- A breakdown of event marketing and its importance
- Top 12 challenges to event marketing strategies
- 7 of the best event marketing strategies for 2022
What’s an important ingredient business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) audiences are looking for from brands today? A great experience. If you’re not already using event marketing, then you’re missing an opportunity to convert more leads into buyers.
Roughly 77% of marketers say event marketing through experiences is vital to their brand’s advertising strategies. And there’s a reason why 83% of B2B marketers invest heavily in events. We’re going to discuss why that is, what some of the top challenges are, and 7 of the best event marketing strategies for 2022 below.
What is Event Marketing?
Event marketing is a strategy brands use to promote their business in real-time at an in-person or online engagement (event). There are different ways you can use event marketing for your brand. The most common B2B events include one-day conferences, seminars, live streaming, product training, channel/business partner events, VIP meals, and leadership workshops.
Businesses use events regularly to grow high-quality, organic leads and establish authority in their industry. They’re especially effective among the millennial crowd — 78% of millennials prefer spending money on events rather than physical items.
Local and online events are widely used by brands to attract their audience. If the event gets enough buzz, a lot of prospects will show up. Events build brand awareness and can potentially get more conversions.
Why is an Event Marketing Strategy Important?
Event marketing is just like any other marketing strategy — it’s used to grow your visibility and credibility within your industry. It also helps to boost trust in a brand and promote meaningful connections with others in the industry (especially prospective customers).
Events are also a win-win scenario. Besides helping your brand gain more recognition, it can give your audience a way to learn more about your services and network. So not only are you creating a great experience—but you’re also using relationship marketing. This is key to turning first-time interactions into long-term relationships.
For example, you can collect data on attendees and then use their emails to nurture them into customers. And this doesn’t just work offline—we find hosting events can be just as beneficial online. Nearly half of millennials share their event attendance on social media.
Here’s a quick breakdown of why your brand should use event marketing:
- It increases awareness of your brand and product/service
- It generates quality leads
- It can be used to introduce new services and products
- It can improve customer loyalty
- It establishes and grows relationships
- It builds your brand as a leader and authority
- It can boost your sales and revenue
How Effective Are Events Compared to Traditional Methods?
91% of event attendees say they have a more positive view of a brand, service, or product after experiencing it at an event. And another 85% are likely to buy after an event. In fact, 79% of US marketers generate sales during events. So it’s not surprising that successful companies are investing 1.7x the average marketing budget on hosting live events.
So how does event marketing hold up compared to other traditional and digital marketing methods?
Well, we find that 73% of B2B marketers say events are better than other tactics for engaging customers. More than half (52%) of B2B leaders say event marketing generates more return-on-investment (ROI) than other marketing channels.
But how much ROI? Studies show 44% of marketers see a 3:1 ROI from event marketing.
We’re seeing more businesses adding event marketing strategies to their repertoire. Between 2017 and 2018, 17% more companies were hosting at least 20 events annually. On average, organizations are hosting 73 events and sponsoring 62 events each year. So if you’re not doing the same, then you’re allowing your competitors to snatch up your prospective customers.
Event marketing is no longer an option — it’s an essential marketing channel B2B and B2C companies should be implementing.
What Are the Top Challenges When Planning an Event Marketing Strategy?
1. Not Building Enough Hype for the Event
If you’re not using the right marketing tactics for events, then you’ll find it challenging to generate enough buzz in advance. This will lead to fewer people showing up, which will hurt whatever goals you set.
2. Issues with Brand Loyalty
Are you only pushing out content and social posts when it comes time to market your products, services, and events? Then you’re negatively impacting your ability to form relationships with your audience. This means they’re less likely to be loyal to your brand, especially since you’re not delivering value.
3. High Cost Per Acquisition
When you don’t have a large audience to market your event to, then you’ll find it costlier to build one from scratch. This is why it’s critical to have event marketing strategies to do this in advance.
4. Not Attracting New Attendees
Once you’ve done a few events, you may realize you’re attracting the same numbers each time. Trying to reach new attendees can be problematic. You’ll need to think outside of the box to reach a wider audience.
