Event Marketing: Everything You Need to Know

Maximize your marketing strategies to sell out your event, leveraging event data for customer engagement that aligns with your business goals.

Event marketing can help you engage your customers and get your brand noticed. Today’s consumer faces countless pitches and advertisements ever day, so when it comes to running an event, you need to catch the buyer’s eye. In this guide, we’ll talk you through everything you need to get started.

In this event marketing  guide, you’ll discover:

 

What is event marketing?

Event marketing describes the process of developing a themed exhibit, display, or presentation to promote a product, service, cause, or organization. It leverages in-person engagement to connect with customers.

Events can occur online or offline. You can participate in, sponsor or host an event yourself. Using events as a marketing channel gives potential customers a unique, firsthand interaction with your company, giving them a true sense of its focus, perspective and personality.

 

Why is event marketing important?

Now more than ever, it’s important for businesses to stand out from the crowd, and event marketing is a great place to start.

Not only does event marketing give you new channels and methods to connect with future and returning customers, the customer data you collect from other sources can allow you to get to know them prior to the event, so they can be treated as individuals rather than just part of the crowd.

And it works. 73% of event planners believe that personalization and data-driven marketing is a priority for their events. Whether you are hosting a small webinar, a large-scale international trade show, or an executive-level private function, event marketing should be an integral part of your demand generation mix. 

 

“Not all events are created equal. Companies must consider live events an extension of their brand and content marketing and build events that really engage. For me, that means thinking about the customer experience you REALLY want to portray. A 6x6 static stand is unlikely to meet that need!”

—Craig Hanna, EVP North America, Econsultancy

 

The benefits of event marketing.

Event marketing can benefit your business in a variety of ways: 

  • Build brand presence before, during or after an event
  • Generate leads
  • Raise brand value
  • Create new opportunities
  • Promote a specific product or feature
  • Increase customer engagement, satisfaction, and retention 

Planning events can also give your partners and sponsors a tactical and visible engagement point to enforce their own return on investment (ROI).

Buyers now go about making purchasing decisions at their own rate, after careful consideration. As a marketer, you must be ready to seize every opportunity to start a relationship, generate goodwill, and earn the trust of prospective customers.

While there are less time-consuming and costly methods of marketing out there, incorporating event marketing into your overall strategy can pay dividends when connecting with buyers on a meaningful level.

 

Common problems that event marketing can solve.

Beyond giving you the ability to engage with buyers in real time, event marketing offers a host of other unique benefits that can solve several common problems.

 

Problem

Solution

I need to build brand awareness.

One of the biggest reasons for a business to participate in an event is to establish and grow its brand. Event marketing allows your company to interact with potential buyers and express itself in real time.

Through events, you can create the perfect venue to share your ideas, thoughts, and name – in the exact manner you want to present them.

I need new ways to generate leads.

Another important reason businesses choose to participate in an event is to generate leads. One of the best ways to do this is to become part of an event that will attract your target demographic.

Choosing the right event allows your company to interact with a group of prospects that already have an interest in who you are and what you do.

My customers aren’t engaging with my current marketing tactics.

The engagement provided by events is uniquely powerful, providing an invaluable opportunity for positive personal interaction that builds loyalty.

Since companies can realize the biggest ROI on their marketing dollars by retaining and growing existing customers, staying connected is key.

At events, you have the chance to upsell to a captive audience by introducing them to products and services that they may not know about. They may then realize that your offering can address their needs.

I’m struggling with event attendance or engagement.

Most people attend events to network and learn. Both are powerful draws in their own ways. No matter what type of event you are at, it is critical to impart knowledge that the audience will value and that sets your company apart.

By securing quality, high-profile speakers, you can draw a crowd and provide them with unique insights that are relevant to them.

This can advance your reputation as a thought leader in the industry and establish a critical connection between your brand and prospective buyers.

I’m struggling to show the ROI of my events.

You’re not alone. Even though events command the highest share of marketing budgets and 75% of marketers consider in-person events effective, marketers admit they don’t know how to calculate the true ROI of an event.

To crunch those numbers, you need to connect your event metrics with your company and sales goals beforehand.

Learn more about how to measure the ROI of your event performance in our recent blog post "How to Measure Event Marketing Performance and ROI."

