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How can a digital marketing plan improve my event?

In an effort to remain ahead of the curve, we believe it’s important to amplify the use of a digital marketing plan in event marketing. In light of the new Canada anti-spam law (CASL), web marketing is going to be crucial for companies that would like to acquire the members and contacts that they had in their list that they are no longer able to reach. With the objective of capturing these contacts and converting them — whether they are members, participants, or sponsors — objectives need to be met, and as a business running an event, a digital marketing plan can help you attain those objectives.

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Whether you’re venturing into online marketing for the first time or have dabbled here and there, a high impact digital marketing plan can have a positive impact on your bottom line ROI. Depending on your expected ROI, which can include attracting participants to the event, gaining more sponsors and exhibitors, increasing visibility and engaging with current and potential association members, your digital marketing plan must begin with the end goal and work its way up.

1- Build a content strategy

Behind every great plan, there is content. But the mantra, “build it and they will come” does not apply here. In fact, creating content and just waiting for visitors to show up and engage with you will simply not happen… unless you’re a super cute kitten playing with a turtle on YouTube. A content strategy comes with planning and includes an editorial calendar, a social plan, engagement efforts, optimization, measuring conversions and more. If you want to ensure that your content gets seen by your target audience , then a content strategy is your best bet. So before you sit in front of your computer and start belting out article after article, you need to figure out who you’re addressing and what you plan to achieve. What are goals and KPIs? How will you measure success: Is it by gaining visibility? Increased registration at your events? Every marketing effort has to be measured. It is an essential element of any successful digital marketing plan.

2- Implement search engine optimization (SEO)

In keeping with content, a solid digital marketing plan includes SEO and ensures that your content is not only reader friendly, but also search engine friendly as well. If Google can’t find your message, you can bet that no one else will, either.

What makes an SEO plan a great SEO plan?

A- Keyword research: Search terms of phrases that people would type into a search engine that are relevant to your event. You can use these search terms to create content or for paid advertising on search engines like Google and Bing. Where do you go for keyword research? Google Adwords, Bing Ads and Wordtracker, to name a few.

Google keyword tool for your digital marketing plan

Google keyword tool

B- Link building: Getting other quality websites whose content relates to yours to link to a page on your website with specific keywords highlighted. For example, if your event centers on urology, then you would want a well-known urological website to link back to your event and the hyperlink would contain keywords like “2014 Urological Association Event” and not “Click here.”

C- Social networking: Interact with others by sharing and creating create content through online communities like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even forums that relate to your subject matter. It can be used to promote your brand or event, tell participants and audiences at large about your product or event, gauge what others think about your event, attract new participants, and build relationships with your existing participants. You have to make everything you do shareable. And if you want them to share it, you need to make sure they can find it with a simple search and that your content is valuable for your intended audience.

3- Use inbound marketing, not interruption marketing

Interruption marketing is paid ads that are found on the right-hand side at Facebook, the paid ads at the top and on the right-hand side of Google results and the sponsored hashtags (#) and accounts on the right-hand side and updates at Twitter. Ask most web users and the majority of them will tell you that they simply ignore these ads.

Interruption marketing on Google

Interruption marketing on Google

Inbound marketing, however, works quite well, although it is more about earning people’s interest rather than buying it. It’s much better to be the first organic result on Google rather than one of the paid results. The former is not always easy to attain, but with the right plan of action, it is certainly doable.

4- Create solid landing pages

Optimization is not strictly for content; it’s important that you optimize your website as well. Your landing pages need to be user-friendly and straight to the point. If you want to ensure the most signups or registrations for your event, for example, you need to make sure that your landing page drives the right message home. This is where your unique selling proposition, a video or slideshow of images, the benefits of attending your meeting, client testimonials, and a solid call to action.

5- Focus on your website architecture

The beauty of a great digital marketing plan is a great website. And what makes a great website? It’s when a visitor intuitively knows where everything can be found. I can’t tell you how often I end up on a website and have no idea where to find what I’m looking for. There needs to be a method to the madness and you always need to keep the end user in mind when putting together your website. After all, this is the face that people see before they opt to sign up for your event or register for your services, so you want to make sure that what they see responds to their needs and interest (e.g., professional development) .

6- Develop a social media plan

Too often, businesses think that social media requires nothing more than merely a few posts on the varying social networks and not much else, but there is a lot more to being present on social networks as an organization or conference. If you are promoting a conference, for example, you can’t simply push the link on Twitter every day until conference time; you need to be ever-present, engaging, and answer any questions by attendees, as well as prospects. Did you know that 42% of customers who complain to businesses on social media expect a 60-minute response time? Why? Because they usually get a response in that time. You need to make sure you’re present and available to answer your participants’ inquiries.

7- Use analytics to find out what’s working

All of your online efforts would be useless if you didn’t measure them. You need to figure out what worked and what didn’t, and you need to leverage the numbers for your next event. Your event doesn’t end when it’s over; it’s a repetitive cycle that requires 365-day engagement. If you want to find out where your customers are coming from via social or any other web marketing effort you deploy, analytics will help you decipher what works best. By constantly measuring the results, you can figure out where your audience is and how to leverage your communication efforts.

Google analytics tool

Google analytics tool

It’s time to make your digital marketing plan robust

There are many elements that come with a great digital marketing plan so make sure you begin planning your event with the right strategy and implement the right tools well before the event date. We offer a one on one, one-hour assessment of your digital marketing plan or are available to answer any related questions and provide advice on how to get started on digital marketing for your event or organization. Feel free to pick our brains. Contact sensov/ event marketing today and see how we can help.

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