The ultimate guide to event marketing

Think back to the last event you attended.

Was it a conference or a trade fair? An intimate seminar or startup launch party hosted online? How about a fun, socially distant 3 mile or golf excursion?

These events are all very different, but for the brands or organizations that hosted them, they all had one common purpose: to entertain and involve the attendees – a.k.a. potential customer.

Event marketing is an extremely valuable strategy for all types of businesses from technology and education to nonprofits, medical and retail.

Events not only benefit their hosts and sponsors, but also enrich the lives of their participants. Events inspire, teach, fascinate, entertain and bring people together in a way that is different from most other marketing endeavors.

That is why we created this guide so that you can use event marketing for your own business. Read on to get started or use the chapter links below to continue.

What is event marketing?

Event Marketing plans, organizes and runs an event to promote a brand, product or service. Events can be held in person or online, and companies can either host an event, participate as an exhibitor, or participate as a sponsor.

Event marketing refers to a wide variety of events. You can organize a small round table for seven to ten guests, work with another brand to sponsor a 5K, or set up an exhibition at a large trade show – or host one online.

You could host a multi-day event that draws thousands of attendees, sponsors, and speakers … like INBOUND. INBOUND 2020 hosted sessions entirely online and attracted thousands of attendees around the world.

The size or platform of your event doesn’t matter as long as you add value to your customers, prospects, and your brand. Learn more about how to develop an event marketing strategy below.

Types of Event Marketing

In the meantime, let’s go over some of the different types of event marketing your company can host, sponsor, or attend. Note that all of these events can also take place virtually.


Conferences are large events that are typically organized and hosted by a large company and sponsored by a long list of smaller brands and companies. Conferences are valuable for both B2B and B2C brands. These events usually offer the most dynamic agendas with speakers, workshops and networking opportunities.

Trade fairs and exhibitions

Trade shows or exhibitions are large events that focus on a specific industry or type of product, e.g. B. Sales technology or medical devices. Trade fairs offer companies the opportunity to present their products and services and, as a rule, to achieve the highest number of qualified leads. While conferences are open to the public, trade show attendees are typically pre-qualified buyers, company representatives, and salespeople.


Seminars (often referred to as webinars in online hosting) are valuable, educational events that few people attend. They include discussions, lectures and intimate networking opportunities.

Roundtables are similar to seminars, but usually have fewer participants with comparable “levels”, such as B. CEOs, surgeons or teachers. Both events usually last no more than a day.

Pop-up shops

Pop-up shops are temporary retail spaces where companies can sell their products in a controlled environment. They are usually organized by ecommerce brands that don’t have a full-time business. Pop-up shops also enable otherwise digital brands to bring their brand to life for their customers through a physical, immersive environment.

Parties and celebrations start

Launch parties or celebrations are small, personal events held at the start of a new business, after a big announcement, or simply to celebrate a success or milestone. Some companies hold a party annually to house and entertain customers or clients. While these types of events shouldn’t focus on a product or brand, a simple speech or presentation can help tailor the event to a company and remind attendees why they’re there.


Workshops are similar to seminars and round tables in that they focus on sharing knowledge and training participants. In contrast to seminars and round tables, however, they are usually open to the public. Workshops can be offered both virtually and in person. While traditionally not offered for promotional purposes, they tend to focus on a topic relevant to the business. This makes a company appear more credible in its field.

Other types of event marketing include job fairs, client-only conferences, networking sessions, VIP experiences, sponsorship, awards shows, and competitions (such as 3 miles or golf trips).

There are so many ways to market your business and products through events because Events work.

In a recent article on the ultimate in marketing advice, several experts mentioned that events are the best way to connect with your audience and build your brand. Here’s a direct quote from Kenny Nguyen of ThreeSixtyEight (who spoke at INBOUND):

… companies will use event strategies more than ever As human experiences, companies will choose to differentiate themselves, especially those who cannot do this through technology. The key to any great event strategy is very simple –Identify the memory you want attendees to go away with and work backwards. “

Events work because they are different from any other type of marketing. They are impressive, entertaining and memorable. They are also useful for companies in any industry

Benefits of event marketing

Event marketing helps companies to be successful – we have proven that above.