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Types of event marketing.

To create a holistic event marketing program, be sure to include both offline and online events to reach as many potential customers as possible.  

  • Online events. Online events connect presenters and participants through a web-based interface. Online events are often less costly than in-person events and can enable you to easily reach a geographically dispersed audience. Covid-19 brought online events mainstream. Within the first six months of the pandemic, one virtual events platform reported 1000% growth, according to Forbes. Common types of online events include webinars, virtual events, livestreaming events and hybrid events. Let’s take a look at these in turn.
  • Webinars. Webinars revolve around online presentations, discussions, or workshops. They can happen in real time or on demand, and typically last from 30 to 60 minutes. Real-time webinars can be interactive on many levels. For example, participants might interact with one another through group discussions on web conferencing software. They also might ask questions and discuss topics directly with presenters.
  • Virtual events. Virtual events enable individuals in different locations to participate in a more realistic virtual environment. For example, participants might visit a virtual booth where they can collect materials, meet the staff, ask questions, and even pick up some virtual swag. These programs tend to happen in real-time for all participants. Alongside the interactive features, they often combine networking and educational sessions.
  • Livestreaming events. These are live events streamed directly to viewers. You can conduct these with a simple webcam or employ a full production crew for higher quality broadcasting. Applications like Livestream, Ustream, and Google Meet, offer a live service that allows you to stream, record, and engage your audience with chat and social media functionality. Events from employee Q&A sessions to major award ceremonies, have all integrated or relied entirely on livestreaming since the pandemic.
  • Hybrid events. While many events have moved back to a physical format, many have adopted some online features to create hybrid events. This allows greater attendance and flexibility, while maintaining the buzz of an in-person event. Hybrid events are likely to involve livestreaming and virtual participation. They use certain platforms and technology to provide a seamless integration between virtual and in-person audiences. Sometimes, hybrid events connect different groups meeting in-person around the world into a larger virtual community.
  • Physical events. Offline events require physical attendance, and interactions take place in person. While they often need more investment than virtual events, offline events allow face-to-face relationship building and lead nurturing. Don’t underestimate the impact a handshake or a personal meeting can make on a prospect or customer. Some common physical events include:
  • Trade shows. Trade shows are physical gatherings of individuals and businesses from a particular, or collection of, industries and professions. These events normally feature booths and event spaces that are filled with products or literature that relate to the products and services offered by those attending. A business may sponsor or participate in a trade show to show off a product or simply to network and strengthen its presence in a market. It also provides a good opportunity to network and also learn more about competitors in the market.
  • Conferences. Conferences are often company-specific marketing events that gather attendees for the purpose of delivering information such as a user summit. These events tend to be on the larger side and are held by companies for training or educational purposes. There are normally opportunities for networking time, as well as keynote presentations from important people within the business or external professionals.
  • Seminars. The term seminar is usually used to describe smaller meetings, road shows, or field events. Some seminars are set up similar to a classroom lecture, where an expert shares information with the audience in a traditional format. Others are styled as road shows, where marketers take their company’s message out to the public or to employees or partners. 
  • Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. These are typically smaller, more targeted events. They can be both customer and prospect-focused. These events are usually very intimate, with eight to ten people, or can be larger, with 50 or more attendees. Smaller functions tend to be high level and provide executives a private setting for networking. On a larger scale, breakfasts, lunches and dinners can include thought leadership presentations as part of the event. 

Learn more about what event marketing can offer in our Definitive Guide to Event Marketing.

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How to drive demand to your events.

Hosting your own event is an incredible opportunity to market your brand. But you need to fill up that guestlist to get the best return on your investment.Here are a few ideas for an event marketing campaign.

Remarketing.

This technique takes advantage of your clicks and website traffic to trace potential leads and serve them relevant adverts about your brand. For example, you could add a remarketing tag (often via a digital marketing agency) to your event marketing landing page. Anyone who clicks will later see a Google, Facebook or other advert promoting your event. It’s a great way to capture a relevant audience.

Content.

Long form written content is another great way to capture your audience’s imagination, build brand awareness and appear expert in your field. Remember to research your topic and competitors, engage industry experts and share your articles widely. Don’t forget those all-important event CTAs at the end of the piece. Once you have a suite of articles or blogposts, you can use them as part of a wider content marketing campaign.

