Even after the wake of COVID-19, hybrid events’ popularity continues to rise. More event planners are discovering the benefits of hosting hybrid events, offering a mix of high-energy in-person events and activities with virtual elements such as digital registration and badges, event apps, and games. In addition, hosting hybrid events increases an event’s reach and longevity, making it possible for users anywhere to attend and for content to be available on demand long after the closing remarks.
According to a study by etc. venues, 73% of event planners surveyed believe hybrid events will become more common in the future. Given these predictions, event planners should adjust their marketing strategies to appeal to a larger audience and attract attendees who can attend an event virtually, in person, or in a hybrid format.
Continue reading to learn six hybrid event marketing strategies.
1. Launch an email campaign
Email marketing can be a productive and cost-effective way to engage and share information with a potential audience. According to Litmus, email ROI is an impressive $36 for every $1 spent. Email marketing for a hybrid event can start several months before the event date, and a well thought out email marketing strategy will include several teaser emails that encourage your audience to “save the date” and alert potential attendees of important announcement dates, such as when the agenda will become available, when registration opens, etc.
Once the “teaser” period is over, additional emails can go out sharing information about the event venue, the sessions (online and in-person), registration, and more. To capture the recipients’ attention, create catchy email subject lines to increase the open rate. According to Campaign Monitor, emails containing personalized subject lines, including directly addressing the recipient by name, are 26% more likely to be opened when compared to non-personalized subject lines.
As you get closer to your event, start to segment your email marketing. Differentiate between those who registered to attend the event in person, and those who registered to attend virtually. Sending personalized emails based on how the attendee plans to attend the event helps ensure everyone knows how to optimize their event experience and generates excitement. These emails can also be used to share pre-registration information, changes in event schedules, and other alerts.
To take things a step further and personalize your email campaigns, consider writing content based on the following:
- Industry: Marketing and sales? HR? Manufacturing? Education? Personalize each campaign per industry you send and mark why attending your event can help pain points x,y, and z.
- Personas: The challenges, responsibilities, and motivations vary between each persona. Is your target audience CMOs or event planners? Tailor each campaign accordingly.
- Be human: Have your emails come from, well, a human. Be fun and include a picture in your signature so they get a good idea of whom the email is really coming from. It’s kinda like putting the bow on a gift to seal the deal.
When you’re providing a virtual option, it’s easy to attract last-minute attendees. So remember to continue marketing to your email lists, not only up until the event date but after as well. Ensure to create a post-email campaign to follow up with your leads and opportunities.
2. Create branded hashtags
Branded hashtags should be a key component of your hybrid event marketing campaigns. Typically, a branded hashtag is unique and relevant to your event and is easily used across all channels to promote the who, what, when, where, and why of your event. Event organizers, marketers, and attendees can include your hashtag when creating social media content related to your event, which increases the event’s visibility online. The hashtag also helps develop a sense of community, as attendees share and engage with photos and other content posted by multiple event stakeholders and participants.
Another benefit to using a branded hashtag is that it enables you and other users online to efficiently search for all social media content relevant to your event, in turn making it easier for your audience to help spread the news about your event and share their excitement about attending. And by tracking engagement through hashtag use, event marketers can determine which social media posts are more effective and thus optimize the performance of social media campaigns.
Finally, your social media reach increases when attendees use your branded hashtag. By using a branded hashtag, your event can attract new followers and potentially new attendees to your event and/or your brand.
3. Utilize social media communities
It’s important to think of your event as a community, bringing people with shared interests together. Fortunately, social media platforms offer various ways for your community members, which include event planners, attendees, speakers, sponsors, and exhibitors, to interact with one another, thereby fostering engagement before, during, and after the event.
Additionally, creating a social media presence for your event gives you the ability to broadcast important announcements, tease your event agenda with video clips, and create an immersive event experience through features such as comments and polls. For example, alerts about schedule changes, guest speakers, room changes, or links for content on demand can be posted via social media. Or you can invite the audience to share a picture of their favorite booth or vote for their favorite presentation. Enlist various engagement tools to keep your social media followers active on your platforms. High engagement rates will increase your reach and give your event a larger digital footprint.
A dedicated Facebook or LinkedIn group for the event and branded hashtags can help keep the event’s marketing posts live and in circulation for many months after the event. Creating or joining a dedicated event group is great for delivering dedicated content that is unique to the event community. Attendees that are part of the group can also organize networking opportunities, meet-up happy hours, and discuss travel plans and accommodations, and suggestions. It’s a fantastic free tool to bring communities close. In addition, Instagram offers a platform to share a behind-the-scenes look at the event’s production, spotlight speakers, and display event vendors’ products.
Assuming you’re going hybrid, ensure to include a social wall as an interactive element within your virtual venue. A social wall that pulls, collects, and displays all content surrounding your event. This allows you to pull together all your social media efforts into one place and use them to drive registrations, engage, and entertain your audience during the event. You can do this and more by utilizing 6Connex’s open universe BYOS, or bring-you-own-solutions, to let you sync your virtual environment with your favorite tech.
Start promoting on social media a few months before the event using the branded hashtag to help gain the attention of potential attendees and get them excited about the event. Promoting early on social media allows time to market the event properly and ask for last year’s attendees to share their photos and thoughts from previous events.
