October 6, 2021 | 11 min read

Digital marketing is more important than ever.

There is simply no cost-effective alternative for digital marketing in reaching potential event attendees.

The rising popularity of virtual and hybrid events makes digital marketing more important than ever. Using digital marketing techniques, event organizers can effectively reach both local and international prospective attendees and grow their events with a larger, global audience.

Let's dive right in.

1. Digital Marketing in General.

Digital event marketing is event promotion created to reach customers via digital devices and services they use.

Common digital marketing channels include:

Digital marketing key features and benefits include:

Geographically unlimited
Reach potential attendees worldwide with similar costs.
Segmentation and personalization
Customize your message for different people based on attributes such as location, behavior, or interest.
Tracking and optimization
Track results and continually implement changes.
Cost
Pricing models that are results-based, low entry prices, ability to do it yourself to save money.

2. Understand the Customer Journey.

Before registering for your event, potential guests go through a journey. Marketing professionals call this journey a "conversion funnel."

marketing funnel

The conversion funnel has several steps based on customer status. Potential customers start from the beginning and make their way down to the "exit."

In real life, unfortunately, we can not make all customers move to the next step. To see where we may have issues and where we should invest more time, marketing professionals monitor the conversion rate, which is a measure of the percentage of people who made it to the next step relative to the number of people who entered it, expressed as a percentage.

There are four steps in the funnel:

Awareness
Potential customers are aware the event is taking place. For example, they know the event name, theme or topic, and where and when it is happening.
Interest
Potential attendees understand the value of attending the event and are interested in participating.
Decision
Potential attendees have decided they want to participate but did not register yet.
Action
This step starts when the potential attendee clicks "Register now" or a similar button. It ends with the attendee clicking the Submit button at the end of the registration form and successfully checking out or signing up.

Monitoring the registration abandonment rate can help spot and fix issues in the registration process. Abandonment rate is the ratio of initiated registrations to the number of completed registrations.

3. Event Marketing Journey.

A bird's eye view of your digital marketing plan looks like this:

  1. Reach potential attendees.
  2. Let potential attendees know the event is happening.
  3. Bring potential attendees to the event website.
  4. Advise attendees about the event. Highlight the benefits of attending to make potential attendees interested in participating.
  5. Drive interested attendees to register.
  6. Repeat previous steps. Unfortunately, people will rarely register or even visit the event website on the first encounter. Repetition is key to good results.
  7. Motivate registered attendees to check in on the event day.

4. Define the Marketing Messages.

The marketing material you create has to generate interest and help people decide they want to participate.

To do that, we need to highlight the benefits of attending clearly and in a language every potential attendee will understand. Why is this event important? Why should people attend the event?

Here are a few key points you can use to show people the value of attending your event or conference:

5. Create an Event Website.

The event website is the primary instrument that event organizers use to move people from being aware of the event to deciding they want to register and participate.

The event website should highlight the benefits of attending the event in an appealing and credible way, and give any applicable information about the event so potential attendees can make an informed choice.

For customers who decide to participate, the website motivates them to register.

But even the best website will not just pop up on your people's screens. They will need to click somewhere or type your website address to see it.

See creating a successful event website

6. Tracking and Analytics.

Website tracking is the process of collecting website usage data and creating reports that give the owner of the website insight as to how the website is being used.

How many users enter the website, where they are from, the browser they use, how many pages they visit, the time they spend on each page, and more.

Things you can learn from web analytics tools:

The most popular web analytics tool is Google Analytics, which is free and is used by 75% of the top 10K websites. To use Google Analytics, the website owner has to install a small piece of code in each of the website pages or enter the Google Site ID in platforms that support it.

Google Ecommerce enables analytics of registration values and other data. For example, you can learn which ads contributed to free registration and which ads brought paid registration.

7. Share Your Website Link.

Links to your event website from other relevant websites indicate that your website is important and should show up in search results.