5. Insufficient Budget for the Event
Depending on your business’s size, you could have trouble securing a budget to host an event. You may find that going with a live stream conference vs. a local event is more cost-effective.
6. Getting Sponsors for the Event
One way around building your event budget is to get sponsors for your event. But you’ll need to convince companies your event is worthy. This may be difficult if you’re new, a smaller business, or lack the proof that your event will be high-profile or high-attendance.
7. Overspending On an Event
Some businesses have larger budgets to splurge on events. But this doesn’t mean they should. It’s critical to be strategic—plan ahead to ensure you’re only paying for what you need–nothing more, nothing less.
8. No Backup Plan for Bad Weather
Events are planned well in advance, which can make it difficult to determine future weather. If you’re hosting an in-person event, you’ll need a backup plan just in case. Maybe consider hosting outside of a building you can move into if it begins to rain. Or you can have a second venue on speed dial you can boost last-minute with (and that isn’t too far from the first location).
Maybe your event was canceled due to a halt on all in-person meetings like what happened to many in 2020. Your backup plan could include hosting your event virtually, which is something we helped many of our clients pivot toward during and post-pandemic.
9. Not Factoring Overtime in the Event Timeline
When you plan an event, you’re giving each speaker an allotted amount of time to do their thing. But if the event opens up for questions, the speaker may go over their time limit a bit. So be sure to factor this in, especially for the more popular speakers.
10. Having More Attendees Than Planned
If your event is in-person, this sounds like a great thing. But it could turn into a nightmare if there aren’t enough seats, food, and organization to host the crowd. Plus, you’ll want to stay mindful of any fire safety protocols and regulations that can vary by state. One way to avoid this is to have guests register in advance, so you know who’s coming. Also, keep an eye on social media mentions, forums, and other signs of hype that can boost your attendance rate.
11. Not Having an Attendee Engagement Plan
Your event isn’t a success unless you can engage your attendees before, during, and after the event. This way, you can promote communication, feedback, networking, and relationship-building. You can do this by using event activities, connecting on social, and sending free downloadable content (i.e., next action steps).
12. Failing to Gather Valuable Event Data
Any marketing strategy you use should have goals and metrics you’re measuring to determine success. You’ll want to track key performance indicators (KPIs) to identify things like attendance rate, engagement, ROI, and conversions. This data can be implemented into future marketing strategies and nurture campaigns as well.
So now that you know 12 of the most common pitfalls when working on your event marketing strategy, here are steps to take on doing it well, and doing it successfully.
What Are Some Event Marketing Best Practices?
You put together an event you want to share with your audience. You avoided the top 12 pitfalls we just covered. But how do you build enough awareness so the event is a success? First, let’s take a look at the fundamentals of event marketing:
- Set Goals: Use email marketing to learn about your users, their behavior, and their interests (the why), to better segment them later on for personalized newsletters and campaigns.
- Create Personas: Know exactly who you’re targeting so you can build your marketing campaigns, event, and activities around this group of people.
- Create a Schedule: Have a plan for each touchpoint centered around your goals and the stage of your event (see below). Make sure to have a timeline and track it to ensure everything is on schedule (the more in advance you begin, the better).
- Measure Metrics: Based on your goals and campaigns, you’ll know which KPIs to track and measure. For instance, if you’re using email marketing, then you’ll want to track email registrations and compare them to the actual attendance.
Example Checklist to Start Your Event Marketing Strategy
Here’s a guide to help you plan your event marketing strategy, from pre-event to post-event.
- Create your marketing objectives: Decide what your goals are. They could be ticket sales or registered attendees, desired sponsors, social engagement, the impact of certain activities at the event, post-event sales estimates, etc.
- Develop persona profile: Know who your ideal customer personas are. Include geographical information, gender, age, social platforms, the reason for attending the event, learning opportunities, best forms of contact, etc.
