Have you ever struggled to get people to attend your webinar or other online event?
If you have, you’re certainly not alone. When online events were new, it seemed like all you had to do was send out announcements, spread the word, and watch people log in for the show. While it was never quite that simple, your prospects are likely receiving multiple invitations for online presentations of one kind or another every day and are now choosing only the ones perceived as a high value use of their time. Just like any other event, you will need a well executed plan to attract and enroll your ideal clients. Many business owners don’t market their event early or often enough and end up disappointed in the resulting low turnout.
When planning for your next online workshop, webinar, or other small event keep these tips in mind:
1. Start Early
Just because your event is small, doesn’t mean that you don’t need to build some buzz around it. It takes most people multiple exposures to an idea before they pay close attention to it. Even if you’re not charging for this event, you are asking for an exchange of time, which has as much value (or more) than dollars. Plan to announce your event well in advance, the larger your ask, the longer you will need to market. In the case of a workshop or webinar that will last around an hour 6 weeks ahead is a safe bet.
If this seems too far in advance, just think… you’re warming an audience to the idea, rather than going straight for the sale.
2. Serve First, Sell Second
Try this the other way around and people will tune you out and move on. There truly are no shortcuts in building relationships. Period. People don’t like to be sold, but we love to buy! When you start out with useful, helpful content with the intent to serve your ideal client, it’s easy for your audience to see the value you bring to the table. Once they have a gauge on how you can help, they will keep coming back for more from you. Wow you audience will fabulous free content and they will pay you to take them to the next level.
When marketing your event, write articles that speak to the topic you will be presenting about. If you are stronger at podcasting or video, then go with that… your medium is less important than your consistency in publishing and the value you present. Offer content upgrades to simultaneously build yourself up as a trusted resource and build your list. Send your new contacts your welcome series to warm them up.
An activated audience is more apt to sign up for and be excited to attend your online event.
3. Don’t Do Social – BE Social
Don’t just plaster your messages all over social media. Invite people to connect with you. Use calls to action to let people know exactly which action they should take next. The more engaged you can get your audience the better. Facebook groups are a fantastic way to bring people into your tribe and make them feel like part of your community. You should absolutely post your articles and supporting images to all your social networks, just don’t let that be the end… In addition to posting to your usual social channels, you can also offer your event within your group.
Don’t over-promote within your group. Once an audience is actively engaged a little goes a long way!
4. Pay to Play
The days of free Facebook traffic are over… and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Now more than ever quality content counts and putting a few dollars of advertising behind it can get more of your ideal clients to see it. Once you’re a few weeks out from your event, publish your strongest blog article and post it to Facebook. Tell your power partners when it will post and ask them to give it a quick like and share. Once you have a small amount of engagement make your post into an ad. Your ad will keep its social proof and give you a little more bang for your buck. Don’t sell into your event just yet, since your targeting a cold audience, but do make an irresistible offer for a download. You can use a special thank you page that offers the event once the download offer has been accepted.
If you get any opt ins to the event, yay! If not, you will have either the opportunity to email or retarget depending on their behavior.
5. This Marketing Stuff Really Works
Pinkie promise! Most of the time a well executed plan gets great results but every now and then you will get a dud. It happens. To everyone. At some point everyone will have a lower attendance than expected (even mentors and people who seem to have it all together.) The longer you keep at it and the more established your audience, the easier it will be for you to attract your ideal prospects and get them to attend. The key is to keep on going. Track your efforts and make changes as needed. You may be able to bump up future attendance by tweaking a headline or changing the time of day you hold your event.
Getting your system in place will take some up front work, but once you’ve figured out what works best you’ll be able to duplicate your efforts and continue to make small improvements as you go.
Here’s a little head start on planning your marketing for your next online event.