What is Event Marketing?
Event marketing is a strategy marketers use to promote their brand, product, or service with an in-person or real-time engagement. Events can be online or offline, and companies can participate as hosts, co-hosts, participants or sponsors. Whether online or in-person, event marketing is the ultimate way to connect with your audience, showcase your brand, and drive results.
Event marketing is a great strategy that can help:
- Build brand awareness
- Increase customer engagement
- Generate leads
- Educate prospects and customers
- Upsell customers
If done right, events can be one of your most impactful marketing channels.
With their Valentine’s Day Live Video event, Dunkin’ Donuts built brand awareness, increased engagement, and educated their customers when they showed viewers how they create new products. The live event ended with the exciting creation of a gigantic donut-themed wedding cake.
This digita; event had a total of 43,000 viewers, that’s 43,000 people engaged in watching doughnutsbeing made and gaining interest in Dunkin’s brand and product:
The best marketing event strategies
Branding and awareness
One of the biggest reasons companies participate in, or host, a marketing event is to establish and build their brand. With the increasingly fierce competition in almost every industry, being able to differentiate yourself is crucial.
You may choose to participate in specific marketing events to associate with the host’s brand, to gain access to a highly targeted audience, or show off your brand’s personality.
Let’s take a look at some different events and why a brand would choose to participate:
- Dreamforce: you want to penetrate the Salesforce ecosystem. You’re trying to sell to their target market and customers.
- The Super Bowl: you want your brand name to reach a broad audience and associate with some of the biggest names in advertising.
- Fashion Week: you’re a lifestyle brand that wants to establish yourself in the luxury category.
When selecting which event you want to participate in, or the type of event you’d like to host, first think about who your customer is and what kind of event they’re likely to attend. That’s where you’ll want to focus your resources.
Another way companies build brand awareness at events is by connecting with attending members of the press e. If done right, they can establish relationships with influential journalists or bloggers in their industry, get press coverage and position themselves as thought leaders.
Events help humanize your company and create a more authentic connection with consumers. By immersing your customers in a unique and memorable experience, they’re more likely to have an emotional tie to your brand and will be more inclined to share their experience with friends, businesses, and potential clients.
By creating a meaningful interaction between your brand and your customers, you have a higher likelihood of increasing client retention and creating brand loyalists in the process.
Lean Cuisine managed to engage customers through their #WeighThis event by creating an experience for their customers. They made it easy for customers to share their personal stories on what they have accomplished, or ‘what they want to be weighed on’. instead of their physical weight:
Conferences and industry events are a powerful way to engage with your target audience, gain a more in-depth understanding of their pain points, and facilitate their decision-making process.
To facilitate the event marketing purchasing process, you’ll need a plan in place to capture qualified leads’ information to follow up after the event. Ways to engage with prospects and collect their information include:
Hosting a sponsored party at, or nearby, the event
Also, before a marketing event, you should set up a lead scoring model. Your lead scoring should incorporate information collected from scanning a participant’s badge (like company size, industry, and title) as well as how many, and which, touchpoints they engaged with during the event and their previous level of engagement with your company.
One of the main reasons people attend business conferences, seminars, and trade shows is to learn about new strategies, technologies, and use cases for a product or service.
- If you’re sponsoring an event and have a booth: have well-trained staff who can give demos that address people’s pain points and can answer prospects’ questions with confidence.
- If you’re speaking at an event: make sure your presentation is both informative and entertaining. Think about presenting a unique use-case, hands-on training, or discussing a new perspective on how to use a technology or service. Try to engage with the audience by asking questions during or after your session.
- If you’re hosting an event: select keynote and session speakers, who can provide a unique viewpoint or can educate users on how to get more value out of your product or service. If you can secure a big name in the industry, it will help attract a more substantial crowd and lend your event more credibility.
You can also use online events to educate current and prospective customers. Tough Mudder used Facebook Live to showcase their event that featured Coach T. Mud. The event had a total of 51,000 viewers, which meant thousands of viewers were learning aboutTough Mudder’s new programs and offerings (and maybe even signing up themselves):
Many times, upselling is a natural extension of educating your customers. Use demos or webinars as a soft-sell for new product offerings.
If your event staff listen to a customer’s pain points and then give a demonstration of how specific features address their needs, it’s likely that they’ll present new features that require a customer to upgrade or purchase an additional product offering.
By demonstrating that your company understands your customers’ needs and taking the time to address how your product or service can fix specific pain points, whether in-person or via a live webinar, it creates more trust. Your upsell will seems less salesy and more helpful.
What Kind of Marketing Events are There?
Online marketing events
Digital marketing events offer companies a less expensive alternative to hosting or participating in physical events. They also allow businesses to reach a global audience more effortlessly and to create events that address timely topics that physical events, which require more planning, can’t do.
Live webinars help facilitate engagement with prospects and customers. Webinars revolve around product demos, presentations, and discussions, and are usually 30-60 minutes long.
If you host a live webinar, make it interactive by allowing participants to ask questions and taking polls. This increases customer engagement and makes viewers feel like they received real value for taking the time to watch your webinar. Polling also gives you valuable data that you can then share with your marketing, product, and sales teams.
Email a recording of the webinar for registrants who aren’t able to join the live webinar. You can also have upload on-demand webinars to your website’s resources page.
Live streaming events
Live streaming allows people who are unable to attend in person to see presentations and interact with your brand via social media. It can also be a fun way to offer viewers a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at your event, creating more transparency and giving your company a human face.
Starbucks used live streaming to broadcast their event showcasing the importance of voting. The chairman and CEO of Starbucks Howard Schultz and rapper Common talked about the importance of voting and urged viewers to send in questions which they would later answer in order to increase engagement for the event.
