Event promotion is vital to avoid creating a great event with little to no attendance — or even awareness — and to ensure it’s as big of a success as possible. There are fewer things more deflating for a business owner than talking about a recent event they hosted only to realize no one heard about it, especially if they felt like all they did was spread the word.

To make sure your event is as successful as it can be, event promotion is just as important as your event planning, if not more so. Using an event management tool to create a solid promotion timeline is one of many effective strategies you can implement right now.

From content and email marketing to ads and social media, here are tips, strategies, and seven new ways to kick-start the process of promoting your upcoming event. We’ll also touch on what you should do once your event is wrapped up.

Why promotion is important for an event 

It’s easy to think that people would feel motivated to attend if the event is interesting enough, but they won’t come if they never hear about it.

One of the main benefits of having an event in the first place is the opportunity to gain awareness for your organization. Promoting your event opens the door not only to its success but also to new business. So, if your event planning is taken care of, focus on how you’ll market it to potential attendees.

example of an event listing website
When posting on event websites, remember to leverage those that are industry-specific, which list all the year’s events in your field. Source: Nonprofit Connect

What to do before you start promoting your event

Think of event promotion like any other form of marketing. To get in front of potential attendees, you have to know where they spend time and how they think. 

Start by considering what strategies you’d use to market your product or service. You’d probably go for a mix of Google and social media ads, email marketing, referrals, and many more, right? After all, multiple channels help you reach more people.

The same logic applies when promoting an event. You’ll have to plan on reaching a large number of people and having only a small percentage of them attend. This difference between reach and actual attendance will depend on your potential attendees’ interest, availability, and many other factors.

Understand your target audience

When marketing your business, you need to understand who your message must reach and how to best compel them to take action. The same goes for your event.

Perhaps you’re running an event that speaks to a new trend in your industry. It might be that not all of your current or potential customers will be interested in it.

Segment your target audience into personas or avatars of people who need your product or service. This categorization will help you filter those who will be interested in the event versus those who won’t. You’ll weed out targeting and marketing messages that won’t be suitable for the remaining segments.

Remember to validate your buyer persona’s needs with what you’re offering. You’re essentially filtering which personas will benefit the most by attending your event.

A key thing to note is that these personas aren’t necessarily the ones you think will come — rather, they’re the ones who will see the most value in attending.

This filtering goes for messaging as well.

If your product or service is mainly for people ranging from 28 to 50 years old, ask yourself what subgroup of them would be most likely to attend. Then look at which of your current ads, content, and messaging works best for that subgroup and replicate it.

Set goals with KPIs

Once you’ve defined your target audience, it may seem obvious what you’re trying to do with your event. Still, unless you determine what you want to achieve in numbers, you won’t have a concrete definition of what “success” means.

If you find that question elusive, ask yourself: What will make it feel like the event was a hit? The number of people who attended? Those who followed your social media or joined your email list because of it? Maybe it’s something else.

Define your event promotion goals first to know what you’re working toward. For example, suppose you want the event to make a big splash on social media. In that case, you’ll need to prepare how to facilitate posting for your attendees. 

Next, track your progress toward these goals by determining KPIs, or key performance indicators, which are measurements of success. Once you have your goals, measuring your KPIs will become a lot simpler.

When you look back after your event, you’ll want to determine how successful it was depending on set criteria. This could mean setting the number of attendees, signups for free trials during your event, newsletter subscriptions, or anything else you wish to achieve. If you’re having a sales-focused event, you’ll want to have more sales-driven KPIs.

Specific goals can look something like this:

  • 500 event signups
  • 200-plus social media mentions during the event
  • 3,000 additional visits to your website during event promotion

Of course, your goals will depend on the type of organization you run and the event you’ll be hosting. Think about what your event is likely to accomplish and how you can make sure it happens.

How to promote an event from start to finish

When you’re spreading the word about your event, organization is key. However, a full list of to-do’s for event planning and promotion may look more like a grocery receipt than a sticky note. Breaking down action items according to when you need to address them will make it much more approachable. 

Create a timeline

A “promote the event” strategy should include a timeline. The event requires varying amounts of promotion throughout, much like a product launch. 

You’ll want to spend your resources trying to gain as much awareness about the event as possible before it happens. You’ll show those who couldn’t attend that it was a success, whether they see it by watching live streams, seeing live tweets, watching TikToks about it, or whatever other method you choose.

Finally, you’ll want anyone aware of the event to have access to a wrap-up of what happened, highlights, and a look at what’s next. 

For this to happen smoothly, you can orchestrate a timeline of what promotion to set your focus on at what time concerning the actual event. If that seems slightly daunting, follow our event promotion template below.

A big mistake some make when planning to promote an event is starting too late. If your event is months away, it can be tempting to think there’s no use in talking about it now.

Depending on the size, cost of entry, and other factors, you’ll want to start promoting up to six months in advance. So, what will you do first?

