media marketing can be the ace in your back pocket for your event. Social media promotion boosts visibility and forges invaluable connections with attendees and followers.
Here are seven of our recommended ways to make the most of your social media strategy and convert your social media followers into attendees.
1. Run Promotions Exclusively for Your Social Media Followers
One of the quickest ways to make your social media followers feel like VIPs is to reward their choice to follow you by offering exclusive promotions.
- + Post an image with a #giveaway that places followers in a drawing once they’ve tagged their friends.
- + Launch a “best event photo” contest on Instagram—and gift the winners with merchandise.
- + Broadcast 20% off packages to your LinkedIn followers.
Get creative, and you’ll find plenty of ways to turn followers into attendees.
2. Make it Easy to Purchase Registrations Through Social Media
Even if you post professional-quality photos alongside excellent captions, your best efforts will stagnate if your followers have to dance through a digital obstacle course to find the registration page. Registration Purchasing through social media should be a seamless process. Make the links obvious, and mention them often.
On Instagram, you can do this by providing the registration page link in your bio, your stories, and your posts. For Facebook, create an event page with a link to your registration page.
Finally, on the confirmation page, after purchasing, include a pop-up that gives the option to share on social media. If you place your direct registration link in multiple places and remove the obstacles, both you and your followers will benefit.
3. Keep Followers Intrigued
As your event draws near, be intentional about building collective excitement. Be so compelling, in fact, that your followers just can’t help but stop mid-scroll and stare at your story.
You can build anticipation through countdowns, in-progress photos, and preview interviews with your keynote speakers.
Keeping your social media accounts buzzing before your event not only excites the attendees but often sways the people on the fence. When you pair pre-event updates, with exclusive promotions, your follower engagement will soar.
4. Establish an Official Event Hashtag
When we say hashtag, we don’t mean #bestlife. Instead, we’re talking about the critical event tags that help thousands of people easily find photos and people at your event.
For best results, use a consistent hashtag before, during, and after your event. When attendees catch on and post using your hashtag, be sure to like and repost.
Hashtag Hint - Make your tag unique, but not too hard to find. For example, use #CampAlpine not, #sostokedforsummercamp.
In addition to the official event hashtag, use hashtags that are relevant to each post. If you post an image of an Instagram influencer meetup, for example, use descriptive hashtags such as #foodbloggers, #IGmeetup, or #socialmediacommunity. This will make you visible to people doing specific searches.
5. Consider Using Memes
Social media is filled with memes, and a recent study showed that nearly one-third of all content posts are memes. This poses a great opportunity for you to engage and entertain your following with a meme relating to your event.
Meme generators will let you find trending memes and then customize them to your event. Or, based on your demographic and audience, find a relevant genre of meme and make it your own. Maybe it is an Office meme of Michael Scott celebrating, and you relate that to the feeling of scoring early bird registration for your event. Or maybe it is someone angrily smashing something, and the caption relates to missing early bird discounts.
The humor and added personality will surely score extra engagement from your followers, and bring more attention to your event.
6. Post Frequently
Most social feeds are based on algorithms, so you’ll need to post several times in order to get noticed. Posting frequently increases engagement, attracts new followers, and develops a photo bank for your future promotions. Plus, the people who had to miss the event can still stay connected.
7. Tag Attendees using @Mentions
At large events, oftentimes, people feel like they’re just a part of the crowd. When an event organizer tags attendees, however, people immediately feel special and recognized.
Of course, you won’t be able to tag every attendee, but just a handful of mentions will go a long way. The attendee will likely repost the picture to their account; they’ll tag their friends; everyone will gain new followers and connections.
Tagging attendees is a win for all. Just be sure to ask for permission, and, please, only use flattering images. No one wants to be stuck on the main event page with broccoli in their teeth.
8. Target Your Ads
Today’s social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok make it incredibly easy to find the right people for your event. Whether you are trying to find people within a 10-mile radius of your event or everyone in the country who likes bacon, social media companies will gladly help you find your target audience and display ads to them.
