January 17, 2024
By Julie Haddix

There are seemingly a million ways to approach event marketing. In fact, depending on your role in your organization, event marketing can take quite a few forms. What’s undeniable? When it comes to events, whether they be in-person, virtual, or hybrid, promotion is key. 

Through the use of technology, data, and analytics, event marketing is actually very easy to implement across events and at scale. This event marketing guide will explain what event marketing is, how to create a winning strategy, and how to carry that strategy out to improve your events program. Here is a lowdown of everything you will learn in this definitive guide:

What is Event Marketing?

"Event marketing" is a pretty broad term. So, what is event marketing? It can have different meanings, but by and large, event marketing can mean one of two things: marketing tactics used to promote events or the strategic use of events as a marketing tactic to promote an organization, mission, etc. In either scenario, whether promoting your events or leveraging events within your marketing strategy, events are powerful.

For many organizations, events represent a large share of their overall marketing spend. In fact, many companies allocate anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of their budgets to brand experiences, with the predominant portion going to events.

Many marketers believe that, after a website, events are the most effective channel in their “marketing stack,” given the power of in-person and virtual experiences and the ability to forge one-on-one connections. That’s why event marketing is critical.

Event Success

Types of Event Marketing

If the event marketing you do involves planning a calendar of events that will support your marketing plan, then your strategy and planning process will be more complicated and nuanced. For others, it’s a promotional plan for a specific event that can be broken down into a more manageable plan.

  • Email Marketing
  • Event-based strategy
  • Event website
  • Advertising
  • Social media marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization

The Event Marketing Process

Events are costly, which is why determining your event strategy is important. Your budget, goals, and more will determine what events you plan and the type of promotion you run with. The event marketing process begins by acknowledging that there is an event that can help your organization achieve a goal.

Events can add to the sales pipeline, help improve morale, promote a product, and more. Really, the event marketing process comes down to the goal of the event. By identifying what you hope to achieve, you can plan your promotion and objectives based on that goal.

Event strategies are wedded to the event marketing process. Timing can impact the event marketing process, so be aware of the environment and industry. For instance, marketing your event during COVID-19 was different than any other situation. 

Event Marketing Plan

Promotion, Promotion, Promotion

Your event deserves to have a killer promotion plan. But it’s not always easy to know where to start. Your marketing plan should begin right when event planning begins. The two go hand in hand. After all, without a great promotion strategy, no one will know about your event.

So, how do you do it? We’ve created a basic event marketing plan template below to help you get started.

Know Your Event

The first step in your event planning is understanding your event and its purpose. From there, you can focus in on the details such as event name, theme, tagline, and color scheme. This event breakdown will serve as the blueprint for your event marketing plan.

Know Your Event Basics

  • Event Name
  • Event Purpose
  • Event Type (In-person, Virtual, or Hybrid)
  • Theme
  • Tagline
  • Color Scheme

Your Event Website Is Critical

marketing events

There are few events that can get away with not having an event website. If you’re not sure if you need a marketing website or a registration website for your event, think of it this way. Your event website will be the primary touchpoint you have with potential attendees. It needs to contain key information and convince attendees to register.

Event technology can also help you personalize the entire event planning process. You can create a branded event registration website that’s designed to identify who is visiting your website. This lets you modify the registration process based on attendee type. With more sophisticated software, you can even create dynamic registration paths and pricing based on preset criteria.

Types of Websites

First, what type of website will you be building? Event websites can be broken into two types, registration websites, and marketing websites. While there are many other types of websites that exist in the world, those are the two to choose between when creating a website for an event.

Registration Website

How complex is your event? If it’s a one-day seminar, this is the type of website you’ll want to create. Registration websites are perfect for events that don’t last long, are held in one location or virtually, and require very little information to explain. Generally, there will be one page of information and a call to action that takes the user to register.

Marketing Website

A marketing website is perfect for more complex events. Often, this type of event lasts multiple days, takes place at different locations or virtually, has multiple registration paths, or takes more than one webpage to explain. The marketing website allows you to set up multiple pages to give attendees all the information they need. These events tend to be more costly for the attendee, which means the marketing website needs to explain why the cost and time out of the office are worth it.

Your Event Website Should Include:

  • Time and Date
  • Location
  • Cost
  • Call to Action
  • URL
  • FAQs
  • Rich content

Create an Email Marketing Plan That Doesn’t Irritate Potential Attendees

Email marketing is a key part of all promotion plans. If you aren’t using an email marketing tool, find one quickly! They make it easier to design and automate emails. When planning, don’t overdo it. If you create a great, attention-grabbing subject line you’ll get those opens, but if you spam attendees they’ll unsubscribe.

