To increase app adoption, event marketing is crucial to any event planner. In the age of ever-expanding inbound and outbound marketing channels, event planners have to develop event marketing strategies that align with the channels and content consumption habits of their target audiences. While there are multiple tactics and best practices that can be incorporated into your strategy, the foundation of any successful event marketing campaigns is always going to be high-quality content, followed by the right distribution channels.
Identify the Best Event Marketing Distribution Channels
Event planners have three main avenues for content distribution at their disposal:
Earned media results from having information about your event published by a third party. For example, a news site, individual, or company might share your information on social media. But remember that while you have the ability to influence and request earned media, it’s ultimately the decision of the publisher to distribute information or mention your event.
Owned media results from publishing content that you have developed on your own event website, blog or social media sites— i.e. channels under your complete control.
Paid media results from having purchased advertising on other websites or search engines, such as Google, Bing or Yahoo. Often, paid advertising can deliver traffic (visitors) to your owned website or blog.
Most companies rely heavily on owned media as it is the most readily available and gives you the most control over your content. However, the ultimate goal is to leverage a mix of all three in order to create a comprehensive event marketing strategy.
Recommended Read: 5 Pre-Event Marketing & Promotion Strategies using Event Technology
Key Elements of a Digital Event Marketing Strategy
1. Your Website
Having a great website is a critical component of your digital marketing strategy. In addition to being the central hub for information about your event, it works in tandem with links on other websites and posts placed on public social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, which should help drive visitors back to your website.
Setting up a website can be daunting even for the most experienced planners. Aside from building the site (i.e. purchasing a domain name, finding hosting services, and selecting a platform), you also need to apply branding and style guidelines.
In-House vs. Agency Website Design
When building a website, the first decision you have to make is whether to design the website in-house or through a website design agency. Creating your own website gives you the most control and may enable you to reduce design costs if you have the skill set in-house. One way to keep the design in-house and keep costs low is to use website design software such as WordPress, which provides ready-made templates. Plus, if you use a common software such as WordPress, for example, most agency web developers know how to use the program and can make changes or apply branding and style guidelines if you require the additional help.
If, however, you want to build the site internally, but prefer a website that is customized (i.e. has a look and feel that is unique to a template), platforms, such as Squarespace, Weebly, Joomla, or Drupal are more appropriate options. While developers who are skilled in these tools are slightly harder to find, they can be worth the investment given that your website serves as the main source of information and registration for your attendees.
In some cases, such as when you’re planning a particularly high-profile event or require sophisticated functionality for your site, you may consider contracting with an agency that specializes in website design. It relieves you or your organization of the burden of building and maintaining the site. Note, however, that the costs are usually higher than developing a site in-house.
Best Practices in Website Design
Your website’s primary functions are marketing, educating people, and attracting them to your event. Your site can also be a sales platform for exhibitors and sponsors. Whether or not you choose to design the website in-house or supervise the work of an external website agency, you should follow a few best practices for website design to ensure that your site is as effective as possible.
- Cohesive Functionality: Design buttons, menus, headers, and login prompts so that style is associated with a specific function
- Responsive design: Ensure that screen sizes, images, text, and sections adjust to accommodate the screen on which they are being viewed (laptop vs. mobile, for example).
- Mobile Functionality: Design tasks so that they can be performed easily on a mobile device.
- Accessibility: Make sure that people with disabilities can access your content.
- Call to Action (CTA): Use action-driven words (prompts) to lead the visitor to perform an action.
- Language: Spread out dense information visually and functionally to get users from point “A” to “B” faster.
Branding and Style Guide
Because your website is the primary source of event information and content, branding and style are of paramount importance. It is crucial to maintain a consistent look and voice across the entire site. You should have a style guide that defines the styles, typography, colors, language, and general look and feel of all your marketing collateral (including your website) and ensure everyone on your team knows where to find it.If you don’t have a website designer on your internal team, you can find a freelancer for one-off projects on websites like Upwork. There are also a number of free do-it-yourself (DIY) design tools that can help you make smart designs that adhere to your brand guidelines. For example, Adobe Color allows you to easily select a coordinated color palette that matches your existing branding or choose from a range of popular themes and existing palettes. Or you might want to use Canva for your design needs and create stunning designs you can use on your website or social media posts.
Recommended Read: 4 Strategies to Market Your Event App Without a Budget
2. Earned Media Impressions
It’s not enough to have a website and social media channels in place if no one is interacting with them. This is where earned media can help you spread the “word of mouth” online. It’s the vehicle that drives traffic to your event website and it can be seen in mentions, shares, reposts, reviews, recommendations or content picked up by third-party websites.
The driving forces behind earned media are a mix of strong organic rankings on search engines and content that you own and distribute. Content includes everything from your blog, a video, a webinar or press release. Follow the guidelines below to get earned-media impressions:
- Create Valuable Content. In order to create earned media, you have to first create content that is valuable and worth sharing. Make content interesting, fun and engaging and don’t forget to add social-sharing buttons.
- Interact on Social Media. Spend time on your social media channels and interact with everyone individually. This will encourage attendees to talk about your brand and share your content.
- Reward Influencers. As you listen to different social media channels, ensure that you reward people who constantly share and “like” your content. Over time, you can build brand ambassadors that help you spread the word on a regular basis.
3. Explore SEO and SEM Strategies
In order to increase the reach of your owned and earned media, it’s best to leverage both search-engine optimization (SEO) and search-engine marketing (SEM) strategies. Remember, a website is only useful if people can find it. While it is possible to generate traffic from links placed on social media sites and other promotions, a large portion of your website traffic will come from interested people searching for your event, brand, or related topics. To ensure they find you, you will need to increase your rankings for your chosen (i.e. target) keywords in the search engine results.
Search-engine marketing (SEM) is a form of internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs) primarily through paid advertising. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the sum of all the tactics you can use to increase your ranking. Search engines like Google rank your content, which makes it easier or more difficult for your audience to find it. They can be a tricky way to market due to their highly competitive nature and because SEO tactics can often undermine the quality of your content if they get out of control.
Different search engines take various factors into consideration when determining your rank. The most commonly used search engine by far is Google, which determines your site’s rank and relevance to a given search query based on a number of factors. So how can you ensure that your website shows up on top of Google’s or other search engines’ search results pages?
A Google search consists of three steps:
- Crawling and indexing. Following pages on the web and collecting, parsing and storing website data with the goal of making it easier to find.
- Algorithms. Using a set of rules to rank sites based on over 200 different factors.
- Fighting Spam. Taking measures to remove or discount websites that are not useful.
Find more information on how Google performs searches.
Think about your own meeting or event website. There are a variety of tactics you can use to achieve a high ranking in Google SERPs, including the use of keywords and AdWords.
Once you have determined what meeting and event marketing technology resources are at your disposal, you can determine the channels and timeline for your event marketing strategy. Your owned media—website, blog, and social media channels—should factor in heavily as it is usually the most cost-effective and reliable resource you have. Once your own marketing engine generates enough attention, you will start to receive earned media and it is up to you to nurture it. Reposting and reforwarding mentions and links will take your earned media a long way, provided that you are consistently adding value to the community.
While your reputation affects your ranking on search engines, there is no substitute for SEO and SEM. The timely, targeted and effective delivery of your marketing will result in a community that recognizes your brand and the value of the events it delivers, which will in turn produce its own promotional momentum. To better assess the success of your event marketing strategy, be sure to come up with measurable goals, and define the metrics to track along the way. This will ensure that you are actively collecting the data you need to make improvements, both in real-time and year over year.
Schedule a demo with an EventMobi event tech consultant to learn how an event app can help you achieve your event goals.