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How to market a Virtual Event

Just like in-person experiences, virtual events also need a powerful marketing campaign. While many principles remain unchanged and are to be applied just like in the real world, it is important to focus on small details that make a big difference. For online events, specific marketing strategies will keep your prospective audience engaged and eager to be part of it. Therefore, promotional activities are just as important as choosing the right speakers to offer memorable experiences. So, how do you create an effective marketing campaign for an event that is taking place in a virtual environment? To give you an answer, we’ve put together some marketing strategies designed to drive up traffic and create a real buzz.

Identify your Audience

To make sure that your marketing efforts are as relevant as possible, try to understand your prospective audience first. If you manage to identify the target persona you aim to engage with, your marketing campaign will have a better outcome.

What should you know about your prospective audience?

–          Demographic information (age, location, job title, income etc.)

–          Platforms where they spend time online

–          Motivations and goals (hobbies, interests, aspirations etc.)

Afterwards, based on the type of virtual event hosted, you can promote it to an audience that is truly interested in the presented content. Let’s assume that you host an online recruitment event. Based on demographic information, you can filter your audience and promote the event solely to candidates that meet your company’s minimum requirements (age, experience, interests, etc.).

Involve your Speakers

Speakers or presenters are at the heart of your event. They are the ones that make audiences impatient and excited to attend and be part of your event, especially in an online environment. Therefore, promoting it can be a lot more efficient if speakers are involved in the process. It is in their own interest and usually part of their duty to cross promote their appearance to their fans.

Most of them have built a strong fan base on different social media networks. To make it easier for them to spread the word about your upcoming event, create content that is easy to share online: a pre written tweet; a high quality image of your event logo; ask them to promote it in their email signatures and so on. At the end of the day, they are equipped with the right tools to promote it most effectively and usually without any additional costs.

Send out Newsletters

The available information shows that email marketing will continue to have a key role in the event organizer’s promotional strategy. In fact, 40% of marketers consider email marketing as the most effective medium for event promotion. Even if you are new to the world of virtual events, you might already have a well-established database from your offline shows. Those are people that already trust you and sending them out a newsletter can do no harm.

Of course, there are a few things to keep in mind before pressing the send button. First, get creative and find a catchy subject line. If you booked in well-known speakers, include their names in your newsletter’s subject line. It can sound similar to this: “Mr. Johnson, join Sir Ken Robinson at the XY virtual conference”. You can see that in the example mentioned above I used some degree of personalization. If you have data from previous events, don’t hesitate to customize as much as possible for each individual. Another important aspect is to always remember the purpose of email marketing, which is ‘Call to action’ (CTA). The available information tells us that CTA should appear in the first 20% of the e-mail. Why? Well, most of us are surfing the internet from our smartphones. If the CTA is placed too far in the email, we might not even bother to scroll down and actually read it.

Use Keywords in your Event description

When was the last time you used Google to find something that interests you? I bet that it was earlier today. Among those uncountable searches that take place daily, there is no wonder that people search for events as well. There are several keyword planning tools, such as Google Ads that help you find out relevant words based on your content. As soon as you manage to find relevant keywords, simply include them in your event description.

By following these guidelines, you should be able to spread the word around and make people aware regarding your upcoming Virtual Event. If you need any further guidance, don’t hesitate to drop us a line!

User Generated Content for Events – How Does it Work?

Guess who’s the biggest driving force behind your event, besides you? Your visitors, of course. They are the single best critic and the most powerful force that can drive your event up. There’s also something about them that you should be really interested in: they are trusted by their friends, colleagues and family. This post is about how you can get user generated content and improve your event’s experience and increase your exposure.

What is Visitor/User Generated Content?

Visitor generated content is a term we’ve derived from “UGC” or User Generated Content. You’ve probably heard about UGC as the content that is generated by users on all sorts of digital outlets. It may be for example a social media post, images uploaded on Instagram or Snapchat or videos uploaded on YouTube.

In the event business this type of content is generated by visitors to your events and distributed either through social media or on specialized outlets – for example your event’s mobile app, your website or a digital wall.

Why is User Generated Content important for events?

Your influential visitors drive the success of your events. They do this through their shared opinions and the way they create a bridge between you and their friends, peers or followers. Consider these aspects:

What’s even more interesting is that when it comes to millennials, the data is even clearer:

  • Consumers ages between 18 and 24 are the biggest content generators out there, generating over 70% of all UGC;
  • 86% of Millenials note that the User Generated Content is a very good indicator of brand quality;
  • User generated content beats professional produced content for Millennials in at least three categories: Travel (74% of Millennials prefer UGC over professional photos), Consumer goods (83%) and Fashion (85%)

How can User Generated Content help your events?