Event Email Marketing


The right event email marketing can ensure you get the largest and most relevant audience for your event – but your efforts shouldn’t stop there. You want to build a buzz around your event and get your registrants engaged and talking before, during, and after your meeting or conference.

The effectiveness of email marketing is proven, and your leadership team is sold on the ROI of email promotion. But how do you use email to drive attendance to your event?

Top 5 Email Marketing Tips for Events

  1. Use online email marketing software to easily review, manage, segment, and update your contact lists. Targeted campaigns will significantly drive registration.
  2. Segment your email audiences. Rather than sending the same promotional materials to your entire audience, thoughtfully segment your audiences and create email content that's relevant to each specific audience.
  3. Create your emails to be consistent with your event website to ensure brand cohesion.
  4. Maximize registration and audience engagement by pre-scheduling emails, automating updates, sending confirmation and thank you emails, and sending email updates that apply to specific audiences and their interests.
  5. Review reporting (your marketing software will help you do this easily) to analyze open and click-thru rates to see what’s working and what’s not, and to uncover additional marketing opportunities.
  6. Comply with privacy regulations by allowing your recipients to opt out of email communications.

Bonus Tip: Test, tweak, and track your emails to get the most out of your campaigns. With the right event management software tools and a dash of innovation, you can work wonders for your event marketing.

You Can’t Avoid Using Social Media

Event marketing

In terms of free promotion, social media is one of the best tools. If you have a presence on all platforms, then you’ll want to promote on all of them. However, if your demographic trends towards using Instagram, don’t feel the need to promote your event on every platform. 

Where Will You Promote?

Social Media Basics

  • Hashtag
  • How often a week will you post
  • Any vendors or speakers to tag

Fun fact: The average smartphone user looks at their phone 300+ times a day. That's a lot of social media use. Social media is an easy and free way to market your event, so in reality, it’s a no-brainer. Here are my five recommendations for using social media to promote your event.

Use These 5 Social Media Tactics to Promote Your Next Event


Create an event hashtag and stick with it. Hashtags are an easy way to track your event across all social platforms for you and your attendees. Use the same hashtag in every post and encourage your co-planners and attendees to do the same.

When coming up with your hashtag, make it relevant, easy, short, and memorable. If you have a catchy hashtag, you eliminate the hassle of constantly reminding your attendees what it is. A good tip is to make the hashtag the name of the event, which means you need to be strategic when you decide on your event name and theme.

For Cvent CONNECT, we use the hashtag #CventCONNECT. Seems simple, right? It is, but it does more than what meets the eye. By naming our event Cvent CONNECT, we remind our attendees that this is a networking event with industry peers. Every time they type the event name or hashtag, it triggers a reminder that that’s what the event is all about – connecting!


Contests are an easy way to get your attendees tweeting, Instagramming, or Facebook posting. Put your creativity to work and see what contest fits best with your event. One idea is to use your event hashtag and integrate it with a contest for the most social activity prior to your event. Then, the winner could receive a grand prize during the event. Another idea is to hold a photo contest to see who can receive the most likes or comments on a pre-event picture.


Recently we combined our attendees and social platform into one and designed a social media ambassador program at Cvent CONNECT. During the registration process, we included a section where our attendees could express interest in becoming one of our social media ambassadors. Once we had a pool of applicants, we selected the top candidates and went from there. It was simple and effective.

Our ambassadors engaged the other attendees and their own followers to promote our events before, during, and after. This made life easier for the communications team while simultaneously showing a more personal side to our brand. We also incorporated a competition among the ambassadors for the most engaging content, which helped get the content flowing.

Consistent Posting

This is simple, post, and post a lot. You need to stay on your followers’ minds and be relevant. Social media is all about your followers and what they can get out of your posts. If you never post or if you post irrelevant things, then expect to be unfollowed. To avoid this, post creative and personable content. Give your followers what they’re looking for.

Interaction with Followers

Interaction is key. You want to be a personable brand that makes your consumers feel comfortable. This is true for your events, too. If you want people to come, you need to engage with them before the event even starts.

Once you’ve promoted your hashtag, follow it! Type it into the search bar on your social platforms and start replying to anyone using it. By using your hashtag as a tracker, you’ll find people expressing questions, concerns, and praises.

Respond to them then and there. Social media makes it easy to fix problems immediately. If your attendee finds a problem with your event’s online registration, they might tweet at you. If you aren’t on top of your social handles, you could miss their comment and ultimately miss an attendee.

