The easiest way to measure event success is by the total number of people who attended. If you can fill your venue close to capacity, the higher the chance you’ll have a great ROI on your event- provided you didn’t go over budget or stretch your resources too thin. After all, the whole point of an event is to get people to come out, so the more people you have in attendance, the more opportunities you have to generate revenue.
You’ll likely spend weeks before your event on marketing to generate buzz for your event, and chances are most of those marketing efforts will be in some form of online promotion. If you don’t know the most effective online marketing options for your event, consider one of the four most popular options listed below.
- Online Ads
Have you ever noticed ads “following” you when you’re browsing online? Let’s say you looked up a specific brand of shoe or were looking into hotels for an upcoming trip, only to see ads for that shoe brand or hotel on other pages later on. This is online advertising 101, and you don’t have to be a large corporation or brand to take advantage of this type of targeted advertising.
If you’re not using Google AdWords, chances are you’re working too hard to have your promotions reach the right people. This service includes options to set ad criteria such as interest, viewed content, preferences, friends, location, demographic, and more. These targeting options give you a huge advantage over the “scattershot” approach of just sending your ads out into the internet and hoping they attract the right people.
When using Google AdWords, you have the option to choose between text and banner ads. Text ads will appear when someone searches for particular keywords or phrases whereas banner ads will pop up on specific websites regardless of what the individual searched for. One method isn’t necessarily more effective than the other, but you may want to try both approaches and review how each performed so you can get a sense of which works better for your event.
- Email Marketing
Email marketing is sometimes given a bad rap. Some claim its ineffective and intrusive, but chances are these people didn’t take time to properly construct an email campaign that met their goals and best served their target demographics. If you don’t have a large pool of emails, consider finding sponsors or partners that will legally share their email lists with you. While sharing consumer data is generally frowned upon, there are ways to gather additional contacts legally in legal and consensual ways that don’t violate any privacy or data sharing laws.
Once you have your email list, decide how you want to target your patrons. Sending one mass email to everyone probably won’t do much to boost engagement before your event, but sending different versions to different groups of people depending on key metrics like age, location, or purchase history could give you the extra boost you need. You’ll want to personalize these as much as possible because emails with personalized subject lines have a much higher chance of being opened. Make sure your emails also look nice too! They should be eye catching, include your logo and event name prominently, and have a good ratio of images to text. If your email is too text heavy, there’s less of a chance the recipient will read the whole thing or engage if there’s a call to action such as a “register now” button.
- Social Media
As mentioned in the previous 2 points, knowing your target demographic is the key to unlocking marketing magic. You need to define who your ideal event attendee is as well as who actually attends your events. Only after you define these two categories of people can you begin bridging the gap between them with your marketing efforts.
Once you know who you’d like to reach, you need to figure out the best way to communicate with them. It’s not necessary to run the same amount of advertising on every single social media platform (unless your budget can handle it). Rather than throwing everything against the social wall and seeing what sticks, figure out which platforms your audience uses more frequently and focus on those channels. For example, your audience base may be heavy Facebook users but only a small percentage uses Snapchat, or they’re highly active on Instagram but relatively silent on Twitter.
Once you’ve picked your channels, make your posts, ads, and communications vibrant, concise, and frequent. Your content needs to match your event and appeal to your attendees, but it can’t be too “spammy” or feel like it’s pandering, otherwise it might be ignored. When in doubt, videos are the most engaging type of content. Images can quickly grab attention but the added element of motion and sound give video promotion the edge. You’ll also want to do some research into what hashtags you’ll be using for your event and for your brand overall. Look into existing hashtags and see if there are any your target demographic already follows. Make sure you also create your own unique, catchy hashtag that attendees can use on their posts as well!
Influencers come with a built-in following and can be a powerful option for event marketing. Their followers already listen to them and respect their opinion, so having an influencer on your side is kind of like having an extra person on your marketing team who can speak directly to your fanbase.
Not all influencers are built equally. You’ll want to find verified influencers who work within your industry or focus on topics related to your event. Make sure they’re a real person and didn’t buy their likes or, worse, are just fake accounts run by bots. Discuss your event goals, what you’re looking to get out of your potential partnership, and ask them to show you recent stats on their account. You can also choose to view their profile directly to see the type of content they post and who is engaged in their posts.
Keep in mind that each event is different so tweaks to your marketing strategy might be necessary. Some ideas will work out well and others will underperform. If you try a new approach that fails to meet expectations, use it as a learning experience and really dig into why it didn’t work as well as you hoped. The strategies that don’t work will help you make better choices in your promotion strategies the next time around!