When we say event marketing, we don’t mean promotion of events, but the promotion of a business using events, although events will be promoted along the way ! Running a series of events to engage segments of your customer base in turn allows you to
- Find new customers (who are already interested in your event, if not your products /services)
- Renew contact with current and former customers
- Understand their needs better
- Build closer personal relationships with potential and existing customers
- Establish a position of thought leadership or at least “thought parity” (customer perceive your business as an authority or even the Authority on the subject)
- Generate leads and sales
- Attract media attention
Events can vary in nature to reflect the aims and purpose and the image below shows a few suggestions. Your choice of event depends whether you decide to focus on the content of the event or the personal relationships that you might create and it also depends whether your customers are consumers or business customers. You can also choose to associate your business with other organisations – not for profits, think tanks or partners and suppliers who work in the same area to influence your positioning.
Building a programme of events will raise the profile of your brand and improve your engagement with your chosen customers.
Offline promotion tactics are still valid. But this article is about online techniques and the particular opportunities offered by online events and online promotion. Business (B2B) events must be promoted in a more formal manner than consumer (B2C) events – you can choose any of these techniques.
Event Promotion Timeline
||Event website / event page on event website published
Social Media announcement
||Early Bird discounts
||Email /Desktop notification/ SMS invitation series
Voice mail invitation
Video marketing campaigns
Targeted online advertising
||Direct mail invitation
Expert Presenter interviews
(Promote by email / desktop notifications, SMS and/or Voice mail)
Registrant referral incentives
||Phone contact by account managers / sales executives
||Email from senior exec
||Send out event registration pack
|3 days before
||Email electronic versions of confirmation documents
The timeline shows many of the ways that online techniques can be used in conjunction with offline approaches. Not all these approaches will be useful for all types of events (inviting people to a Happy Hour by video might be over the top). Technology can enable you to reach attendees in many ways and you :
- Event web site – A good event website will promote the event and allow you to automate much of the administration. It’s focused content will be very attractive to Search engines
- Email – while everybody gets a lot of email these days, some of which gets opened, it is still one of the most effective methods of reaching people
- Automated voice mail – An approach recently introduced to UK involves recording a voice mail message and sending it to your potential customers’ mobile phone numbers can be very effective. The expression in the voice is more personal / engaging than the text of an email, especially if you are known to the recipient
- Desktop notifications – In recent weeks, desktop notifications have become available in UK and indeed are being adopted rapidly by tech companies (eg Microsoft/Facebook and Google). Once people allow your notifications, you can send them a message and they will see your message in browser or mobile device screen immediately. It will be interesting to see how notifications turn out; whilst you have permission to send them, your messages may not arrive at a convenient moment so high unsubscribe rates can be expected
- SMS messages – text messages are usually opened, but can include a small amount of information
- Blog comments – a steady stream of short articles talking about aspects or elements of your event will build anticipation and attract attendees
- Registrant referral incentives – people are more likely to pay attention to a referral than to your offer. Giving attendees the right incentive for referrals who register will increase the attendance. This can be
- Expert Presenter Interviews – if your event involves experts, then online interviews of expert presenters can also be promoted along with event invitations. The interview will not cover the content the expert will deliver, but will reinforce the expert’s authority and encourage registration
- Video Marketing - videos can be used and are a very engaging form of presentation. In the noise of text content, it is far easier to promote your video to the top of search engines than a web page on a new site.
Benefits of online promotion
There are a number of benefits associated with online promotion:
- Intensity of promotion – people and search engines know that you will stop promoting after the event, so tend to be more tolerant of more intense promotion. It is wise not to take advantage of this if you wish to promote a series of events to your email list. Online promotion may include content published online
- Urgency and Scarcity - event attendees know that there are only so many tickets / places and that they need to register early – in other words, they need to do something immediately not next week or month, but now. Especially as the event approaches, you can introduce extra urgency and scarcity with price rises.
- Long term SEO – Events with (search engine) recognised authorities involved will achieve an improved search engine ranking and the company website can bask to some extent in the reflected glory ! The Search Engines’ algorithms value the involvement of recognised authorities, whom they see cited by relevant websites. Even some time after the event, the presence of recognised authorities at your event will improve your business authority. Promotional material remains online and continues to attract traffic and refer that traffic on to your website. Expert interviews are especially effective for long term SEO.
- The Event email / notification / SMS list – everyone who has shown interest in the event will have left contact details such as email addresses and you can legitimately follow up after the event with event material and specific follow ups for individuals who want to buy something. After the post event excitement, you still have a group of people who you know something about and you can follow up with invitations to next year’s event and of course any other (relevant) events you might be organising.
SMEsOnline Event Support
SMEsOnline can support the online element of all events organised by local business, so if you own a business and are thinking about an event or you’re an event organiser, who is looking for a technology partner, then talk to James Gunn who can explain more about our capabilities.