As brands adapt to remote working models, not to mention the unprecedented events of the past year, they’re also shifting their in-person events into the virtual world. But while in-person events will no doubt be a thing again in the months ahead, there’s no denying the inherent benefits of virtual and hybrid events as a way to engage global audiences and dramatically reduce logistical costs and complications.
Until recently, virtual events were a foreign concept to many planners, but now they’re here to stay. That said, it has also become a highly competitive space. You’ve probably already seen at least one email, social media post, or ad promoting an online event in the past day or two. This, of course, begs the question of how to promote a virtual event on social media and elsewhere to stand out among all the others. That’s what we’ll be looking at in this guide.
1. Set Expectations by Preparing Content
While there should be ample room for refinements, later on, it’s important to have the bulk of the content for your event prepared before you even start marketing it. This will help you set the right expectations, as well as give you more time to promote your event. The last thing you want is to end up rushing towards the finish line just days before the event. At a minimum, you should prepare all the important content before the promotion period begins. This includes:
- Landing and registration pages
- Theme and key discussion points
- Promotional emails and social media posts
- A list of confirmed speakers
When preparing the bulk of your content, you should also be clear about the audience you’re targeting and why. That’s why it also makes sense to create one or more audience personas. These are hypothetical profiles of your ideal attendee, along with key characteristics like age, location, professional, goals, and motivations.
2. Create a Virtual Event Marketing Plan
Once you have a broad picture of how you want your event to play out, it’s time to establish a marketing strategy. The first thing to consider is your budget. Fortunately, it’s usually cheaper to promote a virtual event than an in-person one.Here are the key channels you should be, but not limited to using for virtual event marketing:
- Your Website – Think about where references to your event will get the most attention. Examples include calls to action in blog posts or popup bars on your homepage.
- Email – Be sure to promote your virtual event in your regular email newsletters, as well as in a dedicated event email flow.
- Social Media – Among the best places to promote your event, as well as generate buzz through conversations around it, is Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other networks.
- Paid Ads – If your budget allows, you might also consider investing in paid advertising on search and social media.
Be sure to focus on the channels that your customers already use. Also, make sure you have tracking set up. This will give you a full view of the customer journey, so you will know which virtual event promotion ideas are succeeding and which need improvement.
3. Craft a Compelling Event Landing Page
Now it’s time to build the landing page. Your landing page is the single most important asset of your entire virtual event marketing campaign since it’s ultimately where people will decide whether or not to attend your event.
Your landing page must serve each segment of your target audience, so it should be flexible and comprehensive. It should also be exceptionally easy to use since the main goal here is to encourage people to sign up with minimal friction. You may also want to provide an email newsletter signup option as a way to keep cold leads informed if they don’t want to commit right away. In any case, your event homepage should always include the following:
- Key information, like event name, date, and agenda
- Your call to action should always be above the fold
- Pricing information, as well as cancellation and refund policy
- Any relevant resources that might help attendees prepare
- Incorporate suitable keywords to boost search visibility
Finally, be sure to brand your event landing page so that it’s consistent with the rest of your online content. This will make it easier for people to recognize you, especially if they’re existing customers.
4. Get the Support of Your Stakeholders
Promoting a virtual event isn’t something you should try doing alone. To lend credibility to your event, you also need to leverage your sponsors, speakers, employees, and even attendees themselves.
Internally, you need to get all relevant parties involved. For example, if the main goal of your event is to increase sales or leads, you should get the support of your sales and marketing departments. It’s important to have their commitment and include them in your decisions. This will help you boost your registrations, get the right people signing up, and reduce the risk of having to postpone due to lack of planning or successful promotion.
Your sponsors and speakers should be excited to help spread the word. Be sure to encourage them to get involved in the promotion, for it’s also in their best interest that the event attracts a relevant audience. Here are some virtual event promotion ideas you might want to try:
- Offer to write guest posts on your sponsors’ blogs to help promote your event
- Talk about your speakers and highlight their achievements in your marketing content
- Consider partnering with other organizations for cross-promotional opportunities
- Encourage attendees and brand ambassadors to tell others about their participation
- Issue press releases through relevant publications, such as trade magazines or blogs
The more people you have on board when it comes to marketing your virtual event, the more social and ‘real’ the whole experience will be.
5. Keep the Conversation Moving
The best events are those that attendees will remember for months or even years to come. It might not be as easy to pull that off with a purely virtual event, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. During the event, it’s important to engage your attendees in two-way conversations, even if doing so only extends to having an open Q&A session at the end. However, it’s also important to follow up after the event.
Recommended Resource: Aventri features a Digital Lead Capture Tool that enables virtual sponsors and exhibitors to connect with event leads face-to-face and convert them into qualified opportunities and sales pipeline.
- Send a follow-up email to thank attendees for their participation
- Always request feedback at the end of the event or shortly thereafter
- Provide a link with a full recording of the event to your attendees
- Keep posting regularly on social media with highlights from the event
- Assign your attendees to the relevant sales team members for 1:1 post-event outreach
Just like in-person events, effective virtual events are engaging and social activities that should leave attendees feeling like they’ve achieved something, whether that’s learning something new or making valuable connections. That’s why it’s important to keep the buzz going long after the event, ideally until you’re ready to launch your next one!