For those of us who’ve been producing in-person events and managing venues for as long as we can remember, our event marketing strategy is something we’ve been honing for years. But as you prepare to promote your brand new online event experience, now is the perfect time to revisit your existing marketing practices and update them to specifically fit your virtual event.
To properly introduce existing fans and customers to this new format for your programming, and to seek out untapped audiences, it’s important to update your marketing language, examine the tools you’re using, and consider the way you approach event marketing as a whole. Read on for five tips from our virtual event marketing experts to get you started!
Update Marketing Language
The first step you should take in updating your marketing practices for promoting your virtual event is examining and updating your existing marketing language. Make it clear in every piece of content that your next experience will be fully virtual. Words like “admissions,” “check-in,” “will call,” and “venue” shouldn’t be used; instead, take time to describe exactly what attendees and viewers can expect with virtual-first language. For example, in place of “ticket” you might say “access code,” or instead of referring to your guests as “concert-goers,” you might call them “concert-viewers.”
After you’ve got your new phrasing down, start laying out marketing copy that highlights the benefits of a virtual format. Since this is something brand new to your audience, you’ll need to take care to convey to them that your online event will bring as much value and excitement as your in-person events always have. Promote the exciting experiences you’ll offer, like personal celebrity meet and greets, exclusive interviews, and other special attendee-only benefits. Highlight the many ways your event community will still be able to interact, such as chat rooms during sessions and performances, in-app voting and Q&As, and breakout video chats. Plus, as attendees need to take zero consideration into organizing travel, dining, hotel stays, parking, or even planning an outfit to wear, your marketing language should also accentuate just how easy it is to attend your virtual event!
Consider creating a dedicated hashtag specific to your virtual event as well. Make it unique from any existing event hashtags you may already have to drive home the fact that you’ve gone virtual. For example, if your legacy hashtag is #PrimaCon, a simple tweak to #PrimaConVirtual or #PrimaConOnline may be all the change you need! Not to mention, streaming your event online means you could potentially welcome an unlimited number of attendees, so the usual “get tickets while you still can” tactic may not be as relevant (aside from specific limited-quantity add-ons like 1×1 chats with celebs or private group sessions). You’ll therefore want to identify other sources of FOMO to encourage your audience to buy.
Once your language is sufficiently updated, be sure to revisit your visual marketing assets as well. Imagery featuring packed concert halls or convention centers isn’t exactly on brand for a virtual experience. Invest some time into creating virtual-specific designed assets, and shift some focus to your event programming and content, like your performers, speakers, and other featured talent.
Revisit Your Promotional Timelines
If you’re used to planning a large-scale annual event like a convention or music festival, your marketing cycle likely begins just as your previous event wraps up. But when thinking in terms of virtual events, launching your campaign a year in advance is much farther out than necessary. Just as virtual events involve less overhead and logistical planning on your part, the same is true for your attendees; ticket prices will likely be lower, transportation and lodging costs are completely taken out of the picture, and attending your event is as simple as tuning in from the comfort of their own home. With so few barriers to entry, your fans and customers simply don’t need months and months of lead time to decide and plan on their attendance.
That said, one of your initial steps should be to estimate just how far out the ideal time is to begin actively pushing your virtual event. If you start aggressively marketing months in advance, potential attendees might lose interest. If you wait too long, you run the risk of attendees forgetting or never even learning about your event. As a general guideline, it’s best practice to start slow a month or two in advance with a social media announcement and initial lineup debut, then ramp up as event day draws closer. Examine your target audience and the scope of your virtual event’s content to make the best decision for you!
Issue a Press Release
Virtual events are an exciting new frontier for entertainment. Capitalize on this exploding interest in an emerging medium by sending out a press release announcing your plan to go virtual, and detailing the most newsworthy pieces of your online experience! Take this opportunity to announce things like your official lineup, details of your exclusively-virtual content, and insights into the planning and managing of your first online event. Be sure to highlight what makes your event unique, as press releases perform best when a headline is truly eye catching. Take time to curate a list of new and existing media contacts that you feel are most likely to share the press release, and consider using online newswire outlets like, PR Web, PR Newswire, or eReleases to maximize your exposure while keeping expenses relatively low.
Use Your Existing Community
When it comes to spreading the word about your virtual event, your most valuable assets come in the form of your fans. The potential effectiveness of turning those who are already invested in your event into digital brand ambassadors grows exponentially when your event itself is taking place online! Once you’ve plotted out your timeline, take that newly updated marketing language and run an email drip campaign leading up to your first virtual event. Let your community know how you intend to translate the experience they know and love into an online event. Offer these loyal attendees an early-bird discount to encourage sales, and tie this discount to a specific code to track the effectiveness of your email activities. You can also use this medium to send regular updates regarding your lineup or content announcements, major press coverage of your virtual event, and reminders to reserve tickets early.
Further encourage your fans to share your event with their own followers by including your virtual-specific branded hashtag on your event listing, website, social profiles, and all marketing communications. Incentivize them to share by offering gamified referral perks like those offered by our partners at Audiencetools. And be sure to drive home to your community that this virtual experience is still a full-fledged event by creating a Facebook event page to generate even more social buzz.
And as always, make sure your event’s talent is on board as well! Encourage your speakers, performers, and celebrity guests to share regular updates about your upcoming virtual event to their dedicated social media following, making sure to supply them with your approved, virtual-first marketing language and branded hashtag.
Plan for the Future
While you work your way through planning and launching a campaign around your first foray into virtual events, be sure to keep the future promotion of your next in-person event in the back of your mind. Virtual event content isn’t going anywhere, so once you begin planning your next physical event, rest assured that there will be continued demand for immersive online content as a complimentary addition to the on-site experience. Save and utilize content from your upcoming virtual experiences to use in conjunction with promotional materials for your future “hybrid” events composed of both on-site and online content – you’ll thank yourself later! Fortunately, the online format of your virtual event makes it easier than ever to capture this content. Simply record and save your live streams and other video content, and devise other ways to visualize the fun and excitement of your virtual experience!
Interested in learning more about producing and marketing virtual events? Look no further! Our parent company, Patron Technology, has all the answers when it comes to virtual event technology.