Lindsay Martin-Bilbrey, CMP
Lindsay is the CEO of Nifty Method Marketing & Events. A lively event professional armed with a very diverse background in the events industry and specializes in topics such as inbound and event marketing, attendee engagement, and so much more.
As an event or marketing professional, you know the worst-case scenario for any event isn’t if a vendor drops out at the last minute, or a speaker doesn’t show up on time, or the hotel venue double books. The worst-case scenario for an event? No one shows up.
This post explores what the essential elements of a successful event marketing plan look like and how you can start putting them into action.
With the same desperation of being all dressed up with nowhere to go, without a solid event marketing plan, your event can be all set up with no one to attend. Don’t be that event. In today’s digital world, there’s no reason to be. Successfully marketing your event is easy and affordable. You just have to be strategic. As you get your event marketing plan in place, be sure to consider and include the following elements.
What is your event about? Ideally, this question has been discussed, dug into, and uncovered in the initial planning stages, but it’s crucial to hold onto the why of your event as you market it to potential attendees.
No matter what type of event it is—B2B, B2C, association, trade show, etc.—you have to know why you’re throwing it, why people should come and what’s different about it from other events in the same industry.Don’t pretend your event is something it isn’t. Remember the disastrous Fyre Festival? Do not overpromise and underdeliver.If you're still struggling with your why, contact us today for a complimentary event audit.
Be authentic in your messaging. Tell people what they can actually expect. You don’t have to oversell. In fact, by being authentic, you will attract a devoted attendee, rather than a disappointed one.
Targeted Email Marketing
Email is still a crucial part of getting new and old customers to commit to your event. But your strategy isn’t to flood your entire list with incessant messages remind them to register. Send targeted emails to specific demographics.
In its event marketing guide, Eventbrite sites research that found marketers can improve conversion rates by 355% using targeted marketing. Break down your list by past attendees v. new email captures, locals v. travelers, age, job title, whatever makes sense for your audience. Talk to those specific groups directly with subject lines such as We’d love to see you again! or Missed you last year—phrases that will grab a reader’s attention and let her know you are speaking to her and not a generic list.
Ideally, you would also have an email sequence lined up for each target group—a series of emails triggered by actions that will ensure you stay in touch with each individual. Marketing automation, which we discuss below, makes email sequencing easy and, obviously, automatic.
Organic and Paid Social Media
An event is an in-person experience. Social media can give your attendee a taste of the visual and audio experience with video and images. According to a survey conducted by EventMobi, 65% of event marketers use video as a key part of their strategy, and social media is the ideal place to disseminate those videos. Social media also gives you the opportunity to stay in front of your audience consistently, providing key reminders regarding registration deadlines, discount codes, and booking travel.
Similar to email, make your social media efforts as targeted as possible. Which platform or platforms are your attendees on? Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn? Post from your own channels and ask speakers, vendors, or past attendees to post a video or an image to remind interested audiences to register.
These efforts are organic, free pushes that produce significant results, but it’s also worth investing in paid targeted social media, especially on Facebook, the most broadly used of all social platforms. Facebook ads allow you to target by age, location, activity and more. Their retargeting tool is perfect for any potential attendees who are dragging their feet on registration.
For the most successful social media and email campaigns, marketing automation is essential. Automation platforms such as Hubspot or aventri can organize all of your marketing and event-planning in one place. You can develop targeted lists, schedule emails and social media posts and keep track of all of your event details and registrations. Don’t let precious event marketing time be monopolized by efforts that could be automated.
Other Strategies to Consider
Email, social media, marketing automation and messaging are the core principles for an event marketing strategy, but they’re not all you can do, and probably shouldn’t be.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial for making your event searchable and not getting lost on the third or fourth page of Google. According to Eventbrite, 5-10% of sales come from interested parties who Googled search terms related to an event. Making your event a top search will increase registration and visibility.
If you don’t have a dedicated team member trained to comb through content and make it SEO-friendly, there are plenty of free online tools to teach the basics and improve your Google ranking. Our team love's Hubspot’s free SEO courses, found here.
To increase online visibility, you can also post your event on event discovery sites such as Eventful and Facebook Events. This is an easy way to broadly share information about your event and draw the local crowd.
Taking Your Event Marketing from Idea to Reality
Every detail of your event can be planned perfectly and beautifully, but if you’re not focusing on marketing, you’re not planning strategically. Getting people in the seat is your first priority and with online marketing and marketing automation, your audience is easily within grasp. Talk to them directly, follow up, be honest about who you are and what you’re doing and not only will you draw a crowd; you’ll draw the right crowd—ones who are committed, will talk about your event and, most importantly, will attend again.
You don't have to do this alone. If you're ready to take your next big idea and put it action, let's set up a time to chat.