Hybrid Events typically include an in-person format paired with a digital component. It’s an event that transcends settings, appealing to everyone in a dynamic way.
But with a complex event, marketing can be difficult. Marketers will likely be tasked with supplying the content for the event as well as promoting it. Thus, it can be challenging for them to successfully raise awareness and drive registrations while balancing so many responsibilities.
However, the promotion of your hybrid event is a critical task directly correlating to the success of the event. If no one registers, the event will be a flop.
That’s why marketers need to think outside the box and deploy creative marketing tactics that are low cost and effective. Tactics that move the needle for their registrations and are easy to implement will be the ones that succeed.
In this post, I'll outline the seven best tips marketers are using this year to promote their hybrid event. By integrating these tactics into your marketing strategy, you will be able to successfully get your event in front of your target audience’s eyes and increase registrations.
1. Share event snippets on social media.
Social media will likely be the first place marketers turn to. It’s free. It’s an effective promotion engine, and their followers will likely be interested in the event.
However, nearly every marketer will make this same mistake:
Your hybrid event social media strategy should not revolve around the act of continuously posting “Register Now” or “Get Tickets Today” on every single Facebook post or tweet you publish. In fact, doing this repeatedly may annoy your audience and cause them to unfollow.
Instead, you should announce and promote the registration link a few times over the course of the lead up to the event. After a while, your audience will know that there's an event, and you’ll need to evolve your social strategy and provide them with another incentive to register.
That's why you should shift your strategy and focus on the insights and value that your audience will get out of a hybrid event. This can include highlighting:
- Keynote speakers
- Unique aspects of the in-person as well as the virtual experiences
- Debate questions
Each of these different pieces of content can be cut down into audio, movie clips, images, infographics, graphic quotes and more. Better yet, begin with long-form content by starting a new blog and creating a mini-series leading up to the event. That way, you can repurpose that content into smaller pieces such as quotes and infographics. It will be just enough to lure them in and get them to register or learn more.
Hybrid events also have unique advantages when it comes to social media. If your hybrid event has multiple small, in-person locations with a virtual experience to tie them all together, you can use hashtags that are specific to each location. This will highlight the hybrid nature of your event as well as boost social promotion as participants jump to rep their location. And it doesn’t have to be limited to in-person attendees--virtual participants that live near one of your in-person locations can join in on the location hashtags.
Pair this strategy with a hashtag contest to incentivize shares after the event is over so that people leave the event excited. Overall, a hybrid event is unique in that it provides the opportunity to generate social media buzz online, and also before, during, and after your event date.
2. Leverage speakers as influencers.
It seems like nearly everyone wants to be an influencer these days, so why not treat your speakers as one? They’re the stars of the show and deserve to be in the limelight.
Plus, there can be benefits if they engage their audiences and promote the event. Speakers that are well-known or influential in your industry can draw large audiences to your hybrid event.
For example, with hybrid events in mind, you could add certain incentives such as featuring certain speakers only at the in-person element or treating in-person attendees to special perks like backstage passes, a meet and greet with the keynote speaker, and so on. You could do the same with the virtual experience. While the in-person element has their special speaker, you can have a special speaker for the virtual attendees, or a one-on-one virtual meeting with one of the keynote speakers.
When it comes to speakers promoting your hybrid event, don’t just expect them to go and promote it one their own, especially without any guidance or nudges. You should prepare a variety of assets so that the speakers can easily promote to their personal social networks. By making it as easy as possible for them, they are more likely to promote your event, and in a way that capitalizes on their notoriety, influence and following.
For example, content featuring speakers can be shared on brand-owned accounts by the company and also be sent directly to the speakers to share with their followers.
This post highlights Sam Eitzen’s credentials, why you should be interested in him, the event name and the link to register. When speakers have a beautiful graphic and post unique to them, it’s almost impossible for them not to to share it with their followers. And as you can see, that is exactly what Sam did. This makes it easy for Sam’s audience to register and hear him speak at the event. Don't kill yourself with this, though. Use a tool like snöball to automate and turbocharge your influencer outreach.
Creating posts like these with all the necessary information can be challenging. You have limited space and character restrictions. To counteract this challenge, use chat acronyms to condense your copy while making sure you get your point across.
By asking your speakers to share branded promos, you are reaching their audience and showcasing the hybrid event to some who have never heard of your brand before.
When inviting speakers to your event, be sure to outline any speaker expectations such as these when negotiating and signing contracts. Check out Hubb’s blog post about How to Create Effective Speaker Agreements.
3. Co-brand the event.
Sometimes it's better to host a hybrid event with a partner. When events are co-branded, they can be promoted directly to both parties’ audiences. This is often a low-cost way to get your event in front of the eyes of many eager and interested participants.
But how do you select the right partner?
The right partner should complement your event, but also fill in what you are missing. When selecting a partner, consider the following:
- What expertise are you bringing to the event?
- In what areas is the content lacking?
- What major companies, publications, or data sources can enrich your event?
- What insights are your target attendees seeking?
For hybrid events, consider co-branding with the venue for the in-person element. This gives them the opportunity to show off their venue and highlight the changes they’ve made for the pandemic. Not only will you gain access to their audience, but it will help make your attendees feel more comfortable participating in the in-person element.
