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What Is Event Marketing in Business? Strategy Guide & Tips

May 31st, 2024 Michael Mayday

Event marketing presents businesses with a compelling opportunity to inform, educate and engage with their target audience either in-person or online. 

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We’ve put together a complete guide to event marketing, covering why it’s so important, the key benefits and how to create an effective strategy.

What Is Event Marketing?

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Event marketing is experiential marketing that uses events as a medium to promote a product, service or brand. It revolves around creating opportunities for direct interaction between the business hosting the event and its target audience to drive engagement that may lead to conversions.

Both online and offline events can be used in event marketing, but the two approaches have some key differences. Most importantly, online (or virtual) events provide a cheaper and more accessible medium for event marketing, which is why the virtual event sector is growing rapidly, with a compound annual growth rate of almost 20%.

Why Is Event Marketing Important?

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Events provide an excellent platform to deliver valuable content to an audience while offering opportunities for product, service or brand promotion. This combination makes them perfect for marketing purposes. 

They can also act as a valuable source of audience data, with event engagement analytics generating insights into the audience’s preferences and pain points that can later be used to guide further marketing activities. 

But, due in part to the rise of virtual events with their low barriers to entry, there’s a lot of competition for event marketers to overcome. That makes strategically planning your event marketing campaigns more important than ever.

What Are the Benefits of Event Marketing?

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Event marketing stands out in the broader marketing mix because of the unique benefits it offers businesses.

One-To-One Engagement

Events provide a great platform for businesses to engage with their audience one-to-one. Virtual webinar hosting platforms, in particular, allow for direct audience interaction through Q&As, polls and dynamic calls-to-action (CTAs).

Increased Brand Awareness

Events revolve around content that offers value. With the right promotion, they can attract an audience of people who were previously unaware of the brand hosting the event, turning them into followers or even brand advocates.

Industry/Product Education

Events are often educational, whether they cover a topic of interest in a specific industry or product functionality. Hosting educational events — and offering certifications as an incentive— helps businesses position themselves as thought leaders, boosting their reputation.

Lead Generation

Events offer opportunities to generate leads and drive pipeline, even if they’re based around educational content. Virtual events are particularly effective at this, with the ability to integrate self-serve CTAs for product demos and more.

Customer Retention

Events that cover topics of interest to a business’s existing customers, like new product feature walkthroughs or marketing strategy guides, can keep them engaged and offer ongoing value that helps boost customer retention.

What Types of Event Marketing Exist?

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Virtual or offline, educational or community-focused – there are diverse event types to consider in your event marketing strategy. These are some of the most popular.

Webinars

Webinars are online events where a single speaker or a small group delivers a presentation to an audience. They can be live or pre-recorded and tend to include engagement-focused sections that allow for audience interaction.

Virtual Events

The term virtual event refers to any type of event held virtually instead of in person. This includes webinars, virtual conferences, product walkthroughs, networking sessions and workshops.

Live Streaming Events

Live streaming events are virtual events broadcast live to an audience using a virtual event hosting platform like ON24, as opposed to prerecorded videos available on-demand. 

Hybrid Events

Hybrid events unite physical and virtual experiences, offering audiences the chance to attend in-person or remotely and get the same value. Webinars, conferences, workshops and more can all be hosted as hybrid events.

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Trade Shows

A trade show, also known as a trade fair, is an exhibition hosted to gather attendees from a specific industry (or trade) who showcase products or share ideas. Trade shows can take place both in person and virtually. 

Conferences

Conferences are events oriented around knowledge-sharing and networking, gathering an audience from a particular sector or industry. Typically exclusively held in-person, virtual conference platforms allow this event to be held remotely. 

Seminars

A seminar is an educational event where a single speaker or a panel discuss a specific topic live in front of an in-person audience, often with opportunities for audience engagement. It’s the in-person version of a webinar. 

Pop-Up Shops

Pop-up shops are temporary physical retail spaces that “pop up” for a short time, usually to promote a newly launched product or generate brand awareness.

Workshops

Workshops are educational events that provide practical guidance or advice. They can be held in person or virtually and focus on using a specific product or achieving a particular outcome.

How Do You Drive Demand to Your Events?

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The success of an event relies in large part on the turnout, which means promotion is an essential part of an event marketing strategy. These are three of the best ways to drive demand to your event.

Remarketing

Targeting your customers and leads with remarketing campaigns through paid advertising channels or email is a great way to start event promotion, leveraging their preexisting brand awareness to generate interest in your event.

Content

Rolling out content related to your upcoming event across diverse channels, from YouTube to organic search, can generate interest from new audiences. Ensure to include event signup CTAs in each piece of content to maximize the results.

Social Media

Your existing audience across social media platforms like LinkedIn is already engaged with your brand, so sharing the news about your upcoming event can drive signups. You can also benefit from the viral effects of social media engagement to reach new audiences. 

How To Plan, Implement and Optimize Your Event Marketing Program

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Like any other marketing campaign, event marketing strategies should be planned thoughtfully and deliberately. Follow these steps to ensure success.

Step 1: SMART Goals and Budget

Start the planning process by setting a budget and establishing specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) goals for your event. This will help keep you on track as you develop your strategy, ensuring it contributes to overall business objectives. 

Step 2: Decide on Your Event’s Theme and Schedule

Create a cohesive theme and schedule for your event with your goals in mind and the needs and preferences of your target audience as guidelines. Consider what content will have the biggest impact and how to integrate engagement opportunities to connect with attendees.

Step 3: Who Are You Marketing to and How Will You Reach Them?

The next step is to attract attention and drive signups for your event. The key consideration here is to consider who you’re marketing to and where you can reach them with promotional content. Use existing customer personas or audience data to get these insights.

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Step 4: Ensure That You Have the Correct Event Technology in Place

The technology you choose to create and manage your event can have a big impact on its success, particularly if you’re hosting a virtual event. Consider a dedicated event hosting platform like ON24 to ensure your event runs smoothly and gives you the capacity to engage seamlessly with your audience.

Step 5: Measurement of ROI

After your event has concluded, measure its impact by calculating the return on investment (ROI) using the goals you set at the start of the process as your primary metric. If your goal was to generate leads, for instance, your ROI would be calculated by dividing the total cost of the webinar by the number of leads generated.

Step 6: Collect Attendee Feedback

Finally, remember to collect feedback from your event attendees to gain insights into how you can improve things next time. You can do this with polls or surveys sent to all attendees or by reaching out to people individually. Also, focus on event analytics data to learn when your audience is most engaged.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Here are quick answers to some of the most common questions about event marketing.

What Is The Definition of Event Marketing?

Event marketing involves using events as a marketing platform, gathering an audience in person or virtually to deliver content, provide education and promote a product, service or brand.

Why Should Companies Use Event Marketing?

Event marketing presents some unique benefits that make it ideal for marketing purposes, including the ability to interact directly with the audience to keep them engaged.

Can You Do Event Marketing For Virtual Events?

An event marketing strategy can be based entirely on virtual events, which are particularly effective because they’re generally cheaper to host and offer enhanced engagement opportunities. 

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