Communicating with your audience and convincing them to register and attend your virtual event is the most difficult part of producing any seminar. Although Web events, unlike traditional events, are easy to join and are usually offered with no registration fee, it is still a challenge to build an audience. Marketing MUST be a key component of your pre-event planning.

Questions to ask before developing you marketing strategy:

  • Who do I want to attend? This can be defined by business title, industry, revenue, geography, etc.
  • What topic/content will interest qualified prospects and relate to our business?
  • Which criteria will dictate a qualified lead? Title, geography, revenue, etc
  • How many qualified leads do we need to generate a sale?
  • What are our sales goals? Where do webinars fit in?
  • How many prospects do I need to have register for the event to be a success?
  • Are there areas the sales team needs help with that my marketing can support? (form questions, etc)
  • What resources do we have access to market to our ideal prospect?
  • How many registrations do we expect to generate per marketing channel?
  • Is our projected cost per qualified acceptable?
  • Who is going to execute the marketing? Do they have time set aside to make it happen?
  • Have we allotted for the back and forth of the approval process on the marketing materials in our timeline?
  • Is there a plan in place for marketing requirements after the event is over?
  • Will we offer any incentives for participating? (ie. Whitepaper, contest)

There are various ways to market any event. Listed below are a few commonly used and highly recommended promotions.

  • The “Options” column refers to the different ways in which you can market your event through each promotion.
  • The “Channel” column refers to possible sources for promotions. Contact different channels so you know your available options. Remember that oftentimes, channels also provide free or co-op promotion opportunities, so don’t overlook them!

Also, make sure all promotions offer the ability to click through to your registration site.

The Numbers

Planners often wonder how much promotion is needed to reach a certain number of attendees. Below is a standard calculation:

Step Description Numbers
Impressions Number of times promotions are seen 100,000
Clicks Visitors to the registration page (2% avg.) 2000
Registrations Visitors that complete the registration (50% avg.) 1000
Attendees Registrants that actually attend the event (33% avg.) 333

Remember—if you record and archive your event, many of the original registrants will attend later. Do NOT tell them up front that the event will be archived. This will lower your live attendance.

Other Marketing Ideas

  • Press Releases – Send out a press release about your upcoming event. You may not generate a great deal of coverage, but the release usually steers the media to your event for data if they are researching your event topic for an article. Don’t forget to add the release to your own Web site press section.
  • Articles – Develop contributed articles that correlate with your event topic. Make sure they are placed in advance and mention the event is coming in the article footer. Be forewarned. This marketing tactic requires advanced planning and careful strategy.
  • Viral Marketing – Viral marketing is difficult to do but worth taking on if you get it right! We have all received funny pictures or videos that we have passed to other people — that is the viral concept. People pass messages and interesting e-mail around free of charge.
  • Traditional Channels – Direct Mail? Print Advertising? Telemarketing? Traditional channels can be used for marketing virtual events, but they increase the barrier to entry. It is much more inconvenient and highly unlikely that someone will read a direct-mail postcard, bring up a browser, type in the URL (which will be long if you want to track each marketing channel and will probably be entered incorrectly,) and finally, go to the registration page. It is much easier and probable that your audience will click on a link in an online promotion.
  • Swap for it! – Don’t forget that you have things to offer to other companies. Do you have a partner that has a great internal database? Perhaps they would want to be a sponsor of your event in exchange for helping you with promotions. Does your company offer services or products that you can promote to people for free in exchange for supporting your program? Think out of the box!