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Your virtual event is slowly coming up. You have bagged your sponsors, exhibitors and speakers. You have planned a stupendous event. Now to start thinking about how to maximize the number of attendees. Now, how to attract attendees to your virtual event?
Here is when you start thinking about marketing your event. You have to think about how to maximize the number of attendees. You, your sponsors and exhibitors, need more visibility. And that can only be achieved through global reach. A marketing campaign’s success is shown by the number of participants it draws in.
Let vFairs help you through this process with a step by step guide!
Let’s first determine our main motivation for maximizing attendees. According to Forbes Magazine, the global virtual events market size could reach $504.76 billion with a combined annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.7% between 2021 and 2028. If you aren’t tapping into the virtual event world, you’re far behind! What does it really mean if you have greater participant numbers at your event? It’s simple, really:
Depending on what your goal is for the event these are some of the user types you may want to tap into:
The people you wish to regularly engage with in order to draw their attention to your product or service. They are the audience you wish to attract.
These people are already engaged with your product/service. They may not need a lot of convincing, and so might require a different marketing strategy.
You may be looking for a group that you wish to attract or wish to tap into. This is a market that has not been delved into yet, but may benefit from your product or service.
So, who are you looking to attract to this event? Your target audience, current contacts or a brand new audience you’ve not yet connected with? Is it a combination of two? Maybe you want to target all three! Your event goals and focus will determine which of these users you wish to attract. Depending on which one these are, you’ll use different strategies to attract attendees to your virtual event.
Once you’ve decided, start finding out everything you can about them.
Research, research, research. We cannot stress this enough. Without research you will only be firing shots into the dark. You will not understand how to attract attendees to your event otherwise. You need clear insight for that bull’s eye.
Even researching will require different approaches. Your current clients, partners and employees would be easy to research because you most likely have all the data and profiles in your database. It is the new markets that would require more work and educated guesses. Your current target audience would be somewhere in between. You likely have a target profile and some educated guesses about who they might be, and previous sales and marketing will offer you better insight into them.
Google Analytics can further assist you in your research. Some of the criteria Google Analytics or other analytics platforms can help you understand are:
If you have a CRM such as Hubspot or Salesforce, you will have a good idea about popular roles in companies that contact them for their product or service. These tools can help you find solid information on current customers, target audiences and new audiences.
CRM systems will provide conclusive and highly detailed information about current customers and contacts. It will help you dive into things like types of content and messaging that resonates best with your audience. You can also learn about engagement levels with your brand over time.
You will then understand what kind of messaging and content format to use. Such as what times your current contacts are most likely to respond. Popular messaging, content types and timings for their current database can be used for their marketing strategy.
For new audiences, you might not be able to get enough data to make an educated guess in the same way as for current contacts. The best suggestion is to start off with a buyer persona. Conduct some competitor research to understand how and where they are talking to similar audiences. Then conduct lots of testing to see what resonates with this new audience.
It’s kind of a spray and pray approach to begin with, but with a lot of evaluation and tools you can get a pulse on the audience as quickly as possible. A lot of these questions and their findings will guide you to better to strategize your marketing plan.
Based on your research you will be better able to attract your audience. To help you map this out, it’s always good to create a persona chart for your key demographic. We have made one for you to get started!
Now that you understand who your target audience is, you want to learn a little more about where they spend the most time consuming content. For this you will need to understand, Which social media platforms does your demographic engage with? What interests this demographic? Can you use their interests to lure them towards your product? Are there any publications they trust, podcasts or influencers they follow? What current trends is this demographic following? You can use platforms like Sparktoro to find out popular hashtags for social media, or publications to promote your event on and more in order to leverage your promotion.
The best way to market is to latch onto keywords your audience will be using. Once you put yourself in their shoes, you will be able to figure this out easily. There are keyword tools that can help you as well such as Ahrefs or Google Keyword planner. Once you find your target keyword, you will be able to create organic content for your audience. This can be blogs, social media posts and even advertisements!
Now that you understand your target audience better, you can put yourself in their shoes. Begin thinking about how you can engage them. What kind of messaging will appeal to them? Certainly highlighting your product and event features is great, but that should not be your starting point.