It's usually not easy to get other sites to link to your event; other site owners need a reason to list your site. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Conference Listing Sites

Submit your event to relevant conference listing sites and event directories. On most conference listing sites, the basic listing is free.

Some general science conference and event directories are:

Industry Websites

Search for industry websites relevant to the event subject. See if they have an event section and contact them to add your event.

Speakers' and Sponsors' Sites

Create a "meet us at" image for sponsors and exhibitors and ask them to post it on their website, blogs, and social networks. You can also create a lecture invitation for speakers so they can share it.

Create a lecture invitation for speakers so they can share it.

8. Email Campaigns.

Email is a low-cost and highly effective channel. Potential event attendees read emails, so using email is a great way to reach them.

Create a contact list of people who attended previous events and email them about your upcoming event. Also ask sponsors and partners to send event emails to their customer lists.

Use email to

To increase email effectiveness and make the email more engaging, insert the recipient's name; you can easily do this by using a professional event management solutions like Eventact

9. Social Networks.

Social media is now a part of most people's lives. In fact, 9 out of 10 internet users also use social media. People use it for various reasons, including keeping up with news, sharing opinions, giving and getting peer recommendations, and networking for work.

In addition, social network activity associated with your website is an indicator for search engines that your website is important and should be shown more frequently in search results.

Event marketers can do the following to get traction via social media:

The difference between social networks is the type of content posted by users and the general environment:

Platform Type of content Audience
FacebookPersonal happeningsGeneral public
LinkedinCareer development, business developmentHigher-income, 30+, College educated
TwitterSocial, political, professional, personal views and newsHigher-income, freelancers, celebrities
InstagramEngaging pictures and videosMostly under 35 years old, mobile users
TikTokShort, entertaining videosMostly under 30

Use Hashtags in Your Posts

marketing funnel
A hashtag that went viral

A hashtag is a word or phrase without spaces between words and is preceded by a pound sign (#). Hashtags are used to mark a piece of content as related to a particular topic and can be used to make searching easier.

The use of hashtags started on Twitter in 2007 but has become popular on many social networks, including LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Including a tag in your posts make them easier to find and increases their reach and visibility.

Posts that contain a specific hashtag appear on a social media page dedicated to that hashtag. Users that track this page can view the posts, hopefully including yours. Some hashtag pages are very popular so the social media platform has to select the best posts and show them first, at the top of the page. The position of the post on the hashtags page is therefore dependent upon the hashtag's popularity but also upon the post content and other parameters the platform uses to predict how interesting the post is for users.

Choosing a Hashtag for Events.

Usually, an abbreviation or acronym of the event name makes a good hashtag that is short, unique, and easy to remember.

Event Hashtag checklist:

Once you decide on a hashtag, promote it online and in offline materials.

What to Post on Social Media and Why

Basically your social media marketing efforts should do three main things:

  1. Increase the number of followers.
  2. Establish your authority and create trust.
  3. Call followers to action.

You can get followers and establish authority by posting content that benefits readers. This might include tips relevant to the event's industry as well as information that could be useful or interesting to potential event attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors.

Content about the event organizers builds credibility and trust. Tell everyone a bit about the people behind the event. Other ideas include things happening behind the scenes and announcing new speakers, sponsors, and exhibitors.

Call-to-action content should drive a reader to want to do something after they've seen your post. For events, ideally, they will want to find out more about the event as well as when and how to register for it. It could also attract sponsors or exhibitors to participate in the event.

Content Tips

  1. Simplify the content so that everyone can easily understand it.
  2. Include images.

    Posts with images get higher engagement rates. If you can explain or show something using an image, do it. For example, illustrate numbers and statistics using charts

  3. For an industry trade show, it is usually better not to take a side on controversial topics.
  4. Comment on issues related to your event.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a tactic to reach a relevant audience by collaborating with social media "influencers." Influencers are social media account owners who have a significant number of followers relevant to your marketing goals. They can be big names in the industry, or maybe the person is a "nobody" who has accumulated followers and built trust in a specific niche.

