15 Event Marketing Strategies (And Why They’re Effective)
By 2028, the global event industry is projected to generate almost $1.5 billion in revenue, rising at a compound annual growth rate of 23%.
That’s some pretty serious cheese, no matter how you cut it. And it explains why 83% of brands say event marketing consistently increases their sales.
So if you’ve decided to add event marketing to your brand’s arsenal, you’re on the right track — it’s a powerful tool that drives not only brand awareness but also sales and revenue.
But do you have a solid strategy in place? Have you figured out the best way to use your event to reach your target audience(s)? Or how to maximize attendance?
If not, we’ve got your back.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through 15 event marketing strategies you can use to make your next event a success. Here’s a preview of what we’ll cover:
- Partner with influential guest speakers
- Get influencers to promote your event
- Livestream in-person events (and make the recording available)
- Promote the event using owned media channels
- Use countdowns to create buzz
- Run event promo ads on social media
- Make it easily accessible
- Actively encourage attendees to share before, during, and after the event
- Create a dedicated landing page
- Run an email campaign
- Use a marketing calendar to stay on track
- Communicate the benefits instead of the features
- Map out the attendee journey
- Use FOMO to boost late registration
- Consider adding webinars to your event arsenal
Before we get started though, let’s go over the basics:
What’s an event marketing strategy?
Event marketing is the planning, organizing, and execution of an in-person or virtual event in order to reach a target audience, provide value to them, and achieve your business goal(s)—which could be to promote a brand, product, or service.
Common event marketing goals include:
- Increasing attendance
- Reaching a new audience
- Boosting sales or revenue
- Improving brand awareness
- Increasing brand engagement
- Generating leads
- Providing value to existing customers
For example, let’s say your brand wants to host an event to reach a new audience. An appropriate event marketing strategy could be to run event promotion ads on social media so you can get in front of consumers who aren’t already in your network.
Why do you need an event marketing strategy?
As with any other type of marketing, it’s important to have a strategy in place so you can define your approach and take the right steps to achieve your goals—before, during, and after the event.
Without a strategy, not only is it unlikely that you’ll achieve your goals in the first place, but it also becomes difficult to measure success at all. You need to set goals, objectives, and key performance metrics (KPIs) for your event, all of which are part of your event marketing strategy.
Mike Piddock of Glisser puts it this way: “Events need to be assessed with hard metrics, rather than just ‘gut-feel’ opinions and feedback forms to rate the coffee. Measure attendee engagement, rather than simply counting who registered and who showed up, as this is a great proxy for the effectiveness of the event.”
Here are some useful KPIs to measure the success of your next event:
- Actual attendance or event check-ins
- Sales or registrations by ticket type
- Sales or registrations by marketing source
- Sponsorship dollars attracted
- Attendee geography
- Website conversion rate
- Email conversion rate
- Total revenue generated
- Number of new vs returning event attendees (if it’s a repeat event)
- Content engagement
- Social media engagement
- Speaker engagement
- Session engagement and/or attendance
- Number of leads acquired
- Net promoter score (found by sending a survey that asks how likely the attendee would be to recommend your event to a friend)
15 event marketing strategies that work
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dig into some specific strategies you can use to meet your goals for your next event.
1. Partner with influential guest speakers
Image credit: Forbes Under 30 Summit
Nearly 70% of people attend events because of the presence of high-quality speakers, hoping to learn something from them and become inspired to do more in their careers.
A good example of this comes from the Forbes Under 30 Summit, which started when Forbes launched its signature 30 Under 30 list ten years ago. The summit has now become an annual event celebrating the power of young people coming together and solving some of the world’s trickiest problems.
Each year, Forbes assembles a dynamic roster of leaders, entrepreneurs, and U30-listers, both past and present, to speak at the event. As a previous Summit attendee said, “I really enjoyed listening to the speakers explain what compelled them to get up and do something. It inspired me to think outside the box and see what I can do to make a change in this world.”
