How Should I Prepare for Marketing Events?
If you want your event to be a success, you’ll need to do some prep work. Sit down with other key decision makers and decide what success looks like for your team and set realistic expectations for what you can accomplish. Create measurable goals and create a plan of action for before, during, and after the event to ensure everyone is aligned.
It’s important to set expectations for your event internally. Make sure that sales and marketing are aligned on goals and expectations.
Some questions to ask sales:
- Do you think it would be more useful to participate in an event to build brand awareness, or to take part in a highly targeted conference for lead generation?
- Are there any events in particular, or type of events, that a lot of your prospects or customers will attend?
- Can you create a list of accounts and contacts that would benefit from an event touchpoint?
- Customer Success, are there customers primed for an upsell or up for renewal?
Create Measurable Goals
Once you’ve agreed on what event you’ll be hosting or participating in, you’ll need to decide on what your goals are. This will impact how you measure success.
What do you want to get out of this event?
- Increased customer engagement
- New sales leads
- Increased brand awareness
- A stronger network of other companies for partnership opportunities
- More educated customers
If you want to increase customer engagement, some things you can measure are the number of demos given, on-site conversations, and the number of touchpoints a customer interacted with around the event.
If you want to generate new sales leads, you can count the number of new contacts collected.
If you want to build brand awareness, you can measure the number of attendees at your event or booth, impressions, and engagement on event posts, and the amount of swag handed out.
If you want to build partnerships, you can choose which companies you’d like to partner with pre-show and evaluate their level of interest post-show.
If you want to educate customers, you can measure how many demos were given, how many attendees showed up at your sessions, and the number of people you were able to upsell by educating them on new product offerings.
Find out what measurements work best for your team and goals. Then ensure that the sales and marketing team who will be in attendance understand their role at the event and the desired outcome.
Promote Your Event
Regardless of what role your company has at an event, you’ll want to publicize your presence. If you’re hosting the event, this is essential for securing registrations, sponsors, and speakers. If you’re participating, you’ll want to promote the fact that you’ll be there and in what capacity (booth, speaking, attending), any giveaways you might have, and any social tags you plan on using during the event.
A multi-channel promotion strategy can help increase registrations and attendance numbers. Many people are inundated with hundreds of emails daily but don’t receive nearly as much physical mail, so a direct mail campaign has a higher chance of being seen.
The type of event you’ll be hosting should determine what kind of invitation you send out. If it’s an intimate customer appreciation dinner, think about sending a formal invitation. If it’s a large event, consider sending out postcards to a longer mailing list for a more cost-effective way to increase registrations.
Here are some event marketing examples of creative direct mail invitations:
Anabas, a UK-based facilities management company, hired Better Brand Agency to create a unique event invitation that would be fun and memorable. Using a play on the Willy Wonka golden ticket, they sent chocolate bars with their branding to select clients. Inside the wrapper was a golden ticket with an invitation to the Premises & Facilities Management Awards.
MDVIP hired MDG to create “a compelling invitation package that gets physicians excited about MDVIP’s opportunity for a better, brighter future.” They wanted to drive attendance for their weekend recruiting event, with the ultimate goal of recruiting physicians into MDVIP.
Both companies created direct mail invitations that were creative and because they stood out, they increased the registration numbers. They also both had selective mailing lists, only reaching out to important clients and prospects that aligned with their end goals (customer engagement and lead generation respectively).
When creating an email campaign to promote your event, or presence at an event, you’ll need to think through the timing of your touch points and how to segment your mailing list. The timing of your outreach will depend on the type of event.
If it’s a large conference or trade show, you’ll want to start promoting your event at least a month in advance. A sample sequence of emails would be:
- 1st email: Event announcement and invitation, which includes details like when and where the conference is and what your presence at the event is. You can include a simple way to book appointments with reps that will be at the show and highlight any giveaways or incentives you’ll be offering.
- 2nd email: Provide further details about your company and what attendees can expect. Remind people of the prizes and free consultations you’re offering, and highlight if someone from your company is speaking or leading a session.
- 3rd email: Send a reminder email or two in the week leading up to the event to clients you’d like to visit your booth or to confirm appointments people have made. Send relevant details like a map of where your booth will be at the show.
Keep your emails relatively short and link subscribers to your event landing page for more information. Your event landing page should be where people convert on your call-to-action for the event: register, sign up for a free consultation, win a free prize, etc.
As a best practice, you should create a dedicated event landing page for your event to increase registration numbers and ultimately generate higher ROI for your event.
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 landing 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.
Here’s an event marketing example of a company offering a giveaway to collect a lead’s information:
While this landing page does a good job of highlighting the contest benefits, providing a simple lead capture form with a clear CTA, and has options for social sharing, it has room for improvement. It has too many links that you can click to exit the page, which increases the chance of people leaving without converting
Using paid advertising to promote your event is an effective way to increase registrations and capture new leads for your database.
The most common forms of paid advertising used for event promotion are:
- Search (PPC): PPC ads are structured to reach your target audience when they’re searching for you. Target your ad by keywords associated with your event, geographic location, and even by existing customers. To increase conversions, be sure to link your ad to a dedicated event landing page focused on that audience and with the single goal of driving registrations.
- Banner and Display: Banner ads appear on websites and are useful for building awareness of your event, or for retargeting. Place your ads on sites you think your target audience visits or remarket based on people’s online behaviors, like visiting your website but not registering.
- Print Ads: Though not as targeted, printing out flyers or advertising in a newspaper for a local event can help raise awareness of your event in the community.
Social media is a powerful tool to increase awareness of your event. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, are great ways to reach your target audience using a combination of paid and organic reach.
Marketing an event on social media:
- Use ad retargeting: Use ads on Facebook for event marketing to retarget people who have already visited your website but left before registering for your event.
- Promote your posts: Extend your reach and impressions by promoting your event related posts on Twitter, boosting your posts on Facebook, or sponsoring content on LinkedIn. Each platform has different targeting capabilities and is better suited for different audiences, so plan accordingly.
- Create a video: Create a video that highlights the benefits of attending your event and builds excitement. Post it to YouTube and Vimeo and share the link in your promotional emails, on your event landing page, and use shorter clips to promote your event on your social channels.
- Create a dedicated hashtag: Use this hashtag in all of your social promotions. Encourage people to use this # when posting about your event.