It's not all shining stage lights, crowd roars, and sold-out shows. Behind a successful event hides months of careful planning and execution — and a whole lot of marketing.
Event promotion is all about building expectations and interest around a live experience. In the past, that meant print ads, billboards, and radio spots. But as we've all become increasingly glued to our screens, digital marketing for events has become essential to success.
Digital marketing affords companies a level of targeting, personalization, and measurement that was impossible in the days of traditional promotion.
Today, we'll take a comprehensive look at digital marketing for events. We'll also provide some actionable tips you can use to market your next event.
Table of contents
- What Is Event Marketing?
- What Are the Types of Digital Marketing for Events?
- How Do You Design an Event Marketing Strategy?
What Is Event Marketing?
Event marketing is the process of planning, creating, and executing a marketing strategy for a live experience. Event marketing aims to generate excitement and interest around the event, leading to ticket sales or registrations.
Event marketing can apply to everything from niche-specific webinars to business conferences, often including a mix of online and offline marketing tactics.
For example, a conference promoter might use email marketing, social media ads, and targeted content to generate interest in their event. They might also partner with other businesses or organizations to help them reach new audiences.
We'll cover specific strategies you can use to promote your event later. First, let's answer a fundamental question.
Why Is Digital Marketing Crucial for Events?
In short, that's where your audience is.
A staggering 96% of Americans own a smartphone, and 90% use it daily. Americans spend an average of 5.4 hours daily on their phones, which will only increase.
Besides, 86% of businesses created brand awareness through digital marketing in 2020, and 53% generated sales.
It's not just about reach, though. Digital marketing is also incredibly cost-effective.
Print advertising, for example, can cost upwards of $20,000 for a single ad in a major publication. And while TV advertising is still one of the most expensive forms of marketing, digital video ads are much more affordable and reach a wider audience.
The average cost per thousand impressions (CPM) for a digital video ad is $10. That means you can reach 10,000 people for just $100.
Digital marketing also provides companies with valuable data and insights. You can track everything from the number of people who visited your website to how many engaged with your social media posts.
This data is essential for understanding what's working and what's not. It also allows you to make adjustments on the fly to ensure your marketing efforts are as effective as possible.
What Are the Types of Digital Marketing for Events?
There are many types of digital marketing, but here are some of the most common and effective strategies for promoting events:
Social Media Marketing
Social media is one of the essential tools for getting butts in seats for your event. When used correctly, you can build an online audience, buzz around your event, and even sell tickets.
In theory, it's all about creating a profile for your event and starting sharing content related to it. In practice, it's a little bit more complicated than that.
You need to understand your audience's interests, know how to use trends to get brand awareness, and, above all, produce engaging content.
For example, with more than 57K Instagram followers, Summit posts frequently about the speakers, the brand, and the experience of past attendees. By doing that, they can be part of their audience's daily lives and stay relevant.
Email marketing is still the best way to directly communicate with your audience. According to Litmus, the average ROI of email marketing is x36.
In other words, you can earn $36 per every $1 spent. That's huge.
With email, you can stay in touch with past attendees, build relationships with potential customers, and stay in mind while your event date is coming.
Homescreen, a social club for entrepreneurs, runs a newsletter talking about industry news and business advice in a very entertaining way.
They do it because they want to build trust and better relationships with their audience, as well as sell more event tickets.
Search Engine Marketing
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the practice of using paid advertising to show up in search engine results pages. It's also known as search engine advertising (SEA).
The most popular form of SEM is Google Ads, which allows you to create text, image, and video ads that show up on Google when people search for certain keywords.
SEM might also involve Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices, which is the process of optimizing your website to rank higher in organic search results. That is, without paying for ads.
SEO is a long-term strategy, while SEM is more immediate. But they're often used together to create a cohesive digital marketing strategy.
The trick to a solid SEM strategy is to produce content that's relevant to your audience and target the right keywords.
Influencer marketing is all about working with people that have a big audience and can generate word of mouth for your event.
You can work with micro-influencers (people with 1,000 to 100,000 followers), macro-influencers (100,000 to 1 million followers), or even celebrities. It all depends on your budget and objectives.