As shown – all data points to the fact that UGC is a great way to improve your event’s exposure and improve visitors’ experience.

Among other things UGC will help you:

  • Increase ticket sales and improve conversion rates: Purchase anxiety is a really strong factor when your visitors purchase tickets to your event. If you happen to host a large event that has an awesome track record the purchase anxiety might very well be reduced. However, if you are just starting out your happy visitors’ opinions may generate additional traction. Purchase anxiety is a very strong factor in any digital purchase but with events it’s even more so. Buyers pay upfront for an event that will happen sometime in the future. They have little control over what is actually delivered and the experience is definitely subjective. Other visitors’ content might provide some insights on what they are actually getting.
  • Attract social traffic and use social proof to convert it to sales: When visitors post content on social media – this attracts new traffic to your event’s website. This traffic is already pre-qualified as it has been referred by a reputable source (a peer) on an interesting subject (your event). By adding social proof from UGC you can add event more power to visitors’ content and generate instant sales with lower costs.
  • Improve your social media campaigns with user generated content: social media users love social media (Doh!) but they hate social media ads. UGC adds that extra spark for your ads. It adds authenticity and today’s event goers love an authentic review. When using UGC in social media ads Yotpo shows that online shops see:
    • 4x higher click-through rates;
    • 50% decrease in cost of acquisition;
    • 50% drop in cost-per-click;

All in all User generated content is a great way to improve exposure for your events, decrease marketing costs, engage your community and attract new visitors.

And now … for the actual work – how do you make your visitors generate content for your event?

Here are some ideas:

1. Just ask your visitors to create content

The first, most simple and often not used way of helping your visitors generate content is to ask them. You can do so by including a “Call to create” in your owned media, during the event and after the event.

Here are the main areas where your “Call to create” should work best:

    • After purchasing tickets or registering for your event: Include a thank you page that allows visitors to share the fact that they are attending the event. Maybe add some extra sauce to it by asking them to share with their friends “WHY” they will be attending their event. Catalyze this by adding an extra perk for those that are willing to share this with their network – maybe a free t-shirt, special access to the event or even free coffee would do.

During the event:

      • Create special photo booths or photo walls after the registration where visitors can take an interesting selfie with an interesting decorum or installation;
      • Setup special interaction areas between your visitors and speakers / artists where they can chat, take photos and post them online;
      • During the event ask your visitors to create special moments that are posted on Snapchat or Instagram and reward those that use your event’s hashtag;
      • Engage your visitors on social media by following their posts on the most popular Social media sites;

After the event:

    • Follow up with your visitors in an email and ask them to post an event review either on your Facebook profile, on your website, in a comment on your Instagram post and others. 
    • Stay connected and post photos of visitors on your social media profile (however – be careful to cover this with your registration terms and conditions. Privacy is not to be taken lightly and consent is a must given data protection regulations, especially if you operate in the EU);

2. Create a branded Hashtag for your event

This is UGC 101. Set up an event hashtag and encourage your visitors to use it when posting updates about your event. It doesn’t have to actually include your event brand but make it something that stays out and allows people to mentally connect it back to you.

Let’s see some examples:

#AdobeSummit:

As I was writing this post one of the trending hashtags was #AdobeSummit, a hashtag regarding the Adobe Summit – The Digital Marketing Conference hosted by Adobe in London, UK.

Visitors would generally be sharing either interesting slides from the sessions that interested them most, articles regarding the event or interesting conference gimmicks – such as the big, colorful disco ball:

hashtag-articles-slides

#Coachella2018

Twitter tag from one of the most influential music festivals in the world. Visitors would mainly post selfies showcasing their style and outfits. As Coachella is one of the go-to entertainment brands for personal style and fashion, that was bound to happen.

Fashion and style ruled the social media streams. Both the Twitter #Coachella2018 and Instagram’s #Coachella2018 hashtags were full of fashion photos from people attending:

coachella2018-instagram

Over 260 000 Instagram posts showed the festival’s hottest people, outfits and trends.

These are just two examples that you can use as a starting point for your next event hashtags. Encourage people to post it using a Social Media Wall, offering prizes and special access credentials or just showcase the community in a special page on your website.

However – it doesn’t have to be your exact brand name as some visitors might not be that happy to promote your event right from the start. You can choose a hashtag that outlines your values and what your event stands for and just create a special tag from those.

