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Marketing Your Event in a Digital World


READ TIME: 3 minutes

Depending on existing resources, event planners can avail themselves of a wide range of marketing channels for attendee acquisition. Traditional tactics like print advertising, email, and direct mail are still effective under certain circumstances. Non-traditional tactics, such as paid social media and pay-per-click search engine advertising, can also work well with the right strategy in place. A new breed of  technologies exclusive to events is a third option opening up new opportunities to grow events.  

  • Peer-to-peer referral marketing platforms help registrants send invitations (referrals) to unregistered (and often net new) colleagues via email and social media. When an individual registers for an event, he or she receives a confirmation and access to a referral dashboard that facilitates the referrals.
  • Exhibitor-to-attendee invitations provide exhibitors with branded assets to invite their customers and prospects to the show using email and social media.
  • Influencer marketing provides organizers with pre-designed collateral (for example, landing pages, banners, email templates, or social sharing images) to encourage speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, and other event partners to invite colleagues to attend.
  • Ad retargeting tactics let planners serve up banner ads elsewhere on the Internet to people who have visited the event website.
  • Pay-per-click tactics designed specifically for events help event planners deliver event-centric paid advertising campaigns on search engines and social media, mobile, and video platforms.
  • Data analytics platforms analyze attendee data from multiple sources, including registration and paid lists, develop audience personas, and use digital tools and human analysts to inform marketing campaigns in the weeks leading up to the event.
  • Chatbots use artificial intelligence, natural language libraries, or machine learning to address event-related questions. When they are placed on the event website, they can help direct prospective attendees to register.
  • Ticketing platforms that also have social sharing tools (ways for ticket buyers to broadcast their purchases on social media channels) can help event planners spread the word.
  • Geofencing creates a digital boundary around a competitive event. When visitors cross into the geofenced area, they receive advertising on their mobile devices.

There are pros and cons associated with using non-traditional digital marketing tactics–even those built specifically for events. Often, they can uncover new sources of attendees, and most of the emerging platforms can attribute new attendees to specific individuals and channels, which is helpful for apportioning the marketing budget. On the other hand, they require expertise, vigilance, and an adequate advertising budget in order to be effective.