Firstly identify the core value of your event. What will someone achieve by attending your event? These should be aligned with your event goals. How can you wrap that core value around the interests or fears of your target audience, within their income? For instance, a job fair specifically catering to substitute teachers, would revolve around a core value of helping those with limited access to find better opportunities easily. Or an automotive show that targets baby boomers who are now retired might circle around a core value of luxury.
Can you build a story around your event based on your demographic research? For instance, does the story of how your business started out appeal to your audience? The struggle and inspiration might appeal to entrepreneurs who too are struggling and could make use of your expertise.
Make sure you highlight the benefits of your event to that particular persona and make sure you include your Unique Selling Point (USP) compared to your competitors. Explain why a virtual event is useful and will bring them value. Market the benefits of the speakers you have invited and any gifts or prizes. Maybe your audience is interested in health and wellness, so you have included breakout sessions with yoga or meditation experts. Sell that as much as you can!
Finding different activities to engage your attendees is crucial. Make sure to include engagement through event gamifications. Sell these activities as much as you can during your marketing campaign. People are fatigued with the virtual world. What can you offer that would make coming to your event enticing.
Firstly you definitely want to sell the fact that this event offers all the experiences of a physical event. You want to share that there is an entire virtual environment specially curated just for them. Depending on your event type, you can do a number of things. Here are some ideas!
Is your event ticketed? Why not offer early bird prices to those who sign on early? Or what about offering discounts for those who share the event by adding email addresses during registration.
Can you offer tiered tickets? For those who pay a premium they can access the whole event. Others can pay a littles less and have limited access. This would be great if they do not intend to attend the entire duration of the event. Not everyone has the time, but that doesn’t mean they have to miss out entirely.
You could even have different pricing for students, or for access to exclusive content like keynotes or certain sessions. Maybe a separate ticket for the live event and a separate one for those who would want on-demand access only. There can also be complimentary access for people such as veterans or people with disabilities.
Now that you might know a little bit more about your audience. It is time to start evaluating various promotional channels. You will have to see what best aligns with:
You should be able to map each piece of content to a specific message. Start setting goals for each piece.
Don’t forget your own website. If you know which of your website pages generates the most views, it will help you understand what pages you can feature your event on as well. You can do this through popups or new content blocks. This will help you get more views for the most pages with the highest traffic pages. This could possibly get more conversions.
When creating content you will have to conduct some research. Here’s how:
There might already be existing research on this demographic. Just need to dive into market research tools such as Gartner and Forrester. They conduct research across all industries, world wide. SEO tools such as Ahrefs and SEMRush help show interest around the world through search queries..
Not all existing research answers your questions. Trends are changing very fast. For this you may want to conduct a few polls or questionnaires yourself for questions not yet answered in existing research. You can do this through your social media platforms. Alternatively, you could hold a focus group to whom you pose targeted questions. You can use websites such as Voxpopme for online market research.
How to attract attendees to your event can also be determined by how they engaged with your previous event. Look into the KPIs from your previous events. Questions you can ask yourself:
A simple strategy, just type your keyword into your search engine. See what results are displayed i.e the kind of content and images. This is what the audience is engaging with most or is the most popular. Tap into this kind of content. If a lot of images show up, put more effort into creating beautiful and informative content with clear instructions on how to become an attendee.
You must begin creating a content repository. However, you have to be aware of some of the best practices for content creation.
Remember it is them you have to satisfy. You can do this by answering a question, bringing entertainment value, encouraging them to buy a product and fulfill their needs or similar.
Think about what they are looking for and why you’re creating the content. Make sure every piece of information within your content relates to this and fits this purpose.
Using keywords can be tricky. If you add too many, search engines will pick this up and not feature your content. Thus, you have to really create valuable and relevant content. The minimum amount of recommended keywords however is two to three for most content. You can then try to optimize pages by creating variations of that keyword. For longer content however, include a mix of keywords within headers and body copy.
Make sure the structure of your content is also well designed. Without sounding confusing, you want to relay your information effectively and efficiently. It has to draw your audience in, not away. Things like too much text, unnecessary information or poor formatting can have a great impact.
Once this repository is up you will simply need to create a calendar. Creating a schedule for each post will further streamline and organize your campaign. A social media scheduling tool will make posting across all social media platforms even easier.
