Digital Strategies for Offline Events
Contrary to perhaps popular opinion, despite residing in a digital world, traditional advertising still has its place.
Business exhibitions and trade shows attract more that 13 million visitors each year, generating a total of £11 million, making them lucrative opportunities for businesses – when combined with a modern digital strategy; simply turning up and hoping for the best isn’t going to work.
Alexndra Gibson from events marketing software Event Farm, has previously commented that “Events are often a black box for marketers, they shouldn’t just be a flash in the pan. They need to be part of a greater strategy that includes digital.”
Below are the ways that traditional offline events can leverage online tactics.
PR, brand mentions and backlinks
First off, ensure the event website has all of your correct details, and a link to your site, as do any affiliate websites from sponsors etc.
Where is the event mentioned online? Using tools such as Ahrefs, explore the opportunities of piggy-backing off these mentions, through providing relevant content or being added to delegates lists. For example, if you have had previous B2B event successes, event industry magazines would welcome these.
Repeat the process for your competitors and other delegates.
If you are launching a new business offering at the event, outreach the news to industry niche publications, inviting writers to the event, and let local press know – local business growth news is likely to be featured.
It’s vital to include event content on your website, either as a blog post or a dedicated page, including all the details of the event, along with your stand number. This process will generate more traffic and help you rank for keywords around the event.
As always, blog content should also provide further value to the reader, so provide in-depth details about the reasons for your attendance, key objectives and why, previous successes or if you are launching a new product or service.
Ensure the blog is formatted correctly, breaking up text with images, sub-titles and quotes – and be sure to check your mobile site, text often needs to be broken up so that the mobile site doesn’t overwhelm the reader.
PRO TIP – mentioning how successful the event is will encourage event organisers to share your post also!
The new blog or page is not a static model, and should be shared consistently across social platforms, using popular and industry hashtags, along with the dedicated event hashtag, to ensure a widen reach.
Using the event hashtag also enables you to identify and engage with other attendees as a and delegates, or those covering the event, establishing relationships that could develop into customers or partnerships.
“In the industry we are in, we are regularly attending B2B events”, says Richard Lecount from USBMakers, “both here and also in the states. We make sure that we make our presence known on social media, and often run competitions for delegates, using social media to announce the winner, making sure we tag in the event for maximum exposure.”
You can increase social engagement by as much as 25%, through using images and videos, and using headlines or text that pose questions to the viewer. By using images, you have created for your blog in social posts, you can highlight key facts and improve brand consistency.
Engaging social posts with hashtags generate traffic, but this can be further boosted by implementing social amplification, a powerful technique that can lead to thousands of views rather than hundreds.
For this to be successful, you need to have a pool or audience insight data to be able to target the ads effectively. Facebook holds the most data on its users, and is often the best value for money for this reason, but ultimately it comes down to where your audience are.
Other information to know – age, job title, salary, location, brand affiliations will all increase your targeting and the reach of your post. Of course, consider the text in the ad very carefully – you need to entice the viewer to read the post, and share it. You are able to post multiple ads simultaneously to determine which copy gets the most engagement, while Facebook will assess which image is driving clicks and eventually run with that.
If you have a clear objective for the event, i.e., booking appointments, getting competition entries, ensure this is a clear call to action in the ad or the blog content.
Booth or Stand
If you have created an impressive digital strategy, don’t let your stand be the reason people turn off. Now is not the time for a trestle table and a couple of roller banners.
Investing in a modern stand that harnesses technology, will entice attendees to your space, creating a lasting impression and leave them mentioning your brand both on and offline. Remember these events also serve as branding exercises, and everything from written content, lighting colours, style of furniture should reflect your brand.
Continue the idea of delighting visitors through to your giveaways, and scrap the stress ball. Again, knowing your audience will give you an idea of the kind of giveaway that will slot into their daily lives. Of course, whatever the item, it must be branded – 85% of individuals who receive a useful branded item, go on to do business with the company.