The most successful B2B industry events have one thing in common: they get people excited about attending well in advance. Not only do you have to bring awareness to your event, but you also need to engage potential participants throughout the pre-event process.
Whether you are holding an in-person event, a virtual event, or a hybrid event, you need to get the word out, build brand awareness, and generate interest for event attendees.
Building B2B Event Engagement
Building event engagement before your B2B event is crucial to success. It’s especially difficult in today’s connected environment where we’re constantly bombarded with marketing messages. Even in niche industries, there is more competition than ever.
In the U.S., there are more than 1.8 million events every year. What makes yours special? Building engagement means telling the story of your event to make it stand out. Here are a few of the insider secrets from event planners to help.
1. Launching Your B2B Event Site
As an event organizer, you need to create anticipation for your next event by creating a compelling destination for attendee registration. It needs to promote all the relevant information, such as speakers and key talking points, agenda and seminars, and include teaser content for people who want to learn more.
Be sure to update your event site regularly to keep it fresh and give people a reason to return.
For virtual event engagement, your event platform should enhance the experience for virtual attendees besides just seminars or speeches. As the world shifted to virtual events over the past two years, many people have suffered from virtual event fatigue. So, you may need to provide additional incentives to get them to attend. Your pre-event marketing strategy might include virtual booths where participants can engage with vendors.
Pro Tip: Consider launching a mobile event app for your in-person events that attendees can use to stay in touch with you before the event, but also during the event. A mobile app can provide additional content for your target audience, short videos, and other event content to encourage participation or be used in live polls to enhance the event experience. You can also use this for post-event surveys.
2. Create Urgency
Consider using countdown clocks and discounts with deadlines to create urgency and encourage early signups. The more people you can get to commit upfront, the more confident you’ll be that your event will be a success.
Early-bird registration periods are an effective strategy to get you started on the right path. As people begin to sign up, you can capitalize on a fear of missing out (FOMO) that encourages others to sign up.
3. Maximizing B2B Event Communications
Event marketing continues well after you announce your online presence. To continue audience engagement, you will want to reach out in a variety of ways.
Press Releases & Content Marketing
Press releases still play an important role in drawing attention to your future event. Press releases get picked up by industry sites, which will help publicize the event experience. You should also consider content marketing or co-promotions with industry publications.
For example, a guest column or blog post from your organization, one of your speakers, or subject matter experts can be an effective way to get exposure. You can also use content marketing to build additional content for your micro-site and push it out over email and social media.
Don’t underestimate the power of social media platforms throughout all of your pre-event engagement strategy. Consider a mix of free, organic postings, and targeted paid ads as part of your pre-event engagement strategy.
For example, you can create a Facebook event page and invite potential attendees to join. Reach out to event sponsors, exhibitors, and participants to join the conversation.
Social channels allow you to do many things to generate interest, such as:
- Conduct polls to gauge interest in topics
- Collect feedback on event agendas or suggestions for topics
- Utilize Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) posts with experts presenting at your event
- Share educational content tying into event speakers
- Provide testimonials from past participants about their experience
- Show attendees behind-the-scenes photos or information
- Provide tips about where to stay or nearby restaurants
- Share coupon codes, discounts, or VIP experiences
User-generated content (UGC) gets shared online. One effective strategy is to solicit UGC posts before the event. For example, you might want to do a photo contest that ties in with your event’s theme. Consider offering gift cards, swag bags, or discounts for participation.
Using popular hashtags can be another way to get your social content seen. For larger events, creating your own hashtag and encouraging participants to use it can drive traffic and engagement.
The annual Adobe Summit is a great example of a group that has been able to successfully grow their social presence through consistent posts featuring #AdobeSummit, along with updates, highlights, recaps, and interactive content.
Pro Tip: Call out speakers, especially keynote speakers, and exhibitors by name. Be sure to tag them so they see it. They will often share your posts with their contacts, broadening your reach significantly.
Another tip is to include a social share widget on all of your pre-event marketing materials, such as websites and emails, to expand your outreach.
Leverage Your Signup List
You’ll want to capture email addresses in every way possible to build an email list. Leverage your list to send regular updates about your event, including reminders and updates to your speaker’s list, exhibits, or seminars.
You can use drip-feed campaigns for attendee engagement as part of your pre-event marketing. You may want to offer networking opportunities, learning experiences, video teasers, exhibitor and supplier details, and more.
Pro Tip: Create Orchestrated Campaigns to execute a highly targeted email campaign strategy by delivering email invitations and confirmations that are personalized to potential attendees. This might include pre-event surveys for your target audience to encourage signups or solicitations about what they want to get out of the attendee experience.
You may want to consider adding an advisory board for your event. You can often find industry influencers that will want to participate and will help spread the word about your event. Make sure to include your sponsors in your pre-event marketing. They want exposure as well and are likely to share any content you post.
Make It Easy for Your Sponsors, Speakers, and Exhibitors
Provide marketing materials for sponsors, speakers, and exhibitors to make it easy for them to share. For example, you might want to provide pre-written email invitations they can send to their clients highlighting their participation or social posts with high-quality images, videos, and links to your registration site.
4. Building Pre-Event Communities
By giving attendees access to your event platform or mobile app before your event starts, you can encourage them to fill out profiles, add pictures and titles, and connect with their peers.
One of the big benefits of in-person events is the networking opportunities it creates. You can extend that benefit by connecting people online whether you are hosting an in-person event or a virtual event.
When attendees can communicate before, during, and after the event directly with other participants, they are more likely to be engaged.
5. Create Personalized Journeys
You can take a page from B2B marketers’ playbooks by creating dynamic journeys for your potential attendees. Create customized campaigns that adapt based on visitor behavior. This allows you to personalize the content visitors see to improve audience engagement across your marketing channels.
Pro Tip: Using Folloze Boards, for example, you can plan, build, and launch content-rich destinations and campaigns that deliver deep engagement. You can drag and drop elements to create beautiful microsites, partner portals, and personalized sites in minutes without having to use any code. You can add scheduled events and even live events easily.
You can then use Folloze Boards to launch pre-event communications and other event marketing to drive people back to your site.
6. Measure Everything
As you roll out your pre-event marketing strategy, make sure you have a way to measure the effectiveness of everything you do. This helps you see what’s generating the engagement you want and what’s missing the mark so that you can pivot where needed — or at the very least, learn what to do and what not to do when promoting your next event.
You’ll also want to monitor behavior across multiple touchpoints of your marketing campaign and then tie it to attendance and session attendance. This information will be valuable to gauge the ROI of your marketing efforts, and can also be used to inform strategies around future events.
Make Your B2B Event a Success
Putting on an event is a big undertaking, from event planning to ticket sales to hosting the event itself. Don’t just think you can put up a website, post a couple of things online, and automatically get people to register. It takes a measured plan and a commitment. As so many things in B2B marketing, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
By investing your time in pre-event planning and marketing, however, you can increase attendance and be confident that attendees will have a memorable experience. A well-planned pre-event marketing strategy can get attendees excited before the event begins and keep their energy up until they walk through the door or sign on to your virtual event.
To learn more about Folloze solutions for your pre-event marketing or hosting virtual events, contact Folloze today.