Step-by-Step Guide for Marketing Virtual Events and Programs

ACTIVE Network
July 16, 2020

Your job is to organize, market and execute on-the-ground events, so it’s no surprise that you feel a little out of your element when it comes to marketing a virtual version. While marketing in-person and virtual events do have some things in common, virtual events come with their own set of considerations.

If you’re scrambling to spread the word about your virtual event or program, follow this step-by-step guide to take the stress out of virtual program marketing. 

Step 1: Find the Right Angle

Most of your participants would probably prefer to participate in your in-person event (so would you!), but that can’t happen right now. The trick to marketing virtual offerings is to find the silver lining in the virtual version.

Ask yourself, what’s the upside to moving your event online? Does your virtual offering come with awesome swag bag, a larger and more diverse participant base or even something as simple as a collective sense of coming together during a hard time? Pinpoint those tiny rays of sunshine and make sure your marketing message highlights them. 

Step 2: Write Compelling Announcement Emails

The most obvious place to start marketing your virtual event is with your own email list. Reach out to current and past participants and encourage them to make the best of this unusual time by joining your virtual event or program.

Before you press send, however, keep in mind that ever more parts of our lives have gone digital in the past few weeks, and your participants are likely bombarded with emails right now. To that end, make sure you write evocative and interesting emails (including subject lines) that your list will feel compelled to open.

You’ll also want to make sure that you make it easy for your list to easily share your email message. Include social media buttons and contact information within the body of your email so new readers know where to find you. There’s also no shame in asking your list subscribers to forward your message to those in their own community that may be interested in your virtual offerings.

Step 3: Focus on Paid and Organic Social Media Posts

Invest in marketing that reaches people where they are right now—online. Your marketing strategy should include consistently posting to your social media channels, as well as paying to boost some of those posts to reach a wider audience.

To drill down on the best posts to promote, pay attention to which of your social media posts are getting the most attention organically. If one stands out above the rest, tweak it to ensure it’s relevant for an audience that may not be familiar with your event, and then pay to boost it.  

Step 4: Ask Partners to Spread the Word

Whether you’re promoting your standard event/program or the virtual version, you should always work with your partners to spread the word. Reach out to your sponsors and friends in your community and ask them to share your social media posts with their followers. Check to see if they’d be willing to give you a shout-out in their newsletters, too.

It’s also a good idea to reach out to local media with a press release—in these challenging times, media is looking for feel-good stories about the ways in which local organizations are overcoming barriers and pressing ahead despite the pandemic.

Step 5: Address Roadblocks

There will undoubtedly be challenges that arise while trying to conduct your in-person event or program virtually. Instead of trying to pull off the fete without a hitch, level with your virtual participants and let them know that while you’re trying your best, you’re navigating new terrain, too.

Being open and honest with your virtual participants will go a long way toward gaining their trust and respect. Remember that those that choose to follow you online are likely your biggest fans, and they’re cheering for you to pull this off.  

Step 6: Step up the Incentives

When all else fails, bribes… we mean, err, awesome incentives, always help tip on-the-fence participants to join. Whether you put together an awesome swag bag, offer a cheaper fee, or allow virtual participants an automatic entry in next year’s program, step up the incentives and then market them far and wide.  

The virtual version of your in-person offerings will definitely be different, but it can still be great!

Set yourself up for success.

See how ACTIVE can help your organization grow.
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