When selecting, make sure the event partner you choose can add value to the event. The value they bring can be in the form of enriching and sharing the content, adding a unique perspective, delivering a major marketing channel or even enhancing the technological infrastructure of the event.
In a co-branded event, both you and your partner will promote the event. Your success is their success. You both are incentivized to get as many people to attend as possible.
Take a look at this tweet promoting an upcoming webinar produced by Hubb and Evia.
Both Hubb and Evia promoted the webinar on their social feeds, effectively doubling their audience reach. The result was one of their highest attended webinars to date.
4. Tap into your email database.
Email marketing is another effective way to promote your hybrid event at a low cost. If prospects or customers signed up to receive email communications from you, there is a high chance they will be interested in your events and want to attend.
With email marketing, there are a couple different ways that you can promote your hybrid event to your subscriber base.
First, and most effectively, is a dedicated email outreach campaign that is solely focused on your event. Describe your event, add a banner image and include a straight-forward call-to-action. Don’t include anything else in the email; it should be hyper-focused on your event.
For example, look at the email Untethered sent to promote their virtual summit with a dedicated email campaign that was sent to all of their subscribers.
This prominently featured the event, invited the reader to register and didn’t clutter the message with ancillary content.
Promoting your hybrid event through email can increase your registrations with the prospects and customers you already have in your database. For more information on how to make the most of your email marketing, check out this infographic.
5. Run targeted lead gen ads.
Marketers must move past their own channels and promote their event to new, similar audiences that may find the information relevant.
In order to do this, they need to shift their attention to paid channels.
Targeted paid media campaigns on popular social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are effective channels to leverage your paid media strategy.
On each platform, you can hyper-target specific audiences that will be interested in the content of your hybrid event. You can even create custom audiences based on the email addresses of your existing registrants.
In addition, you can use those same emails to generate lookalike audiences, a related subset of people that you can target who may be interested in registering. Lookalike audiences share similar characteristics as your current customers or attendees, which makes them a viable segment that is likely to convert and increase registrations.
All effective ads have three things: copy, creative and a call-to-action. If you look below, you'll see how Hubb markets this podcast episode on evolving audience needs:
Hubb’s post highlights a large professional panel and uses words like fun and new to boost interest. Based on this post, you know that you’ll be listening to an engaging conversation with a panel of experts about how to cater to an online audience.
The ad creative focuses on the event logo, speaker headshots and an engaging headline. In addition, there is a clear call-to-action inviting people who see the post to click the link and listen to the episode.
Marketers need to ensure that they have the right targeting parameters in place or else they will run through their budget very quickly. As with any ad campaign, marketers should run A/B tests to see what works the best. They should also test out different types of content to generate leads for the event, like webinars, case studies, and podcasts like the example above.
If your targeting is set up correctly and your creative is polished, your ads will convert many prospects into attendees simply by launching a campaign.
6. Sponsor a newsletter or trade publication.
Sometimes the simplest marketing tactics are the most effective.
Sponsoring a newsletter or trade publication can help raise awareness for your event. There are so many industry newsletters, media sites and trade publications for you to feature a promo for your hybrid event.
Typically, these publications will have certain ad inventory set aside for relevant advertisements that their readers would be interested in. In addition, you could offer data, insights, free registrations or a partnership (as mentioned above) to see if you can get a discounted rate.
This will expose your event to an engaged audience in an easy way. All you need to do is send over a banner ad, a click-through link and a few sentences promoting your hybrid event.
The newsletter or media site will plug it into their publication and send it out to their audience as you wait for the registrations to come rolling in.
7. Optimize your registration page.
Your registration page is the final stop to turn a prospect into an attendee. The entire experience should be frictionless to ensure that it is easy and straightforward to register.
The copy on the page should be engaging, descriptive and highlight everything the prospect would need to know about the event. All clutter should be removed from the page.
Untethered made it easy to register for their virtual summit. All the info a prospect would need to know is clear--when the event is, where to register, and where to login.
Upon clicking register, the registration page pops up where they can register with a click of a button--all they have to do is click the LinkedIn button, which pulls their info for them. The landing page is simple and makes it easy for the user to sign up. Also, by linking the registration to LinkedIn, Untethered reduced the possibility of user error and got more info to help attendees connect with others that share their interests or experiences.
Finally, although you don’t have to focus too much on SEO, it’s good to ensure you’re using relevant focus keywords on your landing page. With optimized copy, you might appear towards the top of the search engine results page for select targeted keywords.
Hybrid events can be challenging to pull off, but the marketing for them doesn’t have to be.
Marketers can use a variety of highly-effective, targeted tactics to increase registrations and ensure that an adequate amount of attendees attend their event.
You should preview the event on social media, leverage speakers as influencers and co-brand the event. In addition, you should send a dedicated email campaign, launch digital ads, sponsor a newsletter and optimize your registration landing page.
By executing these tactics, you’ll raise awareness, increase registrations and make your hybrid event an unforgettable success.
Adam Enfroy, Founder at AdamEnfroy.com
Adam Enfroy’s mission is to teach the next generation of online entrepreneurs how to scale their influence at startup speed. With over 500,000 monthly readers, Adam's blog has demonstrated a new way of turning a blog into a business.