There’s no doubt about it: Americans love events. In fact, a recent poll of adults aged 18+ revealed that people are attending more live events than ever before.

This increase in demand is nothing but good news for businesses and marketers looking to connect with their customers, prospects, and partners in more meaningful ways. Live events give you face-to-face access to your audience in a way unlike any other type of marketing.

But just because demand is high doesn’t mean every event is successful. Like any strategy, you need to understand the channel before you use it. Look no further. This complete guide to event marketing will help you get it right, whether it’s your first event or your hundredth.

What is event marketing?

At its most simple, event marketing is a form of marketing focused on creating live experiences that promote a brand, service, or product.

There are many different types of event marketing, from a business hosting its own industry event to a company participating in a trade show, to digital experiences like virtual conferences, webinars, and live streamed workshops.

In addition to the event itself, there’s also the promotion of it — encompassing various inbound and outbound marketing techniques, such as email, social media, event discovery sites, retargeting, and SEO.

Want to learn more? Check out our Event Marketing Course and Certification.

Why is event marketing important?

No other type of marketing gives you the opportunity to interact with your audience like live events. They’re multi-sensory experiences that engage on a level simply not possible through other types of marketing.

Events can help meet your goals, whether to increase demand for your product or service, build recognition with prospective or current customers, widen your circle or your clients’ circles, or generate revenue from the event itself. With clear goals and a plan to get you there, events are well worth the marketing investment.

Want to learn more? Check out The 3 Biggest Trends for Conferences and Corporate Events in 2018.

How to measure the impact of event marketing?

Long before you start planning your event, you need to make a list of key performance indicators (KPIs) that you and your stakeholders agree are worth tracking. These KPIs will provide a yardstick by which to measure your event’s success after everything is over.

The following list outlines some of the more common KPIs used by event marketers.

1. Registrations

63% of event planners today base their decision to participate in future events based on past performance. And it makes sense — the total number of registrations is an easy way to see if your event marketing efforts are paying off. A basic comparison to start with is year over year.

2. Attendance

If you see that your number of returning attendees is dropping, you’ll want to track new compared to repeat attendance rate. Do attendees come once but never come back? Or do you have a loyal base audience, but are struggling to reach new people? Keeping track of your attendance rate can help you identify and address waning interest.

3. Lead generation

Many businesses choose to use event marketing to generate leads. Measuring how many leads your event brings in for your sales funnel (the quality of which is up to you to establish pre-event) can be a good indicator of whether you’ve delivered the right content to attendees.

4. Attendee feedback

If people aren’t having a good time at your event, then they won’t be coming back. Surveying attendees before and after they attend your event is a good way to gauge their satisfaction with what you promise — and what you actually deliver.

5. Social media brand impressions

Events and social media go hand in hand. And for millennials, 48% attend events so they have to something to share on social channels, while three quarters say they attend events to express who they are. Monitoring your social media mentions can tell you whether your event was worth sharing and whether your event brand is reaching their friends and friend of friends.

6. New customers

Depending on the length of your sales cycle, you’ll be able to track how many leads generated by your event turn into customers. While not the most immediately measurable, this KPI is useful for proving the business value of your event.

Want to learn more? Check out Advanced Event Marketing Techniques for Event Promotion.

Common types of event marketing

Event marketing comes in many forms. What’s right for your business will depend on your industry, goals, and budget. If you’re not sure which one is right for you, here is a list of the most common types.

  • Webinars: Online events usually featuring a live presentation with a moderator and guest speakers.
  • Conferences: Hosted by a company or organization, these in-person events bring together attendees around a specific purpose, such as education.
  • Workshops: Smaller meetings or field events where an expert leads a group in a more formal learning environment.
  • Account-based marketing events: Highly targeted and customized experiences designed to address the client’s needs.
  • Intimate breakfasts, lunches, or dinners: Small events with a focus on networking or thought leadership, either customer or prospect focused.
  • Tradeshows: An in-person event that brings together large groups of individuals or companies in a particular industry or profession to network and show off new products.

How to plan an event marketing strategy timeline?

There’s a lot to keep track of when planning an event. Use this example timeline to stay on track and make sure nothing slips through the cracks.

For a more detailed breakdown of subtasks and more, check out this article.

8-12  months out

Starting as soon as possible gives you enough time to build a plan, research and secure sponsors, speakers, and an amazing venue, plus get approval on your budget.

3-4 months out

With the foundation built, the next phase in your planning process puts the final touches on your event before registrations open.

