Drip. Drip. Drip
That’s how most marketers think of email marketing and database nurturing. It’s also the approach they take when it comes to event promotions. But to be really effective in raising awareness and driving registration, this should not be the standard – it’s not simply just one of the drips.
There is a special complexity in events, where an event marketer must leverage all facets of marketing to be successful, from advertisements to emails, to video. In order to maximize your impact, convince people to register, and get a crowd to line up at the event, you need to employ all the tools you have at your disposal. That’s why the title of this post isn’t suggesting the list below is an exhaustive or comprehensive to-do list for your promotion schedule, as you may have more or less depending on your organization.
The TL;DR Version
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: email promotions. Although a bit old-school, email remains the leading channel to promote events, but don’t confuse this with the outdated “spray paint” campaigns where your entire database gets an email (or several…). Two reasons why you must take a granular approach:
- Events are usually limited to a particular locale. Even if you’re going to provide transportation and room and board, chances are the bulk of your attendees will come from a radius of 100 miles from your location. That means your promotion schedule must reflect this. Stop blasting your East Coast database with an event taking place in San Diego.
- You don’t want certain people there. How do you get the right people to come to your event? By promoting the event to the right crowd in the first place! The rest of your database is better off left alone to receive your other promotions.
At DoubleDutch we recently completed a 6-city roadshow that drew in over 1,000 registrations, and nearly 50% rate of attendance. We sent a total of 78 emails, and the unsubscribe rate was a mere 0.7%. Go granular when developing your initial lists, and your results will show. Even if you ignore everything on the checklist below, at least spend the time to create a targeted list!
The Incomplete Checklist
- Assemble your list. Make sure it’s a granular reflection of your intended audience. Did I repeat myself enough?
- Let them experience the event. A name, tagline, and short description isn’t enough to commit a person to an event. You need to communicate the vibrancy of the event in all its minute details. Here are some examples of the topics you can promote:
- Testimonial quotes from past attendees who can share their experience and learnings. These passages are also social proof of how your event can benefit attendees personally.
- Your intriguing agenda: what will attendees get out of the event? Share your agenda in the event promotions to preview the value of your event to attendees’ personal development and interests
- Venue and vibe: What does it feel like to be in the space? How about the food, music, and neighboring activities that attendees participate in at and around the event? Convince your attendees why they will get a unique experience when coming to your event, regardless of whether they are a local or out-of-towner.
- Create a video promotion. Visually portray what kind of vibe your event will be like through short videos of past events, or record a keynote speaker sharing how they look forward to meeting and presenting at your event.Pro-Tip: Keep your videos short, and you can leverage it everywhere (think social media).
- Get personal. Marketing automation platforms make it easy to send personal messages to targeted lists. On average, we found from our event promotions that personal, no-fluff, text-only emails convert better than visual HTML emails. The key here is to make sure they are already aware of your event, or can easily find visuals from your email.Pro-Tip: Target these personal messages at potential attendees who explored your event’s registration page but did not sign-up, or past attendees.
- Go to Social Media. Social media is a powerful tool to spread the word, give and receive updates about your event, and has the potential to attract people you don’t already have in your database.Pro-Tip: Create a universal hashtag for your event, so that you can quickly see and promote any mentions of your event. This hashtag should go on EVERYTHING and it helps if it’s a little cheeky.
- Let registrants bring their friends. If the event isn’t right for one person (they don’t live near the location), is it easy to share the invitation with a colleague or friend? If possible, remind them that they can, and should, forward the event to anyone interested.Pro-Tip: After someone signs up for your event, ask them to bring a colleague or tweet about your event.
- Add the event to your email signature. Think about how many emails you send each day. Now think how many your organization sends as a whole. A small banner at the end of the email will allow the clients you communicate with to easily look up the event. Chances are, they are your targeted audience!Pro-Tip: Incorporate a link to a promotional video or testimony to fortify your banner with a compelling reason to check out the event.
- Keep them excited. Promotions do not end when someone signs up. Boost your attendance rate by keeping your registrants warm. Regularly send them updates about your event as you set it up. Something as simple as a behind-the-scenes snapshot posted on social media will drum up excitement to attend the event.Pro tip: You’ll most likely be securing speakers as the event is being promoted. Design your promotions to allow you to announce the speaker lineup along the way.
- Cultivate a community after the event is over. Is there a place where your attendees can share ideas and best-practices after your event is over? By creating a community of people who had gone to your event, you’re keeping them warmed up for the next one. It also allows your team to easily follow-up with the most engaged participants, and lets you find the best testimonials and endorsements to prove your event was a success.
Got some tips and tricks of your own? Let me know on Twitter @NgoHenry_. And after your event is over, check out DoubleDutch’s Practical Guide to Measuring Event Success, particularly Section 3 on event ROI.