3. Make your event interesting for content creators

Instead of asking visitors to create content sometimes it’s better to encourage them in more subtler ways. For example:

Create “shareable” moments and decors

Burning man instalations

Burning man instalations

As the big disco ball in the Adobe Summit example above shows – people are willing to share interesting decors in your event. Many events do this quite well but probably the best at it are large festivals.

For example, the Burning Man festival hosts a series of arts installations from various artists that can attract visitors and encourage them to share these moments with their fans and followers.

Start a flashmob

One of the most interesting ways to make your event stand out is through flashmobs, where groups of people create specially choreographed moments. These are artistic moments in themselves so they have to be carefully planned and delivered at a moment of maximum exposure.

Here’s one example from a concert from Black Eyed Peas that went heavily viral some years ago:

Use colors to make your event stand out

Color can really set the mood for your event, making your guests feel part of a greater community. This really helps creating shareable moments.

Probably the best example is the “Color Run” series of events, where runners that cover a 5km run have only two rules:

  • Wear white at the start;
  • Enjoy being fully colored at the end of the event.

Throughout their run, they get covered in color. At the end, they get a special party, photos and a great chance to share their crazy run with their friends.

color-run

Call in the robots

When all else fails – call in the robots. One way to encourage your visitors to post content and share it with their friends is with the help of entertainers. One special type of entertainment is Titan the Robot, a mech-like exo-suit that is quite interesting and fun. As you see below people are eager to film and share their interactions with Titan:

Obviously – it doesn’t have to be a robot but something that is novel, attracts attention and is at the same time amazing and hard to understand. By the way, I’ll let you in on a little secret – there’s a man in a suit in that video 🙂

4. Other ideas to encourage User Generated Content for your event

This is of course just a starting point and your creativity is the best tool to use when thinking of ways to make your visitors generate and share content.

Here are some other ways you can incentivize them do that:

  • Create special contests for visitors that create and share content. It might be a raffle, a special discount sent to each participant or access to the coffee booth by those that pay with a tweet;
  • Set up a special UGC page on your website where visitors can post photos from the event and receive a special discount for next year’s event;
  • Set up social media hashtag walls where you display content from those that posted about your event. A great place to start is Walls.io, an app that helps you generate social media walls that can be shown at the event.

I really hope this helps your event and makes it more engaging than you thought possible. Remember – these are just some ideas and guidelines. Let your creativity help you help your visitors create content. It’s the best advertising you can get.

How to successfully market an event

Marketing an event is neither innately or self conspicuous; a lot of patience and knowledge is required in order to properly promote it.

-POP

How do you make sure that your consumer keeps bonding with your brand?

Many businesses have the possibility to immerse their consumers in whole physical experiences through their products, promotions, show-rooms, shops, etc.

What about the brands that have no physical product to wow their consumer with, or stay hidden behind a blog and the social media channels. How do they engage with their customers?

The answer is events. The creation of promotional events through which brands can bring awareness and bond with your customers is definitely the success key.

Even knowing how important events are, many businesses don’t take full advantage and fail in delivering a good event. It is impractical to organize a surpassing event and offer top quality products and services if you are failing to promote it. Who will know or attend your event if you don’t sell it properly?

Event marketing is essential in order to attract the right audience

Event marketing is the best opportunity to bring your community together and spread the word. Best of all, the most effective forms of event marketing will get people talking, writing, and reading – all about your brand, products or services.

The best way of understanding your most effective forms of marketing is putting yourself in your attendee’s shoes. So let’s imagine you are your future event’s attendee.

What are the steps you undergo from the moment you hear about the event till you get to participate:

  1. Ways you could find out about the event:
  • A friend – word of mouth
  • A poster/ flyer/ TV/ Radio – Traditional Marketing
  • Social Media/ Email – Digital Marketing

It is important that both Traditional and Digital marketing channels are used properly. Sometimes first impression is the last impression and this is the time you can attract your future attendees with perhaps just a glance of a look.

Depending on the type of your event and audience segmentation you will decide which marketing mix will be appropriate.

With a poster or a flyer your purpose is to create eye-catching print that will attract people to participate in your event and offer the necessary information about it. If you are interested in finding more about how to create an attractive poster here are some tips & tricks how to do that, offered by Venngage.

Email marketing has the same purpose as the print material; catch the eye in a short time frame, inform and redirect to your digital channels.

TV and Radio Advertising are most of the time effective though they are pricey. If you are creating an event for tens of thousands of people big media spending is definitely worth it. Otherwise – maybe stick to something more cost effective.

Social Media is the most effective and affordable slew of tools you can use to market your event

The purpose of Social Media is not only to advertise your event before but also create an online community that will help maintain the interest in your event in between happenings.