Social media.

Social media campaigns are a great way to boost your event sign ups. Create great graphics and engaging posts to entice your audience to click your links and attend your event. You can create targeting campaigns using in-platform keyword lists, topics and geolocation details. If you want to gain more followers and people who follow and engage with your competitors, you can do so through apps like Tweepi.

Want to find other ways to market your event? Check out our complete digital marketing guide.

 

ROI of a successful event marketing program.

While measuring the ROI of a successful event marketing program is more complicated than other channels, the data you can collect is invaluable.  Event marketing is:

  • Vital. In fact, over 40% of marketers believe that live events are their number one marketing channel.
  • Growing. The number of companies organizing 20 or more events per year has increased by 17% from 2017 to 2018.
  • Great for creating connections.survey conducted by Bizzabo discovered that 95% of respondents believed that live events provide attendees with a valuable opportunity to form in-person connections in an increasingly digital world.

 

How to plan, implement, and optimize your event marketing program.

Once you determine your goals, you can start the creative process to develop an event that will engage your audience, launch promotions, and generate sales. 

Step 1: Set realistic and targeted goals up front.

When it comes to event marketing, return on investment (ROI) is not just something you consider after the fact. You must plan for ROI from the outset and continue measuring it after the event, if you want an accurate picture of whether your event has been a success financially.

Keep in mind that your goals should not be limited to only registration and attendance models. The best goals will impact your sales pipeline and revenue. 

Step 2: Incorporate a strong theme and be creative, whether in person or online.

You’re at the event, but now what? In a sea of vendors, how do you make your presence known? Consider using games or interactive tools as a way to pique the interest of attendees.

Swag giveaways are also a great way to entice someone to visit your booth. This matters with virtual events too. Keep in mind your look, how you present your collateral, and what sort of contests you might want to incorporate. 

Step 3: Segment and create multiple touches in your promotion.

No matter what sort of promotion you are using, segmentation is vital to getting the right attendees registered for your event.

Make sure you spend time on data quality to ensure that the lists can be reused in the future. Being active on social networks before, during, and after your event is crucial for success, as is determining the appropriate amount of email promotion.

Don’t forget, because events are in real-time, attendees often use social networks to engage with other participants in a live environment. Connect with attendees through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and so on to generate some buzz for future events. 

Step 4: Make sure you have the right event technology in place.

Virtual event platforms enable an interactive gathering on the web, allowing participants to be part of a trade show, meeting, conference, or any other event without ever leaving their office.

When it comes to webinars, each platform has their own value. Determine what is most important to you – price, ease of use, customer service – and go from there. A marketing automation system is crucial here so you can keep your efforts scalable, trackable, and measurable. 

Step 5: Base measurement around ROI.

When it comes to measuring event marketing ROI, you have three metrics to choose from.

  • Basic progression measurement. By measuring the progression statuses of your attendees, you can determine metrics such as invited, registered, attended, and no show.
  • Leads by category. This metric tracks where leads are in your revenue cycle and lead category, or in other words, which leads are most worth pursuing.
  • Pipeline measurements. This metric tracks how many opportunities were created, how much pipeline was generated, how many were closed/won and for how much, bookings, and cost per opportunity (CPO).

 

Frequently asked questions about event marketing.

What is the definition of event marketing?

Event marketing is the advertising of a brand, product or service as part of a wider event. For example, a brand’s representatives might attend an expo or conference to promote themselves directly to the public and talk them through certain products or services.

Event marketing shouldn’t be confused with event management, which is the process of planning, marketing and conducting events.

What is an example of event marketing?

Many businesses market their products/services at events like trade shows, conferences or exhibitions. These are all examples of where event marketing may take place.

Event marketing often involves concessions, stalls or stands and in-person interaction with a representative.

Why do companies use event marketing?

Companies use event marketing to promote themselves to a highly relevant audience. Industry events are often a great opportunity to meet business decisionmakers. Event marketing can build a high level of brand awareness and can help facilitate sales. 

Learn more about how to get event marketing to work for you in Go from Meh to Yah! 10 Success Secrets for More Effective Events