Event Marketing: How to Successfully Promote an Event

By Heather Truettner on December 1st 2017

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In this event marketing guide, we reveal the strategies we used to promote our first conference and outline how you can use these techniques for your event.

Event marketing can be a daunting task. It encompasses a wide variety of disciplines, which in turn requires a lot of work across multiple teams within an organization.

Promoting a large event or conference can sometimes feel like you’re scaling Mount Everest on a Unicycle sans oxygen, but with the right tools and strategy, you’ll be guaranteed success.

Read on to learn some of the top event marketing strategies and tools you can use to create buzz and increase attendance at your next industry event.

This framework is based on three years of successful promotion for our annual user event, The Now You Know™ Conference, or NYK for short.

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Pre-event marketing: know what you need to know.

Before you start promoting your event, it’s important to make sure you know what your goals are.

For some, it may be driving ticket sales. For others, it may be creating a buzz. For most, it will be both.

Great event marketing needs goals to be set in advance. Make sure they’re clear across every team involved in promotion.

The next thing you’ll want to to think about is what you want to measure and how you’ll do so. The only way to know if your approach is working is to measure performance and make changes accordingly.

For NYK, we measured everything from click-through rates on emails to social media impressions, engagement, paid ad performance and more.

We also set up a Dashboard in Brandwatch to monitor the general buzz around the event and tweaked our messaging based on the insights we derived from the data.

Finally, you need to know who you are targeting in your promotion efforts. Aside from promoting the NYK Conference to your existing clients, we also wanted to invite future prospects, influencers and partners.

Using Brandwatch Audiences, we were able to locate the right people to direct our social promotions to, especially our promoted social ads.

This way, we knew we had the exact group we were looking for and didn’t waste resources or budget on the wrong audience.

Omnichannel event marketing

Once your goals and measurement tools are in place, it’s time to kick off your event marketing plan. The best way to do this is with a multi-faceted approach.

This means promoting the event using various marketing disciplines:

Email Marketing: Develop your communications plan for emails well in advance. Different types of emails will call for different audiences.

Reminder emails to those already RSVP’d will not be pertinent and people you are still selling tickets to will require these frequent updates to maintain buzz.

If you establish your email plan and messaging strategy ahead of time, you’ll be better set up for success in the long run.

Social Media: Make sure you set a dedicated hashtag for your event for all your social media promotion, checking first to ensure it’s not already in use.

Use engaging visuals, videos and animations to draw attention to your tweets promoting the event. Be sure to pin your posts as well.

Brandwatch mainly used social to highlight big announcements and generate buzz surrounding the Conference, such as new speakers, updates to the agenda, special events and more.

You should also take advantage of paid social to extend the reach and awareness of the event.

PR: It’s easy to get too focused on your digital promotion that your forget time-tested traditional methods, like PR.

Leverage your PR team to drive awareness to your event via media alerts and event listings in various business journals and newsletters.

Direct Mail:  In an era where digital is king, it’s easy to forget to power of physical marketing tactics like direct mail.

In addition to email invites and social promotion, consider employing direct mail tactics for your VIPs by sending a physical invite to the event.

For NYK, we try to send out something related to that year’s theme and include a special ticket discount offer.

Website: A compelling website is a crucial component of event marketing.

In fact, it should be the home base for all related information. Whether you host it on your existing website or build something new, the goal remains the same.

This should be where you’re driving all your promotional work, so make sure your event site includes all the necessary information to drive ticket purchases.

This includes, but is not limited to, detailed agenda, speakers, hotel and transport information and all other activities. Don’t forget your social share buttons to help spread the buzz far and wide.

Leverage your existing marketing activities

It’s important to not forget about leveraging your existing marketing activities to promote your event.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel here – what’s important is that you work to align your activities to aid in promotion.

  • Add slides or event information to webinars. This way, you’re guaranteed a relevant audience who will likely be interested in other learning activities your company offers.
  • If you keep a blog, cater a few posts to help promote the event. Brandwatch did this by interviewing a handful of speakers to spotlight their involvement in the Now You Know conference.
  • If you’re involved in, or attending other events during your promotion period, share information about your own event and encourage people to get involved. Allow for sneak peeks of the agenda to help create a buzz.
  • If you send out a regular newsletter, be sure to highlight your event as often as possible

Promotion during the event

The big day is here and your event marketing has worked – you’ve got a venue full of eager attendees, but your work doesn’t stop here.

It’s crucial you continue promoting the event throughout its duration if you want to maintain buzz.

Keep it live, keep it relevant

For as many people you have attending your event, you have just as many who likely couldn’t make it but are still interested in what’s happening, and it’s important to keep them engaged.
If you engage them now, they’ll be more inclined to attend the next conference.

There are a number of ways to do this.

  • Live tweet: Have community managers dedicated to tweeting the goings on of the event on a continual basis. They should act as the eyes and ears on the ground and report back using social media. Use pictures and videos of the event to amplify your presence even further and engage your audience by encouraging them to share on their social channels using the dedicated hashtag. At the NYK Conference, we hold a Twitter contest awarded the top tweets at the event with trophies.
  • Live blog: 
  • Live stream:

Post-event marketing

The event might be over but your work still isn’t done. It’s important to take all your promotional efforts and close out the event in a way that can be used for future events.

You’ve likely collected a metric ton of photos, videos, feedback, testimonials and more during your event.

There are all valuable elements you can compile into a promotional tool for your next event. Be sure to take stock of what you have and find ways to market it.

For Brandwatch, we hire a film crew and take video testimonials, which allows us to create a compelling recap video that we’ll be able to use in future promotions.

We’ve also been able to collate relevant tweets and blog comments that can be used for future testimonials. Don’t dismiss what you have in your back pocket. Take stock of what you’ve got and use it to help you in your future endeavors.

Promoting an event or conference is an enormous task, crossing multiple disciplines and requiring a good amount of foresight and strategic thinking. But if you follow the steps above, you’ll be quite a few leaps closer to a hugely successful event.

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