You might be planning the most spectacular virtual event ever, but you still need canny virtual event promotion. The event doesn’t count as a success if no one shows up! Remember the goal of a virtual event is not completely in the presentation and activities, but also in attracting an audience, plus generating buzz, being able to harvest engagement data, and creating anticipation for your next event!
With this Guide to Virtual Event Promotion, we want to make sure you are well set up for success with whatever you have planned, from a humble webinar to a blowout virtual gala!
- Analysis of Your Audience
- Create a Catchy Event Page
- Digital Marketing as a Key to a New Audience
- Encourage Influencers to Share Your Event
- Launch Paid Promotion at the Right Time
- Create Your Event with a Partner
- Keep in Touch with Attendees After the Event Ends
Analysis of Your Audience
To effectively engage in virtual event marketing or promotion, it’s of prime importance to know your audience! Visualize your ideal target audience as you gear up your virtual event promotion and try to appeal to them directly. Data and demographic information will help you a lot here, so do your best to fill in some basics, such as:
- Who your audience is (demographic information like age, profession, location).
- Their motivations (goals, consumption habits, etc.)
- Their online habits (Where do they spend time? What apps do they use?)
From here you can start to work out the “persona” that your event should serve. You can determine what products and services your audience is most interested in; if you have a CRM system connected with registrants (or past registrants) you can backtrack to the source that brought them to you. Are they more likely to respond to paid advertising or did they find you through organic search?
Word-of-mouth promotion might also come in handy at this and later stages. Once you’ve got a sense of what your audience wants from an event, you can put forward an endorsement from a previous participant or attendee. It will be beneficial both for visibility and in attracting more of the audience you want to target. But it mustn’t be just “any influencer” but people who are both relevant to your target audience and/or already connected to your events! We’ll go into further detail about this aspect in the sections below.
Finally, at this point, you can start to set goals and KPIs, and determine what kind of objectives, desired outcomes, and success metrics you can achieve with your audience. It may be as simple as filling out a survey form, or as ambitious as registering 100K attendees. The important thing is to be able to have a measurable end goal towards which you can encourage your audience.
Create a Catchy Event Page
Once you’ve done audience analysis and laid out your goals, the next step for your virtual event promotion effort is to set up the focus of your marketing and promotional campaign: the event landing page.
A well-crafted event page is a great way to convince potential audience members to explore what your virtual event has to offer, as well as share some personal data to receive further information. Two key factors for your event page are to have catchy, attractive visuals as well as complete information about your virtual event.
When planning a virtual event, the marketing and promo goals are still similar to that of an in-person. Be sure to outline what is setting your virtual event apart from others. Checking in key speakers and sponsors, making a note of your scale, and demonstrating some credibility, particularly via social proof are all excellent ways to distinguish your event.
Depending on the number of tracks and participants, you might even opt to lay out multiple pages. This keeps you from crowding a single landing page and demonstrates that your event has a larger scope. You can create separate sections for your agenda, speakers, and sponsors/partners to communicate all this relevant information to your target audience and allow them to browse and engage at their own pace. Of course, if you’re presenting something more modest in scale, it could also be overkill! A single well-designed event page is always a valid option.
Digital Marketing as a Key to a New Audience
Make sure that a digital marketing plan is part of your virtual event’s promotional strategy! A strong digital marketing strategy will serve you well in both attracting a new audience and maintaining contact and outreach with an existing base.
Your digital marketing strategy should encompass three different phases:
- Before the event
- During the event
- After the event
Before the event, you want to make sure you are building anticipation. Your goal is to drive awareness and registrations. Give frequent updates on what’s in store and keep the buzz going. Beforehand you also want to make sure that the event name, date, details, and a clear call to action are out in the public eye.
During the event, as we’ve probably mentioned before, social media will be your best friend. Make sure there is regular, compelling outreach to let people share the excitement.
After your event, if possible, stay around the chat or any virtual networking spaces to answer questions and speak further to attendees. Additionally, you can record your event and make it available after the fact. Those who attended can get free links first; you could also make the recordings available as paid or free on-demand content. Finally, make sure to send follow-up surveys and polls to your attendees so you can determine what you’ve done right, and what you can do better next time. Finding out your attendees’ preferences and what worked and didn’t will help you make those adjustments.
Encourage Influencers to Share Your Event
Never underestimate the power of influencer marketing. We mentioned testimonials above–involving influencers relevant to your brand and audience will be highly beneficial, but we’re going to drill down into the recommendation.
