The ultimate omnichannel guide to event marketing for small business
Even if your marketing strategy has a digital focus, the chances are that at some point, you’ll need to run a live event. We’ve talked before about how omnichannel marketing works. Now, it’s time to apply it to your events.
Why omnichannel marketing matters to your event
First things first: why does omnichannel marketing matter? Omnichannel marketing is about reaching your customers where they are and providing a consistent customer experience. From the moment people hear about your event to when they walk in the door, you should meet them with a familiar brand voice and seamless customer service.
Imagine you see a local business event advertised on Facebook, but you can’t find a link to book tickets. When you do finally track down a ticket, you find that you have to print it—there’s no option to use your phone. And even though you enjoyed the event, you never hear from the organizers again. It’s like they never really wanted you there.
That scenario is a classic failure of omnichannel marketing. It’s what happens when you don’t link all your marketing channels and put the customer first. So to get you on track for success, in today’s post, we’ll cover every aspect of omnichannel event marketing—from beginning to end.
What is your event going to achieve?
As always, start by figuring out your goals for the event. What kind of event are you planning? And what do you want to achieve? There are different types of events you can run as a small business. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- Release a new product. For example, a bookstore could host a party for a hotly-anticipated new novel.
- Open a new location. Celebrate a new store or franchise with an opening event and special offers.
- Seasonal workshops and sales events. We’re thinking Christmas gift-wrapping workshops, holiday activities for kids, or in-store treats on Valentine’s Day.
- Hosting an event with a partner brand, influencer, or sponsor. Invite relevant partners to host events at your store or run meet-and-greets.
- Invitation-only events for loyal customers or prospective leads. Show customers and leads that you appreciate them and offer a tailor-made experience.
- Run a workshop for customers. Teach people how to use your products or get the most out of your services. You could even offer workshops on demand for birthday parties and other celebrations.
All of these events represent different goals, from collecting leads to raising brand awareness, boosting sales, or encouraging customer loyalty.
Before you get any further with planning your brand event, pick a goal and some Key Performance Indicators so that you can review your success later. Think about aspects like attendance rates, sales made, leads acquired, and social media mentions.
Every element of your omnichannel marketing strategy will support your goal in different ways. Next, let’s take a look at how to select which channels to use, and get the best results from them.
Spread the word about your event
Event marketing offers more opportunities than simply marketing online or through print. Why?
Two reasons: first, you can use event organization tools to contact potential leads. And second, you’ll meet those leads face-to-face when you run your event. So right away, we’ve got two new channels of communication with your target market.
Event management tools
The most popular tool for managing events and ticketing is Eventbrite. You can sell tickets, or simply keep track of the number of people coming to a free event. You can also connect Eventbrite events with your profile on Facebook, Instagram, and even Spotify.
However, there are alternative tools out there, from paid ticketing software to budget-friendly services for free events.
Don’t forget that you can also create events for free on your Facebook Page. However, if you want to reach a new audience, you’ll probably have to pay for ads to extend your reach.
Online and offline event marketing
The idea of omnichannel marketing is to be available everywhere your customers look. That doesn’t mean you have to run a campaign on every single platform – just the channels that your target market uses.
So if you’re organizing a professional event, then you could start with LinkedIn ads and industry print publications. But if you want to bring local consumers into your store, then Facebook, Instagram, and a local poster or flyer campaign would be a better use of your resources.
And don’t be afraid to think outside the box! You can draw customers in with exclusive rewards and gamification. Make the ticketing process as exciting as the event itself! Check out this list of 8 original ideas to share tickets for a small business event.
Find the leaks in your sales funnel
One of the great things about an omnichannel marketing strategy is that you can compare the impact of different marketing channels. Because you’re using all those channels to promote the same event, it’s easy to see which ones are working and which aren’t.
Most importantly, you should be able to find out when potential leads drop out. If they start by seeing your out-of-home advertising or social media, but don’t attend the event… What went wrong?
Start by making sure that your brand voice, messaging, and customer service are consistent on all channels. Check that all your ticketing links are fully functional, on every platform. And once you’re totally confident that everything is working properly, be sure that you’re using the correct channels and targeting the right audience.
Your omnichannel strategy should be ready to follow up with re-marketing and lead nurturing for people who drop out of your event. Send email reminders and set up social media ads to stay in touch.
Follow up with event attendees
Don’t forget that your marketing strategy continues during, and even after, the event. After all, the event itself isn’t your goal. Your goal is to increase sales, collect more leads, or get your brand name out there. So there’s still plenty of work to do!
Use every opportunity to keep marketing during the event. Here are just a few ideas:
- Run a survey at the event. Have printed forms ready for people to fill in, or set up an online form so attendees can give their opinion via mobile. Offer a small reward to motivate people!
- Have products on display. Being face-to-face with your leads is a golden opportunity. Be ready to demonstrate products, let customers try them out, and upsell your services.
- Create an event hashtag to get people posting on social media. There’s a double benefit: you’ll create more buzz online, and be able to track down people who attended your event.
Make sure you feed back to customers after the event, so that they know you appreciated their attendance. Of course, a post on social media goes a long way, but try to make your response as personal as possible.
Throughout the process of advertising the event, handing out tickets, and marketing during the event, you have plenty of opportunities to collect email addresses and consent to newsletters. So follow up on those new contacts right away, with a quick thank you for attending your event. You could even throw in a small reward or discount code to show how much you value potential customers.