As the events industry heads into a new year, the market for live experiences shows no signs of slowing down. This thriving economic climate is great news for events looking to grow — but it also means that promotion and marketing are more important than ever to make your experience stand out.
To find out how event creators plan to approach the opportunities and challenges of a saturated marketplace, we surveyed more than 1,200 event professionals in the United States and Canada for The Pulse Report: 2019 Event Industry Trends.
Here’s what the results had to say about how event marketing will change in 2019.
What’s changing: 3 overlooked marketing strategies that will become more popular
More than half of respondents said marketing and promotion was a top expense in 2018, a trend that will continue in the year ahead. Even with a stable budget, though, the push is on to get scrappy: 50% state that increased competition is the biggest trend affecting them.
The following three overlooked tactics can help you get scrappy and stand out.
1. Experiential marketing
Nearly 60% of event creators aren’t using experiential marketing. But these kinds of campaigns can help you capture your audience’s attention, humanize your or a sponsor’s brand, and create experiences that leave people with lasting, positive brand impressions.
Put it into action: Experiential marketing can be an intimidating concept, so here are some simple ideas for inspiration:
- Create an experience within a larger one, like the grand opening of a pop-up shop
- Use smaller, individual experiential activations, like on-site art installations
- Offer experiential activations as an on-site sponsorship opportunity for your partners
See how brands have used experiential marketing successfully in Inside Experiential Marketing: Big-Name Brands Share Secrets to Success.
2. Search engine optimization (SEO)
Almost half (46%) of event creators said they aren’t using SEO. But if you’re not investing in SEO for your event pages, you’re losing sales — research shows that 89% of attendees use search for purchase decisions. SEO is a vital way to reach new people looking for things to do in your area on sites like Google.
Put it into action: It’s time to add SEO optimization to your regular “to-do” list. Discover five straightforward steps to improve your SEO in How to Attract (and Convert) Attendees with SEO for Events.
3. Direct mail
Email gets a lot of applause for being one of the most effective marketing channels, and deservedly so. But what about its old-school counterpoint, direct mail? 59% of event creators said they aren’t using direct mail, which means the 41% who do are standing out even more.
Put it into action: Technology is making direct mail easier to use than ever before. Here’s how to get started:
- Do a trial with a small send of flyers or save the date cards
- Segment your mailing list and send to only a portion
- Measure your results to see if there was a positive impact
Curious about marketing your event in print? Get inspired with these 6 Simple Tips to Promote Your Event Offline.
What’s staying the same: The 3 most effective event marketing tactics
Not every event marketing tactic will change in 2019. These are the tactics that event professionals said were most effective in 2018 that won’t be going anywhere in 2019.
1. Word of mouth
Partially thanks to the rise of social media, one of the oldest types of marketing is more powerful than ever before: word of mouth. 63% of event marketers said word of mouth marketing was an effective strategy for them in 2018.
Put it into action: Find the passionate advocates within your existing customer base, and give them the tools and motivation to help sell tickets. Learn how you can identify social ringleaders — the people who attend the most events, invite the most friends, and spread the most hype about your event.
2. Social media marketing
49% of event creators said social media marketing was an effective driver of ticket sales for them last year. In 2018, Facebook and Instagram were the top social platforms to reach event-goers. The more you post and gain followers, the more people come to your event, the more people post on social media about your event — which in turn drives more followers to your account and the cycle begins again.
Put it into action: Selling out your events is your top priority. And your social media strategy is how to make it happen. Make sure your social promotions have the most impact they can by selling directly on social platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
3. Email marketing
When it comes to marketing your event, you can’t ignore email. And event creators agree: email rounds out the top three most effective channels for event marketing, with 38% of event professionals relying on it.
Put it into action: If you’re resting on the email practices you instituted five years ago, you’re not doing email right anymore. Not sure where your email strategy stacks up? Check out this benchmarking survey to see how your email marketing efforts compare, and where you could polish your efforts to differentiate your event emails from your competition.
Get up to speed on what’s ahead
Discover how your event stacks up against industry benchmarks and more in The Pulse Report: 2019 Event Industry Trends.