7 Secrets of Online Event Marketing Success

Originally published at Hoovers.com

Online events are fantastic for building brand awareness and driving small business sales. Unlike traditional events, which require a physical location and incur a variety of different hard costs, online events are low-cost and low-maintenance with the potential for very high returns.

Just like a live event, virtual events require a strong marketing plan to ensure their success. The right preparation is key to making sure your online event is not only well attended, but attended by the right people – the ones most likely to purchase your products and services and become loyal fans of your brand.

Whether your online event is one-time or ongoing, a webinar or a course, a large virtual summit or a VIP mastermind group, these 7 secrets of marketing success will help you get more sign-ups, attract more attendees, and transform those attendees into paying customers.

  1. Choose a Proven Topic

No matter what format your online event takes, the topic and format of the event should be based on research. The best online events have components of education and entertainment. They provide an enthralling experience for attendees while sharing valuable information that make their lives better.

While it may be tempting to brainstorm highly creative, innovative topics for your online event, it is far more effective to design your event around the problems, questions, and interests of your prospective customers.

Find out what your prospects are struggling with, or what they’re most passionate about. Then, choose event topics, speakers, classes, and offerings based on what you have discovered.

How can you determine which topics will succeed with your target market?

You can…

  • Create a survey and send it to your email list
  • Research comments and threads on forums and social platforms
  • Look at past events held by your competitors, and poll attendees about what they liked and didn’t like

When you plan an online event around a topic your audience is sure to be interested in, half the marketing battle is already won.

  1. Conduct social outreach

Even if you have a robust email list and social following, one of the biggest benefits of holding an online event is exposing new prospects to your brand.

In addition to marketing your event to existing and past customers, leave yourself enough time to connect with new leads that may be interested in attending your event.

  • Track trending topics and keywords on social media that are relevant to your event. When the opportunity presents itself naturally, engage with prospects and share your event as a solution to their problem or answer to their question.
  • Follow and friend prospects that fit the target market description for your event. Engage them by sharing their content, liking their pages, and commenting where appropriate. Work to build an authentic relationship first and then direct them to your event sign-up page when the time is right.
  • Join Facebook and LinkedIn groups whose members may be interested in your event. Become an active member of the group and provide valuable insights and help to other members without asking for anything in return. When the moment feels right, share your online event with members who may be interested.

You can also conduct a paid PPC campaign to promote your event via social media. However, given the organic nature of social interactions, your best bet is to develop authentic relationships with individuals first, then supplement with a paid campaign second.

  1. Design a great landing page

For online event marketing, your landing page is everything. It is the catalyst that excites prospective attendees and inspires them to sign up for your event.

In Step 1 and 2 above, you laid the foundation to drive targeted traffic to your event landing page. Now that you have a proven topic for your event and targeted traffic coming from social media and your email list, it’s time to create a landing page that converts.

  • Choose a strong, benefit-rich headline that immediately captures the attendee’s interest.
  • Make use of video, graphics, and multimedia. Consider split-testing different layouts to see which page design works better.
  • Focus on the benefits of your event. What will participants get out of attending? How will your event make their lives better? What problems are you solving?
  • If applicable, include the photos and testimonials of past event attendees. If your event features industry experts or thought leaders, be sure to include their photos and bios as well for an extra boost of social proof.
  • Make sure the only place people can click is to the registration page. Don’t include any external links that could distract them from your goal.

Your landing page can make or break your online event. Make sure it’s benefits-focused, light on text and heavy on social proof. Make it as easy as possible to sign up for your event, and constantly remind the attendee what they’ll get for attending.

  1. Create an email autoresponder campaign

Now that you’ve secured plenty of sign-ups with a great event landing page, you’re marketing is as good as done, right?

Sorry! Step 4 is actually where the real work begins. Getting sign-ups is great, but what you really want is for everyone who signed up to actually attend your online event.

According to Shibani Roy, a senior digital marketing executive at LeadSquared, the average registration-to-conversion rate for webinars is as low as 30%. [1] Hubspot estimates even lower average attendance at just 25%.[2] That means if you get 125 people to register for your online event, only about 30 are likely to show up.