And while you may not be able to attract the level of speakers shown above, it’s all about finding speakers who are relevant to and influential with your audience. Which brings us to the next point…
2. Get influencers to promote your event
Image credit: Kaleidoscope Living
Aside from inspiring your audience, partnering with influential guest speakers can dramatically increase your reach.
Take the example of the Happy Mom Summit above — a virtual event hosted by JoAnn Chron, founder of No Guilt Mom. As you can see, she’s partnered with over 20 different speakers for the summit, which spans an entire week.
Each of these speakers has their own unique audience that is likely to have similar demographics to Chron’s. By asking them to promote the event, Chron is able to increase her reach and get the event in front of people she otherwise wouldn’t have access to.
Let’s say someone subscribes to one of the speaker’s email lists, for example, but has never heard of Chron’s parenting solutions. If the speaker sends an email to this subscriber about the event, the summit has just reached a new audience.
3. Livestream in-person events (and make the recording available)
Image credit: Google I/O
Over 40% of marketers believe that live events are their number one marketing channel. And you can get even more mileage out of a live, in-person event by simultaneously streaming it online.
Not only does this provide a platform for people who can’t make it to the physical event, but it can also expand your marketing opportunities to include a larger online audience. Plus, you can record the livestream and make the videos available for attendees to re-watch or use them as promotional material for future events.
Take the annual Google I/O conference, for instance. While Google holds its conference for developers in-person (with the exception of a virtual event in 2021 due to COVID-19), they also stream the event live online using a 360-degree camera.
Additionally, Google makes the videos from each conference available on YouTube, reaching both those who couldn’t attend and those who want to re-watch certain moments. In 2019, for example, about 7,000 people attended the I/O conference in person. The livestream video on YouTube, however, has amassed over 80,000 views — reaching a much larger audience.
4. Promote the event using owned media channels
Image source: Content Marketing Institute
Content distribution (which is event distribution, in this case) can be divided into four main channels — owned, earned, shared, and paid. Here’s a quick recap of what each one includes:
- Owned media – Channels that your company owns, like your blog, website, email list, and so on.
- Earned media – Unpaid mentions by influencers, like those guest speakers reaching out to their audience on your behalf.
- Shared media – Social media channels and other online communities. Examples include user-generated content, product reviews, shares, retweets, and more.
- Paid media – Paid advertising for content promotion.
Owned media channels are the first ones to tap into when marketing an event.
Because they’re yours!
You can do whatever you want with them, and they’re already being paid for in one way or another. Plus, if you’ve built up any kind of subscriber list or online following, owned channels are the best way to reach them.
One way you can optimize your owned media channels is by sprinkling lots of promotions, banners, and CTA’s throughout your website, email lists, and social media pages. This helps to take advantage of the organic traffic that’s already moving through your site for your event promotion.
For example, put a big, promotional block on your homepage about the event, and include promotional banners throughout all of your blog posts. Have a login page? Include a bold, easy-to-use CTA encouraging users to get more information about the event or register right then and there.
The Content Marketing Institute is taking this approach right now. As you can see in the image above, they have a bright red banner at the top of their blog page promoting their free webinar event. And the bold CTA button makes it easy for visitors to register quickly.
5. Use countdowns to create buzz
Image credit: Business Insider
Creating buzz for an event is all about building awareness and excitement. One of the best ways to do this is with a countdown that’s shared across social media channels, blog posts, email announcements, and more.
Not only does this give you something to post about each day, but it’s also a good way to entice hold-outs to register.
If your brand has a good Instagram presence, the countdown sticker within Instagram Stories is a good place to start. You can customize the name and color of the clock as well as set an end date and time, as shown in the image above. Then, viewers can subscribe to receive a notification when the clock runs out or even add the countdown to their own story, essentially creating a branded calendar notification.
6. Run event promo ads on social media
Image credit: Social Media Week
According to Adweek, only 2-6% of your Facebook followers will see posts you make on your event page. So even if you’ve amassed a sizable following on the platform, your organic posts aren’t going to get you very far. And the same goes for many (if not most) other platforms.