You need to be sure that you do not begin marketing your event too soon and not too late. Be sure that there is enough time before the event for attendees to register. Yet, not so soon that they would forget that the event is happening. You don’t want them committing to other plans.
Pro-tip: During registration offer attendees an option to add the event to their personal calendars.
A separate event website is the best way to market your event. Your event landing page is where you can direct users to find out all they need to know about the event. Be exhaustive with information by including:
Be careful not to clutter your landing page. Keep it vibrant and aesthetically pleasing. Try to include SEO key phrases. This could help you rank more prominently especially for event pages that are live for long periods of time.
Don’t forget those already on your mailing list. Target them first and foremost. How will you grab their attention? Are there any discounts you can offer to those who are already engaged with you?
Target your mailing list. One thing is for sure, this is an audience who willingly signed up. So they are more likely to be drawn to your product or services. The average open rate across all industries is 21.8%. Capitalize on this and email as much as you can. A 2.5% conversion rate is considered best for email campaigns. It’s better to attract one or two leads who eventually convert than lure in a few thousand with zero conversions. Lure them in with early bird prices, coupons, discounts or anything that suits your fancy!
For those not on your email list, where will you find them? For that you need to have targeted advertisements on social media platforms. Based on the research you conducted, are there any hashtags you can come up with? Are there any TikTok trends or challenges that are popular right now? More on this as you read on!
Social media usage is one of the most popular online activities. It is expected about 4.41 billion users will find themselves on social media by 2025. Social media has changed the way people think and interact. It is a source of inspiration and is changing dynamics. You must capitalize on this. Leave your tracks everywhere. Be sure to target all social media platforms, including:
It is on these platforms that trends usually catch on. You need to jump on those bandwagons. Is there a popular soundtrack people are using on TikTok? Get on it. Is there a way you can engage others to use your hashtag? Find a way to do that! Use your audience to spread the word as well by asking them to tag, comment and like your posts! Entice them with a lucky draw. The more you engage, the more engagement you will find. With quality content you will be sure to boost your numbers and followers. There are a lot of tips and tricks for social media engagement.
Protip: Create a hashtag just for your event. You can engage attendees with a hashtag that can feature on your social media wall at the event. People can log in on the day of the event and see their posts featured. This is a great way to boost activity at your event while also gaining increased visibility!
Make sure to feature your event on event discovery sites. This is where people actively come to look for events near them. Whether a conference, tradeshow, education or business event. You can put your event on vFairs Discover or Eventbrite. Showcasing your events on such platforms is a great way to attract attendees to your virtual event.
Paid adverts, social media posts, email marketing, and calls to action. For all of this you will need to brainstorm your budget that would maximize outreach. Be sure to set aside a budget for paid advertisements. Based on your target audience, these will pop up for them on various websites and social media platforms. If a viewer sees it enough, chances are their curiosity will be raised and they might generate a lead.
Remember how we talked about using SEO keywords? That’s where blogging proves most beneficial. Blogs are crucial for all businesses. Why?
There are a lot of other things you can take into consideration. There are some other features you can include that can make your virtual event more inviting. They also make it even better to make use of in your marketing materials. These can be:
1. Include Accessibility Features – If you make your event all inclusive, not only will that make it more attractive but will actually tap into a much wider audience. This is why it is crucial to include accessibility features.
Accessibility features to consider including:
Once you have these features, make sure you market them as much as you can. The more people know the more attendees you can engage.
2. Mobile Access – Make sure your event is mobile accessible. Whether a mobile device, laptop or Ipad. This can ensure people attend your event from wherever they are. This will also ensure more registrations as they will know they can access your event from anywhere.
3. Make Sure Attendees Are Comfortable – Make sure you have resources available to make potential attendees feel comfortable at a virtual event. Many people are still uncomfortable or confused when they attend events. You will need things like walkthrough videos, step-by-step guides and FAQs about the technical side of virtual events. Assure attendees that customer support is available.
Marketing to attract attendees to your event can be very difficult and taxing. With more data everyday, there is definitely a science behind it. However, with good research and the tools you need, your campaign can be a really effective one!
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