Offline events are a natural part of running a business. From conferences and tradeshows, to meetups and networking events — every month there’s a new one to contend with! Here are some ways that your business can make the most of attending, and hosting, events in your local area. Squeeze the maximum value out of event marketing by taking your strategy online, whether that’s through social media or search. Learn now to bridge the online/offline gap successfully by reflecting offline triumphs in online content. Here’s your guide to kicking things off the right way in 2018.
Why Put On A Local Event For Digital Marketing Purposes?
Events help you raise awareness, but what are the specific digital benefits? How can you make sure that hosting an event IRL, translates into website traffic, engagement, and sales?
Firstly, it’s important to map out the potential benefits and ‘quick wins’ that come with hosting a local event:
- You’ll attract genuine, local customers to your business who are already engaged with the community and have a strong voice. You already probably have a lot of common with anyone who attends, and it’s easy to get people to invite their friends and associates if you’re keeping it local. For lead-generation and list-building purposes, nothing beats a face-to-face contact. Translate in-person meets into online content like live blogs, videos, and tweets and create a whole series of roundup posts to encourage your new contacts to engage with your website.
- Staging a local event will help get your business noticed by local press and industry publications in your area. By offering the press interviews, previews and free tickets, you can help promote your business before and after the event has taken place. This will help you build your SEO backlink profile over time.
- You can use your event as a golden opportunity to offer your customers invaluable advice and real-life customer service input . For instance, if you are a business that sells caravans, create a ‘workshop’ event that will teach people how to care for and maintain their mobile home. Any live demos and workshops should be captured and re-purposed into content for your website and sales funnel — videos can help you say the same thing once, not 224 times….
Remember, an event doesn’t have to be expensive and flash. Make the most of local contacts and co-host the event, or run one for charity that will be easy to find sponsors for. A business event is all about the quality of the content, speakers, and guests — not what food you were serving (though that matters too of course).
Events + Reviews + User Generated Content
Want your event to have a bigger profile? Get people to leave reviews to encourage shares and sign ups. Running a competition during the event that encourages people to create and share content is a great way to up the ante when it comes to ongoing attendee engagement. Gamify the digital marketing funnel with fun challenges, so that people don’t even realize their promoting your page and website! (This is where having an event-specific landing page or subdomain comes in handy).
Do all you can to put your business ‘on the map’ by completing your Google My Business profile and sprucing it up during the lead-up to the event. Also, encourage users to leave their own reviews and photos of your company goings-on (event or no event). You can even use small-budget local search ads to up the ante in Maps during the months before your event. And don’t forget to use event marketing sites like Eventbrite too — there are some affordable promotional options (and ticketing services) that are worth exploring.
If you are attending an event, then you definitely need to come out the other side with some roundup and review-style posts. These posts often get a healthy amount of searches and click-through traffic, and can help your business stand out as the ‘go to’ industry experts.
The key to a good event review? Images and SEO optimization. Include the name and the city in which the event is held within the title and meta descriptions your blog posts. Include subheads that break down your review post into manageable chunks.
Sponsor An Event In Your Area
If there is a relevant industry event in your local area, why not seek out a sponsorship deal? Obviously, the more you get involved in the event, the more you can push it in your promotional activities. It could easily tie in with targeted email or search campaigns (‘come to stand B for a free audit’, or ‘free coffee for every single event attendee”). Again, the more creative, the more likely people will remember, share, and link to your content.
You should also look to add your name to any nationwide industry directories. Some may have annual awards. If this is the case, put your business forward.
Live Blog And Get Yourself Noticed
Attending a conference? Live tweeting or posting photos and videos from the event will help your get noticed on social media. Use the event hashtags with every post and make an effort to offer viewers ‘behind the scenes’ glimpses of the things that go on during the event. These posts are often compiled by the event organizers and used for promotional purposes in the future.
If you have a decent company camera or photographer on-hand, make sure they come to the event with you. They can even be used to film you if you are selected to speak at the event publicly. Or, you can try and capture some interview footage with a range of speakers (with their permission, of course).
Use Paid Social Media To Help You Promote Locally
If you’re looking to dominate local area listings, do all you can to localize your paid media output on social media. To do this, try including a specific reference to your city or an up-and-coming local event within the body copy.
For example, if your city holds a veterans day parade every year, create a sponsored post including a special one day discount for event attendees. You should also include photos from previous year’s events. This will help your posts get noticed by locals who may look to see if they can spot themselves in your photos.
You can also include photos of local landmarks in a gallery or as part of the background imagery of your paid promotional posts. Again, this will trigger with local customers, causing them to take notice and check out your site.
It’s all about thinking ways in which you can naturally tie in local events with your business, rather than just generic ‘newsjacking’.
Look To New Social Media Platforms For Promotional Purposes
Sites like Snapchat allow you to make your own branded geofilters that tag onto a specific location over a particular time period. For as little as $5 you can create a filter that incorporates a subtle brand message, which can be used by Snapchat users for at least 24 hours.
This is a great technique to try if your brand attracts a younger audience. For instance, if you’re based near a concert venue, consider making a fun and creative geofilter to coincide with an up-and-coming gig. Fans of the artist may see your filter use it and share the photos with their friends. This will give you the opportunity to pick up some free social media publicity for your business.
Find out more by checking out Snapchat’s brand guidelines. You will need to make sure you’re compliant with their terms and conditions. Namely, you should make sure that the filters you make are interesting for users. Make sure that they are not just a vehicle to heavily promote your brand to local Snapchat users.
In order to make the most of event marketing for SEO, you need to get good at creating content ‘on the fly’, as well as planning in promotion during the lead-up to the event. Don’t waste an expensive day out of the office without also taking the time to squeeze online value out of the interaction as well. Next time you are attend, or host, an event — pause and think about the SEO potential of what you’re about to do…
This post was written by…
Kayleigh Toyra: Content Strategist
Half-Finnish, half-British marketer based in Bristol. I love to write and explore themes like storytelling and customer experience marketing. I manage a small team of writers at a boutique agency.