“If you build it, he will come.” – Field of Dreams

Digital events are nothing new, but they are experiencing a boom in the business-to-business marketing sector as more companies look to utilize online technology to connect with customers, train employees and share the expertise of strategic partners.

The challenge of hosting a digital event is that there is more competition for attention than ever before. With all of the other information, events, online “clutter” and noise competing for your audience’s attention, how can you get enough people to register and actually attend your next event?

It’s not enough to say, “if you build it, they will come.” Simply registering an event and posting about it on your website is not going to put people in the (digital) seats. Instead, you need to take a comprehensive approach to marketing your digital event through a number of channels.

  • Start early: A good rule of thumb is to start promoting your digital event 60-90 days before the scheduled event date. This gives you plenty of time to build advanced “buzz,” get the event on people’s calendars and repeatedly follow up to remind people about the event. You probably won’t hit your registration goals in the first day or even the first few weeks. It takes time to create momentum and find the right people who are going to be the most interested in joining your digital event.
  • Build communities: A digital event should never be viewed as a standalone endeavor. All of your digital event marketing needs to reflect the larger goals, priorities and strategies of your company. Marketing a digital event is an exercise in community building: it’s a tangible way to remind people of why they support your mission, why they want to participate and how they can benefit from attending. You’re not selling them just on one event; the event needs to fold seamlessly into your organization’s broader efforts at outreach and engagement.
  • Leverage exclusives: What are you giving people at your digital event that they can’t get anywhere else? What is the urgent impetus to sign up for the event? For example, can you give them free downloadable content which is unavailable elsewhere? Exclusive Q&A sessions with experts in the field? Personal coaching sessions for a few lucky prize winners (available only to attendees)? What can you do to pack the digital event with value so that people will see it not as just another thing to read/watch/listen to online, but as a “must-attend” destination with a real “Wow” factor?
  • Use content marketing: E-mail blasts can still be an effective way to generate registrations for digital events, but you shouldn’t rely on e-mail alone. For example, what if you don’t have a very extensive e-mail list? And what if your e-mail list is generating diminishing returns? Instead of (or in addition to) e-mail, consider using content marketing. This gives you the power to publish your own media material – blog posts, YouTube videos, podcasts – that will promote your digital event and explain what it’s all about. Content marketing is great because it’s a “renewable resource” – instead of e-mail, which tends to get ignored or lead people to opt out or unsubscribe, content marketing attracts attention from search engines, making it possible for people to find you based on their immediate interests and needs. Content marketing doesn’t have to be too time-consuming: you can ask speakers, exhibitors, partners and sponsors to provide their own content (guest blog posts, etc.) to help promote themselves while also marketing your digital event. Don’t be afraid to get help: companies like Social27 provide digital event marketing services to help manage the process from start to finish. And, when the event is over, Social27 EmailBuddy can intelligently follow up and engage with your most interested customers.
  • Make it easy to register. You might be surprised to see how many companies put a great deal of thought and effort into planning their digital event, but then fail to create a simple, easy and effective registration page. The registration page is where sales happen; this is where you either lock in your attendees or lose them for good. You don’t want to present a distracting, confusing, or time-consuming registration process. Instead, give your attendees a clean, simple interface with a minimal number of required fields. (You can always collect more information later, like during or after the event.) The goal of the registration page should be to get them to sign up as quickly, easily and conveniently as possible – get their names and a few pieces of relevant identifying information and collect their fees.

Digital event marketing can be a challenge, but it’s also a lot of fun! It gives you a chance to build stronger relationships with your community of customers, while also attracting new audiences who want to participate in the mission of your organization. Just remember that simply setting up a digital event is only the beginning. If you want to ensure the maximum attendance, you need an ongoing, consistent, energetic marketing strategy that builds interest in a relevant, focused way.

Want more digital event marketing tips? I go over some more marketing strategies to help you build and prepare for a successful digital event before, during and after in part 2 of this blog.

Join the conversation. Agree with me? Good. Disagree? Even Better! Tell me why…

What do you see as the biggest mistakes that people make in marketing digital events? Are there any “undiscovered/underutilized” methods to promote digital events that people ought to know?

Host your own digital event:

Interested in hosting your own digital event? Social27 has been enabling organizations across all industries and sizes to host their own engaging digital events since 2010.

The Social27 Digital Events platform brings the best of content streaming, networking with rich profiles, virtual sponsor pavilions, lead generation, gamification with points and badges, AI chatbot support and deep analytics powered by machine learning.