According to the 2020 Content Marketing Institute report, 73 percent of B2B marketers listed “in-person events” as their top B2B marketing tactics. That statistic may raise questions around how you and your business can host an event as we practice social distancing and do our part to flatten the curve to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. 

In response to COVID-19, many digital marketers are leveraging the power of video conferencing and webinars to hold live events. 

If your company is planning to host a digital event, whether B2B or B2C, keep in mind that many of the same promotional strategies you would use for an in-person event apply when hosting a webinar. You still need to encourage the right people – the people that will become your customers, partners, advocates – to sign up and attend an event while using the right tools and strategies to support it.

We want to make the process of promoting an event online during COVID-19 easier, so we curated a comprehensive list of ways to promote your digital event online to ensure you get in front of your potential attendees and make your event a well-attended success. 

Move Your Events Online 

Embrace the webinar. Now that trade shows, expos and large public gatherings are on hold due to the Coronavirus, many digital marketers have pivoted their strategies to support online events and webinars to continue engaging with their customers. These events range in topics and style (think Q&A’s, instructional webinars or team building exercises), but you can generally apply much of what you’d cover on a real stage to the one you’ll use online. 

When you have your webinar topic down, we recommend using video software you’re comfortable with and testing it before you go live. We use Zoom at Mad Fish because of its versatility, its integration with other platforms like Facebook or YouTube, and because Zoom allows us to easily set-up and manage our online events and invitations all in one place. Zoom also lets you screen share a presentation, create break-out rooms for team building exercises and record your sessions for sharing later. However, there are plenty of other tools out there worth exploring. A few others to consider are Google Meet, GoToWebinar, WebinarJam, Demio and WebinarNinja.

So, why hold a webinar during COVID-19? A few of the benefits of holding a live event online include: 

  • Continued engagement with clients
  • Increase potential leads by 20 – 40 percent
  • Cost effectiveness and reduced expenses
  • Wider audience access 
  • Increased brand awareness

Remember, your digital marketing channels are like a highway made up of lanes that guide your audience to the same destination. Therefore, each path you make needs to inform the next one by promoting the similar information, ideas and principles.

Promote on Your Site

Create a unique event page. Fifty-one percent of people who land on a webinar’s landing page convert. How do you make a landing page for your online event? Start by creating a page specifically for your online experience containing all the necessary information that acts as your home base for all your attendees’ needs. It can also help sell the event you’re hosting. Optimize it with registration information, logistics, agendas, speaker bios, directions or login details, etc.

Design a look and feel for your event or events. Make sure your event has a clear brand that speaks to your audience and the content. If you are doing a series of events, create branded materials to tie them together. Think webpage, social media, presentation decks and post-event materials and emails. A cohesive look makes your event memorable. See one of our examples.

Develop a content calendar and social media promotion plan.  Outline and create blog content and social media outreach messages for the months or weeks leading up to your event. Give people a taste of what they will hear at the event by writing about the topic matter, the speaker or event details leading up to the event date. Don’t forget about post-event promotion and follow-up content. 

Promote throughout the site. Add an event banner or call out to your homepage to make sure all visitors see the opportunity and understand how you’re managing your online events during the Coronavirus. Make it link to the event page where people can easily register. 

Social post aggregators. If you are using social media and event hashtags for your event, find and install a Hashtag Search Widget and embed it on your website for additional exposure.

Update company profiles, bios and listings with a link to the event or event logo. This includes email signatures!

Use Your Network

Email Lists. According to Global Web Index (GWI), 29.5 percent of all internet users read branded emails from a company they follow. Use your newsletter, email or contact lists to your advantage by sending an invitation to join the event. If possible, set up a drip campaign to ensure your contacts get tailored messages about the event leading up to the date.

Past Attendees. Have you held an event before? Start by sending your event information to previous attendees who you already know have an interest in the topic.

Partner Networks. Reach out to business and organizational partnerships you have established to help you spread the word. These networks will likely overlap your target audience and could be the greatest source of potential attendees.

Share it Socially

Currently, 33.4 percent of all internet users are spending more time on social media platforms during the pandemic. Here are some tips on how you can use them to promote your next event. 

Facebook. You can choose to create a unique event using Facebook’s platform to easily inform and register your followers. Leverage Facebook to also share weekly/monthly reminders as the event draws close. You can also stream your webinar on Facebook Live through Zoom.

Instagram. Use those branded design assets to catch the eye of potential attendees on Instagram. Use InstaStories to highlight speakers, topics and to do live event clips if possible. Curate instagram hashtags that may help get your event in front of your target attendee. Reach out to influencers that may work in your space.

Twitter. Use Twitter as a way to promote your event if it meets audience requirements. Create twitter lists for attendees and speakers. This generates excitement, buzz and promotion, as well as participation in event discussion. People can also easily follow conversations being had by both groups of people.

LinkedIn. Today, 97 percent of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to build brand awareness through content marketing. Like Facebook, you can create an event through LinkedIn and invite your connections to attend. You can also use your connections to promote your webinar organically or use sponsored updates to increase its visibility. 

Hashtags. Create an official hashtag for the event and start using it on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram for everything event-related; encourage attendees, speakers and sponsors to use it as well.

Industry Forums. Are your attendees in an industry that uses online forums or discussion groups? Find those groups and share your event details with them.

Leverage Content

Create and distribute shareable event materials to help promote the event. Assets can include banners, buttons, videos, etc. Consider implementing a referral/incentive program for each click to the event from assets shared by others.

Use Videos. GWI reported that 29.9 percent of all internet users are watching more videos online. YouTube, Facebook and Instagram are terrific platforms to make promotional video content your followers can quickly engage with. Videos can include footage from previous events, speakers in action, and more. These can be used organically and utilized for paid ads and/or retargeting as well.

Giveaways. For consumers, 53.8 percent of people strongly approve of brands running online promotions. If you’re hosting a paid event online during COVID-19, free ticket giveaways are great to generate buzz and excited attendees. This can take the form of a contest, drawing, and more. Social media platforms are also a great place to keep the buzz going!

Invest in Paid Ads

Retargeting. Create a retargeting display campaign for attendees that viewed your event page but didn’t register. They may just need a reminder.

Social Media Ads. Make sure your event is promoted to its target audience through audience targeting on social media ad platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Leverage Event Aggregating Sites

Eventbrite. We appreciate Eventbrite because their platform allows us to make and manage our online events through Google Meet and Zoom a fairly simple process. You can also choose to host free or paid events or send out one all-inclusive invite to your event to everyone on your contact list. Usually used as a tool for newly transplanted residents in real life, this site can be an ideal resource for those looking to promote their web events during COVID-19. You can either create your own Meetup group, or join a similar existing group and ask the administrator to post your event.

Local Event Sites. By Googling “your city’s local events,” or “your city’s business events,” you will find a list of sites geared toward promoting local events. Find which sites gel with your event(s) and post to all of them. Typically these are used for in-person events, but many of them now allow people to list their digital events as well. We use PDX Pipeline and the Portland Business Journal

In sum, you don’t have to stop hosting events or raising awareness around your brand (and your company) during the Coronavirus, but you do have to pivot your marketing strategies to reach your audiences. Remember, be thoughtful with your messaging and take an active role in your digital advertising efforts during COVID-19 to continue engaging with your audiences in meaningful ways.