The best way to increase your chances of higher attendance is by making use of email autoresponders. These ‘set it and forget it’ campaigns allow you to automatically remind registrants about your upcoming event through strategically timed emails.

Autoresponders are not only great ways to remind registrants about your event in the weeks, days, and hours before it happens; they are also fantastic for promoting the benefits of your event, providing further testimonials and social proof, and introducing registrants to other aspects of your brand.

  1. Leverage brand ambassadors and industry experts

The next proven way to market your online event is by leveraging relationships with brand ambassadors and industry experts.

Work with your current customers and colleagues to promote your event to their networks and exponentially expand your marketing reach.

  • If you have a loyal customer who’s also well connected, ask them to share your event with their friends and followers.
  • Offer affiliate incentives or discounts to current customers who can secure sign ups to your event.
  • Reach out to industry experts and thought leaders in your field, and ask them to take part in the event. Find ways your event will benefit their audience, and offer an incentive for sharing your event with their email list and social networks.

Leveraging personal connections is the best way to market your online event, but don’t worry – they don’t have to be your personal connections! Reach out to colleagues and even competitors and present your event as a mutually beneficial opportunity to provide value to your respective audiences.

  1. Time it just right

When it comes to online event marketing, timing is everything. Give yourself plenty of time to engage attendees and partner with influencers long before your event is scheduled.

As the event draws near, make sure to time your email campaign for maximum impact. The closer you get to the day and hour of the event, the more reminders you’ll need to schedule.

Here’s a sample email campaign schedule for the week leading up to an online webinar:

  • 7 days before the event – benefit-rich reminder email
  • 5 days before the event – email with video testimonials from past attendees
  • 3 days before the event – reminder email with social share request
  • 2 days before the event – reminder email with incentive to share with friends
  • 1 day before the event – TWO emails with last-chance incentives and reminder of benefits
  • Day of event – email link with online event access
  • 30 minutes before event – resend link with time-sensitive reminder
  • Event start – “We’re live, join us!” email reminder
  • 10 minutes post start – “We’re live, where are you?” autoresponder sent to registrants who have not joined the event

Depending on the type of online event you’re holding and the nature of your attendees, you may need to send more or less reminder emails in the days and hours leading up to your event.

Regardless of your event type and audience, the marketing experts at Hubspot recommend sending a minimum of two email reminders in the 24-hour period before your event happens. [3]

  1. Follow up

After choosing a killer event topic, conducting social outreach, designing a great landing page, creating an email autoresponder campaign, leveraging relationships with industry experts, and timing your reminders perfectly, you’re sure to hold a successful online event.

After the event, you have an opportunity to entice attendees with special offers and to purchase your products and services.

While you’ll likely make a special offer during your online event, not everyone will make a purchase. While interest is still high in the days and weeks following the event, be sure to follow up with another email autoresponder.

Use this campaign to…

  • Reiterate the value provided during the event
  • Give access to slides, videos, or recordings from the event
  • Offer complementary products and services attendees will likely be interested in

Conclusion

Online events are a great way to boost profits short-term, but they’re also wonderful tools for cultivating long-term lasting relationships with new and existing customers. If you take the time to prepare and research before the event, and follow up strategically after the event, regular online events will prove to be some of the most indispensable tools in your marketing toolkit.
 

References

[1] https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-average-registration-to-attendance-rate-for-webinars

[2] http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33540/18-Ways-to-Guarantee-Nobody-Misses-Your-Next-Webinar.aspx#sm.0000kr8c1jg01ezty001ss0qb064v

[3] http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33540/18-Ways-to-Guarantee-Nobody-Misses-Your-Next-Webinar.aspx#sm.0000kr8c1jg01ezty001ss0qb064v

3 Simple Steps to Creating Packages That Sell (SSMS Episode 33)

Subscribe to Sydni's PodcastIf you have ever struggled to package and price your services, you’ll really appreciate this week’s podcast. I share a simple three step system to create packages that not only boost your income but are irresistible to clients. Once you learn the keys to identifying what they need, you’ll be able to create a service menu just for your target market. Listen in and then post your thoughts on how you can implement these strategies in your business!

