Chances are, even if you’re not 'doing' inbound marketing, you’re likely using several pieces of it. Do you blog? Post on social media? Send emails, have a website, design brand-related information, provide downloadable content, or ask contacts and customers for their information? Inbound, inbound, inbound.
But doing inbound marketing the right way is sort of like a game of dominos; only when all the pieces are in place and lined up just right do you get this great outcome - an epic series of results that all work together – that only work together.
If you think about inbound marketing in this way, it makes sense that inbound marketing is perfect for events, right?
Using Inbound for Event Marketing
If you’re implementing inbound marketing into your campaigns and marketing efforts on a daily basis, it can get to be your ‘standard.’ It becomes your methodology and how you practice effective marketing. But don’t think of inbound marketing as a separate piece – it can (and should) be integrated into everything you do – and this includes events.
Just as inbound marketing can help you reach goals and beef up your marketing – it can take your event to the next level. Below are just three ideas and examples to get the ball rolling.
1. Social Media
Social media is ubiquitous. It’s rare (or should be) to attend an event where social media isn’t incorporated into the event. Think #hashtags, LinkedIn groups, live Twitter Feeds, Facebook Event info, and more. Social media can be part of your event at all stages: pre, during, and post.
It's a great way to find and connect with target attendees, start conversations between speakers and invitees, get a feel for your audience, gather feedback, and continue the conversation after the event is done and passed.
With the variety of social channels at our fingertips, this can bring both fun and professional elements to your event. In fact, a lot of these can be both fun and professional. Here’s what I came up with off the top of my head:
“Fun”: Twitter contests and giveaways, Snapchat filters, Instagram contests and giveaways, Facebook sharing
“Professional”: LinkedIn groups, Surveys, Facebook event invites, Twitter lists, Live Chats, ‘Ask me Anything’ sessions
… when it comes to using social media as part of your event, don’t think you have to do anything and everything – be smart about your plan for social media for event marketing.
And social media isn’t just powerful for the host of the event. As an event sponsor, speaker, booth participant, or attendee, social media can be a big deal for you too. How will you invite people to come and talk with you, or spread your message, explain why you’re there, and let them know what value you bring? Social media. It’s quick, it’s easy, and with a little digging to find the proper hashtag or group, you can start reaching out.
One of the most valuable tools when bringing inbound into event marketing strategies is your approach to email. Email marketing can be effective both leading up to and following events. Compiling a target list of invitees, reaching out to registered attendees, and following up with contacts can all make an impact on how successful your event is.
The key to great email marketing with your event is getting the right information to the right individuals at the right time. You don’t want to bombard them or give them so much information they no longer need your event. But rather, use email marketing to craft messages to stay engaged with your contacts and continually give them information – in whatever fashion is right for you, blogs, offers, etc. – to help them further their buyer’s journey.
A major part of effective email marketing is knowing your persona. If you don’t know who you’re talking to, how they like to be communicated with, or what types of information they’re most likely to engage with, you’ll likely have little success with this avenue. Again – email marketing is just one piece of inbound marketing to fit into your overall event strategy and plan.
3. Your Website
I know what you might be thinking; “What the heck does my website have to do with my IN PERSON event?” … My answer: everything. Like social, your website will likely do some of the heavy lifting for you in terms of pre-event information, registration, etc. But it can do more than be home to FAQs, Event Schedules, and Attendee Details (although these are all great pieces of content and helpful for your event). Your website can be a major player in two other ways …
Stay with me. When you have an event, or are participating in an event, gathering information from your leads, attendees, and potential customers is huge. After all, that’s likely part of why you planned your event. So, let landing pages do some of the work for you. You can use landing pages in sessions or at booths and exhibits to get basic information from those who might be interested in connecting – and maybe doing business – with you. In the past, some of our clients have used landing pages to track entries in contests at their booth. So in exchange for, say, a contact’s name, email, and company name or size, that individual might get entered to win a gift card or some sort of service. Others ask more extensive questions, depending on the prize or what the individual entering will get out of it (coupons, discounts, large-ticket items, etc.)
Nurturing + Converting Leads
Leading up to and following your event, your website will act as home base. This is where attendees are going to learn more about your event (or you, if you were an exhibitor, participator, sponsor, etc.) and you’ll want to be sure you’re speaking to them and providing information to nurture them along in their buyer’s journey in hopes of converting them. This includes placing the right CTA in the right place so when they’re ready, you’re easy to reach.
Connecting the Dots
There are number of ways inbound marketing can play a role in your event. When you pull the right inbound marketing practices into your event planning strategy, you can get some pretty impressive results. Not only will you be able to successfully utilize various channels for connecting with and growing your network, you can maintain and strengthen the contacts you gain – all to get you closer to your goal. And just like that it all comes together.
Give a little. Get a lot.
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