If you’re an event marketer, you already know the struggle of getting people to sign up for your event is all too real.
According to a report from Heinz Marketing, a staggeringly small 27.2% of B2B professionals feel that they’re effective at generating registrations and attendees for their virtual events.
And let’s face it, getting people to actually show up is a pretty major part of your event’s success.
But when it comes to creating a highly attended virtual event, event marketers are up against a massive amount of noise. Whether it’s a direct competitor or your attendee’s school PTA, we’re all fighting for the same ever-elusive slots on our prospects’ calendars.
With all that you’re up against, how do you promote your virtual event in a way that’s sure to stand out from the crowd?
We checked in with our community of stellar event marketers to answer that question. Here’s what they had to say.
“Throughout our campaign, memes or GIFs are embedded into the body of our emails to hook the reader in. The language used is crisp and to-the-point while relevant to the reader. This strategy propelled our email open rate by 32%.”
👉 Pro tip: As a marketer, it’s your job to really know your audience. If you’re dealing with a more serious audience or event theme, skip the memes but stick to the crisp and clear language.
Padmaja Santhanam, Partner & Growth Manager at FirstPrinciples
“A creative and unique way to promote your virtual event is to live stream it. This allows you to reach and engage a much larger audience. We take advantage of LinkedIn and Facebook live streaming to broadcast our events and have reached over 500 attendees with this tactic.”
👉 Pro tip: Promotion doesn’t have to stop when your event starts. With live streaming capabilities, you can continue to attract attendees throughout the event.
“Thinking out-of-the-box isn’t just a recommendation — it’s a requirement for any successful event marketer to constantly test new strategies. For example, we recently used a celebrity cameo video to promote an upcoming event.”
👉 Pro tip: Out-of-the-box ideas aren’t easy to come by, so involve the broader organization in your brainstorming sessions. And don’t go all-in on the unusual — use them sparingly to complement more long-standing promo channels, like email marketing.
“Speaker vocal videos are a great chance for the speakers at the event to give a briefing on what they will be talking about on the day and why people should tune in.”
👉Pro tip: If getting your speakers to do a short video is a tough ask, you can always simplify it by producing an enticing visual and short bio. Check out how Modern Health did exactly that with keynote speaker Venus Williams! 👇
“One of the best ways to amp up virtual event marketing is to use gamification. This can be fun quizzes or other interactive games that engage people and show them more of what your event is about and the benefits of attending.”
👉Pro tip: Initiating gamification strategies during the event promotion stage is great, but don’t stop there — keep up the momentum by gamifying your in-event experience too!
You can even design and launch your own interactive virtual event games with integrated gaming solutions like Drimify and Engamio.
“Our most successful strategy is running pre-event promotions. For example, we'll run a discount code for new registrations if someone signs up a week or more prior to the start date. And sometimes, if people are interested in attending our events but haven't signed up yet, we'll offer them a discount code for every day they attend.”
👉 Pro tip: Try this blueprint for your pricing strategy: (1) a limited number of launch special tickets (2) unlimited early bird tickets with a set deadline (3) standard pre-show tickets available until the event day (4) a limited number of premium-priced ‘on-site’ tickets.
“I’ve found that it's helpful to reach out to influencers in your field and offer them complimentary tickets in exchange for promoting the event on their social media channels. This can help to broaden your reach and attract new audiences.”
“One way we’ve used to promote virtual events is by using influencer marketing for influencers with the right target audience. When an influencer announces our virtual event and shares their feedback to their followers, we get more users interested in our services which helps us boost brand awareness.”
👉 Pro tip: Unless they’re A-listers that everyone is going to get excited about, ensure they’re relevant to your event, respected in your industry, and knowledgeable on the big-ticket topics.
“We told prospects we'd do a live ‘teardown’ at the event of 3 attendees' Amazon product descriptions, providing them with free optimizations they can make to their listings to improve their organic rankings on Amazon. We leveraged this tactic to drive home FOMO and scarcity, so people would have more of an inclination to actually register and attend the live session. ”
👉 Pro tip: Whatever it is, make sure your offer appeals to your core target audience — if it doesn’t get them excited, the FOMO-factor won’t work!
