How To Promote Online Events
Your campaigns should be reaching customers before, during and after the event.
Online events, such as Webinars, are a cost-effective ways to build your business. Unfortunately, too many are promoted poorly because they’re not promoted enough. This approach leaves money on the table and hinders the growth of your customer file.
However, you can capture those lost dollars by developing a strategic online campaign—a series of coordinated messages fired off during a specific timeframe. Each message or “contact” builds on the previous efforts, giving the series momentum and intensity.
A campaign gives you added advantages: Multiple opportunities to reach prospects, an ongoing conversation rather than a single hit-or-miss contact, the chance to bond with your audience and build a mutually beneficial long-term relationship.
Campaigns can be roughly divided into three stages: Before the event, concurrent with the event, and following the event. Here’s a recent case study to illustrate each phase. Weiss Publishing has become a master at selling with campaigns. Their Weiss Global Forum, a video conference scheduled for August 13, was free, but was nonetheless promoted relentlessly, creating exceptional value in the minds of readers. In addition to emails, it was also promoted in the company’s free daily e-zine.
The campaign began in earnest nine days earlier with a dedicated email sent on August 4. Prospects received a new email almost every day thereafter. Each message employed a different hook: Tying the video to timely news items, emphasizing the historic significance of the topic, trumpeting the credentials of the speakers and so on. The emails also counted down the hours until registration closed.
The second stage began the day after the video aired. Weiss sent an email with an invitation to view it for those who missed it or wanted to see it again. To keep interest high, they issued daily emails and framed their messages with a variety of classic direct-response techniques: Teasing prospects with highlights from the video as a way to sample it, asking registrants for their feedback to forge a stronger connection with their audience, and then sharing that feedback in yet another email and gaining social endorsements at the same time.
Of course, each contact was an effort to get new people to register, but these messages went a step further: They also contained genuinely valuable information—a key element for building long-term customer loyalty and distinguishing them from mere “sales” efforts.
The third and final part of the campaign began on August 17 with an announcement that the video would go offline on a specific date. Besides spurring action with a deadline, the messages also relied on time-tested psychological tactics to get a response. Whereas the first stage of the campaign pushed the greed button (secrets for prosperity to be revealed in the video), these emails stoked the prospects’ fear of missing out on something momentous (the risk to their well-being by not registering, guilt-tripping them for failing to respond to previous invitations).
In this final round of messages, another kind of countdown clock was used.
By all accounts, the campaign was a success. More than 18 separate contacts were used, excluding e-zine ads. The loyalty of existing Weiss customers deepened and the goodwill of future subscribers was established. In short, rapport was created that will likely lead to more sales whenever Weiss promotes a paid event.
But even if you don’t have the resources to mount an extensive campaign, you can still reap significant benefits. For example, KCI Communications enacted a more modest campaign for their paid Webinar; yet they were able to sell 133 slots and picked up a few additional sales after the event.
This brings us to the question of whether you should archive your events.
Many marketers keep them available indefinitely. Since they’re great lead-generating products, their long-tail viability can be exploited. Others maintain a one-time only policy. If you don’t archive your productions, then make them more exclusive by emphasizing the scarcity principle in your messages: Prospects more sharply crave the things they can’t have. Use that to your advantage.