Virtual events have seen a huge boost in popularity over the last couple of years, for obvious reasons.
As a result, getting to grips with promoting a virtual event has become an important skill for anyone presenting at an event in the near future. So how do you promote a virtual event as a speaker to ensure your presentation is sold out and the event is a success?
Focus On the Audience
Presenting at a virtual event is a great opportunity to reach new audiences, and that starts before the event itself:
Research the other speakers and the audiences they have built.
What motivates those groups to follow the various speakers?
Where do they go online to discuss related topics?
Understanding this will enable you to appeal to these new demographics before the event even starts. Your activities will serve to promote the event as well as build your own audience. While people may not attend a virtual event just to hear one speaker, they will be much more interested when they have learned more about other speakers and presentations that matter to them.
Create A Landing Page
When it comes to promoting a virtual event to your own audience though, building a landing page is a good place to start. All of your future content promoting the event can link viewers back here, where they can find a brief introduction to the event and your presentation, as well as a contact form to book or sign up for updates.
The landing page you create for your own site should cover:
The purpose of the event
Your own presentation topic
Other key speakers your audience should check out
An opt-in form to get updates about the event
The time and date of the event
A link to the booking page
Create a Marketing Plan
Creating a marketing plan lets you structure and order the promotional content you are going to share, in order to build interest and explain the event over time.
To begin with, this can be as simple as posting on social media that you will be at the event and linking to the event’s site and social media pages.
Over time, you can share more details about the event itself, the presentation you are planning, and other key speakers your audience should listen to.
The last week or so before the event is time for a final push to sell the last tickets. Be sure to highlight the time and date of the event and when ticket sales close in every post. If you haven’t already done so, get in touch with the event organizer to ask for discounted or free tickets you can share with your audience to help boost attendance.
Get The Timing Right
You might be booked as a speaker at an event more than a year in advance. However, marketing your event this early could make it difficult to sustain your audience’s interest all the way up to the date itself. On the other hand, start promoting the event too late and you won’t reach enough people, or your audience won’t be able to clear their schedules and attend.
The average virtual event promotional period lasts 3.5 weeks. This varies depending on scale, however. Larger events can benefit from longer marketing periods. It is a good idea to discuss timing your marketing with the event organizer.
Create Shareable Promotions
Social proof is one of the most effective forms of marketing. In other words, when your audience shares your posts, it carries more weight than if it came from you directly. For example, 92% of people will trust a recommendation from someone they know, and 70% will trust a recommendation from a total stranger.
This means that creating sharable promotions and discussions around the event is a great way to bring it to new potential attendees.
There are many ways to approach this, such as:
Social media polls and questions that get people talking about topics your presentation will cover
Discounted ticket codes your SMS subscribers can text to their friends and colleagues.
A short 1-2-minute video outlining a key concept of your presentation that will grab attention and inspire people to share the clip. This video by Curt Mercadante is a perfect example, concisely outlining the problem his presentation at an upcoming webinar would address and his perspective on approaching that issue.
Collaborate with Other Speakers
Introducing other speakers’ presentations through your own channels can give your audience more reasons to attend, and the same goes for their audiences. Content curation is a great way to interest your audience with your insights on the topic and collaborate with the influencer. Sharing relevant posts from your fellow speakers and getting in touch to collaborate on content, benefits everyone involved.
These could include:
Sharing guest blogs
A short interview and discussion clips
Sharing discount codes for your books and other content to help their audience get up to speed with your subject matter
Best Marketing channels to use to promote your events
There is a wide choice of marketing channels you can use to promote an event. You probably already use some of these to communicate with your audience. Here are some ideas on how to use them when promoting an event:
Email marketing is one of the most popular methods of event promotion, with 76% of virtual events using it as one of their main marketing channels. You don’t want to exhaust all of your email subscribers with messages about the event. Instead, create a dedicated mailing list for the event, and send the occasional message inviting subscribers to join the mailing list to learn more.
Similarly, create an SMS mailing list that subscribers can join by texting a keyword. Besides enabling you to send your audience messages and promotions they can read instantly, SMS marketing can make it easy for subscribers to get more information or even book by texting keywords to prompt automated responses.
Texting is also a useful tool during the event itself, letting you text your audience updates about timing and delays, and after the event, it is a valuable method of following up with your new contacts. This is particularly important for virtual events, where many attendees will not be familiar yet with the differences between online and traditional events.
While there are plenty of ways to reach your audience directly, a little media attention can introduce the event and your presentation to a broader audience. Sending a press release to relevant online publications and news sources gives you the chance to introduce yourself and the event to their audiences. It should contain all the details a reader needs to book a ticket, such as the time, date, and the platform being used.
For example, the press release for the Responsible Business Week event starts by introducing the purpose of the event itself before highlighting a few key features of the event.
Like email, try to avoid flooding your social media channels with posts about the event. While social media platforms are great channels to promote an event, if you lose sight of why people follow your profile in the first place then they will tune out your future posts.
However, in the few weeks before the event, turning up the frequency of event promoting posts in your social media schedule might not do any harm.
Additionally, for a seamless social media posting experience, it is advised to have social media scheduling tools in place.
Opt for Paid Search
Paid ads through Facebook, Google, and other online platforms let you reach specific demographics or target competitive keywords. These are useful for reaching specific groups whether they already follow you or not, and offer some features that can help boost ticket sales.
For example, both Facebook and Google ads can show countdowns that update in real-time to show the time left before ticket sales close, or how many places are left to book.
Follow Up After the Event
One of the benefits of speaking at a virtual event is the new contacts and opportunities you will uncover. This networking potential has no value if you don’t have an effective way to follow up after your presentation. There are a few ways you can open a dialogue with attendees after the event:
Reach out for feedback with a survey or poll. This is a great way to start a conversation about topics that caught someone’s attention.
Send out a recording of your stream, or the slides and other presentation materials you used.
Offer to answer any questions that there was no time for during the Q&A session.
Promoting a Successful Virtual Event
Successfully promoting a virtual event requires understanding your audience and how to reach them. Furthermore, it works best when you can use your existing communication channels to raise awareness and interest while maintaining a high-value output through those channels. Good timing is the final piece of the puzzle, which makes planning a schedule in advance a critical first step.
About the author:
Alexa Lemzy is the customer service expert and content editor at TextMagic – trustworthy SMS service provider. She is passionate about mobile marketing, business growth and communication as well as customer loyalty building. You can connect with Alexa on Twitter!