MarketingSherpa published an excellent primer on Virtual Event Marketing. The 10 tactics listed were:
- Partner with assocations
- Invest in PR
- Get exhibitors involved
- Advertise on relevant web sites
- Market to internal email database
- Email registrants the day before and the day of an event
- Use social media to attract attendees
- Emphasize the value of the event
- Use the virtual event’s microsite
- Use sweepstakes as an incentive
Based on my involvement in marketing virtual events to an Information Technology (IT) audience, I’d like to add the following:
- Promote early and often – get your microsite launched up to 2 months prior to the live event. Time is critical, because it gives you options to try different tactics, measure response rates and adapt accordingly. If you leave yourself too little time, your flexibility is limited and your registrations will suffer.
- Invest in search engine optimization (SEO) – make sure your registration page and microsite are optimized for SEO. For more insights into SEO for virtual events, see this blog posting: https://allvirtual.wordpress.com/2009/02/02/search-engine-optimization-seo-for-virtual-events/
- Invest in search engine marketing (SEM) – just like you’d buy keywords to drive visitors to your corporate web site – figure out which search terms are relevant to your virtual event and spend a little of your budget purchasing search engine keywords to drive clicks to your virtual event microsite or registration page.
- Use interactive technologies to draw attention – with the amount of email received by your target audience, it’s harder and harder to stick out from the crowd. To do so, use interactive visuals like a screencast (to give users a sneak preview of what your virtual event environment looks like) or a short video clip embedded within an HTML email.
- Use a variety of promotional vehicles – email is the most heavily used, but not all of your users pay attention to promotional emails. So try display ads, placement in e-Newsletters, text links on publisher web sites and sponsorship of relevant sections of web sites.
- Highlight the prominence of expert speakers – in some industries, a well-known speaker can generate the audience all by herself. If you’ve secured such a speaker, be sure to promote her prominently. In fact, use her name right in the Subject heading of your promotional emails.
- Highlight the ability to interact with executives and experts – once you landed that expert speaker, invite her to participate in the virtual event after her speaking appearance. In fact, in lieu of a Q&A after the Webcast/Videocast, have her appear in the Networking Lounge to answer questions there (via text chat), interacting directly with the audience. In addition, invite your executives to participate and interact with the audience.
- Display the list of exhibitors – as you sell sponsorships, display the list of companies who will be exhibiting. That may convince some users that they need to attend – what better a way to narrow your purchasing decision than to “meet” with the candidate solutions providers in one fell swoop?
- Provide a sales contact for potential exhibitors – some registrants of your virtual event may represent companies who’d like to exhibit (sponsor). So give them an email address or phone number and you might have just sold an additional sponsorship.
What has worked well in promoting your virtual events?
To expand on point 5, I think there is a lot one can do with social media, especially from a visual/audio perspective. For example, you can put slides on Slideshare.net to build interest in the content and point people back to the virtual event. Or you can post Flickr photos of booths, the environment and speakers. If these are also under the Common Creative License, then bloggers/media can embed these in their article to further promote the event.
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