Paid Digital Promotion

digital marketing

It’s easy to use primarily free modes of promotion for your event, but paid promotion is still extremely effective. It all comes down to how much money you have in the budget. If your event has a large budget and is targeting a wider demographic, paid ads might be a great option.

A Few Basic Questions

  • What is your budget?
  • How many impressions do you hope to get?
  • Print, digital, commercials?
  • Consider other forms of promotion – direct mail, calls, etc.?

Don’t Forget About Sponsors

Not only are you marketing to attendees, but you need to be able to market to potential sponsors. After all, they’ll be key to defraying costs and gaining more interest. Work out clear sponsorship packages that can be conveyed easily, but also be ready to be flexible. Almost any sponsor is a good sponsor!

Defining Event Marketing Success

How do event marketers define success? According to a recent study by Cvent, the metrics for event marketing success encompass financial results, event attendance, lead generation, overall awareness, and post-event analysis, all aligned with the company’s overall business goals. Event marketing objectives help guide strategy and create a baseline to determine event ROI.

Alignment with Company Goals

The reason for an event should be tied to the goals of the company. Each event needs to show what it has achieved towards that goal. But remember, different events call for different goals, whether they be in-person, virtual, or hybrid events. Event marketers need to focus on aligning their activities with the marketing department and the company’s overarching objectives.

Event Attendance

Measuring the total attendee draw is a natural gauge for event success. Higher attendee numbers have a trickle-down effect as they can translate into more leads and greater event buzz.

Media Impact

The media metric has several component parts encompassing social media traffic and new followers generated; clicks and website visits; viewership for broadcast events such as sports and entertainment; and press coverage, both quantitative and qualitative.

Post-Event Surveys

These surveys can provide an accurate and timely read on the experiences and satisfaction levels of event attendees. The survey can also touch on other helpful areas such as likelihood to purchase.

Revenue and Lead Generation

Event attendees show buying signals through their actions at events. By tracking your attendees on-site and integrating their behavior back into CRM systems, event marketers can track the monetary impact of their programs.

Past Event Learnings

Event marketers are eager to understand and act upon insights from attendees at past events to continuously refine and improve their marketing at future events. The ROI calculated from an event can be helpful in budget-setting for future events.

Event ROI

Meeting and event ROI

To get a true calculation of event ROI, you need to take a deep dive into both the costs and benefits of running an event. Far more than simply adding up the direct costs to produce an event and the direct revenue it delivers, it’s important to understand the full spectrum of costs and benefits. To help you through this calculation, we’ve outlined the eight essential drivers of event ROI.

Event Costs

Event expenses can account for 25% or more of a company’s B2B marketing budget and internal meetings can add another 3-5%. The total cost to make events happen requires a closer analysis of expenses at a granular level. Three different costs should be examined.

Direct Costs

These are costs most familiar to event planners. They are the costs of hosting an event. Examples of direct costs include venue costs, food and beverage, travel, entertainment, and rental equipment. Hopefully, you are reconciling your budgets and have a good handle on direct costs.

Indirect Costs

Indirect costs offer a more complete view of the investments to run an event. They include salaries and overhead of the teams involved in staging an event as well as other shared expenses. Indirect costs are calculated using accounting processes such as activity-based costing, which assign attributed costs to products, services, and events. To understand the indirect cost of your event, work with your finance team.

Opportunity Costs

Events have an opportunity cost. Your organization chooses to deploy its resources to an event as opposed to digital marketing, or some other activity. These alternative sources of value comprise opportunity costs. To understand this cost, you need to know the benefits the other activities would yield as compared to your events.

Identifying Benefits

Events can impact the top line and bottom line of an organization. Similar to expenses, it’s important to know how to measure the different types of benefits. 

Direct Revenue

Direct revenue is the money made directly as a result of hosting an event. Examples include ticket sales, sponsorship dollars, registration fees, onsite product sales and advertising revenue. Direct revenue varies based on the size and scope of the event. This is the money you are hopefully calculating today to show the value of your event.

Attributed Revenue

Organizations market and promote their products at events which drive future revenue. Onsite product demos and account planning conversations help fill the sales pipeline, fuel new sales, and increase customer renewals. As those new opportunities result in new business, the dollars can be attributed to the event as attributed revenue.

Event Branding & Brand Equity

When an event is branded well, it takes on a life of its own while maintaining the essence or brand values of the organization behind it. Event marketing departments achieve this with a combination of digital branding (event apps, event website, email marketing) and onsite branding (exhibition stand, banners, badging, set and stage design, etc). Those that do it exceptionally well add creativity, tone of voice, plus a trusted delegate experience to achieve a must-attend event.

