Marketing your event has always been critically important for event planners. It is how planners spread the word about their event, increase event attendance, and establish ROI. But in this digital age, a new set of tools have become available to planners to help them market their event. In order for planners to capitalize on the available digital tools, they need to work closely with their digital marketing team.
To learn how event planners and digital marketers can work together and fully understand the power digital marketing holds for events and event planners, we sat down with the leaders of Aventri’s digital marketing team, Jake Diserio, Aventri’s Digital Marketing Manager, and Damarley Robinson, Aventri’s SEO Analyst. Check it out.
Why & How Digital Marketers Need to Work Closely with Event Planners Q&A with Jake Diserio & Damarley Robinson
Q: What are the traditional roles of a digital marketing team and an event planner? How do you see the two overlapping and working together?
One of the key areas of responsibility for our digital marketing team is maintaining our website, and really all the other digital properties Aventri has like, software directories and review websites.
Part of that role is getting people to our website and we do that through paid media, through organic campaigns, through outbound email campaigns, and content creation. Working with Damarley and our content team, we really try to prioritize the keywords that are relevant to our business, and then create content based off those keyword priorities. This helps drive relevant audiences to our website because our website is really where we convert visitors into actual leads for our business. Then it's on the sales team to work to qualify those leads into customers.
How does this relate to an event planner? Well, I see it relating very much to an event planner. In today's day and age, in our business, most of the event invitations and registration are done via the Internet. At the end of the day, an event website is really just an extension of that company's main branded corporate website. I do believe there are a couple of ways that they have been driving people to their websites, probably mostly through email, and if the people are current customers of that company, they may know about the event.
But how can you expand and broaden your audience to get people to your event? That's where a good content strategy and also trying paid ads can be good. Be it through traditional search engines like Google AdWords or Bing, or employing account-based marketing strategy with platforms like DemandBase or Terminus.
Going off of what Jake said with digital marketers and event websites, it’s really trying to optimize web traffic to the site for event planners. In my particular area, I deal a lot with SEO. So, I really try to optimize a particular page with one keyword. I also look at the content structure and follow SEO best practices to ensure that the text is structured wisely.
Some of the most important ranking factors for Google are content, relevancy, and UI. So, if people are clicking in the search, then going back to the search engine and looking for something else, that tells Google that the reader was not happy with your page and as a result that has negative impact on the page’s ranking.
So really, maintaining people staying on the page for longer, optimizing around a specific keyword, and making sure that the content delivers on what it promises is really important.
Q: Why is digital marketing important for events and event planners?
The only event that I receive offline invitations for these days are weddings, and every wedding has an event website. I don't attend as many events as I did earlier in my career, but even going back to 2011-2013, “intern-Jake”, there were no paper event invitations, they were all digital. You really want to know A- is the person receiving your event’s message, and B- what are they doing with the message? What is the reaction for all the actions that you, the event organizer, the brand that's throwing the event, what are those reactions to your actions? That's where the digital marketing team really comes into play. Most of our job responsibilities as digital marketers is measuring stuff. We work with the content team to measure the impact of the content. We work with various other stakeholders to measure the impact of what we do. The digital marketer, event planner marriage really needs to happen in every company.
Q: What role does digital marketing play in the event’s lifecycle?
The event lifecycle, in my opinion, is really never-ending. You have the pre-event, during the event, and the post-event, which technically could be considered pre-event for next year's event.
The event and marketing teams, if there is a collective company goal, should be working together from the onset. The event team is more responsible for the logistics of the event, like facilitating the registration, making sure the right information gets to the right people. The events team should be also working with the marketing team to promote their event to the right audiences, at the right time. If people don't know the event exist, they're not going to attend.
Like we were saying earlier, most of the ways people are getting invitations and discovering events is via the Internet. You could have the biggest brand in the world, and that's awesome because a lot of people know your event by association, but if you're a smaller organization and trying to expand your audience you need to put effort behind your marketing and digital teams to create a content plan going into the event, outside of the event, and after the event. This is critical because if it's a recurring event, you're going to have that content accumulate year over year. Your attendees will come to expect it, but you need to start somewhere, and that's where working with your digital team can be very helpful.
