Throughout 2020, organizations had to quickly pivot and adapt their strategies to focus on virtual event opportunities. Events were no longer in-person affairs ripe for mingling; instead, events occurred virtually from within everyone’s private home.
Now, your newfound skills on Zoom and other online event platforms won’t go to waste! However, we can expect to see another shift in how events are handled moving forward. In the post-pandemic world, we can expect to see a shift in organizations’ strategies toward hybrid events rather than solely in-person or virtual.
These events incorporate both an online and in-person element to engage audiences who attend in both capacities. Luckily, you now have many of the skill sets necessary to host effective hybrid events. All that’s left to do is refine those skills and combine the two into an impactful single event opportunity.
One of these skills? Marketing. Multi-channel marketing allows organizations to reach out to their audience on a number of different platforms, expanding brand recognition and making them more familiar with your upcoming event.
This type of marketing is even more essential for hybrid events as your organization will need to appeal to a broad audience composed of virtual and in-person attendees. In this guide, we’ll cover three of the necessary strategies to make sure your multi-channel marketing is up-to-scratch:
- Carefully Choose Your Marketing Platforms
- Personalize Messages When Possible
- Analyze Your Data After the Event
Ready to dive deeper into multi-channel marketing for hybrid events? Let’s get started.
Carefully Choose Your Marketing Platforms
When you host hybrid events, you’ll need to reach multiple audiences at once. Particularly, one that prefers an online platform and one that can’t wait to attend your event in-person. Therefore, you’ll need to create a marketing plan that incorporates the communication strategies likely to resonate with each of these audiences.
The platforms you choose will directly impact the way your audience eventually reaches your event registration pages.
Your in-person audience will likely be more comfortable shifting back to their normal lifestyles, and will be more likely to see information about your event out and about as well as online. Therefore, they may do some additional research, also encountering your online promotion materials.
Meanwhile, your digital audience will likely be more inclined to attend your event if they come across marketing materials as a part of your digital outreach campaign. They should be able to click through your marketing materials and land immediately on the event registration website.
Direct mail is a staple to any effective marketing campaign, and is well-designed for multi-channel opportunities as well. Direct mail response rates are ten times higher than email or social media marketing alone. However, you should be sure to direct people back to your digital platforms.
Direct mail, when paired with digital marketing strategies, offers several advantages for organizations:
- Repeat exposure to your brand. Include your logo, brand colors, and other visual cues so potential attendees immediately recognize your brand if they encounter it on other marketing materials.
- Personalization opportunities. Segment your supporters and specifically reach out to those interested in receiving direct mail. Use these segments to also include personal information in event invitations to resonate specifically with each potential attendee.
- Increased registrations. Attendees who immediately want to register for your event can do so if you provide them with the web link or QR code directing them to your registration page.
When you reach out to supporters via direct mail, don’t forget to provide them with an immediate opportunity to register for the event. Provide a phone number they can call to purchase a ticket, give the web link for the registration page, provide a discount code they can use online as they sign up, or you can even provide a QR code the recipient can scan from their phone. Be ready for these supporters to access your registration form directly from their mobile devices by optimizing your page for this channel.
Email is another staple of impactful marketing strategies, allowing your organization to directly reach people through their inboxes. Plus, you can directly link them to your event site and registration page to learn more about the opportunity.
Segment your audience and send regular emails leading up to your event to encourage as many people to attend as possible. You might even set up an event drip stream of constant emails to generate excitement for the event, shifting to stewardship communications after registration.
According to DNLOmniMedia’s guide, email marketing is especially important for nonprofit organizations, citing the following statistics about how it can impact fundraising in particular:
Organizations’ interactions with social media have changed over time. While the platforms used to simply present posts in chronological order, there is now a complicated algorithm for the posts that show up on potential attendees’ news feeds.
This article says that, “Facebook has started to prioritize groups in its algorithm. This essentially means that your supporters are more likely to see a post made within a group float across their timeline than one made on an individual profile.” Therefore, consider how you can leverage groups on social media sites to promote various activities and events. For instance, invite your attendees to join a specific online event group so that you can reach out to them before, during, and after the event takes place.
Personalize Your Message When Possible
Marketing materials sent directly to your potential event attendees, whether by direct mail, email, or even Facebook Messenger, should be personalized to communicate with the recipient. This means addressing them by name and including information in the message that will best appeal to the audience, providing them personalized links, etc.
Tweak your messages to potential attendees by leveraging the data in your CRM to:
- Segment your audience. For example, an animal shelter might reach out to a segment of cat-lovers differently than a segment of dog-lovers for an upcoming adoption event.
- Use personal information. Most effective marketing platforms can automatically populate information like names, addresses, and engagement history on a template for easy personalization.
When you’re creating your messages for your audience, it can be incredibly helpful to start with a donor letter template to be sure all important elements are included. However, make sure you customize those templates to make them your own.
Analyze Your Data After the Event
After your event ends, make sure to analyze the metrics you’ve pulled from the different marketing channels and messages that you sent. This data can be pulled into reports to help you better understand the strengths and opportunities in your marketing campaigns.
The following channels are incredibly helpful for collecting and analyzing the data from your marketing campaign:
- Marketing channels. Your marketing channels, specifically the digital ones, can be configured to collect vital information about how your supporters interact with the promotional materials. For example, you might analyze open rates, click-through rates, and more.
- A/B testing. If you conduct A/B testing throughout your campaign, you can adjust the images, languages, or other elements in your marketing messages to determine what your audience prefers in their communications.
- Surveys. One of the best ways to learn about your audience’s preferences is simply to ask! Ask them how they found out about your event and why they decided to attend to determine which marketing channel and message was most effective for them.
- Repeat attendees. When supporters come back again and again, it’s clear that your marketing efforts and strategies are making an impact on them. If you have difficulty recapturing your current supporters, you may consider revamping your efforts and revitalizing your strategy.
Of course, after your event, you can’t change the attendance rates at the event itself. However, you can influence the event attendance for your next engagement opportunity. By collecting and analyzing important metrics regarding your marketing strategy after this event, you can optimize future strategies to even better appeal to potential attendees.
Multi-channel marketing is the best way to appeal to the greatest possible audience for your next event. As hybrid events are able to reach a greater number of people than solely in-person or virtual opportunities, you’ll want to cast your net as wide as possible. Going through these steps for each of your upcoming events, you’ll be able to continue optimizing your strategy for continuous outreach improvement.