The event had a total of 167,000 viewers:
In-person marketing events
There’s nothing quite like being able to meet customers and prospects face-to-face. In-person events are a powerful way to move beyond a digital presence, which can seem impersonal to some, and connect with consumers on a more intimate level.
There are several formats your live event can take, but the most common are trade shows, conferences, meetups or customer appreciation events.
Trade shows bring together individuals and companies in a particular industry or profession and are often used for lead generation and building brand awareness.
Because there are many businesses present at trade shows, it’s important to think about how to make your brand stand out.
Conferences are company-specific events, generally put on by enterprises that have a sizeable and engaged customer base, to deliver information about new product offerings or for educational purposes. The most common example is a user summit.
Conferences typically have multiple sessions and speakers geared towards different interests, roles within an organization, and skill levels.
Brands can sponsor a local meetup geared towards their target audience to build brand awareness and engagement. These smaller, more intimate events offer brands a chance to network and build relationships with locals.
Showing your appreciation to your best customers by throwing an event can increase customer satisfaction, retention, referrals, testimonials and even sales. Many times companies do this by hosting a breakfast, lunch, or dinner around a conference that many of their customers will be attending.
What Role Can My Company Have at an Event?
Hosting an event is a great way to increase brand awareness and reach your target audience.
When deciding on hosting an event think about:
- Your customer base: What type of events are they likely to attend?
- Partnering with non-competing businesses: To share costs and increase your reach.
- Promoting your event: Will it be more effective to promote your event via social media, email, ads, or all three?
- How you’ll follow up with leads: What will you do to collect leads’ information and what processes will you put in place for lead nurturing post-event?
- How you’ll measure your event ROI: Since you’ll be footing the bill, make sure that your event has measurable metrics for success, whether that’s attendee numbers or sales made post-event.
Companies may choose to sponsor an event for a variety of reasons, some of which include:
- Lead Generation: To gain access to an engaged and enthusiastic audience who will be more receptive to your message.
- Branding: To build brand awareness with a target audience, as well as align their brand with the host’s brand and other companies hosting the event.
- Networking: Conferences provide an opportunity to network with other businesses and potentially create partnerships that make sense for your business.
- Customer Engagement: Brands can interact directly with their customers to build more meaningful relationships and have the chance to answer any questions or pain points they may have.
Many times sponsorship opportunities are flexible, so work with the event organizer to create a sponsorship that meets your objectives and budget. You’ll want to ask yourself many of the same questions that you would if you were hosting an event to ensure you maximize the ROI of your marketing spend.
Securing a speaking slot at events can be competitive or tied to certain sponsorship levels, but having the opportunity to present at an event can be a great way to position your executives as thought leaders.
By choosing a topic related to your business, you’ll show attendees that you’re a trusted resource and that by extension your company is a trusted resource. It’s also important to network during the event to build your brand.
Why you Need an Event Marketing Landing Page
Your landing page should include:
- What attendees will learn
- The list of event speakers
- An agenda
- Location and time
- A countdown timer for event RSVP or registration
- A lead capture form with a compelling CTA
- Social media and email sharing buttons to help visitors easily promote to their network
Link to your landing page from CTA’s in your emails, from your promotional ads, and from promoted social posts. By sending event attendees to a dedicated landing page on your website, you’ll have an opportunity to highlight why customers and prospects should visit you at the show and capture leads’ information so you can follow up after the show.
If you’re a host, the goal of your landing page is to sign up sponsors, exhibitors, and attendees.
Create separate landing pages for attendees, for sponsors, and for speakers. Each will highlight different benefits and have a different CTA.
Below is an example of a host landing page aimed at sponsors. You’re directed to this page from the main event microsite. You reach the CTA ‘Apply to be a sponsor’ after you’ve scrolled down and seen their promo video, the list of speakers, and what other brands are sponsoring the event.
This page is highly targeted towards collecting potential sponsors’ information and has rid itself of any distracting navigational links that could take people away from acting on the CTA, thereby optimizing for conversions.
If you’re an exhibitor, you’ll want a dedicated event landing page to collect prospects’ information and to promote your presence at the event. Think about offering a free ebook, or a free demo, as an incentive for people to convert.
Keep your lead capture form short and to the point. If you’re offering a prize, give extra entries to your contest for social sharing.
What should I do after a marketing event?
Your event marketing strategy for post-event should be planned in advance. This will put you a step ahead of the competition and ensure that you reach out to leads while they’re still hot.
Email follow-ups should be outlined and mostly written before the event occurs. You can prepare by reading the event synopsis, session descriptions, and blog posts to help craft a persuasive message. Then fill in details after the conference or trade show.
Things to keep in mind for your post-event outreach:
- Personalize your message: Note where you met a prospect (your booth, a session, a party) and include their name, company, and anything that stood out to you about your conversation with that prospect. If it’s a promising lead, have the sales rep who spoke with them reach out.
- Be timely: Follow up right away so that you’re top of mind with prospects. If it’s a multi-day conference, send emails out to people who’ve visited your booth each night. Thank them for stopping by, and let them know about any of your upcoming speaking engagements or networking events you’ll be attending.
- Include an offer or piece of content: Depending on what your product or service is, and where someone falls in your sales funnel, reach out with a relevant piece of content or an offer for a free consultation to encourage them to move further down your funnel.
- A/B test: Test different aspects of your email including subject lines, offers (content, video, promotions), and CTA’s. If you’re offering a piece of content and sending them to a dedicated landing page to download it, A/B test the landing page as well.
What Should I Do When Our Marketing Events are Over?
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