Absolutely, Jake. You really can't improve what you can’t measure. By working with your digital marketing team, planners will gain deep insights into what's going on in their event website, specifically reports on audience, acquisitions, and behavior allow you to analyze the traffic around your event website and assess the impact of your marketing activities.
Digital marketers can then give these reports to planners so they can digest their content, look at the specific audience demographics of the website, where they are coming from. This specific information can be used to tailor your marketing efforts. Specifically, based off of these digital marketing analytics, planners can tailor and promote their event content to specific regions of the country.
Digital marketers can also tell planners what specific pages on their event websites are most/least popular as well as highlight pages with high bounce rates and suggest ways to minimize those bounce rates, like adding unique content and engaging video content or pictures. Engaging content will help keep the audience on the event website for longer, which is another really big ranking factor for Google.
In sum, based off of analytics, digital marketers can continually help event planners make adjustments to their event content to ensure its optimized, is engaging, and makes sense to the reader.
We can't expect event planners to be digital marketing analytics experts. We should expect them to lean on their digital team and for their digital team to have their backs on the analytics portion.
One of the biggest digital tools is Google Analytics. I can't imagine novice event planners, or planners that don't have a marketing background, are going to get up to speed instantly on setting up Google Analytics specifically for their event.
Additionally, if a customer doesn't have white labeling, for example, having their company domain be their event website domain, that's two separate domains that they have to manage. So that's kind of tough, piecing together the analytics of their event website with what's going on the main website. For instance, how do they know how that person got to their event website? Did they receive an email and then click the link to go there? Did they see the link on their website? Did they see an ad about the event?
There are so many different ways that a person can seek or be sent information on how to register for this event. The event planner and their marketing team need to know which mediums are the most effective. Google Analytics, at least from a digital perspective, is probably one of the best tools they can use.
Q: What digital marketing tools and technology exists that can help event planners better plan their events and make their lives easier?
Google Tag Manager just being a really a container to hold multiple tracking scripts, pieces of code, that can help bridge the data journey between their different domains. For instance, let's say you have your events at Aventri.com.com and you have your Aventri.com. This is one place that you can put a tracking code that you won't have to do it you know individually on all these individual websites; therefore, saving you a lot of time, Let's say you're doing recurring events, year over year, you have that snippet, and it’s ready to go, so you don't have to put it on each page, on each website.
Then Google Analytics. Some marketing automation software’s have analytics built-in. But otherwise, Google Analytics is your standard operating procedure in the digital sphere.
I look at our buying behavior here Aventri. We wouldn’t buy software we couldn’t integrate with. Using us as an example, Aventri’s platform integrates with Marketo, we integrate with Salesforce. All of these digital breadcrumbs that are happening specifically around the event can be sent to the other software that people are living and breathing every day. Using Marketo as an example, the marketing team is in Marketo all day, every day. Being able to associate those registration categories with certain registration lists allows you to have all your nurture tracks and content streams ready to go, which can then get sent back to Salesforce. Then your sales team will know that this prospect or this customer attended this event, at this time. That's a pretty strong buying signal, relative to even someone spending a lot of time on your event website. So integrations are essential. Using Aventri as event management example, that's really the control center for everything around the event, but it's not the end all be all. It's going to feed information into all the specialty software’s where people are doing their jobs every day.
Another one I would add would be the Google Keyword Planner. That's what I use a lot of the times for my analysis on different keywords. Using this tool, I can select the most relevant keywords for our content by looking at different factors such as search volume, cost per click, and competition.
I can then use the list of keywords I generated to drill down even further and locate long-tail variations of my main keyword to really help optimize the web page.
Adding to that, there's definitely context in there. I think of the maturity of the event or the brand. Back to what I was saying earlier, if it is a new event for a semi-new brand, you have to piggyback on to what you're already doing well. But I feel if you're an established brand with traffic, you can probably use more obscure keywords and people will find you just naturally because they're going to find you anyways.
The Keyword Planner, I think is essential. The event team will know some of the specific buzzwords around that event and can relay that information to the digital marketing group. The coordination between these two groups will allow the overall core business keywords to be combined with the event keywords.