Need more signups for your virtual event? Just use these 16 virtual event strategies
Marketing & Growth
January 5, 2023
Want to get more people to come to your next virtual event? There are proven strategies you can use to drive more signups. To reach more of your potential attendees, use as many of these strategies as possible before event registration closes.
Putting all of these event promotion strategies into use for all of your online events may not be possible. So, how do you pick and choose which techniques to use? Use the following rules of thumb to decide which virtual event promotion ideas to use.
Virtual event marketing strategies take time to execute. Pull out all the stops if you are getting ready for an annual event with keynote speakers (and plan to lock in schedules about 6 months in advance)! Use as many of these strategies as possible to increase live event attendance. On the other hand, relying on a small email marketing campaign may be an effective marketing strategy for smaller events like a quarterly webinar. In general, giving your team at least 4 weeks of event promotion effort is best to achieve a successful event. More complex events, like a co-branded event, may take even more time.
Not all virtual events are created equal. Some merit significant marketing efforts. For smaller online events like those without exciting event speakers, relying on email marketing or social platforms may be enough. If you’re just getting started with events, it is usually best to plan for a series of smaller events over a quarter or year. Each event you run will give you more time to grow your audience and test different virtual event promotion ideas.
Building an effective marketing strategy requires an honest assessment of your resources. If you've focused your marketing efforts on growing your email list, your promotion strategy should emphasize email campaigns. On the other hand, you might have a more prominent social media presence - if so, emphasize social posts.
If your current online following isn't large enough, augment your efforts with an event advertising strategy. Reaching potential attendees solely through advertising is possible. However, an advertising-centric promotion strategy will need a substantial budget to succeed. The days of getting webinar event signup for $5 per registration are over, especially for harder-to-reach B2B audiences.
Creating a custom landing page for your virtual conferences is a must-have. From a search engine optimization perspective, it gives you one place to use relevant keywords. In addition, the landing page can highlight quotes from speakers. If applicable, look for ways to use social proof on this page, like the number of attendees who have gone to previous events.
Once you have a landing page set up, it will be the primary destination for prospective attendees. As you build the landing page, make sure you mention your event hashtag and event sponsors. Remember that you can keep updating and enriching the landing page as your event gets closer. If you have the resources, there are advantages to building and hosting the page yourself, but, if you don’t, there are lots of webinar platforms out there that can handle the page, invites, and day-of-production.
Fun idea! If you do host your own landing page: add Arena Live Blog to the bottom, this way, you can automatically pull in any promotion you’re doing on social media to keep the landing page content fresh.
Branding your online event is a missed opportunity for many organizations. To develop an event brand, look at other online events your core audience may have seen online. In addition, look for ways to overcome online event fatigue by making your event different from other options.
Here are some ways to translate your core message into an exciting event brand.
Once the event brand concept is ready, ask your designers to create eye-catching graphics that you can use in your social media efforts.
Your event description is a marketing opportunity! To develop a winning event agenda, use the fundamentals of persuasion like benefits and curiosity.
Ask yourself how attendees will benefit from participating in your event. You might offer hard benefits (i.e., incentives, see more on this below) or soft benefits (e.g., the chance to connect with others who share their interests).
At the same time, your event agenda and description shouldn’t give everything away. If the event description is too detailed, then potential attendees might not see the value of the event. Usually it’s best to offer an initial, descriptive paragraph then offer a few bullets points below that tease “What Attendees Will Learn” below. This strikes the right balance between giving people enough information to know if they want to attend, without giving away the “secret sauce” up front.
Once you have applied both principles to your event agenda, update your landing page and start creating posts on your social media posts.
If your virtual events are not getting the kind of engagement you want, you might need to improve the quality of your events. Here are some ways to lift event quality.
Your event attendees have distractions one click away from your experience. One solution is to use Arena Live Chat to make your event more appealing. While it’s true many webinar platforms come with their own chat, the downside to these is the chat logs are often lost post event, so there is no way to look back for trend analysis, etc.
Making your event feel timely and relevant to the current problems facing your audience is a tried and true method to make your event work. For example, take a look at the shows that are finding an big audiences on streaming platforms. In late 2022, Netflix’s “Wednesday” generated a record 341 million hours of viewing time in its first week. Creating an event around Addams family nostalgia and “Wednesday” can help you to pull in an audience.