Ads are a completely different story, allowing you to reach a much wider audience while still targeting people who are most likely to be interested in your event.
Before launching an ad campaign, you should consider the following:
- What type of event are you promoting? Is it in-person or virtual? Local or national?
- What type of person do you expect to attend? Are they male or female? Young or old? Do they have kids? What type of job do they have?
- Is there a specific industry or niche group that your event caters to?
- Do you want to reach your audience on the day of the event itself or build up to it for days or weeks in advance?
The answers to these questions will help inform your ad strategy, determining things like the platforms you should focus on, your target audience, and your optimal ad frequency and timing. For example, if you’re marketing a webinar for B2B professionals, promoting the event to a national audience on LinkedIn for weeks ahead of time is a good approach.
On the other hand, some local events may be better suited to running ads on Facebook a few days in advance so that it is fresh in the user’s mind.
No matter which strategy you end up with, here are some tips to help you create an attention-grabbing ad on social media:
- Include an eye-catching image or video
- Make sure the text in the post is short and to the point
- Make sure the headline is even shorter
- Include a direct call-to-action (“Buy Tickets”)
- Use an accurate link description (“Click here to buy tickets”)
7. Make it easily accessible
Another good reason to use social media for event promotion is that you need to make your event easily accessible. Signing up, registering, finding more information — all of this needs to be easy to use and placed right in front of potential attendees. If they have to go digging around, trying to figure out how to get a ticket or what the exact dates are, you’re probably going to lose them.
To make sure this doesn’t happen, it’s a good idea to use a multi-channel approach. Make event information readily available on your website, send direct emails to subscribers, post frequently on social media with links to sign up, and more. Your event should be everywhere your customers already are, making it easy for them to sign-up in the moment.
8. Actively encourage attendees to share before, during, and after the event
Image source: Facebook
90% of consumers say user-generated content (UGC) holds more influence over their buying decisions than promotional emails and even search engine results. Plus, 81% of shoppers are willing to pay more and wait longer for products or services that are paired with UGC.
So, encouraging attendees to share their experiences before, during, and after the event can go a long way towards ensuring present and future success. This approach can not only ramp up ticket sales and attendance but also boost feelings of brand engagement and loyalty.
One of the best ways to achieve high levels of UGC is by creating event hashtags and placing them prominently on your website, event landing page, and social media pages. Then, encourage your website visitors and event attendees to use the hashtag as often as possible.
Neal Schaffer, CEO & Principal Social Media Strategy Consultant at Maximize Your Social, puts it this way: “Letting people know about your event hashtag in advance is an amazing promotional tool. When people start seeing tweets and retweets and posts that have a certain hashtag — even if they don’t know what it’s about — that hashtag will make people interested in it and go to the event.”
A great example of this comes from lifestyle brand Refinery29’s annual event called 29 Rooms. An “interactive funhouse of style, culture, and technology,” the event’s main draw is its flashy, Instaworthy decorations — presented as 29 individually branded and curated rooms.
The rooms are designed with brand partners ranging from artists and musicians to consumer-facing companies like Dunkin’ Donuts, Dyson, and Cadillac. And Refinery29 encourages attendees to take pictures in each one and publish them with the hashtag #29rooms.
This strategy has brought the brand almost 89,000 publications and 166,000 followers, as well as attracting over 100,000 visitors.
9. Create a dedicated landing page
Image credit: Collision
Up until this point, we’ve mostly been talking about strategies for getting the word out about your event. But what happens if someone wants to learn more?
If you’re thinking they can just go to your website, you’re not wrong. You can definitely create a page on your website or even a third-party listing.
However, these pages tend to get bogged down with irrelevant details and competing calls to action.
Landing pages are much more effective for getting customers to take action because they’re built to do one thing and one thing only: convert.
There are two main types of event landing pages:
- Event registration landing pages, where visitors sign up for an event or buy tickets.
- Lead generation landing pages, where visitors can ask to receive more details via email.
Here are some tips to make sure your landing page gets the job done:
- Include product images or other eye-catching visuals. (Hint: Videos can help improve conversion rates by up to 80%.