Find influential people in the industry relevant to your event. Follow the influencer's account and see what they are posting and who follows them. If you think the influencer would be a good fit for your own needs, reach out privately to inquire about a partnership.

A partnership can be based on a complimentary event pass, discounts to share with followers, or other compensation.

Advertising in Social Networks

Facebook ads targeting options
Facebook ads targeting options
Facebook campaign results
Facebook campaign results

Social networks offer advertisers powerful targeting tools to reach the right people based on the extensive information they gather about users.

Targeting options available for advertising include:

Facebook ads targeting options
LinkedIn ads targeting options

Cost of Advertising on Social Networks

Advertising costs on social networks are based on the actual number of impressions or results (number of clicks or interactions with the ad). Advertisers can set a maximum bid amount - the amount to spend per impression or click.

The final total campaign cost is usually not known in advance, but the advertiser can set a maximum budget. The actual cost is based on the size and competition for the target audience, budget, ad performance, and other factors.

Cost Estimates for Advertising on Social Networks:

PlatformCost per clickCost per 1,000 impressions
Facebook $0.5 - $2.0 $2.0 - $10
LinkedIn $2.0 - $20 $2.0 - $10
Twitter $0.5 - $4.0 $3.5 - $10
Instagram $0.20 - $3.5 $2.0 - $20
TikTok $0.10 - $1.0 $3.0 - $10

9. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Search engines play a vital role in bringing new potential event participants to your website. According to a study by BrightEdge, over 50% of website traffic originates from organic search results.

SEO is a collection of techniques to increase a website's exposure in search engines so a website will get more traffic. The target is to get your website on the results page for relevant keywords more frequently and at a higher rank than your competition.

Google is the most important search engine. Over 85% of searches are done on Google. Bing is the second most popular with 5%-6% of searches.

Getting a Website Indexed by Search Engines

Bing webmaster tools
Bing webmaster tools

Search engines crawl the internet and should reach your site by finding a link to your site somewhere. To help search engines do this faster, you can submit your site directly to search engines:

To check whether your site is included in a search index, do a search using your website home page URL. For example, I could search for "eventact.com" on Google.

Improving Your Ranking and Exposure

When a search engine reads your site, it will try to understand how to index it by reading the text and metadata available.

Making a website search-engine-friendly means making it easy for search engines to understand what your web page is about. This is done by building the site so a search engine can read it, including adding metadata that search engines can understand. For example, text in images is not search-engine-friendly, so make sure important content is in the text and not only in images. Use event meta tags to indicate the event date and location..

In addition to content, search engines rank website pages based on hundreds of parameters. Some of them are unpublished and change every few months. However, it's common knowledge that click rate on the search engine result page, the website page load speed, and the quality of the website are key factors.

Do-It-Yourself SEO

Event organizers can do a variety of things themselves to improve search engine ranking.

SEO To-Do List
  1. Submit your website to search engines and event directories.
  2. Brainstorm and list keywords that potential attendees could search for.
  3. Publish content that is relevant to the event and use keywords in your website.
  4. Use keywords in content, titles, and headings.
  5. Check and fix spelling mistakes and technical errors.
  6. Use an event website builder with built-in SEO such as Eventact.
  7. Check the website with SEO testing tools and fix any problems that arise.
  8. Add content and update the website's content regularly.
  9. Use social media - write posts and link them to your website.
  10. Make sure your website is using HTTPS
  11. Make sure your website is usable on mobile devices
  12. Check how fast your website pages load

10. Summary

No matter the size or budget of your event, you can use digital marketing to reach your prospective attendees and stimulate them to participate in your event.

Traditional marketing channels such as television, print, and billboard ads are costly and often inefficient in targeting potential event attendees, making them irrelevant for most professional or scientific events. As a result, digital marketing is crucial for event planners.

By investing time in learning digital marketing techniques, you can not only scale the event you are organizing now. You will also become more valuable to associations and corporations looking for event planners to manage their future conferences.

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