Surf the web, scroll through social, or scan your inbox, on any given day, odds are you’ll see at least one promotion for an upcoming virtual or hybrid event.
Planning, promoting, and hosting a virtual or hybrid event requires a high attention to detail – and a targeted marketing playbook to create awareness. Remember: if you can’t get people through the virtual or physical doors in the first place, having a totally awesome event experience doesn’t matter.
To ensure your event doesn’t get lost in the shuffle, use the ideas from this marketing playbook to attract the attention of your target audience.
1. Understand your audience.
Just like in-person events, start here for your foundation.
The better you understand your audience’s demographics, their motivations and goals, and where they spend time online, the easier it becomes to identify channels to target and messaging to adopt – and how best to create a marketing campaign that connects with them.
2. Define a strong purpose or “why” for the event
What is the value for your audience to attend? And why this specific event over other events?
Crafting a compelling value proposition – the why – serves three purposes. First, it communicates why people should care about your event. Second, it sets the stage for the experience you’re providing. No virtual or hybrid event looks the same and your audience likely wants more details on what their experience will be. And third, if it’s a paid event, it highlights why they should pay to attend.
3. Establish your marketing budget
One of the benefits of going virtual is growing your event reach – but you have to have new dollars to reach those that may have never heard of you before. And even when virtual events are free, that doesn’t mean the marketing plan to support it is free.
In addition to working with outside agencies or designers to create branded materials or content, strongly consider allocating dollars for paid media support to target a wider audience outside of your current database.
4. Create a memorable event brand
If your virtual or hybrid event is replacing an in-person event and you’re marketing to the same audiences, keep any prior look and feel the same to avoid a disjointed feeling for past attendees.
If you’re establishing a new event identity, consider the colors, fonts, and themes that fit with your audience, industry, and the emotions you want to evoke. And with a majority of marketing content playing out on screens that vary from mobile phones to larger monitors, check how branding elements render across different channels, browsers, and displays.
5. Make a multi-faceted marketing plan
Using the insights of where your audience goes for information, combined with your budget, outline all the touchpoints used to communicate about your event.
Beyond email and social, promote it on your own website’s upcoming event schedule, in a press release, or by using paid social or online advertising, SMS/text messaging, or video marketing. Keep in mind registrations don’t always happen after the first visit marketing touch – especially if it’s a paid event – so you’ll want to use multiple tactics and channels to drive registration.
And just because someone registers, it doesn’t mean they’ll show up for the event either. Registration to attendance conversion rates for free virtual events ranges on average from 40 to 60 percent – meaning many times you’ll need more than double the number of registrations to hit your actual attendance goal.
6. Define the timeline & cadence
Just like in-person events, if you start the promotions too early, you risk losing the audience. Start too late, and you’re likely not to generate enough reach.
Depending on your event, start the event marketing several months to several weeks before the date. Promotions for virtual events generally begin 3 to 4 weeks before the event, while hybrid events start 2 to 4 months prior since in-person attendees need to plan travel.
7. Build your registration landing page
The landing page is the hub for collecting registrations. A good rule of thumb is to have a soft launch of the page, about two to three weeks before the promotion plan launches. This gives you time to ensure its thoroughly tested and ready to go.
As far as the landing page content, there are many platforms like Evenium Net that make it easy to create landing pages and emails, securely collect payments, and streamline in-person check-in for hybrid events.
Maximize your landing page’s impact by including these details:
- Branded design elements
- Compelling headline
- Event details (date, time, time zone, etc.)
- An agenda
- Speaker bios and photos
- Sponsor information
- Other content like testimonials or video teasers to create FOMO
8. Get targeted with your email marketing
Whether your schedule includes a diverse set of topics, or you have different content for in-person and virtual attendees, as you plan your email marketing, ask yourself, “Is the value proposition the same for all my list recipients?”
If not, create list segments and targeted content based on each segment’s careabouts. Especially in the case of more virtual events competing for attendees’ attention, using targeted emails boost registration conversion and help avoid list fatigue from repeatedly sending to the same contacts over and over again.
9. Look for amplification opportunities
Whether it’s tapping speakers, sponsors, partners, and industry influencers or creating campaigns to encourage and reward attendees for spreading the word about your event, these ambassadors can spread the word and broaden your reach.
Other amplification strategies include social. For example, create a unique, short, and relevant hashtag that reflects your event brand. Experiment with Stories on Instagram or Facebook – including using the gram’s countdown feature to promote and build excitement.
10. Continue marketing post-event
Just because the event is over doesn’t mean marketing should stop. Share highlights and key takeaways to show those who didn’t attend what they missed.
Or create gated on-demand versions of webinars or online seminars to keep your event top-of-mind until the next event is announced. For replays of on-demand events, Evenium ConnexMe provides a unique feature: attendees can save time by searching the webinar transcript for specific keywords to jump to those mentions.
Promoting and planning a successful virtual or hybrid event takes time and persistence. But this playbook, plus the right tools, make the process more manageable.