The return of in-person events, combined with more frequent virtual experiences, means attendees today receive a ton of invites and event promotions.  

To achieve success in the new hybrid world, event professionals need to ensure their content stands out in an already crowded field by generating excitement at every stage of the event lifecycle. It requires aligning messages across all areas of the organization, especially sales, marketing, and event teams.

As we dive into the fall events season and close out 2022, we took some time to sit down with two members of the Webex Events Marketing Team — Brittany Tucciarone, Social Media and Community Specialist, and Russ LaFleur, Email Marketing Manager — to share their insights on building a successful, year-round event promotions strategy.

Why is it important for event messaging to be consistent across promotions?

RL: When you speak to your audience and their needs in a clear and consistent way, whether talking about pain points, industry trends, or providing some helpful tips and takeaways, it’s much more likely to resonate and ultimately attract people to your events.

BT: Having an aligned promotion plan with consistent messaging ensures that your attendees actually hear the message you are trying to communicate. They say that on average an end user needs to hear or see one message seven times for them to actually understand it. If your messaging isn’t consistent, it may not be received or understood.

What are some tips for aligning promotions across marketing efforts?

BT: To begin, hold a kickoff meeting with all stakeholders. It’s really beneficial to get everyone on the same page. It helps to clarify who’s going to own specific tasks and identify key deliverables and needs. From there, integrate a project management tool like Asana to keep everything moving and to ensure it’s all delivered on time. Just make sure to organize your management system before the project begins, so everyone knows where they can find various collateral. We also hold biweekly touch-base meetings with different teams across our organization, so they know what we’re working on and everyone stays on the same page.

Based on your event promotion strategy this year, and what you’ve seen from other brands, what are your biggest takeaways?

RL: Being able to digest content on your own time is super important right now. Everyone’s time is extremely valuable. I recommend mixing in a series of shorter, digestible sessions with your more traditional, longer events. Over this past summer, we launched an Event Summer Camp Series, which was a huge success. We hosted bite-sized, 30-minute sessions as opposed to a 2-3 hour event. It really worked because people could attend on their own terms. It was short. It didn’t take up most of their day, and the content was also available on-demand. Once you registered, you gained access to all of the sessions

Between high attendee expectations and an increase in event options, how can event professionals set themselves apart in their promotions?

BT: There’s no more room for being vague with your promotions. People want to know what they’re going to get out of an event up front, so you really have to show them what they’ll learn. Event professionals talk about events all day long and they’re often deep in the weeds. You want to really take a step back and show the full scope of what you’re going to cover. As your promotion goes on, you can get into the details more and more and give people teasers of what they’re going to see and learn. Nothing excites attendees more than being able to see how an event benefits them.

For example, you can add a bulleted list with key learnings or takeaways that attendees can expect to leave your event with. Or, you could create a short video talking about your presenters and what they will be bringing to the discussion topics. 

RL: Brittany’s absolutely right. You need to be specific and explain why somebody should register for the event. But you also want to cast a wide net. You want to speak to a specific audience, but how do you expand that message to more people? What I’ve seen in emails — and this works — is to make it personal, make it human. People are craving that personal approach. They want their promotions to be from a person, not a company. 

With budget cuts hitting a lot of marketing departments right now, what are your tips for doing more with less?

RL: It’s so important to plan, plan, plan. Have an event strategy that’s achievable and scalable, and don’t waste your time on things that aren’t going to provide value. Going back to messaging, when you start creating your event, ask yourself: Why do people want to come? What value does your event provide? Once you come to a consensus, take that message and tweak it and repurpose it across all of your promotion channels. For instance, you can format and adapt the main overall message to your email audience or make a graphic and post it on social media. 

BT: If you’re the one producing and promoting an event — repurpose. But if you’re the person who’s planning the event, find the free resources that are out there and available to you. For instance, Webex Events creates a ton of free templates. We have a hybrid event run-of-show template and budget templates to make your life easier. So, templatize what you can and incorporate them into your planning processes and promotion plans.

RL: That’s a really great point. When you think about scalability, consider what you can repeat. Don’t just look at one event, think of the whole series. Look at what you want to achieve quarterly or yearly, and how you can design event promotions in a repeatable way. 

What metrics are you paying the most attention to when promoting an event?

