A conference is all about networking, learning more on specific topics, and exploring new ideas. These events bring industry professionals and those with similar interests together in one event to learn and interact with one another.
Regardless of the type of conference you are hosting, as a conference organizer, you know that the most important element of your conference planning is ensuring that attendees are engaged in your activities, workshops, and exhibitions.
The more engaged your attendees are, the more likely they will find their experience meaningful and want to return for your next conference! However, before you brainstorm how you will provide an excellent experience for your attendees, you will first need to promote your conference to your target audience.
In order to appeal to your ideal audience and give them an exceptional experience, you will need a well-thought-out marketing strategy that makes your event stand out.
If you’re wondering how you can promote your conference effectively and differentiate it from similar events, you’ve come to the right place. This article will offer top conference promotion tips and some strategies to increase engagement during your event. Here are our favourite strategies:
Ready to learn more about how you can use these strategies to stand out to prospective attendees? Let’s get started!
1. Directly invite people to attend.
When planning a conference, one of the first decisions you have to make is who you’ll invite and how you’ll send the invitations. . Start by sending direct invitations to previous event attendees and those who are highly involved in your organization or conference planning process. These individuals may include your general chair, program committee, or finance chair.
Then, extend invitations to those who may be interested in your conference but don’t yet have a strong relationship with your organization. Your upcoming event offers a great opportunity to strike their interest with a personal invitation and encourage them to take the leap and get more involved.
You might have become aware of these individuals because one of your current members identified them as potential new members. Or, maybe they follow your organization on social media and have liked posts related to your conference but haven’t registered yet.
There are many benefits of sending personal conference invitations compared to mass marketing. First, they make audience members feel valued and appreciated. You don’t want your target audience members to feel like they are just a number or a face in a crowd.. You want to catch their attention with a personal message addressed with their preferred name.
Another benefit of sending a personal conference promotion is that your event will stand out. In the course of their internet browsing, your audience members likely scroll past multiple posts about upcoming events, promotions, and meetings. However, when they see a personal conference invite in their inbox, it catches their attention since it’s directed specifically toward them. This is a great way to cut through the digital clutter and offer a more personal touch to prospective attendees.
2. Recruit event ambassadors.
Promoting a conference can be done effectively and efficiently with the help of event ambassadors. Recruit a passionate group of ambassadors and encourage them to promote your conference to their personal audience of family members and friends.
To find your event ambassadors, reach out to leaders within your organization, long-time members, or new members looking to get more involved. You can even connect with former volunteers — these individuals have shown support in a hands-on capacity in the past, and would likely be willing to get involved again to help promote your event.
Once you’ve identified prospective ambassadors who you think would do a great job promoting your conference, send a personalized message to each individual asking them to get involved. Be sure to clearly outline what you’d like them to do, whether it’s share your Facebook, do an Instagram takeover and give a sneak preview of the event, or hang an event flyer at their work.
Here are some of the benefits of the influencer approach:
Amplified Awareness - Your event ambassadors have the power to expand your audience by sharing your content with their personal networks. They increase the visibility of your event and help start meaningful conversations about it.
Enhanced Trust - Your ambassadors’ greatest power is the trust their followers have in them. When your event ambassadors get the word around about your upcoming conference, they vouch for your organization and offer authentic, positive testimonials. This helps boost your attendance numbers.
Your event ambassadors can provide significant support to your other marketing efforts, from your word-of-mouth promotions to your social media outreach. They can help generate buzz for your conference and validate its legitimacy.
3. Network on social media.
Social media networking is all about having meaningful interactions and open conversations with other users. Social media is a powerful tool in helping you build strong, genuine relationships with your community. Your audience members and event ambassadors can share your conference’s promotional posts or create their own posts to help boost your reach.
Here are some of the ways how different social media platforms can help you reach your audience:
Facebook - Facebook is the largest social media platform in the world with over 2 billion active users every day. This makes it one of the most effective channels to connect with your target audience. You can create Facebook Groups where followers can interact, start discussions, and receive frequent event updates. You can also create a Facebook Event for your conference highlighting logistical information.