But don't forget that followers don't mean much if they aren't aligned with your brand objectives.
For example, Tomorrowland identified the ideal lineup based on macro-influencers like Tiësto and Martin Garrix. But they took their strategy forward by identifying the most relevant micro-influencers to partner with.
How Do You Design an Event Marketing Strategy?
Now that you know the different digital marketing strategies, it's time to start thinking about how to use them to achieve your business objectives.
There are a few key things to keep in mind when designing an event marketing strategy:
Define Your Target Audience
The first step is understanding who will be attending your event. That means understanding factors like age, gender, interests, and even pain points. You need to understand what these people want and why they would be interested in your event.
Only then you'll be able to produce relevant content that speaks directly to them.
Instead of trying to appeal to everyone, focus on a specific target audience. It's much easier (and more effective) to market to a niche group than it is to the masses.
For instance, if you're planning a project management conference, your target audience is likely to be country project managers and business people. But within that group, you can further segment by age, gender, or location.
Create segments for your different target audiences. This will help you understand them better and produce content that resonates.
Set Your Goals
After knowing your audience, think about your business objectives. What do you want to achieve with this event?
Some objectives could be:
- Sell X amount of tickets
- Get X number of leads
- Increase brand awareness by X%
These are just examples, but you need to have something specific in mind before starting your event marketing strategy.
Plan Your Budget
Your budget will define what kind of strategies you can use and how big your campaigns will be.
If you have a limited budget, you must focus on lower-cost strategies like email marketing or social media marketing. You can consider paid ads or even work with macro-influencers if you have a bigger budget.
Whatever you do, make sure you track your spending and results so that you can optimize your campaigns for maximum ROI.
Choose Your Marketing Channels
Now you know your audience, what you want to achieve, and how much you can spend.
The next step is to choose the best channel to reach your audience.
Don’t jump into something because it's trendy. Your strategy needs to be based on your audience and business objectives.
We've already looked at the different types of digital marketing channels. But which one is right for you?
Here are a few factors to consider when choosing your marketing channels:
- Your target audience: Where do they spend most of their time online?
- Your business objectives: What are you trying to achieve?
- Your budget: How much can you afford to spend on marketing?
- Your resources: What skills and experience do you have in-house?
- Your timeline: How much time do you have to plan and execute your marketing strategy
Based on these factors, you should have a good idea of which channels will work best for your event.
For example, social media would be a good choice if you're looking to generate awareness and reach a large audience. However, paid advertising might be a better option if you're trying to sell tickets fast.
Depending on your event, you might want to focus on a few key channels or use a mix of several.
Produce Marketing Creatives
Marketing creatives are all the images, videos, and text used in your marketing campaigns. They are the tangible assets your audience will interact with.
They are a powerful tool for getting people excited and engaged. Here are some tips for creating compelling digital marketing creatives for your next event:
- Highlight the key details: Make sure your creatives include all the essential information about the event, like the date, time, and location.
- Use direct CTA (Call to action): You should also include a clear call-to-action (CTA) telling people what you want them to do.
- Use attractive visuals: Humans are visual creatures, so it's crucial to use stunning visuals in your creatives. This could mean using high-quality photos or videos or creating exciting infographics.
- Keep the message clear: Your creatives should have a clear and concise message that tells people about the event. Avoid using too much text or too many complicated visuals—you want people to be able to understand the critical details at a glance.
- Test, test, test: As with all marketing campaigns, it's essential to test your event creatives before you launch them. Try different versions of the same creative to see which one performs the best. Then, you can use that information to fine-tune your campaign and get the best results possible.
Launch Your Campaign
Once your creatives are ready, it's time to launch your event marketing campaign! Remember to track your progress and results to see what's working and what's not.
That way, you can adjust your campaign accordingly and continue to improve your results.
Event marketing can be an effective way to promote your next event and get people excited about it. The key is to plan ahead, choose the right channels, and create compelling creatives.
By following this guide, you should be able to create a successful event marketing campaign that gets the results you want.