Some benefits, such as brand equity, are more intangible and cannot be measured through hard dollars. Brand equity doesn’t deliver immediate monetary rewards, but event attendance has an impact on brand attitudes.

Consumers like well-known and admired companies, which leads to doing business with that company. Brand equity can help propel Customer Lifetime Value, the long-term profit contribution from a customer. Your events should leave a positive impact on your attendees, driving positive brand equity.

Knowledge Exchange

Knowledge exchange is the accelerated learning that occurs during events. This interaction between customers, prospects and the company can help shape product development, increase learning, fine-tune marketing, and speed receptivity to sales. Your events must create an environment to share knowledge, which leads to brand equity and attributed revenue!

Ticketing and Pricing

The process you use for ticketing and pricing can have a big impact on your event’s ROI. You can’t just focus on the costs and adding a profit margin; you must consider the perceived value of all parties. There are several pricing strategies you could use to match that value. All of these decisions can be difficult to navigate, so check out this Event Ticketing and Pricing Guide.

Event Technology and Online Event Marketing Software

Event marketing software makes event marketing easier. The more comprehensive your marketing tool is, the easier it is to integrate with other systems you already use. For starters, look for a tool that allows you to create customized and automated emails. This will alleviate manual email promotions and allow you to allocate your time to more pressing issues (like driving registration).

With event management software, you can be sure that you have the data you need to prove the success of your event marketing strategy. The best way to implement these technologies is a comprehensive event management platform.

Choosing Your Event Technology

With all the changes in the events industry over the past few years, you need technology that can support your events today. Virtual and hybrid events are here to stay, but navigating which tools are the most beneficial is tricky. There are new requirements for success, such as reliance on integration, automation, and event scoring. Fortunately, we have insights and best practices ready for you in this eBook.

One Event Management Platform

With one event management platform, it’ll be easier for you and your team to learn and use technology. Additionally, when all the data is collected and stored in one place using event management software, you’ll get better visibility into the event and your processes. Finally, having data all in one place makes it easy to make sense of your numbers and make decisions in the future.

Event Marketing Best Practices

  • Understand the goals and budget of the event
  • Create a plan to meet event goals
  • Set goals so that you can measure success
  • Schedule promotion in advance based on important event dates
  • Use discounts and sponsorships to increase attendance
  • Use event marketing software to decrease time spent on manual tasks

Virtual Event Marketing

In addition to traditional event marketing, there is more to be done when it comes to marketing virtual events. The silver lining of virtual events is that the barriers to entry with an in-person event are eliminated or lessened. Travel is nonexistent, and the cost is very often reduced. With these barriers gone, your virtual event has the potential to attract more attendees than your in-person event ever has.

However, you still need to make sure you're marketing your event well. Social promotion is still key for these events, and working with sponsors and partners is important to expand your reach. 

As always, your registration website should be informative and should showcase your brand. Virtual event marketing takes the right technology for the job, so have a virtual event platform in place before you try to take on virtual or hybrid events. The virtual Attendee Hub is one solution that gives you the ability to create a fully branded experience, virtually. 

Event Marketing Is An Essential Part of Event Planning

Events can drive organizational success. Whether in-person, virtual, or hybrid, they empower connections and educate attendees. Event marketing is essential to persuade attendees and increase registrations, and it's made easier with event management software.

Without promotion, no one would know that an event is happening. Through the use of event technology, promotion is easier than ever. As you plan your next event, take the time to outline an event marketing plan.

Looking for more resources to help you craft an effective event marketing strategy? Check out our eBook, The New Event Marketing Opportunity, to learn about how marketing for events has changed and how it will continue to change, best practices for event marketers in the new hybrid world, different marketing strategies for different types of events, and more!

Julie Haddix Headshot

Julie Haddix

Julie Haddix is the Senior Director, Industry Solutions for Cvent, Inc. She has worked for Cvent for over 13 years and helped to build the company’s Enterprise sales and marketing divisions, including its approach to Strategic Meetings Management. Julie has also been a part of the planning team for Cvent CONNECT, Cvent’s annual user conference, leading the event marketing and content development efforts. In her current role, she oversees strategic content direction for the event marketing and management platform. Julie graduated from the McIntire School of Business at the University of Virginia with a B.S. in Commerce and concentrations in Marketing and Management. She lives in Westchester County, NY with her husband and 2-year-old son.

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