- Begin your email campaigns: Use email to count down to the event to prime guests to attend and to start building hype.
- Start social media marketing: Start using social platforms to promote your event.
- Start co-marketing with sponsors: Use social media, ads, email, and other strategies to get the word out.
- Partner with influencers: Harness the power of influencers in your niche to drive awareness and engagement. This helps generate buzz.
- Create an event page: Send people here from your emails and social posts to register for your event, learn more, and get event updates.
- Use activities to engage your audience: Hold a Q&A session, live stream on social/Zoom with chat features activated, etc.
- Post on social media from the event: Show snippets of different panels, talk to attendees to get their feedback, create an event hashtag, etc.
- Send a real-time survey: Get feedback from your audience while they’re still there (can use mobile apps like Kahoot! for example).
- Engage with attendees via mobile app: Use an app to send surveys, notify them of the next panel speaker/time, answer questions, etc.
- Interview guests: Record it and compile it with others to make a post-event video that you can share on social after each day’s events conclude.
- Take photos of the event: Capture guests having fun, panelists giving presentations, your sponsors, and their impact. Anything you want that occurred at the event to share in your marketing.
- Thank you emails: Send a courteous email to thank attendees.
- Share content of the event: Upload videos and photos to your social channels. Also, look for and share user-generated content from your guests and panelists (great for social proof).
- Create wrap-up content: This can include blog posts, emails, social media posts, etc. The goal is to create a resource that wraps up what the event was about. If you plan on making your event an annual occurrence, you can use this resource to tease what your future event will be like as well.
- Post-event survey: Send these out soon after to get the best engagement and to learn what your audience enjoyed, thought could be better, and learned.
Example Checklist to Start Your Event Marketing Strategy
Alright, so you’re ready to put together your event marketing strategy. Let’s take a look at some of the best marketing tactics for events in 2022.
1. Create a Dedicated, High-Converting Landing Page
According to 60% of marketers, websites are the most effective channel for event marketing.
So consider creating a landing page specifically for the event, with a registration form. To get people to sign up, you’ll want to use event marketing best practices. So make sure to include information like:
- Who’s hosting and speaking at the event
- What topics and discussions will be had
- The schedule of the event (time, place, agenda, etc.)
- A strong call to action
2. Use Social Media to Promote the Event
There are several ways you can use social media to promote your event:
- Posting about it on your social pages
- Creating social media ads
- Cross-promoting with event speakers/co-hosts
- Using influencers
3. Create Social Proof with User-Generated Content
Encourage event attendees to create content about your event by building buzz around it. Create a unique hashtag for the event and launch a competition to get people involved. You can also have past attendees post content about their experience at your events.
Having user-generated content (UGC) makes it easier for your content team to create campaigns (less work on their end).
4. Use Email Automation to Engage Attendees
Build an email campaign to nurture people to attend your upcoming events. Begin with an invitation and then follow up with a series of emails sharing details about the event. For instance, who the speakers are, what information they’ll share, and so on. Then set it up, so it’s automated, so you can set it and forget it.
5. Partner with Industry Influencers
These can be individuals who will be speakers at the event or those who are just willing to promote the event for you. This may include bloggers, vloggers, and social media influencers within your niche. These people should have a large and engaged following to promote your event to. You can also invite them to attend the event for free to help attract followers to pre-register.
6. Use Virtual Events During the COVID-19 Era
The key is to ensure your virtual event is just as engaging as a live event would be. For instance, you can allow a Q&A session with your audience, so speakers have an opportunity to answer questions. You can also send out surveys throughout the live stream, as you would at an event.
Depending on your industry and niche, you can create fun virtual events. For example, you can:
- Send out codes for a virtual workout class (with limited spots)
- Send out a “conference in a box” filled with branded swag
- Allow attendees time in between sessions to tend to children, pets, etc.
- Send regional gifts and treats based on where the event would’ve been held (bring it LA to them, since they can’t travel)
- Send an e-gift for lunch, coffee, or a treat
Then to help encourage registrations, you can leverage platforms like Sendoso to send gifts to a charity of their choice. This is what PubNub did, and they saw great results. They were able to boost webinar registrations by 32% and response rates to key demographics by 14%.
