With the current COVID pandemic, setting up events is greatly compromised. As a third of the world population was confined between February and May 2020, event organizers found themselves in a situation where they literally could not do their job and Event Marketing plummeted. Today, even though Europe is progressively lifting containment measures, it is probable that events will never look the same.

Health measures and social distancing, as well as home working, are here now and they will probably stay with us for a long time. Considering this new reality, it is time to fully embrace digital events. The question is how do you actually take your event digital? How do you set it up? How do you promote it? How do you create a networking experience?

In order to answer those questions in the most efficient way, Sortlist decided to partner with OFCORES, a Belgian agency specialized in Event Creation and Event Marketing. Caroline Hundhausen, Communication Specialist at OFCORES, wrote a series of 3 articles regarding the digitalisation of events, in order for you to have all the basics necessary for your own project. Enjoy!

Table of Content

Introduction

You have conceptualised a virtual or hybrid event, identified your target audience, and determined the event’s added value to your audience and your organisation. But how do you promote this digital event and achieve your online audience attendance goals?

Fortunately, many skills and tactics used in marketing your in-person events are also used in marketing your virtual or hybrid events. These include building an event visual identity or brand, creating a professional and appealing event website or landing page, designating an event hashtag, leveraging your speakers and programme and employing an engaging multi-channel marketing approach (email, website, social media, paid media, etc.).

But some special nuances exist for promoting an online event. These 5 tactics will bring in your audience and set you up for a successful digital event.

Position the Event Brand

Potential attendees are first exposed to an event through its visual identity. Specifically, in the case of a digital event, the event brand is the visible foundation of the entire event journey online. Digital events do not rely on traditional aspects like impressive physical locations and catering to craft the event atmosphere. Instead they allow for complete freedom in creating any world and experience imaginable for far fewer physical or budgetary limitations.

Because of the outsized role of your digital event brand in the attendee experience, you should design it to evoke the energy and tone you want to instil in your participants. Consider which colours, fonts and themes will best match your industry, target audience and intended atmosphere. 

Your branding efforts will drive your event messaging via your website, online platform, green screen background, social media posts and emails. 

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Communicate the Event Format

How you communicate about your event can make or break whether people are compelled to attend, especially in a digital context with so many distractions competing for your audience’s attention. By delivering clear and attractive communication about the event format from the start, your target audience can appreciate the expected event experience.

Such communication should be visible on your website and pushed in your event emails and on social media. Keep it simple and appealing so potential attendees feel confident in what they are signing up for and how they will be able to participate. After all, it’s hard to get someone to register if they don’t know what to expect or are intimidated by seemingly complex technology experiences.  

To incentivize attendance, consider providing a taste of the experience in store through promoting short previews of the virtual environment you plan to use. This can be done through fun videos, how-to guides or images. 

Leverage Video

Videos are the most persuasive marketing tool at your disposal. Not only does everyone love watching original video content, but short video promotions are a compelling vehicles for delivering large quantities of information.

The possibilities for video engagement are endless. As mentioned above, providing a short video preview of your event can motivate your audience to register and look forward to your event. Additional ideas to stimulate interest in and keep the momentum going leading up to your event may include video content with:

  • Brief interviews with your speakers 
  • Programme and exhibition highlights
  • Key virtual features to highlight
  • Potential deals you’re running (discounted tickets, early bird specials, group rates, prize entries, etc.)
  • Stories built around the purpose of your event or benefits of participating

We recommend spacing out your video promotions to keep the momentum for your event going so people keep returning to your website and engaging on social media in the run up to the event. 

Engage Speakers & Participants in Promotion

Ask your speakers, sponsors or partners push your event for you. Your virtual event is exponentially marketed when these stakeholders engage in its promotion, which benefits all parties. Chances are, most speakers, sponsors and partners will already want to promote their involvement anyways, so it’s not a difficult step to request they directly reach out to their contacts or followers about your virtual event. 

But make it easy for others to promote your event – everyone has busy schedules and you will want to ensure consistent messaging surrounding your event. You can do this by proactively providing all the information necessary to advertise your virtual event on social media and other channels. For example, prepare graphics for them to use on social with suggested accompanying text copy that includes their role at the event, event date, registration details, relevant links, hashtags, etc.

Further, you can give your registered attendees a similar promotional kit to make it easy for them to share their participation as well. Supply them with share buttons or ready-made posts to spread news of your event to their networks and increase registration. Some ways to do this include:

  • Upon a guest’s registration completion online, display a thank you page with social buttons that they can click to announce their participation at your virtual event. 
  • Issue an email to confirm a guest’s registration and embed a call-to-action to share the event with their peers, co-workers, and friends. This can include suggested text copy and graphics to use.
  • Promote the use of your event’s hashtags whenever someone wants to talk about your event on social media.
  • Offer special discounts or other perks for those who get a certain number of people to also register. 

Not only is word-of-mouth promotion generally seen by individuals as more persuasive and authentic than corporate advertising, but you will incur little-to-no cost by employing this form of marketing. 

Stay Consistent

Your promotion strategies should continue up until and during your event. This is especially important for keeping registered guests engaged and excited to follow through in showing up online. Keep up the event buzz by, for example:

  • Offering a ‘secret giveaway’ to attendees at the end of the event.
  • Using countdown clocks to the event start on your event website or in social media posts.
  • Putting video to use in your promotions.
  • Consistently sharing relevant event content on social with the designated hashtag to keep it top of mind before and during the event. No one will want to miss out!

You will be sure to achieve your recognition and attendance goals with these digital event marketing strategies. 

Conclusion

While this article focused on the different tactics your company can use to promote its digital events, this is only one part of a digital event creation. In our next article, you will learn how to create a positive networking experience to allow your attendees to develop new professional relationships.

In the meantime, don’t hesitate to get in touch with OFCORES to promote your online event. We’ll help you reach your audience with experiences that are impactful – wherever your attendees are.