Instagram - Instagram has skyrocketed in popularity, especially among younger audience members. On Instagram, you can promote your conference using visuals like pictures and videos. Features such as Instagram Stories, polls, hashtags, reels, IG videos, and many more are all fun ways to capture the interest of potential attendees!
Twitter - Twitter is all about quick updates. With a 280 character limit, you can share brief descriptions of your conference and point followers to your online registration page. You can also share graphics such as your conference flyer to provide more information.
LinkedIn - LinkedIn is a networking platform for business professionals, which is likely the target audience for your conference promotion. You can send your personal conference invitations using LinkedIn or create engaging posts with the polling feature.
TikTok - TikTok has exploded in popularity in recent years among a younger audience of Millenials and Gen Z. You can create videos about what to expect in your conference and why it’s an exciting opportunity.
Every social media platform is used for different purposes. Create a specific plan for each platform to ensure you aren’t taking a one-size-fits-all approach.
4. Invest in paid advertisements.
Investing in paid advertisements can help you generate a good quality of traffic to your conference registration page. Facebook Ads are some of the best tools to send targeted ads to audience members and direct them to your website or event information page
You can use persona and demographic information to send targeted ads to those who would be most likely to attend your event.
Collect general demographic information and find common traits of your target audience, such as their age, job, gender, location, and employment status. You can acquire this information through Facebook if your organization has a business page through its advertising platform. Use these Facebook audience insights to develop your target audience persona. Once you’ve stepped in the shoes of your audience persona, from there, you can create social ads that directly speak to them.
For instance, let’s say you’re a professional baking association and your target audience is small business owners who live within 20 miles of your local area. You can create a targeted ad campaign that mentions the benefits of your conference’s networking opportunities to appeal to these industry professionals.
Paid ads on social media are also a great way to reach a new audience who may not have seen your organic conference promotion to get some information. For example, your paid advertisements might spark the interest of users who are scrolling on Instagram to watch videos or view photos.
5. Send direct mailings.
Taking the time to send direct mail can break through the digital clutter and have a bigger impact on recipients than digital messages. Humans retain information better on a physical page rather than a screen. Similar to sending a direct invite, direct mailings also offer a more personal feel for your potential attendees.
As a conference planner or event coordinator, you want to provide detailed information that is easily accessible when your recipients want to go back and re-read. Sending direct mail is an effective way to communicate information because recipients can save the materials and reference them again later.
Plus, many people consider direct mail to be more trustworthy than what they read online. Hubspot states that sending direct mail can generate a 9 percent response rate when an organization sends mail to their mailing list. This is because direct mail naturally stands out, and people of all ages enjoy receiving mail addressed to them. This is a great opportunity to make your audience feel special!
6. Launch an email campaign.
An email campaign is a sequence of marketing efforts that reach multiple recipients at once.
Email is an effective promotional tool because it allows you to reach audience members directly in their inboxes and send more personalized messages.
It’s not enough to send one or two emails about your upcoming conference and call it a day. When you create a dedicated email promotion strategy, you can reach your audience more effectively through a variety of touchpoints.
Start promoting your conference via email a couple of months before the event is scheduled to begin. Use your emails to promote your registration page, information page, and speaker schedule.
When you use email to promote your conference, you gain access to benefits such as:
Ability to Create Personalized Content - Your email content can be personalized to your audience’s needs and addressed with members’ preferred names. This increases engagement as emails that include the recipient’s first name in the subject line have a higher click-through rate than those that do not.
Reaching Out to the Right People - With email marketing, it is easier to reach many people because most people check their email multiple times a day. Plus, you can segment your audience members and craft more personalized messages for each group. For instance, you might create segments of former event attendees, long-time audience members, and new audience members.
Cost-Effective - Email marketing does not require any printing costs, photoshoots, or location fees. All you need is a copywriter and a graphic artist to help you plan all your emails for your conference promotion.
Collecting Feedback - You can send your targeted audience satisfaction surveys to receive feedback through your email campaigns. Keeping note of their experience will be valuable to help you craft more effective email campaigns in the future.