BT: For social, we’re really focusing on engagement, so we want to make sure we’re reaching  a lot of people, but we also want to make sure we’re reaching the right people and that they find the content relevant and interesting. So, this means tracking if they’re clicking on the links, or if they’re liking or commenting on our content. It gives us the green flag of, “OK, we’re posting the right type of content that people want to see.”

RL: With email, there’s the traditional email metrics like open and click through rates — which are very important. But I also like to pay attention to registrations and conversion rate. You could have an email that has a 40% open rate and 3% click-through rate, and that’s fantastic. But how many registrations did it lead to? Are people reading your email, then going to your registration page or your event landing page and actually converting?

I also like to look at engagement with email content. I usually provide some kind of content leading up to and after the event. For example, the email might say, “Join us for this event on event strategy, and by the way, we’re going to be talking about these four key takeaways. Here’s a blog post that we produced on event strategy.” 

We increasingly see event professionals leverage short-form content in their programming. Are you seeing the same approach in your promotion areas? When does long-form content still make sense?

RL: Whenever I create my initial announcement for an event and it’s the first time our customers or prospects are going to hear about it, I tend to stick to a long-form kind of email. It’s going to have all the necessary information. For instance, what will they learn at the event? Who are the speakers? What are the key dates and times? What are the registration details? 

Basically, it becomes a single source of truth for everything they need to know. And the conversion rates are typically higher because they have everything in the email, including a link to register.  From there, I start weekly emails with shorter, bite-sized content. One might focus on the agenda, then the next one promotes the various speakers, while the next one focuses on fun things you can do at the event. 

BT: On social, shorter content typically works best because you have about three seconds to grab somebody’s attention and three seconds to keep them there. But there’s a place for long-form content. It’s just about how you format it and tailor it to the platform you’re using. 

For example, if you’re going to put a long-form post on LinkedIn, how do you format it so it’s consumable for somebody who’s scrolling? You use bullet points, emojis, and page breaks to make it more digestible. Whereas on Instagram, rather than posting a graphic to promote a wrap-up blog, create a wrap-up video with the top things attendees need to know live from the show floor!

It comes down to understanding your platforms and how you can best utilize them. Just don’t be afraid to repurpose, because one long-form piece of content can become 20 pieces of social media content.

As in-person events become more prevalent, what are some tactics to boost anticipation and excitement ahead of the event? 

BT: We’re seeing a bit of a shift on social media, especially where people trust other people more than brands. The age of influencers is growing rapidly for a reason. People want human connection. So, how are you enabling your employees? Are you giving them the tools they need to promote your event? You’re more likely to see a registration come through based off of a peer recommendation versus another sponsored post. Make those personalized touches. You can double your impressions just by giving your team some copy and graphics to post on their pages. 

RL: Internal enablement is so important. I think Brittany does an excellent job with enabling our team and providing social media copy and graphics for everybody to go and promote in their own channels. Like I said before, I’m personally more likely to join an event that’s coming from a person than from a company. 

And with in-person events coming back, FOMO is a real thing. So, why can’t they miss your event? What kinds of unique activations can you incorporate into your event? What can they only get in-person that they can’t get by attending virtually? 

Why is it important to partner with the events and broader marketing team to repurpose and reshare event promotions?

BT:  It’s important to be close with the broader marketing team and other departments like customer and sales because that’s how you build an adaptable, agile program. If your program is adaptable, you’re going to see so much more value in your promotions. 

RL: It can’t just be the events team. You need to involve your sales, customer, and marketing teams. Because engagement doesn’t end when the event ends. You can create continuous engagement with follow-up content, repurposing video snippets, and cutting down sessions. Ensuring everybody is aware of what’s going on is extremely important. We tend to have a running list of our upcoming events, and then the content team creates different assets that align with the events over the next quarter.

Shifting to a year-round mindset

Looking ahead to 2023, event professionals face the uncertainty of a potential recession and shrinking budgets. But it doesn’t mean they need to scale back promotions. Event professionals have an opportunity to shift their approach from promoting a couple of flagship events to a year-round, interconnected marketing strategy.

It’s all about how you can work smarter and more strategically. To achieve success, bring your teams to the table to align on event goals and messaging. Craft a promotions strategy that showcases the key learnings and undeniable value of attending. Execute the plan by repurposing event promotions across all channels to generate excitement at every stage of the event lifecycle. 

Dive deeper with Webex Events: Looking for additional tips and insights as we navigate the new era of events? Check out these recent blogs on building a year-round events program and designing an interconnected content strategy.