With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to affect the live events industry it’s clear to see that virtual events are showing no sign of waning. In fact, many organisers we’ve spoken to have said they will continue to run virtual events when live events return. The great thing about virtual events is they ensure people can continue to meet and do business wherever they are in the world, they are less expensive than physical events, easier to measure, more flexible and can achieve a truly global reach.
Having a solid virtual event marketing plan, much like with a live event, is the key to gaining buy-in from important stakeholders and ensuring the event attracts the right audience. From great content to a dedicated website, we’ve put together our top tips to help you market your virtual event.
Define and find your audience
You may already have a good idea of who will be most likely to participate in your event by looking within your database of contacts and identifying engaged segments of your prospective audience, yet it could also be a good idea to consider audiences from parts of the world and sectors you haven’t marketed to before. There are bound to be industries that have seen the cancellation of live events that serve them and during the pandemic we’ve found that people are particularly hungry for community and knowledge sharing, which presents a great opportunity.
Utilise your website
The most obvious place to promote your virtual event is on your website. Research into the highest traffic areas of your site, such as your blog, will help you find the best places to create a call to action. It’s worth creating a website content plan, centred around the event, that includes creating timely content in the form of videos, images and blogs for your website to engage your potential audiences and encourage them to become part of it.
Leverage social media platforms
With so many platforms available, social media is one of the best places to market your virtual event and gain maximum exposure. Facebook is great for engaging followers and sharing event updates. You can target your messages to specific groups using paid promotions, which is an added benefit. There is also the Facebook ‘events’ functionality which is free, easy to share and keeps track of your RSVPs. Brands get the most engagement on Instagram, which is great for sharing rich image-led content and LinkedIn would be the first choice for B2B events and industry networking and is also good for company news and event announcements. Twitter is great for building excitement before and during your event and allows you to create posts and build an event hashtag. Finally, Snapchat and TikTok will help you reach a whole new set of millennials, a demographic which is harder and harder to reach through conventional marketing.
Engage the media through a PR strategy
Gaining media coverage of your virtual event is a high impact way of generating interest. By creating a simple press release about the event and its benefits and researching the publications that your target audience are likely to read, and reaching out to them, you can cast your net much wider than your own circle of influence. Alternatively, if budget allows, consider partnering with a specialist PR agency who will engage with the media on your behalf and help you to gain media coverage of the event.
Ask your sponsors, partners and speakers to spread the word
Encourage everyone involved in the virtual event to share any relevant marketing materials such as the event logo on their social media or email signature. A weekly update to everyone involved, detailing marketing activity such as content written and shared that week and encouraging them to share with their networks is a good way of spreading the word.
Create an event newsletter
Finally, don’t forget the power of email marketing as an effective promotional tool. Sending out a weekly or monthly newsletter to your database sharing news around the virtual event, such as the speaker line up or networking sessions will again help to spread the word. It’s important not to inundate people’s inboxes, but lively imaginative content can be really effective.
In our experience, marketing virtual events is much the same as their live counterparts. Ultimately the most important thing is to ensure you have strong messaging and a joined-up strategy that reaches people in lots of different places. Good Luck!