2 months out

Months before the big event, you have an opportunity to build excitement and (if you haven’t sold out yet) urge interested attendees to register before it’s too late.

Week before

There’s plenty to do in the week leading up to your event, from last-minute details to unexpected changes. You’ll also want to do a final promotional push that inspires fear of missing out.

  • Finalize event schedule and scripts
  • Communicate final details with partners
  • Push last-call promotions

How to track your event marketing efforts?

Once you’ve identified the primary goal for your event (generate qualified leads, attract new employees, build awareness, or launch a new product) and set measurable objectives related to your goal (like the KPIs above), then it’s time gather data and track your progress.

So where can you find the information you need? Here are three places to begin your search:

    • Event technology: Including your ticketing partner, event app, and CRM, your event technology is a goldmine of data waiting to be put to use. It can help you capture information like the number of tickets/registrations sold, revenue from sales, and more.

      Tip: If you use Eventbrite, be sure to check out the 170+ integrations that let you easily gather and sync data with your events.
    • Social media: Each platform will have its own metrics dashboard that you can pull data from to help you determine the effectiveness of your campaigns — and ultimately, which social media platforms are yielding the best return on investment.

      Tip: Use tracking pixels, computer codes inserted as minuscule images into a web page, in your landing pages to help you learn what channels are driving ticket sales.
    • Event surveys: Send out pre- and post-event surveys to not only gauge satisfaction but also to learn more about your attendees. The information you gather will help you better segment your audience, and it’s also super useful to your sponsors.

      Tip: There’s an art to creating a survey people will actually take. Short and personalized surveys perform best — and it doesn’t hurt to offer an incentive!

Want to learn more? Check out 9 Event Reports to Harness Your Data and Beyond Registration: Using Data to Supercharge Your Event

Event marketing technology

Your event “technology stack” is the technology you use to run your business — from registration software to email marketing and billing to mobile apps. Ultimately, your event’s success depends on whether your event management solution plays well with others.

Teams small and large depend on their technology stack, but the amount of technology you use is less important than how well they work together. If your daily operations sync together, then your business is streamlined. And if your business is streamlined, then it’s succeeding, too.

The right event management solution helps you:

  • Create a professional event ticketing and registration page
  • Provide secure payments
  • Manage and analyze your event
  • Reach new audiences and sell more tickets
  • Integrate with the other marketing technology your team already uses

Want to learn more? Check out A Step By Step Guide to Choosing the Right Ticketing or Registration Partner

Pre-event, during the event, and post-event tips

Mastering the essentials for event promotion takes time. It requires trial and error as you learn how to use social media, paid advertising, event discovery, email marketing, and website conversion to grow your audience and drive ticket sales.

Tip: You can jumpstart your event’s sales and your knowledge of event marketing with the Event Marketing Course and Certification, taught by Eventbrite’s marketing pros.

Even if it feels like you have lots to catch up on or learn, there are a few things you must do when promoting your event. Below is a list of event marketing action items you can’t ignore, broken down by the before, during, and after stages of your event.

Pre-event marketing

In the months leading up to your event, starting your promotion as soon as possible can help you hit your sales goals. Your event page should be one of the first things you create — as you want a website to direct your email and social media marketing to. Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of detail, a teaser works great to start!

Tip: Want a gut check for your event marketing strategy? Go behind the scenes with the LinkedIn event marketing team to see how they promote their B2B events.

Mid-event marketing

You’ll be super busy during your event and your priorities will shift from promotion to execution. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t market your event while it’s happening. There’s a lot of great content being produced at your event and you can take full advantage of that even when you’re running around putting out fires.

  • Share videos and pictures on social media
  • Promote your livestream online
  • Include social reminders with your hashtag onsite
  • Use your mobile app to run live polls

Post-event marketing

After your event is over, it’s tempting to rest and take a break. But that’s when you need to draw on your last reserves and follow up with attendees, stakeholders, and sponsors. Within 24 hours of your event, you should be sending attendees satisfaction surveys. And any post-event content that was promised to attendees should be delivered, too. It’s also an opportunity to keep the conversation going on social media by posting highlights to inspire FOMO.

  • Send surveys out to attendees
  • Send thank you emails to attendees with recordings, if appropriate
  • Post event pictures and videos to social media and encourage attendees to share theirs

Ready to dive deeper into the world of event marketing?

Discover a comprehensive strategy that engages your current attendees, reaches new ones, and turns interested event-goers into paid ticket holders and registrants in the Essential Guide to Event Marketing.