- Focus on a single conversion goal (register for the event, buy a ticket, enter an email address, etc.
- Create separate landing pages to target different audiences or achieve different goals.
- Build excitement by including a video from a previous event, a list of speakers, or quotes from past attendees.
- Include all the important details — date, time, location, price, list of speakers, deadlines, and more
- Make it easy to take action with a prominent CTA. Also, be sure to customize the language in your CTA according to your target audience — customized CTAs convert 202% better than default ones.
10. Run an email marketing campaign
Image credit: earlebrown.com
If you have already built an email list of engaged subscribers over time, this one’s for you.
Over 75% of event creators say email marketing is their most effective strategy, with 45% of event ticket sales coming directly from emails. This makes sense if you think about it. Your email list is probably full of your most loyal and raving fans — the ideal audience for your upcoming event.
Before you get started though, here are a few best practices to keep in mind when putting together your email campaign:
- Generate interest with a pre-event email series. This can be made up of an announcement email followed by one or two teaser emails detailing a specific part of the event.
- Use exclusive offers like registration discounts or priority access to drive conversions.
- Incorporate social proof into your emails by including quotes or testimonials from previous attendees.
- Encourage subscribers to share your event with friends and family by including social media share buttons in your email. You can also offer incentives for sharing, like a free companion pass or VIP swag bag.
- Make sure to communicate the important event details in your email so that subscribers have all the information they need upfront.
- Make it easy for your recipients to ask questions by including your contact information and encouraging them to reply to the email.
- Send a follow up email thanking subscribers for registering and for attending your event. This is also a great time to ask for feedback using a short survey.
11. Use a marketing calendar to stay on track
By this point, you may be thinking that this is all a lot to keep track of — and you’re right. Managing an event marketing campaign is enough to make even the most organized person feel frazzled.
Even if you’re using a spreadsheet or general calendar tool to manage tasks, it can still be overwhelming.
A marketing calendar, on the other hand, is designed specifically to handle marketing-related tasks and will help streamline workflows and keep everyone on the same page. Take Welcome’s marketing calendar, for example.
Our calendar provides a single, unified view for teams to seamlessly collaborate and pivot when priorities, deadlines, or schedules change — and if you’ve been involved in event planning for any period of time, you know that change is inevitable.
Welcome’s calendar also provides shared visibility for key stakeholders, creating a single source of truth so that everyone involved with the event stays up-to-date on planned and in-progress initiatives.
12. Communicate the benefits instead of the features
Image credit: noodlelive.com
When creating event emails, ads, or social media posts, it’s important to speak in terms that matter to the customer. Specifically, you want to make sure you’re communicating the benefits of attending the event instead of the features.
If you’re wondering what the difference is, here’s a quick explanation. Features describe what people will generally find at your event. They’re typically attributes that set your event apart from the competition. Benefits, however, describe why those features matter to your target audience.
Using benefit-focused messaging allows you to communicate exactly how your event will help your audience. What part of their daily life will be improved by attending? Will they make new connections? Learn a new skill? Get the inside scoop on industry trends?
As you can see in the chart above, people attend events for various reasons, with the quality of networking taking the top spot. Other common reasons include seeing the latest developments in their sector, meeting key people in the industry (closely related to networking), finding out what the competition is doing, and identifying new prospects.
Let’s say you’re marketing an upcoming conference in the cryptocurrency industry. Instead of just listing the guest speakers (which is a feature), explain why the guest speakers matter to attendees. Here are some examples of what you could say:
Find out about cutting-edge developments in the crypto industry from (insert speaker names).
Network with over 500 other professionals in the crypto industry at XYZ event.
Stay on top of the competition. Learn what’s hot in crypto at the XYZ event featuring (insert speaker or company names).
Image credit: business2community.com
You can even include a customer benefit in the name of your event, as shown in this Facebook event ad from the Rogue Business Group. By calling their event “May Pop-Up Networking,” they make it immediately obvious why people should attend.