If your budget allows, paid social media advertising can also help target your ideal audience profile, aiming your social media content toward users whose online behavior suggests they’re a good fit for your event. Paid advertising is available on most social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. One word of caution: although this method is a great way to attract attendees, it can get expensive over time.
4. Use various pricing strategies
Creating multiple ticket packages at different price points can profoundly affect the success of your hybrid event. By offering tickets at different price points, you give more people an option to attend your event. For example, attendees who cannot afford the VIP package can still buy lower-priced tickets and participate in portions of the event. Different hybrid event ticket and package options may include:
- All-Inclusive Tickets: These tickets would include access to all in-person and virtual activities on the agenda.
- Early-Bird Tickets: These tickets would offer discounts to the first attendees to purchase tickets.
- VIP Tickets: These tickets would be all-inclusive and also offer additional incentives, including dinners, meet and greets, networking parties, and more.
- Tiered Tickets: These tickets would be priced based on what is included in the event experience. For example, different tiers may consist of general in-person admission, admission with meet-and-greet access, or admission to the virtual agenda items only.
- Bulk or Bundled Tickets: These tickets would allow employers or groups of people to purchase tickets in bulk. This is a typical ticketing strategy for trade shows and major industry conferences.
- Add-On Tickets: These tickets allow attendees to buy tickets a la carte for breakout sessions, meet and greets, and more to supplement their general admission ticket. Access to the event using a mobile event app could also be another significant add-on ticket option.
- Virtual Tickets: These tickets would offer access to all virtual items on the agenda during the conference or convention, including webinars.
- Swag Bag Tickets: These tickets would include a swag bag with general admission, or the swag bag could be charged as an add-on.
- Last-Minute Tickets: This ticketing strategy can be used to boost sales if registration numbers are low. The tickets would be offered at a discount for last-minute purchases during the week or days before the event starts.
To determine the price for each ticket level, see what competitors are charging, and determine the value attendees will receive from attending the event. Additionally, consider the economy in the event location. Finally, if you have hosted the same or a similar event in the past, look at your historic ticket prices and sales as a guide. Remember that a virtual event platform can help lower ticket pricing, increase sales, and ease the organization of your upcoming event. The right platform will also include myriad event tech integrations to help you offer a build-your-own event experience that requires different ticket packages.
5. Develop a landing page
Create a branded, mobile-friendly website or landing page to promote your upcoming event. Then, make sure to link all marketing materials and social media posts to the website or landing page and create user journeys that help the audience find the latest information about the event’s activities, registration, speakers, and more. Remember, the website or landing page will be many of your event attendees’ first touchpoint with your event, so providing an attractive and informative experience is vital.
Your website or landing page should include information about your hybrid event and take the user to the registration page in one-click. Use eye-grabbing visuals to help reinforce your brand and if you have hosted previous events, include user reviews as well.
You can also create a space on your website or landing page to showcase teaser videos to help build excitement for your upcoming event. According to Viostream, using well-produced videos to promote your event can give you a higher conversion rate and are a good return on investment. Videos can also be shared on social media platforms or a dedicated event YouTube channel to facilitate continuous engagement.
In addition to providing event information, the website or landing page should also introduce event speakers. Share the bios and photos of your speakers to create interest and encourage more people to attend. Make sure to differentiate which speakers will be presenting virtually and which will be available in in-person sessions to ensure there is no confusion or disappointment.
Ultimately, your event’s website or landing page is a central hub of information for attendees to get all the details about the event. Remember to use a clear call to action, so interested visitors can easily register in advance, with no confusion. Easy peasy!
6. Use influencer marketing
Last but not least is influencers! As marketing trends change, so do the ways in which we get our information and receive advertising messages. A recent trend is to use influencers to promote products, brands, and events. It can be very beneficial to have an influencer, or multiple influencers, who are popular with your target audience to help promote your event. For example, having an influential blogger write about your event can help significantly increase your brand and event awareness.
Additionally, influencers can be an affordable way to promote your event and reach a larger audience. In exchange for promoting your event to their followers, many influencers will accept discounts on in-person and virtual event tickets, which they can use as giveaways. Some influencers may also enjoy having a vendor table at your event to share their products or services. For example, if an influencer has written a book, you can include a book signing on your agenda in exchange for event promotion.
Some ways to develop a relationship with influencers in your industry may include:
- Follow and engage with them on their social networks.
- Become engaged by sharing their posts and mentioning their name on your social networks, giving positive reviews, and linking to their content.
- Reach out to them directly, compliment them on their content and followership, and ask whether they would be interested in helping you. You may have to start small, for example, by asking if they would be a guest blogger for your event’s blog, but these steps can later lead to a partnership.
Pro tip: Utilize your event sponsors. You can use your event’s sponsors as influencers by asking them to help promote your event to their audience, thereby increasing the event’s reach.
Expand audience connection with the right hybrid platform
Now that you know how to market your next hybrid event, let’s take things to the next level and incorporate the right hybrid platform so you can execute it. 6Connex offers a hybrid event platform where your attendees can have the best of both worlds, in-person and virtual. We combine a sophisticated platform with simple event technology, all under one roof, so you can:
- 1:1 meetings
- Audience engagement
- Reduce your carbon footprint
- Data-driven results
- And more!
In conclusion, there are many benefits to hosting a hybrid event, including higher ticket sales, greater reach, and sustainability. Use the ideas above to help with the marketing and promotion of your upcoming hybrid event. Request your demo with 6Connex below now.