You’ve lined up knowledgable speakers. Or maybe you’ve toiled, putting together a river-rush of your own informative content for your audience. Either way, no one wants to put on a webinar or seminar to an empty house. Indeed, it seems the greater challenge of putting on an event isn’t presenting worthwhile content, but getting people to sign-up.
[NB: I’m focusing on registrations here, which is quite different from attendees. Around 40 percent of your registrants will attend you webinar live, and you can expect a lower percentage than that to attend a live in-person seminar. Keep this in mind as you set your registration targets.]
Getting Your Ducks in a Row
Before you develop a marketing plan for your event, you have a few tasks to complete.
First, you’ve selected a relevant topic and have an engaging, informative presentation planned.
Second, you have a value-focused event title to entice registrations. The event title is the headline of your event, so approach crafting it in much the same way. An attractive event title clearly communicates the value registrants can expect from attending. You can find plenty of advice on headline writing; use it as a step-by-step framework for writing an event title that motivates registrations.
[tweetthis]The event title is the headline of your event, so approach crafting it in much the same way.[/tweetthis]
Third, keep in mind some of these benchmarks from ON24 Webinar Benchmarks Report (2014):
- 58% of sign ups occur within 1 to 7 days of event
- 28% of sign ups occur the very day of the webinar
- only 16% of sign-ups occur more than 21 days prior to the webinar, so don’t start promoting too early
- best days to send your event marketing AND hold your webinar are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday
On to the content that will market your event…
I’m breaking up your event’s content marketing into four streams:
- immediate action content: no click-throughs here, this is where you get the registrations
- content directed at your current community
- content to attract people outside your current community
- social media, which is part of the support plan for nearly every other piece of content you’re creating
Content to Inspire Immediate Registration
All your other event marketing content shuttles eyes here – your event’s landing page or a sign up form.
The event’s landing page needs to contain all the information anyone might want to know about your event. The who, what, where, why, and how much. An event landing page template recently won a ThemeForest contest for top Pagewiz templates – check it out for some ideas of the kinds of event-specific sections you want on your landing page.
But don’t limit registration opportunities to your landing page. Include a sign-up form on your home page, blog, and any other relevant digital asset that’s being distributed during your registration window.
You won’t have a lot of room to inspire action on a small sign-up form, which is another reason why the event title needs to motivate. Capturing a name and email are musts. After that, limit the required information to the minimum that makes sense for this event. Save the company and job title-type fields for events geared lower down in the funnel.
Emails to Get Your Community On-Board
People who already subscribe to your blog or newsletter are your most target rich environment for potential registrants. Design an email drip campaign to promote your webinar or seminar.
Not only will most of your sign-ups occur the week of your event, 28% of registrants will sign-up the day of your event. Keeping that in mind, here are you minimum email needs:
- 3 promotional emails: Send the first email at 7 days out. Send the third email the morning of, and one more email should be sent between the two. Ratchet up the tone of urgency in each subsequent email.
- A thank-you email: Manners matter! Everyone who signs up for your event should receive an immediate thank-you email that confirms the details and reinforces their excellent decision of having signed up in the first place. Include calendar integration buttons to improve actual attendance rates. You may want to consider adding some pre-fabbed social media buttons they can use to share your event with their community.
- A reminder email: Send this email out the morning of your event to all your registrants. You can model it on your thank-you email, but again with a bit more urgency.
- Include an event promo in your regularly scheduled emails or newsletters that are going out. This can be anything from a simple P.S. at the bottom of the email to a graphic sidebar ad in your newsletter.
[tweetthis]Most sign-ups occur the week of the event; 28% of registrants will sign-up on event day. [/tweetthis]
If you’re starting your promotions earlier than one week out, then increase the volume of promotional emails accordingly. Also consider if it makes sense for your event to tailor different emails to different segments of your list.
Attracting People outside Your Current Community to Your Event
Strategic use of a couple of blog posts can get your event in front of a broader audience. Are blog posts necessary? No, especially if you include an event sign-up form on your blog pages. Will these blog posts open up new opportunities to find attendees? Yes.
Here are the posts you want:
- Related topic post: This post is on a topic related to the topic of your event, or perhaps a high level view of a point you’ll present in greater in depth at your event. Either way, the point is that anyone interested in the blog topic will likely be interested in your event topic as well. Close this blog post with a strong CTA for your event and link to the event landing page. Publish this post between the 14-21 day out mark and spend the rest of time promoting it in different ways though social media.
- Promotional post: This post is about the event itself. It can direct blog visitors, who may not be on your list, to the event landing page. You can model it on one of the promotional emails. You’ll have the sign-up form on the blog page for people you capture right there, as well as the link to the landing page for people who want a bit more information. Publish this post at between the 4-7 day out mark.
Another option to consider is a digital ad campaign driving traffic to the event landing page. If your budget allows, start this campaign 21 days out so you have time to tweak it as needed for the best results.
Beating the Social Media Drums
Clearly you want to use your social media channels to send out the message about your event.
Once you’ve identified the relevant social media sites, forums and hashtags, build your bank of social media content. Here are some suggestions:
- In addition to tweeting out the event title, also tweet out some your discarded, yet still excellent, event title options.
- Write updates that emphasize different benefits for different forum updates and/or hashtags. This applies to the social media content for the event landing page and the related-topic blog post.
- Write updates highlighting each speaker.
- Promote the related-topic blog post daily leading up to your event using your traditional post promotion tactics.
- Create an image or two. Say, one with the event title with date/time, and another with photos of the speakers.
Taking a mix-and-match approach to your selection of channels, titles, benefits, and images, you can efficiently develop enough social media content for multiple, daily updates.
All the social media content should include the link to your event’s landing page, except for the social media promotions of the related-topic blog post, which should direct people to the post.
Planning + Execution → Registrations
Invest as much effort in creating content to promote your event as you did in the event content itself.
Presenting to an empty room or dead call-in lines is no fun, and it’s entirely avoidable with an active content marketing plan.
[tweetthis]Invest as much effort in creating content to promote your event as you did in the event content itself.[/tweetthis]
What have you found drives the most registrations to your events?
Of course, the content stream doesn’t end with the event. After it’s over, you have multiple opportunities to repurpose your event content, especially if you take certain steps during the event itself. That’s a post for another day…. so stay tuned.
Elisa Silverman is a B2B content writer with a background in law and technology, who’s spent a career helping diverse groups of people communicate well with each other.