In the last 15 years, the rules of event promotion have changed considerably. Before Facebook, Twitter and smartphones took over our lives, event promoters had a very different job. Even familiar platforms like email have changed considerably in the last decade.
Read on to find out how you can promote your events online using the latest platforms and how to improve traditional marketing techniques with a few new tools.
Guide to Event Marketing Online
1. Pick a connected venue
A good entertainment venue is one that invests in social media. Here are some questions you should keep in mind while in the process of picking a venue to host your next event:
– How attractive and user friendly is their website?
– Do they have a Facebook fan page and a Twitter page that are regularly updated?
– How large and up to date are their contacts lists?
The more connected your venue is, the easier it will be for them to help you promote your event through their social media channels. You can create a lasting memory of your event by hiring a professional photographer and by publishing the pictures on both the venue’s and your Facebook fan pages.
Tip: Include the name and date of your event as the description of each image for reference. Also, ask the photographer to collect the name and email address of one person per group.
2. Get social
We know that getting a consistent audience to follow your events online can be a bit of a challenge. An easy way to begin this process is running promotions on your Twitter page. Use relevant Twitter hashtag in your post (e.g. #deals or #promotions) to rally your follower base and collect extra information about them, such as their email address.
After a couple of promotions, you will identify the different taste patterns of your followers. Use this information to split your subscriber lists into different categories (gig-goers, clubbers, comedy fans etc.). Once your contact lists are complete, you are only a few steps away from creating targeted email campaigns.
Customise your Facebook page
Your Facebook page is a great place to let people know about your events and see what people think of them. To customise your page you’ll need to use Static FBML. Static FBML is a Facebook application that allows you to add basic HTML to your Facebook page, making it look that bit more professional. With Static FBML you can create an attractive landing page, insert a from to collect email addresses for a newsletter connected to a competition and have a link back to your main website to generate some traffic. – Follow Evvnt on Facebook
To find out more about Static FBML and making your Facebook page ‘pop’ see our guide: How to Create a Facebook Landing Page. Facebook most recent update to Pages also make it possible to add IFrames to landing pages on Facebook. This lets you import and control any style of web page on Facebook.
Consider a live TwitterFeed at your event
If you (or the club) have a projector as well as an internet connection at your event, you can display your followers tweets, live at the event. Think of the number of followers you’ll gain as a result and this will provide a meaningful link between your social media activity before the event and with the night itself. You’ll need some software like Twitterfall (best for larger events as you can effectively censor tweets) or StreamTwitter (if you want to maximise the tweets). Follow us on Twitter
3. Make your email work for you
A mailing list is essential so people can keep track of your events and the venues where you are hosting them. A popular mailing list will make you more attractive to a prospective venue as they will see all the clients you are bringing with you. Email is a targeted approach to stay in touch with your clients and as an event promoter you have a wealth of material for a newsletter; pictures from previous events, interviews with acts and guests or your current favourite bit of content.
Top 3 email marketing tips for events
i) Personalise your subject lines
The first step to get your subscribers engaging with your content, is to encourage them to open your email in the first place. You probably already know that great subject lines are the most important thing to plan when trying to get more people to open your emails, but have you considered using a personal approach when targetting specific customer groups?
Example: “Special Event in Brighton This Week” or ““Love folk music? Come down to our venue this Thursday”
ii) Don’t be boring
A great way to increase open rates is stop sending bland or heavy text emails. Try experimenting with a different style once in a while and mix up the content to video, music, a poll or a useful diagram in it. Just make sure you check that your beautifully designed email is properly optimised to be received on different devices and internet browsers.
Example: Include music videos, exclusive pictures and other rich media like polls, games or competitions
iii) Be less available
Consider reducing the number of email messages you send. Think about the type of people your subscribers are and try to imagine how much email they get from other sources everyday. Every email message you send should be meaningful and it’s often true that the fewer number of emails you send your recipients, the more often they’ll open them.
Example: Consider changing from a weekly email to a bi-weekly or monthly email message.
4. Go mobile
With mobile marketing comes the opportunity for events with a secret destination and mobile tickets. In the past promoters have used these techniques like these to make sure the club plays ball with a promoter’s requirements; if people only find out on the day where a party is happening, you can move it nearer to the event without too much trouble. These techniques will help you to play on an exclusive reputation for your events.
Mobile campaigns deliver the latest news and content from an event and create a feeling of exclusiveness. It is also a useful route to sponsorship as it offers a mobile vehicle for the placement of event branding and advertisement . You can either opt for a standard SMS or for a richer, more elaborate MMS. Evently makes it easy to design both of these and integrate mobile marketing into your existing campaign.