Some might not want to admit it, but most of us check our favorite influencers to see their recommendations. Make sure relevant influencers are talking about your event and sign-ups can skyrocket–it’s been estimated that successful influencer marketing can bring up to 500% ROI.
Create a Hashtag for Your Event
A branded custom hashtag is the easiest possible way for both you and aligned influencers to promote before, during, and after an event. Additionally, by encouraging everyone to use it when posting to their social channels, users can also share content created during the event, and you will be getting a ton of traffic to your feed.
The more unique the better! And make sure it’s visible on the day of the event.
Involve Sponsors and Speakers
Depending on the level of involvement, sponsors may simply be dropping an advertisement and a little bit of budget into your event, or they might be full stakeholder-partners. We’ll get into more detail about partners below, but anyone who’s involved in your event is going to benefit from its success. Don’t be afraid to ask your sponsors to reach out to their channels to spread the word about your event!
Speakers are no different; in many cases, part of the compensation for their time is the exposure your event will bring them. Make your event speakers your brand ambassadors. Integrate them into your event plan–sometimes speakers and guests are the main attraction of your virtual event.
Use a Social Media Channel
Or two … or as many as possible. Find the channels where your audience is (again this is where research comes in handy) and give your virtual event promotion high visibility. Posting frequent updates is the way to use social media to your advantage, however you might also consider paid promotion. This will trigger virtual event promotions to users who have visited your site or are on your marketing list. Finally, social re-marketing uses web technology to track users who visit your event page but leave without registering. Social media will work to display further ads to these same users.
Create an Event Countdown
To create a sense of anticipation or urgency to act, a countdown timer can be featured in marketing and promotion and on your event landing page. A GIF image or other graphical animations counting down can grab attention and encourage those interested to register. It also can convert potential attendees who are still on the fence about attending!
Offer a Bonus for Early Sign-Up
Bonuses and giveaways, especially for early signups, are a tried-and-true way to attract interest and registrations to an event. Complimentary goodies are always popular; early adopters might earn unique swag, free subscriptions or products relevant to your industry, or other rewards. In turn, this will build up the buzz and excitement around your event.
Launch Paid Promotion at the Right Time
Frequently a 2–3-week lead-up is most advantageous for a virtual event–unless it’s of course a once a year, one-of-a-kind blowout, in which case, start building that anticipation early. You don’t want to start too early and have the audience lose attention. But if you start too late you might not be able to generate enough interest. Keep in mind you don’t have to have the whole virtual event environment set up at this point, you just need to be driving traffic to your landing page to sign up. (Hence the importance of your landing page!) Also note that if you’re targeting a small niche industry or audience, it’s also good to start early. Nurture your audience, keep the virtual event promotion-focused, and you’ll create more conversions over time.
Create Your Event with a Partner
Remember, with virtual events, just like in-person events, you don’t always need to go it alone. Partnerships and sponsorships create situations where companies and organizations outside yours can support your event with funds (in the case of sponsors) or labor and capacity, or possibly both (in the case of partnerships). Look for complimentary topics, products, or services (or even events!) of interest to your audience and you will find some likely partners to include.
Event partners will of course want an exchange of something of value to them, whether that’s a part of the profit in full partnerships, or merely brand exposure, customer engagement, or data. But at the same time, you’ll no longer need to do the full lift of virtual event promotion because you can share out some of the burden. You’ll share “audience generation” responsibilities and benefit from your partner’s/partners’ brand awareness. You might even add value by packaging your virtual event as the proverbial “virtual event in a box” so the partner can benefit by taking the concept and repeating it on their own.
Sponsorships can usually be leaned on as a source of income, so you have more capacity to focus on promotion and other aspects without worrying about the event turning a profit. Full partnerships will expand your capacity for virtual event promotion as well as investing another company or stakeholder in the success of the event. Having sponsors and partners spreading the word to promote the event will benefit all parties–and the extent of your sponsors’ or partner’s contacts will be more than yours alone!
Keep in Touch with Attendees After the Event Ends
As we mentioned above in “after event” promotion, you don’t want to cut all ties with your audience and guests after the event. It’s always important to follow up! When you find out what your audience liked and disliked about the event, make sure you keep a record of the feedback.
You can also create a dedicated channel where event attendees can network after the event to foster more meaningful connections. This will also carry over to post-event social connections and extend your event reach even further. Additionally, high-quality virtual event platforms will give you capabilities for hosting your content for availability after the event.
Successful virtual event promotion before, during, and after the event will certainly require some focus and effort, but you’ll be glad you put the time in. Your virtual event will noticeably benefit you, and you’ll develop better long-term relationships with your attendees and clients.