Event quality improvement doesn’t have to start from a blank page. Look through chat logs, events, and social media posts to see what attendees say about your past events. As mentioned earlier, this is easier to do when you actually own the data so be careful which platforms you select, if this is important to you.
Getting the word out about your virtual event through influencers is one of the best ways to drive event signups. Promotional campaigns with influencers can be simple, like paying for a single sponsored post. Or you can discuss more sophisticated arrangements like a sponsorship fee and an affiliate commission on products sold. For B2B webinars, getting a thought leader, or customer, to speak to your use case is always best practice. For B2C companies, a consumer focused influencer, athlete, or other personality with topical knowledge can be a great way to drive registrations and engagement.
Your social media accounts can be a powerful way to drive more event registrations. However, these posts are more effective when scheduled over a longer period. Let’s say that you have four weeks until your event starts. Your social media marketing plan might look like this:
Email marketing to your customer list, and prospect lists should be a core strategy to promote your event. Sending exclusive early access sign-up links to the event to your email list is an excellent way to make your subscribers feel special.
Of course, sending a single email to promote a virtual event usually isn’t enough. That’s why you also need to use the following strategy.
What happens after a person signs up for your event? Your event marketing efforts can’t stop there. It’s vital to use follow-up emails to continue building excitement for the event. This is especially important if you are marketing a free event. Send at least two to three follow-up emails to remind attendees when the event is happening! Most platforms will have this built-in, but, if you’re tightly controlling your brand experience, you’ll want to schedule these in your marketing automation platform to ensure each email has the exact look and feel required.
After your event starts, promotion doesn’t stop, it just changes in focus. Let’s say you are running a one-day online conference. Posting updates every 15 minutes throughout the day is an excellent way to drive excitement and encourage attendees to share their thoughts.
If you ARE running a larger event, it’s usually a good idea to create an event hashtag and encourage speakers, panelists, and attendees to use this tag when posting to social media. You can even create a contest and select winners who post using your tag and give away a prize to incentivize more people to use it!
Finally, you can also repurpose the social media posts as emails to your attendee list. It’s a good ‘last minute’ strategy to encourage your event registrations to show up for the event.
Some online event marketing ideas are more niche than others; we’ve saved this for later in the list. This strategy is best used for organizations that run a series of events throughout the year. For example, an investment firm might offer a quarterly “state of the stock market” half-day online conference. Each event can promote the next event when you have a series of online events.
Does your website have a significant amount of high-quality organic traffic? In that case, your website can be a valuable resource in driving traffic to your event landing page. Your specific method of adding a banner will vary depending on your website technology.
From a marketing perspective, your banner announcement needs to be a short and straightforward call to action. For example, you might offer $50 off the event signoff fee. That’s a great angle to use in promoting the event's homepage banner copy.
Incentives have long been used successfully to promote physical events. The same principle applies to virtual events and hybrid events as well. Incentives can take the form of discounts, bonuses, and draws. Discounts are probably the most common incentive, such as offering an “early bird” rate to people who sign up early at the event.
This virtual event promotional strategy lets you achieve two goals: drive event signups and encourage attendees to show up at the event. In essence, you offer to pick a random attendee from the audience for an award. You can give away other products (i.e., USB charging cables, tickets to events, gift cards) or even your products.
Publishing blog posts on your website and guest posts on other websites are a powerful way to create more event awareness. The only disadvantage is that SEO takes time to generate results. SEO is a good strategy if you have at least three to six months before your event launches.
You may not see much search traffic if you have created a brand-new event concept. The solution is to look at real-world search behavior and get a bit more generic. For example, if your event helps attendees with tax planning, look for tax savings and tax planning keywords as a starting point.
Do you work with sponsors on your virtual event? They’re invested in getting a return, so they may be willing to help you promote the event. At the least, ask your event sponsor to share your marketing content on their social media platform. To inspire your sponsors to promote your event, make the sponsor part of your event. For example, invite an IBM guest speaker to your event. In that case, IBM would be even more interested in promoting the event since one of its employees is presenting.
To a degree, events have a built-in sense of urgency. To emphasize the urgency of your event, use an event countdown clock on your website or landing page. You can use several countdown timers depending on how you structure the event. The first countdown timer might be used for the early bird ticket price, and the second countdown focuses on the event itself.
When most people think of event technology, they think of video conferencing and event registration. Certainly, those tools have an important role to play. However, you also need a way for your audience to give live feedback and interact with each other during the event. That’s where Arena Live Chat can help. Learn more about Arena Live Chat today!