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Virtual Event Audience Generation via Content Marketing


Introduction

Email marketing is far from dead. For proof, look no further than Groupon, which recently filed for an IPO. Groupon’s business hinges on “daily deal” emails to their growing audience of subscribers. For virtual events, email blasts bring in 75% (or more) of the registrations [my estimate].

Despite Groupon’s success, virtual events’ reliance on email blasts is not sustainable. In this post, I introduce the concept of applying content marketing to generate an increasing percentage of your virtual event registrations.

Content Marketing is a Renewable Resource

Develop content that promotes your virtual event – and, remains viable well after the event is over. Market your event, while creating sustaining content at the same time. In the process of driving registrations to your virtual event, you’re also creating “inbound marketing,” – your content gets indexed by search engines. Content becomes a renewable resource, which can generate ongoing “returns.”

Email blasts, however, are a different story. You may open that Groupon daily deal email, but an offer to attend a virtual event may not garner the same interest. In addition, “repeat sends” of the same offer have diminishing returns. Get it right with your first offer, because subsequent blasts (to the same list) are dangerous. You’re more likely to generate opt-outs than opens or clicks. Email blasts are interruption-based, while with content marketing, users find you while they’re actively looking and searching.

Virtual Event Planners: The New Media Company

Consider the goals of a media company:

  1. Generate an audience (and associated lists)
  2. Engage the audience
  3. Sustain (and grow) audience loyalty

Virtual event planners are media companies. For virtual events, the above 3 steps become:

  1. Generate registrations (audience)
  2. Engage registrants (so they attend)
  3. Create a great event (so they come back next time)

Content marketing should be leveraged to generate a high attendance rate (i.e. number of attendees divided by number of registrants). Email reminders do not qualify as content marketing. In addition to reminders, share valuable content with registrants on a regular basis, leading up to the virtual event.

Content Marketing Portfolio

Never fear, you don’t have to build a media company on your own. Instead, leverage key stakeholders in the virtual event and invite them to provide content:

  1. Speakers
  2. Exhibitors
  3. Partners
  4. Your employees

The types of content you should be publishing:

  1. Blog postings (your blog)
  2. Guest blog postings (related industry blogs)
  3. YouTube videos
  4. Social sharing (of the above) via your social media channels
  5. Occasional email touches (to registrants) with valuable content [include an opt-out]
  6. Earned media

This content should be mixed and matched to attract new registrations and to interest existing registrants into attending the live event. An added benefit of all this content? Inbound links to your virtual event’s registration page, which increases its ranking with search engines.

Conclusion

Developing quality content is not easy. With a heavy reliance on email blasts (for virtual event audience generation), however, content can be a secret weapon. It’s your natural and untapped resource – and it’s renewable! Share your thoughts in the comments below – how are you using content marketing for your virtual events?

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