In an era when we do so much online, it’s still easy to feel disconnected while being so connected. For brands, that means engagement is the metric to live by, and it’s the impetus behind Facebook’s recent live-video strategies and the rise in event marketing.

Event marketing, both online and offline, is quickly becoming one of the most effective ways to combat diluted messaging, missed opportunities, and dwindling interest. That’s because, despite the best digital marketing efforts, it can still be easy to lose sight of the personal connection that helps brands build loyalty with customers old and new. Event marketing can create that connection while boosting awareness, adding value, and generating conversation.

It’s taking up a bigger piece of the marketing budget pie—but is it right for your business? Here’s a quick primer of event marketing basics so that you can start thinking about what makes sense for your brand and engage a pro to help you plan it from start to finish.

Event Marketing in a Nutshell

Event marketing is any promotional event that you host or participate in that brings you face-to-face with your customers in real time, whether it’s online or in a physical location.

Anyone can benefit from a well-planned live event, whether it’s a brand selling products or services or an organization with an important cause. Goals for event marketing may include

  • Building brand awareness
  • Customer engagement
  • Launching a product or service
  • Education
  • Lead generation

Online vs. Offline Event Marketing

Events can come in many shapes and sizes, depending on your goals. They could be as large as a trade show where you have a booth or as intimate as a live stream of a sit-down with a key opinion leader.

Right off the bat, you’ll want to decide whether your event will be in person, virtual, or both. What are your goals for the event? What are you promoting? What’s your budget? Who is your audience, and where are they located?

Online events…

  • Are online, digital events
  • Include webinars, live-stream events, workshops, and virtual events
  • Require technical support, A/V equipment, and bandwidth to support a large online audience
  • Can be “attended” by audiences around the globe

Offline events…

  • Are in person, in a physical place
  • Include networking events, pop-up events, interactive campaigns (also known as experiential marketing), conferences, trade shows, summits, and seminars
  • Require a venue, which should be chosen based on size, location, accessibility, style and format, price, number of attendees, and type of program
  • Can be attended by guests and vendors who have the capacity to travel and those who live locally

For both online and offline, you’ll want to consider planning, promotion, registration, and the creation of a website where you can direct visitors for more information. Depending on how complex your event gets, you might choose to use event planning software such as Marketo. A great event marketing consultant will be able to help you pick the solution that works for you.

GETTING STARTED: CREATE A HUB AND PROMOTE YOUR EVENT ONLINE

If you’re hosting an event, a landing page or a simple website is a great way to create an online hub for your event. Making it separate from your existing site and social media will help you better track traffic and where registrations originated.

Engage a web designer to help you create a landing page that includes

  • A registration link
  • Information about the event
  • Messaging about the promotion
  • A promotional video, if you have one
  • Your event hashtag and links to your social sites and feeds
  • A countdown clock to the day of the event
  • Links to any content you’ve published in support of the event

With your landing page all set, start using social media to promote the event. Reach out to influencers, participants, or keynote speakers and have them share the event as well. Create an event page and community on Facebook in the weeks leading up to the event, and promote any partners, blog posts, video, or images for the event there and on Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other channels.

Social should be a big part of the actual event too, so be sure to connect in real time with attendees on Twitter and Facebook.

The Importance of Video Before, During, and After an Event

Video is king when it comes to marketing, and live events are no exception.

Think about the “before.” One of the most effective ways to drum up excitement around your event is with short videos, but don’t let your video efforts taper off once your event rolls around. Make sure you have a great video producer to capture all your audio and video—remember, retakes are rarely possible when it’s live! If you’re hosting an event, be sure you’re capturing highlights of keynote speakers, b-roll of the participants (you might need them to sign waivers), and other assets you can use to create a video in support of your next event.

Or maybe your whole event is designed to capture video. Pop-up events in public places to interview people or film their reactions when testing your product are great ways to get candid, authentic footage and interact with prospective customers. The Lean Cuisine #WeighThis campaign shot in New York’s Grand Central Station is a great example. Others are less direct but just as engaging, such as Kia’s promotion for its new Soul model with the Dream Chute slide at a mall in London.

Setting Goals and Tracking Success and ROI

You’ll want to know how your event performed in terms of new leads, subscribers, engagement, and more. Determine KPIs to measure the success of your event. Depending on whether it’s online or offline, these may be

  • Registrations and ticket sales (if it cost money to attend)
  • Engagement during the event (e.g., comments and questions online, social media mentions and check-ins at in-person events)
  • Overall satisfaction with the event, gathered by surveys or email follow-ups

An event marketer can be a great resource for identifying strategic ways to use in-person events to rally customers around your brand.

Are you a growing business? Maybe you start small with your online audience. Dive into your analytics to see what’s bringing people to your brand. Crowdsource your social channels to discover what your audience might be interested in. From there, you’ll be better able to tailor events to their needs.