Easy to Get Started - Starting an email campaign does not require a large team or a long process. You can simply design your emails with a streamlined template, visual elements like photos or videos, and unique infographics to catch viewers' attention!
Easy to Measure - Many email marketing software platforms allow you to track metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates. This makes it easy for you to measure the success of your email campaign and spot areas to be improved.
The more effort you put into your email campaign, the better your performance! Remember to work on building your email list organically for stronger results. You can do this by signing people up at events or promoting your email registration page on social media.
7. Create online video content.
A lot of online marketing is going in the direction of creating online video content. This is a fantastic way to reach new audiences online and help you attract, engage, and convert prospective event attendees.
An easy way to promote your conference using video is to share short clips from previous years’ conferences. This can help your audience members better imagine themselves at the event!
Offering your targeted audience a video about your upcoming event can be more exciting than reading a post about it online, giving them a glimpse of what to expect. According to Forrester research, a one-minute video has the same value as approximately 1.8 million words! Also, viewers tend to retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it through text.
When planning your videos, remember to ask yourself, “Why should audience members come to my event?” This will help you create a compelling, informative video for potential attendees.
8. Optimize your event website.
After you have organized your exciting event, you want to get the word around to as many potential attendees as possible! You can optimize your website to perform better in search engine results to help you in doing so. This process is called search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO strategies help users find your website more easily when conducting research using a search engine like Google.. You can insert commonly-searched keywords in your content to boost your ranking on search engines. Online tools like Google Keyword Planner can help you identify relevant, popular keywords. The higher your website ranks, the more visibility your event will receive.
To boost your SEO ranking even more, you must ensure that your conference promotion page contains valuable information. Be sure to include relevant conference details such as the date and time and where it is taking place. Also, remember to provide online registration on your website to get insights on how many people will be attending. You want to ensure that all necessary information is easily accessible and viewable on your website for an optimal user experience.
9. Explore content marketing.
Content marketing is a form of marketing that involves creating and sharing online materials such as social media posts, blogs, and videos to stimulate interest in your target audience. You can explore content marketing by creating valuable content leading up to the event that positions your organization as a thought leader in your industry. This will drive engagement with your audience and provide a sneak peek into the benefits your conference offers.
There are many different forms of content you can create for your conference promotion. One popular form of content marketing is posting blogs on your website. You can create short news articles or long articles rich in detail that describe past conferences or interview speakers who will present at the event.
When thinking about content marketing, remember that you don’t always have to use every channel at your disposal. Consider which channels are most popular among your audience members based on metrics from past marketing campaigns. Then, you can focus your energy and attention on promoting your upcoming event on those platforms.
10. Leverage event management tools.
There are plenty of event management tools to help you better target your intended audience. These tools allow you to store customer and prospect contact information, manage marketing campaigns, and record any issues all in one platform.
Staff and volunteer management tools are also a great option to help you ensure your event planning is on the same page at all times for a seamless experience for all participants.
How do you know what the right volunteer management software is for you? It should provide volunteer coordinators with the right tools to recruit, screen, schedule, manage and communicate with your volunteers.
With the help of event management tools, you can elevate the overall health and sustainability of all your events and programs. For example, InitLive has helped dozens of conference event producers deliver amazing attendee experiences by ensuring their event is set up for success with an exceptional team of event staff and volunteers.
Now that you have explored some of the many different ways you can promote your conference through effective marketing strategies, think about which ones will work best for your event. A successful conference promotion strategy incorporates multiple channels to get the word out and attract your ideal attendees. Explore your options and be sure to use your creativity to strike interest in your audience. Good luck!
If you’re interested in more information, we have compiled a list of other great resources to help your organization plan a successful conference:
Conference Planning: A Step-by-Step Checklist for Success. - Check out this comprehensive list to explore our step-by-step checklist to help ensure the success of your event.
How to Promote Events on Instagram and Boost Attendance. - This article talks about how you can find and attract attendees to your event through Instagram using creative marketing strategies.
Volunteer Management Software: FAQ + 18 Top Solutions. - Explore this article for a list of volunteer management software providers to help your organization find the right solution.