Whether it’s a conference, tradeshow, convention, or any other professional gathering, hosting an industry event, especially a multi-day, multi-track endeavor, represents a major expense for an organization. Considering the investment, event organizers are under a lot of pressure to attract the best turnout possible.
Meanwhile, participants have more options than ever when deciding which events to spend their time and money attending. To overcome this challenging dynamic, organizers must develop a well-thought-out event marketing plan. The most sensible marketing plans are designed to be implemented over a long enough period and leave little up to chance.
- What is an event marketing plan?
- The importance of creating an event marketing plan in advance
- How to create an event marketing plan for an event – a step by step guide
- Kaltura Virtual Events Platform
- Final Thoughts
What is an event marketing plan?
An event marketing plan is a detailed strategy for the promotion of a particular event. It considers the nature of the event along with the resources available to market it. The goal of the plan is to maximize the number of attendees.
Every event will have different requirements and constraints, so organizers should be familiar with the most common methods for attracting participants and how to best utilize each one for maximum return on investment (ROI). This post centers on virtual event marketing but nearly all the practices can be applied to in-person or hybrid events.
The importance of creating an event marketing plan
It takes time for word to spread and for people to finalize their registration, so waiting too long to start promoting an event will typically result in a disappointing turnout. Also, quality marketing requires a lot of work and dedication, yet as the event approaches, a larger percentage of the staff’s time needs to be devoted to running it, meaning that a solid marketing strategy must be in place well in advance. Generally, for a major event, the marketing should kick off 2-3 months in advance, but the planning needs to start even earlier.
How to create an event marketing plan – a step-by-step guide:
While most of the marketing plan happens in the months leading up to the event, expect to keep the promotional effort going throughout the event itself and then wrap things up with a few, final marketing items after. The following is a breakdown of what to focus on during each phase.
Microsite/Landing Page – Every event needs a dedicated microsite and/or landing page where people can find all the relevant information, get updates, and register. The goal of this website is to convert visitors to participants so it should very clearly state the benefits of attending and contain several compelling call-to-action buttons. A branded microsite and matching landing page can be created in just a few steps using the Kaltura Events Platform.
Press Release – A clear, informative, and appealing press release can lead to valuable free publicity. Focus on media outlets that are closely related to your topic and be realistic about the size of the organizations you reach out to for coverage. Make your press release stand out by showcasing high-profile speakers and anything else that makes your event unique. Include photos or attach an EPK (electronic press kit). Also include contact information where journalists can always receive a prompt response.
Emails – Create an automated email sequence starting with a well-crafted event invite and periodic reminders to register. To make the emails feel personal to the reader, tailor the wording to address specific mailing lists such as existing customers, industry partners, etc. Separately, create a secondary email sequence for those who have already registered, providing updates, reminders, and requests to share info about the event online.
Digital Advertising – The extent of your online advertising campaign depends on the scope of your event as well as the limitations of your budget. The campaign could include targeted pay-per-click ads, paid social media buys, and partnerships with influencers. However, don’t overlook the power of free, organic social media. Create a unique hashtag for each event and use it consistently far and wide.
Social Proof – Since people are strongly influenced by the actions of their peers, marketing experts regard user advocacy, AKA word-of-mouth, as one of the most powerful tools for driving conversions. With this in mind, always look for ways to get your registered participants to share the event with their contacts. How about promising an exclusive networking session during the event to those who post their registration on social media? Or maybe a discount for referring a colleague? Any offer that rewards users for spreading the word about the event to their followers is going to be a win-win.
Speakers – Arrange for those who will be presenting to promote the event to their followers through their social media accounts, website, and mailing list. To make this as easy for them as possible, and to preserve your intended messaging, provide prewritten content for them to use. Make sure they include the event hashtag across all platforms.
Video Content – Shoot short teaser videos for the event to share on social media, on the microsite, or in emails. The videos could feature the speakers, organizers, and pretty much anybody involved who is genuinely excited about the event. Video improves reach because it tends to be prioritized by both social media and search engines
Live Content – On the heels of the recorded videos you put out leading up to the big day, keep up the buzz by live-streaming content from the event itself like interviews with upcoming presenters, behind-the-scenes footage, clips of presentations, and more. This will keep your event trending and very likely bring in last-minute audience members.
Social Media – Continue posting across all your organization’s social media throughout the event. Posts could be updates, key takeaways from past speakers, upcoming speakers, or major announcements from the event. Include photos. The best posts are the ones that participants will want to engage with and share themselves.
Follow-Up Email – Send each participant an email thanking them for being a part of the event and link a survey for them to fill out. The survey should be designed to provide useful information on improving marketing for future events and increasing registration.
Gift bags – In-person events have long included giveaways for participants to take home. Some virtual events maintain this tradition by mailing participants gift bags or digital gifts, not only because participants expect them, but also because they represent an important marketing opportunity for the host. If your event plans to send something out, think of items that are likely to be visible (such as on display in somebody’s office) or tempting to brag about online. This will turn your participants into brand ambassadors for your company. Even if your event sponsors are providing the gifts, your branding should still appear somewhere on the product or packaging.
On-Demand – Making an edited version of presentations from the event available on-demand will allow more people to benefit from the work and drive traffic to your organization’s website. Place a call-to-action button alongside the on-demand content for viewers to join a mailing list for future events.
Data – Post-event analytics regarding how viewers engaged with the live sessions, online content, and microsite yield valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the marketing plan. Understanding this data allows organizers to continuously improve their marketing.
Kaltura Virtual Events Platform
The bulk of event marketing can be managed directly from the Kaltura Events Platform. Starting with the branded microsite which can be fully customized and scaled for any type of virtual event, and continuing with automatically generated registration page, participant management, and communications, Kaltura has all the tools built in to effectively promote an event.
The platform can be used to broadcast live content such as teasers and promos while automatically recording all media to the cloud for use in social media or as on-demand content. It also provides real-time data and user analytics to better inform the marketing strategy. Kaltura also offers services for flagship events for content creation, sponsor packages, and all other media needs along with 4K streaming capability and 24-hour, full technical support.
Organizing an event is a major undertaking and marketing is just one piece of a giant puzzle. Having a solid event marketing plan in place gives organizers a roadmap to follow as their attention is increasingly divided between promoting an event and running it. There will always be variables that can’t be anticipated, and things that can’t be controlled, but coupling clearly defined goals with a comprehensive plan to achieve those goals is, and always has been, the best way to ensure success.