3 to 6 months before: Focus on awareness

Since you’re going to focus on awareness for the first few months of your event promotion, think of anything that gets in front of your target audience. This can be a great time to focus on:

  • Posting on event websites
  • Creating a Facebook event
  • Sharing with social media groups
  • Sharing guest speakers, influencers, and sponsors
  • Launching a landing page
  • Creating your event hashtags and branding
  • Sending an announcement email to current subscribers
  • Offering early bird discounts or perks 
example of event hashtags being used by a non-event promoter
Not every event can create fear of missing out like the Met Gala, but yours can also have a hashtag where people share thoughts, photos, and videos live. Source: Twitter.

2 months before: Focus on attendance

As the date gets closer, you’ll want to continue promoting the previous elements and start to push registration more. To do that, center your main efforts on these tasks:

  • Publishing your online ads
  • Implementing cross-channel marketing by creating and posting your content marketing on your blog, YouTube channel, podcast, and other channels
  • Nurturing your new email list to get subscribers to register for your event
  • Offering registration and tickets at a normal price
  • Offering a free entry or prize via a social media giveaway

1 month before: Prepare for hosting

One month may seem like plenty of time, but it will go quickly as you prepare to host your event. Social media, email, and remarketing will become your main strategies during this last month as you give people one more chance to sign up before the event. Here’s what this looks like:

  • Reminding email subscribers of upcoming, need-to-know information
  • Remarketing to landing page visitors who haven’t signed up yet
  • Scheduling content to go live on partners’ social media channels

2 weeks before

In the last two weeks, it’s all about promoting what’s to come and reminding potential attendees that not going would mean missing out on all the cool things you’ve got lined up for them. Here’s how it’ll go from here until the end of your event:

  • Create and post behind-the-scenes content featuring the best things to look forward to
  • Post daily on social media  
  • Remind potential attendees that it’s their last chance to register

Less than 1 week before

  • Send “last call” emails
  • Post daily on social media
  • Start sharing behind-the-scenes content of the event space

On the day of your event and during your event

  • Send last-minute reminders and updates via SMS/text messaging
  • Share photos and videos on social media using your hashtag
  • Take photos and videos for future use
  • Get quotes from attendees about the event to share now or use later

Of course, this timeline and its elements are a template and will vary according to your needs, but you have a rough idea of what you’ll need to do for event promotion.

example of event promotion
When creating media to share your event online, take a page from this festival’s book. Event planners include all the relevant information in a clear and concise way. Source: Eventbrite.

7 ways to promote your event effectively

You’re ready to start a promotion plan after determining who your target audience is, what goals you’re trying to achieve, and how you’ll measure success during your event. Even though there are dozens of ways to promote any product or event, doing too many can be a strain on your team. If you have limited resources, go for five to seven solid strategies and focus on those. If you’re equipped with a larger team, go for 10 or more. 

There are a variety of options starting from something as simple as posting on an event website like Eventbrite or Meetup all the way up to creating a full search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, running ads, and even making your own website for the event. Let’s talk about these one by one.

Post on event websites 

Pages that people visit specifically to find events are the first place where you should start event promotion. From general event sites like Eventbrite to websites that list industry-specific events, try posting your event online. This way, when people search for “accounting events near me,” for example, they’ll find you. Include all relevant details and a link to where to get more information, like a landing page. 

Create a landing page

A landing page is a stand-alone webpage where visitors “land” and interact with your content for a specific reason. It’s made to sell a product, convince you to sign up for a trial, or prompt you to register for an event. It makes it easy to read information and take action after you scroll to the end of the page. 

Having a dedicated landing page for your event is vital not only because it gives the event credibility, but also because this page will become the place you send people to when they see your ads, emails, social media posts, and any other event promotion. 

The landing page includes all event details where visitors can learn more, sign up, and even make a payment for registration. Keeping all these details in one place will keep your potential attendees from getting distracted and abandoning. 

On your landing page, you should include:

  • All event details, including the time, date, location, guest appearances, and goals
  • An event agenda 
  • Photos and videos from your last event 
  • Social media handles (with links)
  • A call to action to register or buy tickets

Your landing page will be the center stage of your event promotion marketing. If you run ads and create links to the page from social media and email, make sure you create tracking links so that you can track the performance of those posts using Google Analytics.

Start pointing to your event in your content

Early event promotion through content means getting creative in prompting people to sign up, learn more, or get involved in some relevant way. For instance, you can include a link in your blog posts at the end and allow people to sign up for an email list for more information. You can also add a call to action in your YouTube videos and talk about it in a podcast, whether it’s one you host or one in which you speak as a guest.

Utilize SEO

To best optimize your blog and YouTube content to be found by potential attendees, create an SEO strategy specifically for it. Find out what low-competition, medium-high monthly search volume keywords you can target.

To do this research, use tools like keyword.io or Google Keyword Planner. From there, create a strategy to address common questions around your event topic. You can also target keywords like “nonprofit events in [insert city]” and more to gain local awareness.