Paid advertising on social media is one of the most effective ways to get the right people to see an ad for your event and then click through to submit a registration.
Beyond exploring paid social media, don’t skimp on social media engagement on your own platform. Be sure to post promotions, highlights, upcoming news, and behind-the-scenes glimpses of your event. Canva can make this really easy for you. When you engage with followers through posts and stories, it increases the likelihood that they will convert to customers.
At the end of the day, you want to build a social media platform that is interesting, worth following, and conducive to connection.
If you use these tips, your social media account will not only be your secret weapon, but it will be a super helpful resource for your followers.
Tool 3: Blogs and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
As you craft your marketing content plan, your site’s SEO needs to be in the front of your mind. After all, planning an event takes a lot of work; potential attendees shouldn’t have to scroll to the bottom of Google search page three just to know it exists.
One simple way to improve your SEO is to make your event name consistent with both your website name and heading. For an annual event, like a summer camp, consistency year after year will boost your ranking.
Another way to improve SEO is to develop resources for long-form content like blogs or newsletters. In an online world dominated by fast-moving reels and 140-character tweets, a 1400-word blog post, might seem archaic. The reality, however, is that quality long-form content is a tremendous value add—both for your customers and your event!
Blogs are a fantastic way to keep your attendees informed, build a reputation with an audience, and incentivize attendees to keep coming back for more fresh content. While long-form content takes more time to develop on the front end, the benefits are recurring and long-lasting.
Here are a few tips for creating long-form content that will benefit your event.
1. Make the Date and Location Obvious
Search engines utilize both time and location to prioritize the delivery of search results. Consequently, making the date and location hard to miss, increases the odds that people will discover your event when they search for something within that time frame and geographical vicinity.
2. Dive Deep
Make a list of topics that your event audience is interested in. Expand these topics into interesting, informative posts for your event community. As you write, utilize tags and keywords to improve SEO.
Reach out to the guest speakers at your event and offer a collaboration opportunity. Whether it’s a guest post or a podcast episode with a blog post summary, collaborators can add refreshing variety to your site.
4. Link Often
When you pull information from other sources: books, podcasts, and blogs—link to the original source. Even when it temporarily leads someone away from your site, you’ll develop credibility and provide even more value.
5. Shorten and Repurpose
Despite the aforementioned value of long-form content, the reality is, some people will never bother to read more than a few sentences at once. That doesn’t mean your efforts have to go to waste. When a blog is full of thoughtfully structured, information-dense material, consider repurposing it into other formats—be it tweets, IG posts, short videos, or a podcast. The more options for consumption, the greater the extent of your reach.
6. Share, Share, Share
When you finish a blog post, and you’re ready to share, don’t stop at your email list. Use all of your social media channels to widely distribute the post. Take advantage of polls and reels to facilitate maximum engagement around the post.
7. Update…and Share Again
As your audience grows and your event evolves, there will be a time to share your long-form content again. Prepare for the reshare by deleting any broken links and making sure your content is up to date before you hit publish.
Tool 4: Pay-Per-Click Advertising
Surely, you’ve heard the line, “If you build it, they will come.” While this inspirational aphorism proved true for Kevin Kostner’s 1989 character in Field of Dreams, in current event planning, it will lead to a field of nightmares. Unless you build a strategic ad campaign, they probably won’t come.
To reach the right audience for your event, you need to be intentional about how you attract them.
Using paid ads can direct your efforts to the right people. Below are four ways to help you succeed at PPC advertising.
1. Optimize the Search
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising means you pay each time someone clicks on your ad. In simpler terms, you’re buying the visits to your site.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the more common ways to drive people to your paid ads.
Whether you organize corporate networking events or concerts, there are people who search for events like yours using specific keywords in your area.
After setting up an account on Google AdWords, you’ll be prompted to input important keywords that best define your event and business. Make sure both your current website and the Google AdWords keywords are accurate. Ex: (Christian Conferences), (Corporate events), (Financial Seminars), (Scottsdale, Arizona).