“We asked employees to put our virtual event picture as their display picture on all of their social media platforms and ask their friends to do so as well, with the incentive that one lucky winner would receive a $1,000 gift. This out-of-the-box strategy proved to be beneficial in promoting the virtual event successfully and gaining us more registrations.”
👉 Pro tip: Display pictures can actually be a fairly big ask. Keep it low-touch to start — provide employees with a blurb and simply ask them to copy, paste, and post on LinkedIn or other channels. Using your employees’ networks is a huge but simple hack to help spread the word about your event!
“The most effective strategy for boosting registrations for our virtual events is making it easy to sign up. People don't want to click through a million links to find out what the event is or who it's for. Making the event accessible from every platform possible – email, social media, website, etc. – is key to boosting registrations. Don't make people hunt for what they are looking for. Point them in the right direction, and make it as clear as possible about what the event is.”
👉 Pro tip: Keep it simple. Find a virtual event platform that offers seamless event registration as part of the package. If you use dedicated landing pages, keep them super simple and sleek to increase the registration conversion rate.
1. Advertise: “When you post something that proves popular with your followers, Facebook encourages you to ‘boost’ it. This is by far the quickest and simplest way of advertising on Facebook.”
2. Target relevant events and businesses: “To advertise to other business owners on Facebook, target live streams of local business, conferences, or industry seminars, especially if you offer a product related to any online events in your area or niche. You can use the Facebook Live Events parameter to connect with people planning such events.”
👉 Pro tip: Channels like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter have a lot to offer when it comes to paid ads and event promo. Be sure to sync up with your social media team in advance to get their buy-in for your event and allow them plenty of time to create the content.
Carly Hill, VirtualHolidayParty.com
“Offer to send the recording post-event, even if registrants do not attend live. If plans change and folks become free, then they can attend with no hassle. However, even if these audience members do not attend live, they will still sign up and are likely to watch the recording afterward, which can expand your event's reach and prompt your audience to register for future events.”
👉 Pro tip: Utilize event recordings as part of your event follow-up strategy to provide those who attended with personalized conversation starters, e.g. ‘We saw you attended session Y but didn’t make it to session X — here’s the recording in case you want to check it out!’
“One of the most effective strategies we tested was adding a referral incentive. As soon as someone registered for our virtual event, we emailed to confirm their registration. In that same email, we also offered an enticing referral bonus if they shared the event with a friend or colleague who also registered, e.g., PDF transcripts of all of the upcoming talks.”
👉 Pro tip: Other enticing bonus examples include a free course, a discount, giveaway entry, virtual event swag, and more. Get creative, and don’t forget to encourage people to share your event early and often.
“Offering exclusive perks boosts registrations while also generating interest in our other virtual experiences. For a live stream comedy event, we had to figure out what to offer fans that would stand the experience apart from simply watching a comedy special on Netflix. For fans of the comedian, we offered the option to purchase access to a live Q&A with him after the show, along with an autographed poster. Through these offerings, we received engagement from fans interested about what other cool perks were being offered in other live streams.”
👉Pro tip: Perks don’t have to cost you money. It’s all about creating a personalized experience that makes the prospect feel like a VIP.
“We ran an Instagram-style giveaway on LinkedIn. To enter the contest, you had to follow our company page, tag Metadata in your post, and share what you were looking forward to the most at DEMAND 2021. Anyone who did this was entered into a prize draw to win one of three $500 Airbnb gift cards.”
👉Pro tip: Sometimes, taking a page from the B2C playbook and adapting it to your B2B brand is okay. Instagram-esque competitions like this don’t just raise event registrations, they increase overall brand awareness and drive social media engagement. #winwinwin
Not every tactic will work for every virtual event promotion. And that’s ok!
Before you decide which event promotion tips to run with, always take the time to dig in and really get to know the prospects you’re targeting, find out exactly what it is that motivates them, and take your event promo strategy in a direction that gives them exactly what they’re looking for.
So get out there and get experimenting. Find the approach that works best for you, and watch those event registrations soar! 🚀