13. Map out the attendee journey
Another good strategy when it comes to event marketing is mapping out the attendee journey. This means thinking about your event in terms of touchpoints with the customer. When and how will they interact with your event and, by extension, your brand?
By understanding the touchpoints that exist before, during, and after the event, you can discover marketing opportunities that you didn’t even realize existed.
To get started, think about different scenarios when an attendee may come in contact with your brand. Where does their journey start, and what are the paths of entry? Take note of online and offline steps, starting with the marketing and preregistration stage and continuing all the way through to the post-event survey.
Here are some examples of common touchpoints that can be used to optimize the customer experience:
- Interactions via social media
- Invitations sent through email
- Learning that one of their competitors is exhibiting at the event
- Event signage
- Greeting on arrival at the event
- Event website or landing page
- Exhibitor brochure
- Sponsorship pitch
- Registration process (online or offline)
- Recommendation from an influencer
- Event program and speakers
- Sessions or activities at the event
14. Use FOMO to boost registrations
Image credit: 20bedfordway.com
The fear of missing out, otherwise known as FOMO, is a strong motivator when it comes to event marketing. It plays on both the principle of scarcity (I’d better sign up before it’s sold out) and peer pressure (I’d better sign up or else I’ll be the only one who doesn’t go).
FOMO is especially common in people ages 18 to 33, with one survey finding that about two-thirds of people in this age group regularly experience FOMO. Plus, 60% of millennials admit to making reactive purchases because of FOMO — in other words, buying something just because they’re afraid they might miss out.
As an event marketer, you can play into this to encourage people to sign up — especially those who are on the fence about attending. Here are some specific tactics you can use:
- Add a countdown ticker to your social media ads and posts in the days leading up to the event.
- Include a ticker that shows how many people are already going or signed up (as shown in the Facebook ad above).
- Use images or video from previous events that show a vibrant, exciting atmosphere.
- Include access to an exclusive social media group as part of the event registration.
- Offer different pricing tiers like early bird, regular, and late registration to create the feeling of missing out sooner in the process.
15. Consider adding webinars to your event arsenal (especially for B2B brands)
When the pandemic took in-person events off the table, the use of webinars skyrocketed among B2B brands. In fact, in 2020 webinar events increased by 162% and attendance quadrupled to over 60 million people.
Even as we return to a world where in-person events are possible, the vast majority of B2B marketers plan to stick with webinars, with 99% saying they’re a key aspect of their future digital marketing strategy.
If you’re wondering what all the hype’s about, it all comes down to one thing: lead capture. As with videos, webinars are a great way to educate your customers. However, since people usually have to sign up and provide their email address to attend a webinar, this becomes an excellent tool for lead generation.
Here are some tips to get the most out of your webinars:
- Capitalize on attendees’ enthusiasm by offering limited-time promotions like discount codes, product demos, or a post-webinar consultation with a sales representative.
- Keep your webinars to under half an hour (viewing time for webinars averages 29 minutes) and build engagement using interactive polls and Q&A sessions.
- Build relationships with prospects by creating a multi-part webinar series focused on relevant and timely educational content.
Event marketing strategy FAQs
What are the essential features of event marketing?
Essential features of event marketing include the following:
- Identifying your target audience
- Planning an exciting, relevant event
- Lining up speakers or other event activities
- Promoting the event via owned, shared, earned, and paid channels
- Managing the event itself
- Promoting your brand during the event
- Getting feedback from event attendees
What makes event marketing successful?
As with many other types of marketing, success often hinges on having a good strategy in place along with well-defined objectives and expert-level execution. This allows you to take the right steps to achieve your goals before, during, and after the event. Some useful KPIs to measure the success of your next event include registrations, attendance, and sales.
What types of event marketing are there?
Here’s a list of the most common types of event marketing:
- Social media ads
- Email campaigns
- Website banners
- Search engine ads
- Content marketing
Now that you’re armed with 15 event marketing ideas to help you meet your goals, we hope you’re feeling ready to tackle the event marketing world. Best of luck out there — and remember, you’ve got this!