Planning a conference is hard work, whether it be a physical or virtual conference, and if you don’t properly promote your conference, all that hard work will be a waste.
To make life easier, we’ve gathered a handful of promotion ideas that will be sure to increase your event profile and lead to a boost in ticket sales and registrations.
Given the great stress and hard work that comes with planning your conference you don’t want to trip on the last step!
Here are some of the best ways to promote a conference ensuring that you stand out in a crowded field and that the right people can find their way to your registration page:
Use Social Media
Social media is far and away one of the most effective marketing and promotion platforms on earth so it presents a perfect opportunity for you to put your conference details in front of the people who will want or need to see it.
Create a Hashtag
One of the best ways to engage your audience and promote your conference-related content is to create your own hashtag.
Make sure that any hashtag you create is readable and easily identifiable with your conference. It should be specific enough to be linked to you, but general enough to be easily remembered. The title of your conference and the year is a great place to start.
Once you have decided on your hashtag, use it each time you share a conference-related post. Encourage any members of your event planning committee/team to use it as well when posting to their social media accounts.
This gives your target audience something that is both actionable and searchable.
They can use the hashtag when posting about your event to their personal social media profiles but they can also search the hashtag on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram when trying to find content related to your conference.
Live Stream the Event
All the major social media channels allow for live streaming. This is a great way to promote your conference and generate hype around your event. Here’s a list of top 14 virtual conference platforms that will allow you to live stream your conference and offer more features like virtual booths, lobbies and chat capabilities.
You can film all or some of the keynote speakers, take a video of the event venue and provide a walkthrough. Be sure to use your hashtag in your copy!
This can be effective for multi-day events and encourage people to come out for the remainder of the conference. Live Streaming also gives people who are unable to attend a little taste of what they are missing. If you play your cards right and live stream the right parts of your conference, you will all but guarantee the people watching make it out to next year’s conference.
Video and live streams are a great way to promote your event in general. Create teaser videos or share a live stream of the venue set up. This will help create excitement for your upcoming event and may even help prompt an increase in ticket sales.
Hold a Contest
Use your social media accounts to hold a contest, get creative here! Run a photo-captioning contest or encourage people to like the post, like your profile, share the post, and tag a friend. Make sure you tell them to use your event hashtag. Give away VIP access or free tickets to your conference.
We’ve all seen social media contests like this before in our feeds and they get an awful lot of traction. If you want people to share your event details far and wide, give them a reason to!
Influencers are valuable tools in your event marketing tool kit. Typically, you would reach out to someone who has a lot of followers with your target audience and use them to plug and promote a product or service.
Even though you aren’t strictly selling a product or service, influencer marketing principles still apply. Reach out to industry leaders if appropriate and try to get them to talk about your event on their social media accounts. Or, and this is likely the most appropriate path, use your keynote speakers as influencers.
Keynote speakers will have a lot of authority in the industry and are likely to be similar to celebrities in their field. So, ask them to promote your event using your hashtag. They may even create their own promotional videos talking about their role in your conference and encourage their followers to attend. Using speakers in this way will potentially get you in front of a wider portion of your target audience.
Optimize for SEO
This may seem obvious but we’re going to say it anyway: if people can’t find your conference details, they aren’t going to attend.
So, a key pillar of your conference marketing strategy should be optimizing your online efforts for search engine optimization (SEO). SEO allows your content to be more discoverable by search engines and makes it more likely to appear to users in search results.
Keywords are at the heart of SEO but there are other things you can do to help yourself out and set your content apart.
Begin by creating a conference website. A website gives you a place to sell tickets from and a place to create SEO-friendly content, but it also gives you an opportunity to fully brand your event. A strong brand will help you stand out and make it easy for your audience and attendees to identify your content when they see it.
Once you have created this webpage, you can begin to create content that will attract people to your event. A blog post either about the event, your speakers, industry news, or some relevant topic will provide the opportunity to use an increased number of keywords and do so in more organic and effective ways.
