You put a lot of work into crafting the ultimate event. Unfortunately that doesn’t necessarily mean that people will show up — much less pack the house.
Selling out your event is easier said than done. And while there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to event advertising, there are essential channels and tactics you should experiment with.
Get the ball rolling on your event promotion strategy with these 20 marketing and advertising activities. Just keep in mind that while there are numerous ways to advertise your event, you need to test and tweak until you find a winning combination.
Event Advertising Idea #1. Hone in on your target audience
Where you spend your advertising budget should be dictated by your target audience. Who are they? Why do they likely attend your event? And, more importantly, where do they spend their time online? Answer these three questions and you can target the right people with the right message.
Build a profile of your target audience to help understand their unique needs — this includes age, location, profession and interests. Check out this attendee workbook to help you get started.
Event Advertising Idea #2. Take advantage of event discovery sites
Eventbrite research shows that over half of urban event-goers look to neighbourhood guides for things to do. Get under your audience’s nose by advertising your event on the plethora of discovery sites and apps that your audience is using.
For example, think Bandsintown and Spotify as places where you can connect with people who already searching for a specific type of event (music fans).
Pro tip: This sort of placement is made easy when you use a ticketing platform like Eventbrite that partners with the best discovery sites.
Event Advertising Idea #3. Enable native check out
Being on an event discovery site is only half the battle. You then need to make it easy for people to buy tickets without leaving the page, to maximise conversions. The ability to buy tickets wherever event-goers are streamlines the customer experience. In fact, events that sell tickets directly on Facebook drive on average 20% more sales for paid tickets and double registrations for free tickets, when compared to events that redirect to a ticketing page.
Event Advertising Idea #4. Harness the power of email
Blasting to your entire mailing list with the same announcement about your event is not going to get you the best results.
Instead, segment your email lists into categories such as those who have bought tickets in the past, and those who haven’t, as well as different demographics within your main audience. Emails that are tailored to these specific segments are going to build a better connection with the people receiving them, and ultimately improve conversion and reputation. This email targeting is made easier with email marketing platforms like MailChimp or Emma.
Event Advertising Idea #5. Leverage the right social media channels
Social media is one of the most powerful marketing channels at your disposal. But with so many social networks to choose from, advertising your event on them can get overwhelming, fast.
Ideally, you’ve already cultivated a following on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. If not, this guide can help you determine which ones to prioritise.
Pro tip: Analysing your social media data will help you gain an understanding of which network to focus your attention.
Event Advertising Idea #6. Content marketing is a must
Event promotion through content marketing relies mostly on blog posts, infographics, and videos. Create thoughtful, engaging content that positions your event brand as a thought leader or shows your audience how great of a time they could have if they attended.
Post-event content reminds your fans of the great time they had during your show, builds affinity and goodwill, and makes them more receptive to future communications from your business.
Event Advertising Idea #7. Maximise online advertising
Don’t just spend more money to make advertising work for you. With the information you’ve gathered on your target audience, you can use strategic tools like ToneDen to constantly hone and refine your social media and Google Ads to make the most impact with your ad budget.
Event Advertising Idea #8. Don’t forget about copy and design
Once you know who you’re targeting and where you’re spending your ad budget, copy and design become very important elements of event advertising. It’s the first thing potential attendees will see, so it should not only be eye-catching but also have clear, concise copy and a strong call to action.
Event Advertising Idea #9. Choose great keywords
Search engine optimisation (SEO) can easily fall into the ‘too hard basket’, but it really is worth it. For most events, search engines (primarily Google) drive between 5-10% of ticket purchases or registrations online.
To help your event get found through search engines, you need to make sure your event page is SEO-optimised.
Event Advertising Idea #10. Retarget event-goers who expressed interest
You might not know the science behind it, but you’re definitely familiar with retargeting technology. Have you ever looked up something online, and then days later, you’re seeing ads for it on a completely different site? That’s retargeting.
People who weren’t ready to make a ticket purchase the first time are often grateful for the reminder to sign up before it sells out. Eventbrite creators have seen averages of up to six times return on investment through using ad retargeting tactics.
Event Advertising Idea #11. Invest in professional photography
Pictures set a vibe and answer event-goer’s questions about your event’s atmosphere. Take well-lit photos that do justice to the vibe and experience of guests at your event. Photography is also crucial for generating quality content that makes the other techniques on this list, such as email and social media, more effective.
While you may rate your self with the camera, busy event organisers can get a lot of benefit from hiring a professional.
Event Advertising Idea #12. Mind your timing
Timing is key when it comes to your event advertising strategy. After nailing down the details of who will be completing what tasks in the lead up to your event, think about how your audience likes to plan to gain a sense of the right time to kick things off.
Luckily, there are plenty of event management tools that can help you map out your timeline.
Event Advertising Idea #13. Look for lookalike audiences
If you already have a list of people who’ve purchased tickets to your events in the past, you want to find more people just like that.
Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest all have the technology to help you find lookalike audiences — people who match your buyer profile in terms of demographics, geography, stated interests, and online behaviour. Using their algorithms and automated tools, you can create ads targeted to those exact people.
Event Advertising Idea #14. Enlist a social media influencer
Your attendees are your biggest advocates, indeed. And within those ranks, you might find one or two that are extra influential. Find those folks and motivate them to help you spread the word online.
You can use technology tools like SocialLadder to find, manage, and capitalise on social influencers in your sphere.
Event Advertising Idea #15. Hire a brand ambassador
The highest echelon of “influencer marketing” is the paid brand ambassador. Seek out people with vast online influence — celebrities, subject-matter experts, popular bloggers, YouTube stars — and enlist them to create strategic and timely posts that promote your event (typically financial compensation is required here).
Event Advertising Idea #16. Social media ticket giveaway
Social media ticket giveaways are a great way to generate buzz and increase your exposure. You could run a simple enter-to-win sweepstake, or initiate something a little more playful — like a judged Snapchat drawing contest or a tag-a-friend contest (“Who would you bring?”). People love to share chances to win with their friends. Just make sure you’re on top of the rules and regulations each social media platform has around contests.
Event Advertising Idea #17. Create a special event hashtag (and overuse it)
Launching a special hashtag campaign in the lead up to your event is a great way to monitor engagement and reach. The more people use your hashtag, the more you’ll see your reach increase. It also helps people build excitement around your event, #GetExcited.
Event Advertising Idea #18. Network at similar events
Find events with the same demographics(that aren’t necessarily direct competitors) and team up with them to promote your upcoming event.
For example, maybe you’re organising a brand new technology tradeshow and hoping to entice attendees of Salesforce’s user conference, Dreamforce. Why not purchase a booth at Dreamforce? Or sponsor a happy hour nearby?
Event Advertising Idea #19. Shift focus from promotional to conversational
Move away from strict marketing messages on your social media platforms and consider content that engages your followers.
A good balance is the “4:1:1 Rule.” It says you should post or share four pieces of content written by other people or brands for every promotional post you make. You should think of it as giving your followers useful content. Build their trust, and they’ll respect your event brand.
Event Advertising Idea #20. Follow up post event
Even if you perfectly execute every aspect of your advertising strategy, it doesn’t end when your event sells out. Write a blog post summarising the event and publish it with fun photos. Send it out as a newsletter to your segmented email base — even those who didn’t attend. And if you’re already planning for next year, don’t forget to announce ASAP.
Maintain the momentum until you’re sold out
Choosing the right ticketing and registration partner will help keep the new attendees you’ve won over. Eventbrite gives you hundreds of ways to do that. Or to jumpstart your event advertising, check out The Ultimate Event Advertising Plan for Busy Event Creators for more tips.