That way, when someone types in a Google search using your defined keywords, your event will shoot near the top with customers more likely to click on your ad, and purchase their registration!
2. Specify Your Audience
Since paid advertising allows you to segment your audience based on interests and demographics, you can reach your event audience much more quickly. For example, if the audience of your High-Performance Seminar is 35 to 45-year-old CEOs on the West Coast, PPC enables you to make sure this people group knows about your event.
3. Pick the Right Platform
Advertising for a retiree walkathon on TikTok won’t catch the eyes of many retirees. Depending on your event audience, you’ll want to target different age groups, according to their primary digital platforms.
For example, Facebook is most popular with baby boomers and millennials, and TikTok is most popular with Gen Z. If you want to target professional adults, LinkedIn will be your best bet, according to recent statistics. You can count on Google ads to be the broadest in their demographic reach.
The advertising pages of Google ads, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook are great places to start.
4. Use Videos and Reels
While all content helps with exposure, in modern marketing, videos, and reels are the rapid click converters. You don’t need a documentary or a professional drone team to get attention.
A short, captivating video using footage from last year’s event can create a lot of traction.
Since PPC advertising is not a set-it-and-forget-it kind of investment, pay attention to the analytics. As the campaigns run and the analytic information rolls in, note the most and least successful platforms. Then double down on what’s working, and pivot away from what’s not.
PPC advertising takes effort, but if you keep at it, you'll see the benefits in your bottom line.
Tool 5: Influencer Marketing
Recommendations from influencers go a long way in earning trust and credibility from your attendees. When an influencer is involved with your event—whether as a speaker or an enthusiastic attendee—their endorsements act like a marketing megaphone. Fortunately, you don’t have to recruit billionaire celebrities as your keynote speakers in order for influencer marketing to work.
Here are a few tips for how you can leverage influencer marketing.
1. Reach out to Notable Bloggers or Influencers
Start within your local media circles, and see if they would be interested in covering your event. Protip: Do a bit of preliminary research before you connect.
2. Research Your Audience
Just because an influencer has a large Instagram following, does not guarantee they’ll align with your event values. For influencer marketing to be successful, your specific audience must like and trust the person. Do some preliminary research to discover who your audience engages with on social media. If you have options, poll your audience to get a pulse on speakers and guests they would most love to see.
3. Give Your Speakers Plenty of Press
Scoring a big-name speaker or well-known guest for your event is a big deal; don’t let the opportunity go to waste. Leading up to the event, showcase their bio on your website and in your social media posts.
4. Use High-Quality Photos and Reels
Make it appealing for influencers to create and share content from your event by dialing in the visuals, lighting, and photo opportunities.
5. Generate Pre-Event Buzz
Influencers have the power to expand the pre-event buzz when they share about the event. It could be a giveaway, a breakdown of logistical details, or filling the audience in on the reason they chose to attend.
6. Make a Compelling Offer
Whether you offer VIP seating, swag, financial compensation, or other additional perks, make sure the influencers know what’s in it for them.
The Post-Event Marketing Analysis
Phew, you did it! Once the event is set up and torn down, as tempting as it might be to toss your event plans into a distant desktop folder, there’s still one more thing left on your event planning checklist: the post-event marketing analysis.
Taking a detailed look at this year’s marketing statistics will help make next year's event marketing strategies even better. Start by examining the stats of your event. How many of the original registrants showed up? What was your cost-to-revenue ratio?
Take a look at each marketing campaign and analyze what worked and what didn’t. Who did you reach, and who did you miss?
Analyzing the data is a crucial step in the event marketing process. When it comes time to market next year’s event, it gives you valuable insight into how you can improve your strategies and where to focus your efforts.
Finally, it’s time to implement the suggestions in this email and get rolling with your event! If you have any questions along the way, don’t hesitate to reach out to our solutions team. We’re here to help you have the best event ever!