How to Promote an Online Event

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When it comes to organising event, there are a million and one things that need to be done: organising the location, getting the right gear, hiring staff and contractors, arranging bands, speakers, and so much more.

One key thing that has to be focused on regardless of event scale or type is marketing.

If you’re not promoting your event then you’re wasting your time organising one!

And here lies the problem, without an effective online marketing strategy your event is going to get lost in the noise that we call the internet.

How then can you best promote an event online? Read on!

Before the Event

Well before the event starts, you should be gearing up by getting your online systems in place and warming up potential customers and sponsors.

There are several things you need to have in place.

An Event Website

A website is the focal point of your online marketing attempts, so you need to make sure that your site is properly created.

The first thing you need to know is that the site doesn’t have to be amazing; it doesn’t need all the latest technology or every bell and whistle.

What it does need to be is clean, professional, accessible and SEO optimized.

Most web developers can give you a professional looking website at a reasonable cost, or you could create a WordPress site yourself and apply an affordable but professional looking theme.

It needs to be accessible in two ways: Firstly it needs to have all the content available in an easy to use manner – if people can’t find the location or cost of the event they won’t go to the event!

Secondly the site needs to be accessible to people with impairments (blind, etc) so make sure the web developer/theme can supply this, and make sure your facilities can also accommodate impaired customers and that your site clearly states this.

Lastly, but most importantly, your site needs to be SEO ready.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it’s a method of improving your ranking for search terms in sites like Google.

If you’ve never even heard of SEO then there is lots of training out there that can help, but here’s a short list of tips:

  • Make your blog post titles mean something! Short and to the point, with few buzzwords.
  • In your blog content look to use keywords that people may search for.
  • Make sure any images you use have the event name and keywords in the file name, image title and image alt title.

Email Lists

An email list or subscriber list is where you get people to sign up to a newsletter via your website.

This is very important as it allows you to keep in direct contact with people who have shown interest in your event.

WordPress offers many different plugins that can assist with this such as Optinmonster, and you will need an account with an email service provider like Aweber.

Getting people to sign up to the newsletter is a different matter, but you can improve the sign up rate by offering them something in return:

  • A discount on the ticket price
  • Access to a VIP only area
  • Access to a closed talk
  • A subscriber only guide to the event
  • Access to subscriber only online talks
  • Etc.

The idea here is to offer something that costs you as little as possible but adds a lot of value to the potential visitor.

Pre Event Emails

Once you have people on your list you need to email them! It’s important to find a balance between keeping in regular contact so that they don’t forget about the event and not spamming them!

Systems like Aweber allow you to create an autoresponder queue, so you can send out basic emails automatically as people subscribe and you should take advantage of this. You can also send out separate emails as issues come up or the date draws closer.

Emails sent should try to create a buzz around the event, so include links to videos of the event being set up, interviews (video/audio/text) with speakers, details of any social media buzz going on etc.

Keep in mind that anyone on your email list has shown an active interest in your event and talk to them appropriately as the warm leads that they are.

Social Media

A website is awesome and you can do a lot with it, but social media will always be necessary and if done right it can boost your marketing efforts.

Regardless of what social networks you use, you need to make sure you use them! Any content created on your website can be linked to via the social networks, but it’s also worth creating content (posts, tweets, etc) just for the social network followers.

A word about posting times. Every network and every following has different times they access the network. Try to find out when most of your followers are online and post/schedule to post for those times to maximize the effectiveness of the posts.

Facebook

A Facebook page is a must, but you need to keep it updated. There are some great content calendars out there that can help and your site can even be linked to FB so blog posts are automatically posted on FB.

Facebook can also be used to hold competitions and generate discussion with other people interested in the event so use this.

Also Facebook has an amazing advertising platform which allows you to find people who are interested in your events niche market and promote the event to them. It’s affordable and effective!

Twitter

Another go to social network Twitter allows you to send out sound bites of information and reaches a different audience than Facebook.

Select a hashtag to use for your event, but do your homework first and make sure the hashtag isn’t being used by someone else or something you might not want to be associated with.

Instagram

Posting images via this mobile app can be an effective way to show the realities of the event and build up hype.

A warning

Social media can love you or hate you and the tide can turn quickly, so be careful with what you post and who you allow to post for you.

Sponsors

If you’ve been lucky enough to get sponsors for your event, make use of them! Ask them to promote the event via their blogs and social media accounts. See if you can get them to provide swag for pre-event giveaways and competitions.

It’s in their interest as much as yours to make sure that word about the event gets out.

During the Event

While the event is actually happening make use of social media heavily.

  • You can use Tweets with your hashtag to inform visitors about the next talks or break out events.
  • Encourage visitors and even those not attending to pose questions for speakers.
  • Use Instagram to show the crowd and speakers in action.
  • Live stream the action with apps like Periscope.
  • Post videos to Facebook and your blog showing snippets of talks.

There is a lot you can do during an event to show the world how it actually is (thus drumming up demand for a follow up event).

Don’t forget to give regular shout outs to the sponsors!

As well as posting make sure you are replying to peoples comments and watching out for issues and resolving them as quickly as possible.

After the Event

Once the event is done, the marketing still needs to continue.

At the very least you need to write a post event blog posts to summarise the events talks, drama, high points and even low points.

Thank everybody, especially sponsors, via social networking, and remind people to sign up to the mailing list to get notified of future events.

Remember that at this point you need to also gather feedback so make sure to utilise your email list and social networks to ask attendees and speakers to fill out a survey. This sort of data is worth it’s weight in gold!

Conclusion

Promoting an event online is just a part of setting up an event but it is critical to help make your event a success.

If you’ve never marketed an event before then it’s a wise idea to start early and to learn how to effectively market online via websites and social media, that way you can truly make the most out of your marketing efforts.

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