7. Use the Power of Video to Market Your Event
Adding video marketing to your event marketing strategy is vital.
Now, there are many ways you can use the power of video to drive attention, attendance, and buzz for your event. Here are some of the best event marketing strategies for using video before, during, and after your conference.
Let’s take a look.
Using Video Before the Event
This is the time to attract prospective attendees to your event. You can do this by showing them what they’ll miss out on if they don’t show up. So let’s see what you can do to convince them to attend:
- Build up FOMO (fear of missing out): If you have videos of past events, then show teasers and trailers to show how worthwhile your past events were.
- Create hype: Let people know your event is coming, who will be on the panel, and why they should care.
- Use sales outreach: Use video to send to prospective guests — think of it as an invitation. And if you can personalize it, even better (for one company, personalization yielded 29% open rate, 5.5% CTR, and 18.7% CTO rate, and tripled attendance).
- Inspire action: Have a heroic theme and message? Back it up with heroic music to inspire people who share your values to join your cause.
With your video content created, you can share them on social media, email marketing, ads, and any other campaigns you’re running.
Using Video During the Event
Capturing footage of the event will be useful for future events, especially when it comes to creating FOMO. Here’s a look at some of the ways you can use video for event marketing:
- Repurpose the content: Show recaps and snippets of guest lecturers and panels (i.e., insightful quotes, digestible takeaways, etc.).
- Make the event available on-demand: This way, those who couldn’t attend can still watch it.
- Record customer testimonials: Get folks to talk about their experience and what they liked.
Record thought leadership interviews: Use this to create repurposed content that’s both valuable and promotional.
Using Video After the Event
This is the time to use video to connect with attendees and keep the event (and its offerings) top-of-mind. It’ll also inspire attendees and those who missed out to attend future events. Here’s how you can do that:
- Send highlight videos: You can send them via email so they can save them for rewatching.
- Add video snippets to content: Use the footage to create valuable snippets to add to your blog posts, social posts, email campaigns, ads, etc.
Quick Tips for Using Video for Event Marketing
To get the most out of your video marketing campaign, follow these simple tips:
- Make the videos easy to find using search engine optimization (SEO), social media, or by dedicating a section to them on your website.
- Ensure the videos are accessible by using captions, clear audio, and transcripts.
- Add clear branding on your videos so everyone knows who the content belongs to (especially if it goes viral).
- Keep your event videos bite-sized so people are more likely to consume it all (no more than 90 seconds).
- Have goals for each video (i.e., increase social followers, boost brand awareness, obtain X views, promote early-bird registration, demonstrate expertise, etc.).
What is Sendoso and How Can it Help With My Event Marketing Strategy?
An important part of event marketing is planning out your tradeshow giveaways. What promotional items will you give out at your kiosk? Or if your event is virtual, what virtual swag bags will you be handing out? (Bonus tip: If you planned ahead, you could send hybrid physical swag bags along with virtual ones. Sendoso can help with that.)
Sendoso is a Sending Platform designed to help B2B companies send and track gifts while attributing their gift-giving campaigns to revenue. You can select all sorts of items for your promo items, including wine baskets, boxes of treats, plants, anything you can find on Amazon, and more.
Do you have targeted accounts attending your event? We can help you go the extra mile and stand out from the crowd. Don’t just give them your standard company swag bag. Gift them something more personalized. We’ll help you select and personalize unique gifts for these accounts, and even include a handwritten note in a scalable and trackable fashion. So if you want to build a customized swag pack or just include your logo on your gift and packaging, we’ve got you covered.
You can also use Sendoso to capture the attention of prospective attendees (including influencers) by sending them eGifts to build hype for your event. Or send them after your event to re-engage them and book those follow-up meetings. If you’d like to see how it all works, then request a free demo today!
This article was originally published on February 1, 2021. It has been updated for relevance.