Blog content gives people a reason to visit your site and will boost your traffic numbers, also helping your SEO.
Add visual content like videos and photos or even create an infographic. This content can easily be repurposed and shared across social networks to direct people to your ticketing page or a specific landing page of your choosing. With a simple tweet, you could be reaching an expanded audience and alerting an increased number of potential participants to your upcoming conference.
Conference organizers often hire professional photographers or videographers to attend the event and capture it for them. These images and videos can be used in future conference promotion.
Industry Listings and Publications
Never look past traditional print media or industry publications.
If you are hosting an academic conference, for example, there are many publications devoted to specific fields of study that would be able to publish marketing materials or list your event in an events calendar. Find the publication(s) that is most appropriate to your subject matter and reach out.
Similarly, look for events calendars you could post to online. Obviously use industry-specific calendars and listings but don’t forget to post to calendars in the community where the upcoming event is taking place.
Email Marketing Campaign
When it comes to promoting your event, good ol’ email marketing is still incredibly powerful.
A strong, branded, email marketing campaign can help garner new registrations but help nudge people who may be interested in attending but have yet to register.
Email marketing requires little investment on your end and can provide incredible returns. If you are planning to use an event ticketing system to simplify sales and online registrations, look for one like Accelevents that has custom-branded email templates, allows you to upload your own contacts or integrates with external tools like MailChimp.
Instead of just mass mailing your entire email contact list, it is best to break it down into small segments so you can more carefully target and speak to particular elements of your audience.
Consider breaking the list down into the following groups:
- Those who attended last year: With this group, you can work the soft sell. They already know what your conference has to offer, are familiar with your brand, and will be more likely to attend again this year. Use some of the videos and images you gathered from the previous event to remind and re-engage this audience.
- Those who signed up for the event in the past but did not attend: For whatever reason, these individuals missed the previous conference. Take a little time to fill them in on what they missed. Again, use the videos and images from previous years to drive the point home.
- Those who have expressed interest but have yet to register: These people will require more finesse. They are obviously interested in your conference, but may just need a little bit of convincing. Again, use the content from previous events but exciting and relevant content as well.
No matter who you are targeting, make sure that you don’t spam recipients and be sure to include all the important relevant details. Not just the where and when of your event but also who is speaking and what participants can hope to gain through attendance. This is where blog content or other assets created for your website can come in handy.
Do not forget to remind people to buy tickets or register if necessary. Be sure to include the links to these pages.
When it comes to online purchasing decisions, sometimes people just need a little time. Visitors to your site, social profile or ticketing page might need to think things over a little longer before they make a purchase.
Ad retargeting is a way to stay top of mind while people consider your conference.
Basically, when someone visits a specific page on your site, a pixel is installed in their browser. When they surf the web, the pixel signals retargeting platforms to serve them specific ads based on the pages they visited on your site.
Make Registration Easy
One of the best things you can do to promote your conference and boost registrations is to make it easy.
People do not want to jump through hoops for you or your conference. Even the best conference planner in the world will see a drop in conversions if registration is unnecessarily complicated.
So much of our daily activities occur online. It makes things quick and easy, right? Why not make your registration quick and easy? Skip the paper registration forms and instead use online registration.
Make sure you don’t overdo it with your online registration form. If it is too long and too cumbersome, people are likely to abandon it the entire thing before getting to the end. Eliminate barriers by asking only for the crucial information you need like:
- Email address
- Phone number
- Job title
Be sure to brand your online registration form for continuity. By keeping your forms looking like the rest of your pages or communications, you can ensure there is no confusion. If people trust the form, they are more likely to fill it out.
It is also a great idea to keep your form optimized for mobile use. Again, the last thing you want to do is make it more difficult for someone who wants to give you their money to actually give you their money!
We know that your conference is going to be amazing and by using any or all of these event promotion ideas everyone else will know it too. Don’t be afraid to take these ideas and make them your own, think outside the box, and reach your target audience in the way that only you can!