But how do you do it specifically? Why should you invest in this strategy for your business? Here are some definite benefits of event marketing.

Event marketing generates business.

Companies invest in event marketing because events inherently create new business and revenue opportunities. 95% of marketers believe that in-person events can have a huge impact on the achievement of their company’s primary business goals.

As the organizer, the registration process alone generates a list of people who are already interested in your product, your industry or at least your target group. When you attend or sponsor an event, you can collect leads through an email list, demo offer, or competition.

Event marketing offers personal customer loyalty.

Many of today’s software and e-commerce companies can never meet their customers or customers in person. Event marketing is an advantage here.

A 2020 Bizzabo study found that 93% of marketers believe in-person events provide attendees with a valuable opportunity to connect in an increasingly digital world.

Involving customers and potential customers at events initiates personal interactions. These one-on-one personal interactions build brand loyalty and help customers humanize your brand. Events also provide a break from the distractions of daily work – meaning you can get a customer’s attention better than a phone call or an office call. With this attention, you have an opportunity to sell or sell your products and services.

Event marketing strengthens brand awareness.

Hosting or participating in events is an important way for companies to establish and expand their brand. 64% of event marketers said the number one reason they host events is brand awareness for their company or products.

Event marketing enables you to combine a physical identity and aesthetic with an otherwise digital brand. As with pop-up shops, events provide a truly immersive experience where consumers and customers get a real feel for your brand and what it looks like in person.

The best part about using events to increase brand awareness? People talk about events. Consumers, customers, media, viewers and influencers talk about events in person, on social media and in the press. They call it events that make events a fantastic way to educate and educate people about your brand and products.

Event marketing promotes product and industry education.

No matter what type of event your company is hosting or attending, there is most likely an educational component. This is what makes event marketing so successful – they don’t just focus on one brand or product.

Instead, they focus on educating and entertaining a community or industry … while promoting products and services on the side. (In fact, this makes for great marketing across the board.)

Event Marketing Plan

Now let’s talk about how you can implement your next event. Your events should have a marketing plan that is separate from other efforts you make for your business.

You can cross-promote (i.e. share event information on company social media and vice versa). However, it is advisable to describe your event marketing as a stand-alone campaign strategy.

Here are some questions to help you build your next one Event Marketing Strategy.

What are your SMART goals? What is your budget?

SMART goals stand for sspecific, measy, areachable, rElevant and timely. Keeping Your Goals SMART will help you avoid vague goals like “bring in leads”.

SMART goals have a dual purpose: they are intended to provide guidance in planning and running your event, and to help you decide whether or not your event was successful (and if not, know how to improve).

An example of a SMART event marketing goal would be to “add 100 names to our list of potential leads for our new product by the end of the event”.

This goal is specific (potential leads for the new product only), measurable (100 names), achievable and relevant (provided the event is relevant and there are more than enough attendees to get 100 names) and timely (until the end of the event).

Note: Don’t limit your event to a single goal. You should also set intangible goals like “strengthening relationships” and “engaging prospects”. When it comes to creative and tax decisions, however, you should use your SMART goals as a guide – and measure them in the backend.

Finally, take some time to define your event marketing budget. This is vital as it will likely be the deciding factor in everything from the venue to the entertainment to the website.

What is the theme, brand and schedule of your event?

In order to market your event, you need to know what information and content to market. Before you proceed, determine the name, theme, brand, and purpose of your event. Why should people attend? What will they win? Is your event an offshoot of your company or an independent brand?

Next, find out where and when your event will take place. These are probably the most frequently asked questions from participants.

Then find out about the schedule of your event, e.g. B. About keynote speakers, workshops, conversation sections and times for collecting and networking.

You don’t have to back up all of this data before promoting your event, but you should at least have an idea of ​​who will be there and what you will be offering to attendees.

Who do you market to? How will you get there

Define your target audience. Who would benefit most from your event? What types of people would enjoy your workshops, learn from your speakers, and engage your sponsors?

Establishing your target audience will help you find the right marketing channels and invest in them. Social media and your event website get channels in today’s digitally saturated market. If your event is local, consider print advertising. Consider adding your event to a website with event lists like Eventful, Hey Event, and 10times to reach more people.