Top 3 mobile marketing tips for events
It is generally advised for your mobile campaign to go live a week before the event. Include a teaser, an interview of the featured artist or a competition with prizes.
ii) A ticket countdown
Once your campaign is launched, you can gradually apply pressure as the event becomes imminent. For instance, include a countdown of the number of tickets available.
Take the time to do a debriefing of how effective the mobile campaign was. Whilst analysing your ‘opt-in’ rate, be wary of the barriers such as perceived costs, lack of awareness or relevance, that could prevent customers to opting-in. Be sure to use these analytics in order to improve your next mobile campaign.
5. Use event listings to promote events
Event listings websites form an important part of any event marketing strategy. Free listing services such as Yelp, Qype, Upcoming, Spoonfed, Eventful, LastFM and dozens more offer event promoters access to an enormous local and global audience of over 78 million event-goers per month. With that kind of reach, it’s very important that promoters take advantage of this free promotion method.
The pros are obvious – for free, promoters can access many new channels for marketing event information, ticket links and artist lineups. This can drive awareness, attendance and, critically, ticket sales. By piggy-backing on the popularity of some of the world’s top event sites, event organisers can overcome relative obscurity especially with brand new events. There are, however, some downsides. Adding listings to these sites is time consuming, taking up hours or even days depending on the number of events and how many sites are used. Additionally, sometimes editorial restrictions on the individual listing sites make it difficult to categorise events properly and premium content can steal away reader attention.
Top 3 tips for listing your events
i) Make sure your events are properly categorised
Always tag your events with lots of specific keywords. Don’t just use terms like ‘music’ or ‘gig,’ try to delve into minor genres and use artist names, venue names and locations to help searchers as well. If there’s no field for tags when submitting your event, include it in an email to the listing site editor, or add tags to the event description. There’s no point in listing your event on listings sites if no one can find it!
ii) Get the timing right
Make sure that you get in touch with a website or magazine at least 3 weeks in advance. London based websites such as Time Out and Spoonfed are particularly strict about this and may not list your event at all if you do not give them enough advance notice.
iii) Be relevant
Spend some time on the websites you want to post your events on. Have a look to check that your events fit in with the ethos or style of the websites on your broadcast list and consider tailoring your language or the images to what they like.
6. Choose the right image for your event
So, you’ve organised your next event, booked your venue and got the line-up sorted; now all you have to do is choose a picture for your event. But if you think that just any old picture will do, you should think again.
Event listings with images are more likely to get attention than ones without. Readers tend to briefly scan websites, so using an interesting picture for your event will increase the chance of a user clicking on your event.
i) Take a look at the competition
A good first step is to have a look at what your competition is doing. Visit some of the most popular listings websites to see what imagery is being used by other venues and promoters in your genre. It’s always a good idea to find ways to help your events stand out from the crowd – so if most of the events in your genre have white backgrounds, you might consider using a coloured background instead.
ii) Use your existing inventory
After spending precious time and money on designing a flyer, it makes sense to use this same design in as many places as possible. Consistent branding can help boost the profile of your events, so using your flyer for event listings websites can be a shrewd move. However, make sure you check how your target websites crop or shrink images and consider uploading a listings friendly version that might include the name of your event with a picture.
iii) Be flexible
Most promoters can’t afford expensive design software like Photoshop to edit their pictures, but there are plenty of free photo editors available such as Gimp or Pixlr. These easy to use products will let you crop, adjust or manipulate your image and save it as a variety of file types such as jpeg, gif or png files. This will give you a lot more options.
7. Sell tickets online
Managing ticket sales are essential to running a successful event. Whatever the size of your event, selling tickets should be the end goal of all your event promotion.
Promoters who enjoy a good relationship with their venue will usually leave it up to them to offer ticket sales via phone or one of the major online ticket providers.
If you’re new to event promotion or planning a small, independent event, there are lots of useful tools available to sell event tickets online. Eventbrite, Facebook and Etickets are all food options if you’re new to selling event tickets online.
8. Broadcast your live event online
With the advent of websites like UStream.tv and Audioboo making it easier than ever before to stream events online instantly, your event can reach an international audience. This live engagement means make it easy to spread your events online and get fans involved even if they didn’t buy a ticket this time. Twitter has an extremely short timescale, and is best used just before or even on the day of a live music event. Remember to keep a saved search in Twitter for relevant tweets and these will later serve as testimonials for your past events.
Video or audio streaming services are becoming an increasingly popular way for people to share live events around the globe. Live streaming allows hundreds or even thousands of people to be part of the live experience and access events on their computer or mobile phone.
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