It is important to know how to keep your attendees engaged before, during and after your event. According to a study conducted by Buffer in 2014 nearly as many attendees are talking about the events as during the event.

Therefore, it is important to create the excitement before the event, during and after:

Pre-event

The objective is to create excitement of the up-coming event, engagement on the Social Platforms and enroll those who are not decided yet if to participate or not.

How to do that?

  • Through posts that include questions, information, tutorials, etc.
  • Create an unified hashtag to use across all social channels –  even if it doesn’t seem important, using it well in advance to your event and on all Social Platforms can result in a successful tool in order to centralize all of the posts regarding your event
  • Don’t forget to add your hashtag in all your Social Media’s bio – once you have a link to your event, update your Bio section, and then people have a very simple way to find out more
  • Distribute your events on discovery sites across the web in order to reach a more targeted audience
  • Use Facebook, Instagram ads to re-market to prospects – show ads to people who have already visited your website.

During the event

The main objective is to make your attendees talk about and share your event :

  • Engage in live streaming with the peaks of your event
  • Encourage people to check-in, like your Social Media pages and post photos from the event

“In this fast-paced, noisy online world, visual content is the best way to not only capture the attention of fans, but also to have them take action on your content.” – Donna Moritz of Socially Sorted

Post-Event

The target here: keep them coming back next year. It is still important to continue promoting the event but the marketing will come from a place of knowledge and top of mind recognition, rather than having to refresh their memories.

  • Keep engaging with customers and create new possible leads for your future events by posting regularly and keeping the community updated
  • Harness the Power of Visual Testimonials – show the excitement and vibe of your speakers, attendees or the event in general
  • Share and leverage the user generated content since this will bring more authenticity and credibility to your posts.
  • Make use of all content produced during the event and post regularly

  1. When looking up for the event, your search engine will hopefully display the following:
  • Event’s website
  • Discovery sites
  • Social Media Pages

Search engines are making people’s life easier by guiding them in their search. But getting your websites to appear at the top of the search result is no easy thing. Your website needs to have a high ranking in order to be displayed at the top and this is possible only through Search Engine Marketing.

Another important aspect is the reliability of your website because it represents the portal to your event and the first step in your attendees’ immersion. This experience has to be appealing, concise, user friendly, up-to-date and synchronized to all of your pages.

Lastly, don’t forget to create a mobile website too, since many web users are doing their research from their smart phones.

  1.   While doing the research you will be looking to find out:
  • More information about the event
  • Who else from your friends are attending the event
  • Other people’s impressions and reviews

Your attendees are searching for more information because they want to rest assure that your event is what they are looking for. It’s a good opportunity not only to offer them all the information they are seeking but as well connect with them and make them feel part of the community.

Some of the information that you can offer them:

Insides (e.g., special contests during the event, special photo or autograph sessions, sweepstakes etc.)

Details (who else is attending the event, weather, location map, etc.)

Assurance (other people’s testimonials and comments)

  1. Decision time:
  • If happy – attend the event and ask friends to join
  • If not happy – don’t go, and even more, persuade others in not going

At this point your only hope is that your attendees are happy and desire to participate along with their friends and family. The only way to get here is by following the previous steps.

  1. Final step – Register online and buy the ticket
  • If 100% sure + flawless registration = ticket is bought
  • If 100% sure + unfriendly registration = there is a small chance that the ticket will not be bought
  • If 50% sure + unfriendly registration = big chances that the ticket will not be bought

And when you thought that might be all, guess what? – it’s not!

A registration process that it is complicated and slow it’s the worst turn out for your future attendees. The payment process has to be the easiest step from the whole journey.

Ticketing and registration platforms come in handy when in need for an efficient payment process. Using our event management and access management platform, Oveit, will not only significantly simplify the payment process but can help you bring more added value to your overall planning, such as:

  • Registration forms enable you to collect data in the form of text (name, company, position) dates (birth date, arrival date), emails, files (PDFs, PPTs, images and more)
  • Personalized badge design – just use data attendees filled in, drag and drop, add graphics and your personalized badges are ready to send by email or print
  • Mobile apps for ticket scanning, available on iOS and Android.
  • Support for Smart badges, NFC bracelets, access cards and NFC tickets
  • Seating design for seat based events

In order to sell tickets and achieve a successful consumer journey, attendees need to be kept engaged at every stage of the process. Providing a memorable pre, live and post-event experience will make your attendees more connected to your brand and will become, if not already, loyal. Consequently, by trusting you, they will innately recommend and share their experience with others both online but as well direct; word of mouth is still the most valuable marketing tool that has the highest conversion rate.