Organizing an event is one of the most difficult things in the world- seriously, event planning is a stressful job. You’ve invested a ton of time, effort, and real money into organizing an event and while you’re confident that event attendees will see value and have a blast at your event, you don’t have much in your budget to spend on marketing.
If you don’t actually spend money on marketing- how will you get the word out? Is it even possible?
This is the incredible thing about digital marketing- there are plenty of ways to effectively promote your event online and many of these are free or will make a very small dent in your marketing budget.
By effectively harnessing the power of digital marketing and social media, organizers are now empowered to reach people who are already seeking out events like yours as well as brand-new fans of your brand. To maximize the impact your marketing has, we’ve outlined the smartest ways to promote your event online:
Easy Win #1: Step Up Your Keyword Efforts
There’s a good chance you’re familiar with keywords. If not, these are the terms that search engines use to rank your site in the search engine results. While all of this is great, how can event organizers use keywords to their advantage?
Let’s say you’re hosting an event for vegetarian cooking enthusiasts in Seattle, where participants can come buy cookware and participate in cooking demonstrations. You already know you want to rank for the terms your target audience is searching for, but should you optimize for “vegetarian cooking seattle” or “cooking demonstrations seattle”?
The good thing is that it is neither difficult nor expensive to determine which keywords hold more value for your event. Ubersuggest is a great (free) tool to help you understand a keyword’s performance and demand, allowing you to test out multiple keywords or compare specific keywords against each other.
Easy Win #2: Discover the Power of Email Marketing
If you’re like most of us, you’re likely getting multiple emails from companies and brands every single day. Email marketing is perhaps the most powerful marketing channel that exists and it’s probably the lowest cost, considering the immediacy and the impact it could have for your organization.
Easy Win #3: Become a Master at Crafting Event Pages
Someone is looking for interesting and new things to do in your town next weekend. They head to Google and type in “events near me” and wind up on your event’s registration page. This is the moment of truth- is your page prepared to seize on that brief moment you’ve captured their interest? It’s crucial that event pages inspire users to buy tickets at this moment.
If you leave them to have any time to be distracted or close their browser- you’ve possibly lost them forever. The one thing you can count on, however, are people that are interested in your event will bounce to YouTube or Google images after they hit your site.
These two common destinations are so popular in this particular scenario because users want to find rich media that will show them what to expect from your event. Users want context around key items inside your event- things like venue, event culture, and dress code are all important to attendees.
If this isn’t included on your actual event page, you’re driving users to go looking for it elsewhere on the web and this could be costing you ticket sales (and revenue)! You can keep people on your event page by embedding this content- things like video and photos that help to answer these curiosities that users have about your event.
Easy Win #4: Tap into Social Proofing
Social proofing is the act of influencing prospective buyers to convert by driving your messaging towards letting them know what everyone else is doing. This is a common technique used in marketing and advertising all the time– “Preferred by 9 out of 10 people!”. Another form of social proofing is using customer reviews and testimonials in your marketing sprints.
Easy Win #5: Let Your Attendees Market for You
Perhaps one of the best (free) marketing strategies available to event organizers is the process in which you inspire current attendees to spread the word for you. Provide them with virtual badges/icons that they can post on their sites and blogs that identify them as attendees. You can build HTML code straight into these assets so they will link back to your event’s website. The goal is to make it as simple as possible to allow your attendees to easily share their registrant status to all of their social media channels- but make sure they know your event’s hashtag first!
Easy Win #6: Lock Down Your Social Strategy
The social media strategy you implement should depend on the size and scope of your event. If you’re looking to expand your reach without decimating your marketing budget, you’ll likely want to jump in head-first into social media with a comprehensive strategy.
Here’s a few ways to get started on social:
- Devise an official event hashtag and plaster that thing everywhere! Don’t just use it on social media posts. You should also have it on your website along with any printed materials.
- Promote your event across all of your social channels. The devil is in the details with these- don’t leave out important real estate like profile pictures and background images.
- Create a content calendar that will help your team stay on top of consistent posts. Plan for organic posts, paid ads, and any specific campaigns you’d like to pursue.
Easy Win #7: Produce Content That People Want to Share
This requires that your team go above and beyond simple social media posts. Creating content that’s customized to your audience and your event creates an enormous opportunity for payoff. This is time-consuming- you may want to consider hiring contractors to help you, but it gives you a fantastic opportunity to capitalize on ROI.
This includes infographics, blogs, and how-to guides that are geared towards racking up social engagement and ultimately more web traffic. These assets aren’t just good marketing, it’s establishing you as an expert in your space through thought leadership.
Easy Win #8: Retarget & Increase Conversions
Retargeting is the process of running ad campaigns to the people that have visited your event page and left without buying a ticket. This isn’t a “free” tactic, but it’s extremely efficient.
You don’t have to retarget web visitors right away. You can wait until a slow period before you run a campaign or to make a final push before you close out the sales to a particular package.
Easy Win #9: Start a Competition
Use your social channels to inject a bit of whimsy into your marketing. Create a contest centered around your hashtag- this is most appropriate for Twitter and Instagram. Have fun with this! Ask your followers a question or to post a photo with a particular theme.
As for prizes, giving away free or steeply discounted tickets is one of the most cost-effective ways to motivate users to participate.
Easy Win #10: Track Everything
Investing time and money into any campaign during your online promotion sprint, you need to be able to tell what’s working and what isn’t. The great thing about online marketing is that you can measure quite literally everything. Do you know where your ticket sales are coming from? You will. Is your audience more engaged with one channel over another? You’ll be able to know and pivot.
Using something as simple as Google Analytics makes this information readily available to you and your team. Set up UTM codes for all of your marketing channels so you can tell which channels generate the highest sales so you can attribute ROI and ensure that every marketing dollar spent is used wisely.
Planning, running, and hosting events can be a complicated and costly process. Marketing the event doesn’t have to be. You can easily expose your event to a large audience without a ton of effort, time, or money– just be smart and focused to get the biggest return on your effort.
If you follow these tips we outlined above, you won’t have a problem getting thousands of people to attend your event.