Event marketing with email

Email is another popular and effective way to promote events. 39% of marketers found that email marketing tools are the biggest contributor to event success.

Email information is easily collected upon registration and attendees review emails so that they can easily see updates and confirmations.

Often times, companies create separate email addresses and newsletters for their events to separate communication and advertising from other marketing efforts.

This will benefit your attendees as well – they probably don’t want their inboxes to be flooded.

What’s your content creation and management plan?

Promoting your event involves a lot of information – what, when, where, why, who and how to get started. To properly manage all of this information, you need to create a workable plan to create and control it.

Since your event details are unlikely to be available all at once, you’ll need to post, update, and change information for months in advance of the event. Are you going to do this via newsletter? Who is responsible for keeping the website up to date? Are you investing in an event app so that attendees have this information in their pocket at all times?

What is your event marketing schedule?

To reach your audience, it is best to promote your event in the weeks and months leading up to it. It is helpful to outline a promotional timeline so you know when and what to post. Such a timeline will also pique the curiosity of your attendees if you post new names or information at different times.

It is also advisable to organize a multi-touch action. Include a variety (i.e., email, social media, direct mail, phone calls, print ads, and paid ads) to target maximum number of people.

Just getting the word out can make a huge difference in your registrations.

How will you advertise and market during the event?

Marketing your event shouldn’t stop when your event starts. Apply some resources for promoting your event. Attendees may learn something new about the offering and those who haven’t registered will be eager to see what they’re missing.

Most companies use social media to involve people during their event. 73% of businesses use social media to promote certain events and features during the event, 55% use it to post photos, and 35% use it to reinforce product announcements.

Record live Facebook or Instagram videos or live tweets during your event.

How do you measure your event success?

In the middle of a busy event, it’s easy to look around and be comfortable about your participation and commitment. But is that the best way to gauge whether your event was a success? Probably not.

As with any other marketing investment, it is wise to establish some Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that you can use to measure your event and evaluate its performance.

Here are some common event marketing KPIs.

Registrations and check-ins

Not everyone who signs up for your event will attend. Compare your registrations with your actual attendance and reach out to some people who signed up but didn’t check in. When you have offered a variety of ticket packages or options, view your registration details to see when the most and the fewest tickets were purchased and what types of tickets were purchased.

Sales and cost-to-sales ratio

How much money did your event bring in? If your event requires a paid ticket, gross sales is an important measure of success. How does that amount compare to what you spent on the event? This comparison will help you better understand the value of your event and the resources it offers. Events are expensive, but not worth going into debt.

Satisfaction of the participants

Did your attendees like your event? What did they take part in and what did they enjoy the most? “Satisfaction” may seem like an obscure metric, but understanding the opinions and perspectives of your event attendees will help you understand where your event has been successful … and where you can improve. Create a survey to ask your attendees about their experiences and insights and to calculate a Net Promoter Score (NPS) for your event.

Here’s a straight line quote from another expert who provided marketing advice in one of our articles recently. Mike Piddock from Glisser spoke at INBOUND:

“Events have to be rated with hard metricsrather than just “gut feeling” opinions and feedback forms to rate the coffee.Measure participant engagementinstead of just counting who signed up and who showed upA great indicator of the effectiveness of the event. ”

Social media mentions / engagement

How often has your event been discussed on social media? What was the general consensus about the event? Did your attendees share content that non-attendees engaged? (It’s very likely – a 2016 study found that 98% of consumers create digital content at events, and that number has likely increased today.) In today’s digital world, social media is a great measure of success and success Range of events. Check out your event mentions on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more. Use a hashtag so that you can easily keep track of posts.

Lead acquisition and customer conversion

Gaining leads and converting customers is one of the main benefits of event marketing. Therefore, it makes sense to measure these as KPIs for your event. Make a note of how many qualified leads your event is generating, and then keep track of how many of those leads are converted into paying customers. This can help determine the direct ROI of your event and which tactics were appropriate for lead collection and conversion.

Get started with event marketing

Organizing and running an event is a daunting task. But go with a “snack strategy” and you’ll be planning your first event in no time.

Whether you’re looking to entertain new customers, build your contact list, or raise funds for your nonprofits, event marketing might be the solution – and the most fun for your customers.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2015 and has been updated for completeness.

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