Eight steps to creating a great event marketing plan
Any business event represents an investment of time and resources, so you need to make the most of each one. That starts with good event marketing.
But marketing an event is a bigger project than marketing a product or a service. There are a lot of considerations to cover, a variety of audiences to address, and scores of details to share. The right event marketing plan will be a roadmap to where, when, and how you’ll engage with potential attendees.
There are multiple channels to consider—from promotions, to email campaigns, to sponsors. When done right, you’ll see an increase in registration, attendance, and engagement. Follow these eight steps and use the template below to successfully market events regardless of size or budget.
Here are the eight steps to create a great event marketing plan:
- Set goals and establish the basics
- Plan out your content strategy
- Prepare promotions
- Outline email marketing
- Social media and social proof
- Cultivate attendee engagement
- Engage sponsors
- Set KPIs to measure success
1. Set goals and establish the basics
Set goals for your event so you can build your marketing strategy from them. If attendance is your key metric, a broad marketing approach that engages with a wide audience may be most successful. If the goal of your event is to reward your existing customers, a more targeted approach with a narrower scope would be best.
A few other basics to align on with your team from the very beginning include:
- Details. Be sure the whole team is on the same page with the basic details of the event — location, date, and time.
- Budget. If you don’t already have one, create an event marketing budget.
- Lead time. Consider the amount of time before your event. The marketing channels you use and frequency of communication will be impacted by how soon your event is.
2. Plan out your content strategy
An event marketing strategy will keep your team organized about what content is being published on which platforms. Some forms of content you might consider include:
- Blog posts
- Pictures or videos from previous events
- Press releases
- Interviews with featured speakers
Start with a landing page. The event page on your website will be the main hub for details and registration, so it will also be the focal point for design and copy. Prioritize the details that your target audience will need about the event and include a clear CTA to get updates or register.
The Adobe Summit event landing page provides the basic details and an easy way for people to stay updated on new developments.
Other content either expands on details that don’t fit on the main page or condenses it into smaller portions for social media. For example, you might create an individual blog post to share details on each speaker and snapshots of each session on square graphics for social channels.
3. Prepare promotions
Effective promotional material will share the basic information about your event but will also tell people what they’ll gain by attending. Inbound content will focus on practical details, but outbound promotions should hone in on why someone should attend the event.
Remember to tailor the benefits and value that you feature on promotional material to the audience segment you expect to reach on each channel. You engage with different personas
on social than via email, so make sure the promotions you use on those channels highlight the benefits that each audience will prioritize.
You might offer promotional discounts to incentivize potential attendees to register. An early bird registration deal encourages signing up sooner rather than later. Flash sales or flash deals nudge people to sign up as well. You may also consider returning-participant discounts. All of these create a sense of urgency and drive registration.
4. Email marketing
Sending emails to potential attendees is easy and earns good results. Automated email campaigns don’t cost your team a lot of time or effort, and your existing email lists represent an interested audience. Whether they subscribed to your newsletter, downloaded a demo, or shopped with you before, there’s a higher chance they’re interested in your event.
As with most email marketing campaigns, there are two key considerations to keep in mind.
- Audience segmenting. Segment your email list to make sure the right message is getting to the right people. Entry-level topics or information should be directed towards top-of-funnel leads. In-depth or niche material, on the other hand, would better serve customers further down the funnel.
- Outreach cadence. Know who you’re contacting and how frequently. Even people interested in your brand only want to hear from you occasionally. There’s a balance between keeping your event top-of-mind and pestering customers with frequent communication.
By beginning well in advance of your event, you’ll have plenty of time to send multiple emails to potential attendees. Start off with informational emails to generate awareness of your event, and then ramp up promotional content as the event gets closer.
5. Social media and social proof
While email marketing is great for contacting existing leads, social media will broaden your reach. Whether you’re using organic content or paid advertising, social media marketing can help attract new attendees.
- Be concise. Social media content should be short and clear. Include a single value-based statement and the necessary details.
- Schedule posts. Scheduling your posts for peak hours will help your brand reach the greatest number of people — especially on channels that still deliver live streams to users, like Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Instagram Stories.
- Include CTAs. Every post should direct users to the landing page where they can register. If the channel allows it, include a registration link directly on social media as well.
Social proof is another way to increase engagement and attendance. Reach out to people who enjoyed last year’s event or who are excited to attend this year’s event to ask for reviews or user-generated content (UGC). Include quotes and reshare UGC on your social channels, in emails, and on the event landing page.
If you decide to provide incentives in exchange for reviews or UGC, be clear that those incentives apply to any review or piece of UGC. Incentives given only for good reviews, for example, invalidate those reviews because other users don’t believe they’re genuine.
6. Cultivate attendee engagement
Increase engagement as the event approaches. Maintain your cadence of emails and social media posts, but shift the focus from creating awareness to building excitement. Include last-minute promotions and consider using paid advertising on search engines and social media to catch any potential attendees you may have missed.
Focus on strategies that will get attendees interacting with one another or with your team before the event. Social media is a great channel for this, because user engagement is natural. Post a poll about which panel attendees are most excited about or which of the speakers people are looking forward to. Establish a hashtag that people can use before and during the event to share their pictures and videos.
7. Engage sponsors
Sponsors lend your event legitimacy and serve as an endorsement for your brand. They can also be valuable event marketing partners.
Create different packages for various levels of sponsorship and be flexible. For example, a small investment might earn the sponsor a logo on some promotional material at the event while a larger investment would put the sponsors logo on the big screen.
When discussing sponsorship terms, offer sponsorship discounts in exchange for co-marketing opportunities. A large sponsor may trade some capital investment for a commitment to post promotional materials or share social media content with their audiences. If the sponsoring company has a larger audience, they can boost your marketing’s overall reach.
8. Set KPIs to measure success
Whether you’re targeting registrations, attendees, or leads, establish KPIs before launching event marketing campaigns. Events don’t need to make money to be considered successful. Marketing your brand, nurturing leads, or connecting with customers could be enough. Outline your goals early on and structure your event to target the goals you’re hoping to accomplish.
Collecting data on how your event performs will also be helpful when communicating with other teams in your organization or with future sponsors. Demonstrating an ROI for your company and your sponsors will make hosting your next event easier.
While metrics will vary by event or industry, registration is one KPI you’ll want to track. This is simply how many people register for your event. Knowing this number will tell you how many people you were able to connect with.
Event marketing plan template
Based on the steps above, let’s take a look at a simple template for an event marketing plan. Answer the following questions to build your template:
- Event details:
- Where will the event be held? If it’s in-person, will it also be online?
- When is it? Will video be available after the event?
- What are the business goals for the event overall?
- What are the goals of the event marketing strategy?
- What are the marketing goals per channel?
- Target audience:
- What persona do you most want to attend?
- Which personas may also be valuable attendees?
- Content strategy:
- Which channels do your target audiences use?
- How often can you post on each channel without alienating your audience?
- What is the main value to the audience?
- What promotional channels will reach the target audience?
- Do we have previous sponsors?
- What possible sponsors share our target audience?
- How are we measuring the success of the event?
- How are we measuring the success of the event marketing?
Using a template will make it easier to put together a marketing strategy for your next event.
Get started with event marketing
A successful event starts with a great event marketing plan. This will keep your team organized, help you invest your resources wisely, and increase your event attendance.
Creating great marketing plans is easier with the right tools. Build a dynamic campaign that will engage potential attendees and drive event registration with Adobe Marketo Engage. With the capability to manage leads, run automated email campaigns, and personalize the experience of every individual, Adobe Marketo Engage will revolutionize how you approach your next event.