3 Easy Ways To Earn More Money In Your Service Business (SSMS Episode 24)

Subscribe to Sydni's PodcastSticking to the basics and focusing your time and attention on simple, proven strategies is what creates the best marketing results. This week I’m sharing three specific marketing tactics that are easy to tailor to your individual budget and schedule, can be implemented immediately, utilized with minimum effort, and maintained consistently. This is smart simple marketing advice at its finest! [Read more…]

How To Attract Ideal Clients With Ease (SSMS Episode 23)

Subscribe to Sydni's PodcastIn this week’s free marketing podcast I discuss the immeasurable value of market research, how critical it is to know and understand the immediate needs and challenges of your current clients and ideal prospects, and how making yourself easily accessible to your target audience is paramount to reaching your goal of finding clients! Listen in as I share proven tips on how to consistently attract ideal clients — those who will appreciate and benefit from working with you – while ensuring outstanding success for your business!

3 Simple Secrets to Attracting Ideal Clients Using Social Media (SSMS Episode 22)

Subscribe to Sydni's PodcastIs the time you spend marketing your business through social media actually attracting ideal clients to your door? Despite the massive popularity of social media, some service professionals struggle to create visibility for their small business and attract high quality leads. Such does not have to be the case with you!

In today’s episode, I’m sharing three simple marketing strategies you can implement today to create better results when participating in social networking. Listen in and share your thoughts below! I’m excited to hear what you think and how you plan to apply this information to your business.

Attract More Clients And Grow Your Business By Attending Live Events (SSMS Episode 21)

Subscribe to Sydni's PodcastMost service professionals include in-person networking as one of their primary marketing strategies. But how do you use these opportunities to really attract new clients? How can you best position yourself, make the right connections and really use live events to grow your business? This has been one the most successful strategies in my marketing toolbox, so listen in to today’s episode as I share my secrets!

How to Choose Marketing Strategies That Get Results (SSMS Episode 20)

Subscribe to Sydni's PodcastHave you ever wondered how to choose the best marketing tactics for your business? With all of the options available, which strategies are really worth pursuing on the way to achieving your goals? I often hear such questions from service professionals just like you. They sometimes feel overwhelmed by trying to figure this out on their own. But, the answer to what is best for you is really very simple. Listen in to today’s episode as I walk you step-by-step through making the right choice for marketing your small business.

A Simple Way To Get Ideal Clients To Self-Select Into Working With You (SSMS Episode 19)

Subscribe to Sydni's PodcastIt goes without saying that you must have a website to be considered credible in today’s marketplace.  But just having a website isn’t enough to consistently attract ideal clients.  Is your website just a “pretty brochure” or is it “talking” to your prospective clients 24/7, showing them that you are the ONLY solution to their problems?  If your answer is the former, listen in to this week’s episode and learn what simple tweaks you can make to your site so that your ideal prospects choose YOU as their solutions provider.

How To Create Better Results For Your Clients While Boosting Your Income (SSMS Episode 18)

Subscribe to Sydni's PodcastWould you like to learn a simple secret to ensure that your clients get the BEST possible results from working with you, while at the same time boosting your profits? Of course! The answer lies in how you package and present your services. With ONE simple tweak to how you offer your services you can better support your clients, create raving fans and significantly increase your income. Learn all about this simple strategy in this week’s episode!

Stand Out and Stay Top of Mind Using Good Old Fashioned Snail Mail (SSMS Episode 17)

Subscribe to Sydni's PodcastLooking for a simple way to set yourself apart from the other service providers in your industry? And to stay top of mind with prospects, clients and referral partners? Online marketing strategies are highly effective and can work well for this purpose. But nothing grabs someone’s attention like receiving a handwritten note, letter or card from you in the mail! Learn how to implement this simple, low-cost marketing strategy in your business TODAY by listening to this week’s episode!