Anyone who has ever plan to major event – like a fundraiser, expo, or other big occasion – knows it can be a process filled with unexpected speed bumps and headaches. From finding venues and arranging permits to coordinating caterers, running sound checks, and dozens of other details, event planning can become a logistical labyrinth.
However, experienced event planners also know that smoothing out those issues is often the easy part. The harder job is making sure you have as many attendees and participants as expected.
Simply put, promoting events online is a tall order. Your target audience is likely so busy that getting them to pay attention to what you’re doing, much less show up, can be an enormous challenge. Luckily, we have many years of experience helping organizers to put together all kinds of functions. Today, we are going to share our simple and proven four-step process for promoting an event online…
Step #1 Build an Attention-Grabbing Event Website
Your event website is the hub of your marketing and PR activity. Ideally, you’ll want a domain that’s dedicated to the event, and a modern, responsive layout that looks great on computers, tablets, and smart phones alike.
When it comes to an event planning website, it’s crucial to have not only the right information but also an exciting tone. So, while it should definitely be easy for a visitor to spot details about dates, times, and locations, you’ll also want to include some supporting facts. For example, bios and photos for key presenters or performers can boost enthusiasm. The same goes for itineraries and previous highlights. You want an interested individual to not only see what your event is all about, but why they’ll kick themselves if they manage to miss it. It also goes without saying that these pieces of information will also give you more search-friendly content, so more potential attendees will hear about what you’ve got going on.
Spreading the word is just the first step, though. Your event website can be a great tool for generating registrations (or at the very least, follow-up communications). So, you’ll want to have a large and prominent registration button with a secure portal. You should also include an email newsletter sign-up that will drip further pieces of information as the event draws closer, and possibly even calendar reminders or social links.
Finally, don’t forget that you can include information for sponsors, presenters, or volunteers in a special section of your website. Getting attendees is important, but don’t forget about the men and women who are helping you turn your event into a reality.
Step #2: Promote Your Event Extensively Ahead of Time
Current clients and readers of our blog will already know that even the very best website doesn’t generate its own traffic and interest. Even if you follow all the rules we’ve outlined above you’ll still have to bring visitors in before you can generate registrations.
Luckily, when promoting an event online, you have a lot of different choices. The first and most obvious tool is going to be your email newsletter. If you’ve been collecting names and addresses from your website, previous events, and interested partners, then you might have thousands of subscribers to reach out to.
You can also promote your event (and drive traffic to your website) using pay-per-click advertising. Some types of occasions – like charity running races, for instance – can increase registrations quickly and inexpensively by advertising. Just be sure you restrict your campaigns through geography and other filters so you aren’t paying for ads that won’t perform.
Perhaps the best way to promote your event is by releasing tweets, videos, and other pieces of social content. Not only can these be targeted with the right keywords and hashtags, but they also have viral ability. While a few of your most dedicated attendees and supporters might forward emails about your event to their friends, the majority of your audience is much more likely to share the details of a party or fundraiser they will be attending on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. So, good social marketing updates can vastly increase your reach, help you drum up attention, and boost registration numbers.
Step #3: Alert the Press, Sponsors, and Influencers
You don’t have to promote your event all on your own. There may be other individuals or groups who have a vested interest in seeing you be successful, too.
If your event is worthy of press attention, you could reach out to newspapers, magazine editors, and even television reporters. They have are likely to have a much larger platform than you do, both in terms of their traditional reach and their social following. If they advocate for your event it could bring an amount of buzz you wouldn’t be able to generate on your own.
The same goes for sponsors. If they are going to have signage, giveaways, or other tie-ins with your event they’ll want as many people to be present as possible. Ask them if they have any advertising or promotional ideas. You may be able to get space on existing billboard campaigns and company newsletters, or through other channels you weren’t even aware of.
You could even try reaching out to social influencers in your industry or geographic area. You never know when someone might take an interest in the event you are promoting, particularly if there are aspects promoting nonprofits or community benefits.
Step #4: Follow Up on Your Event for Future Success
You might think your work is done after you’ve promoted your event and had hundreds or thousands of people show up. But, the days and weeks just after its conclusion are vitally important for your future success.
Don’t miss the opportunity to reach out to attendees, volunteers, sponsors, and other participants to thank them for their involvement. This doesn’t cost you anything and can serve to express your gratitude while also notifying recipients about future events.
You could repeat the process we described above and set up a website or dedicated page for your next event, even if some of the details are missing. People who were excited about your previous work might take advantage of early registration offers, or at least mark their calendars. It’s a good idea to take advantage of these opportunities while enthusiasm is at its highest.
And finally, you’ll want to review your online event promotion strategy – including web analytics reports – to get a sense of what did and didn’t work. That way you’ll not only be prepared to duplicate your success in the future, but also to build on it and think even bigger than you have in the past.
Want to Make Your Next Event a Huge Success?
Planning a wildly successful event starts with having the right strategy in place from the beginning. Why not let us use our expertise to help you fill registrations, get press attention, and break attendance records?
The Weblinx team is here to help. Schedule a free consultation at 630-551-0334 x1. Contact us today!