Create an email campaign

Email marketing uses email lists to make existing and potential customers aware of your brand, products, offers, and recommendations. It’s one of the most cost-effective methods since it goes directly to your existing or potential customers. It can also help you educate customers about your brand and the solutions you offer, bringing them from a “maybe” to an enthusiastic “yes.”

How can you use this method to create hype about your event? First, use your email list to ask whether your subscribers would like to hear updates about your upcoming event. Add those who say “yes” to an event-specific list and create a short email series — three to five mailings — that takes them to a sign-up form, an add-to-calendar link, and early-bird discounts. Make sure to share exciting updates about guest speakers and reminders that the event is coming up. 

After the event, you can also send a follow-up email with photos, thanks, and more to wrap up how everything went.

Run ads and remarket

Not everyone who is interested in your event will already be in your community. So, while you’re telling your community about it via email and social media, also remember to pursue potential attendees using strategies like online ads. 

You can advertise on search engines like Google or social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Your ad will direct visitors who are interested in attending your event to your website or landing page where they can find out more.  

There’s a chance that once they’re on your landing page, they won’t take action at all, choosing instead to abandon the page. In that case, you’ll want to try remarketing — the practice of reaching customers on other websites after they visit yours — to remind them to register.

Unsure how to write an ad for an event? It’s not much different from any other online ad. They use the same basic elements.

Example of a Facebook Event Ad
This ad for a trail run is designed to create interest. So, the call to action is simply a button viewers can click to show that they’re interested in the run. Source: Wordstream.

How to write an ad for your event 

Regardless of the type of ad you want to create, you’ll need the following elements:

  • An image or video: This can involve media from a past event or branding for this one.
  • A headline: The name of your event and/or the “why” behind it. Why is this event important? Think something like: “learn from the best [insert profession]” or even “[important speaker] on why we must [insert action] this year.”
  • A description: Include the basic details of your event like the date, city, and venue.
  • A call to action: What should people do after they see this ad? Learn more? Sign up? Register now? Most platforms will provide a set of options for you to choose from.

Tap into social media

Of course, no event promotion would be complete without social media. How can you get your upcoming event all over social platforms? There are many options, but here are some of the best ways.

Create branding and a hashtag

While branding isn’t social media-specific, your hashtag will be. Once you launch that landing page with all your event branding, include a hashtag that will remind visitors from the start where they can go online to see more.

This will also be vital once your event starts and your attendees are busy posting on social media about the great time they’re having and why they’re glad they attended. 

Post on groups

Find groups online that are highly relevant to your event and share an invitation.

To avoid getting flagged as spam, try to join the groups well in advance of your event and offer each one a special discount code or perk for signing up. This strategy will also help you find out which groups were best for securing attendees so that you can post to them again in the future. 

Partner with speakers and influencers for more reach

To offer your community the best experience possible, you’ll want to have guest appearances from experts and influencers at your event. Partner with them as early as possible to secure their place as well as a contract that breaks down how they’ll participate.

This contract should include the time they’ll spend at the event, the number of social media posts you expect from them (before, during, and after the event), and any other details that both parties want on paper.

Remember, inviting experts and speakers with large social media followings and high-quality engagement will also allow you to tap into each of their communities for possible attendees to your event and — more importantly — potential customers for your business.

Do a giveaway

Giveaways are often a give and take — pun intended — between what you’re offering and what you’re asking for.

If the value of the prize you’re offering isn’t high, the effort expected to win it should be low. So, what are you going to give away? A free entry? One year of access to your service? Free products or mentorship? The higher the value, the more likely that you’ll get your participants to share your event with their peers. 

Wrapping up your event

Event promotion doesn’t end after you call it a night. Reminding everyone of the day’s success is useful for several reasons. It wraps up your event on a positive note, and it sets a foundation for people to follow your brand online so that they don’t miss the next event. You can even create ads using photos and videos from the event promoting what a great, supportive community you have.

So, what’s on your follow-up checklist post-event?

  • Send thank-you messages via social media and email to attendees, partners, and everyone who participated.
  • Survey participants to learn what went right and what could be improved for next time.
  • Assess the success of your event according to your goals.
  • Share the success of your event online to create more awareness, nurture credibility, and grow your following.

Lastly, don’t forget to use event assets to help promote the one you’re planning next.

Start your event promotion timeline

Without promotion, you could lose out on valuable time, resources, and potential leads for your business. This doesn’t even count all the potential media attention, social media growth, and awareness that good promotion could generate.

You may have felt like promoting your event would be an arduous operation, relegating it to a second or third priority task. Now you know that event promotion is essential and that a timeline will set you up for success. And with at least seven ways of promoting your event — including content strategy, SEO, social media, ads, and email — you’re in a great position to get started.

Now that you’ve learned how to effectively promote your event over a period of about six months, start by going over your target audience and goals with your event planner and establishing your event timeline and KPIs.