In May of 2020, almost 50% of B2B marketers reported holding between 20 and 30 virtual events per year, with 21% hosting more than 30.(Image Source)Sure, COVID-19 played a role, but marketers have been using webinars, conferences, and hybrid events way before the pandemic hit.In this article, we’ll share why hosting virtual events is a winning business strategy, why you should use affiliates to promote them, and we’ll also share our top nine tips to help you sell out your virtual events using affiliates.First, let’s tackle those questions.
Why Should I Host Virtual Events?
There are lots of ways hosting virtual events can help your business, but possibly the biggest way is by supporting the value chain.Providing tremendous value requires a series of business activities that create, commercialize, and correct products or services — in other words, a value chain.Hosting virtual events is a terrific way to support the marketing and sales development process involved in every value chain.
Why Should I Use Affiliates to Promote My Events?
Affiliates are known for making sales on super thin margins, which means their marketing and online presence must be on point to reach large audiences.Many affiliates are also influencers that are highly trusted in their online communities. It only takes a few incredible affiliates to sell out your virtual events in no time.Now that we’ve covered that, let’s explore our top nine tips to selling out virtual events using affiliates.
1. Leverage Professional Networking Sites
Think of networking sites as connective tissue — they connect, support, and share each other’s networks.Recruiting affiliates with high-quality connections on professional networking sites like LinkedIn is a great way to quickly get the word out about your events.For example, a DCIM software company called Nlyte uses its affiliate, Precise Technologies, to promote events on LinkedIn.(Image Source)Other networking sites include MeetUp, Xing, and LunchMeet.A key tip is to ask affiliates to continue leveraging these connections even when you’re not hosting virtual events. While these are great ways to quickly promote events, using them for one event and then walking away isn’t a long-term solution.It takes time to build meaningful connections.
2. Tell Audiences What They Can Expect
Being clear and setting expectations about your event is crucial.Give your affiliates plenty of details about your virtual events so they can be transparent with potential attendees about how they’ll benefit by attending.Will the audience get free workbooks? Do they have to leave their camera on? Is it entertainment-focused or informational?Set the stage to ensure your ideal customers are coming to the event.Another tip is sending emails to attendees that will remind them why they signed up for your event in the first place.Are you going to teach them how to beat the Instagram algorithm? Refresh their memory.Are you going to answer all their questions about how to make their grandmother’s risotto? Remind them.
3. Provide Affiliates With Discount Codes
Use a variety of discount codes to hook people during various stages of the buyer’s journey.Give affiliates several different discount codes, like:
Make sure to create unique codes for each affiliate partner so you can track which are the most effective.You can even incentivize other users or registrants to market the event for you with promotional codes — even if they’re not affiliate partners.
4. Test and Track Your Efforts
Test and track your promotional tactics to see what's working and what’s a waste of time.If a tactic doesn't work, but another is a moneymaker, embrace the stronger strategy for current and future events. Use tracking URLs to isolate where sign-up traffic and affiliate sign-up traffic are coming from.Grab analytics from your affiliates, or ask them to write a report, along with a summary of why their tactics are working.(Image Source)You can also ask superstar affiliates to help you create promotional strategies for future virtual events. Don't underestimate the power of their marketing knowledge.
5. Optimize Your Event Page
Give your affiliates optimized copy to promote your virtual events.First, choose a relevant keyword or key phrase that combines:
For example, ‘vegan baking event San Diego’ or ‘reggae music event Austin.’Next, create internal links by linking to the event page on your website and blog posts (even the old ones). Have your affiliates do the same. This not only guides visitors to the event page, but also helps search engines determine that the page is relevant.Then, ensure all title tags and headers include your target keyword or key phrase. In the title tag, put the name of the event last; it's important to have the keyword first. For example, use a title tag like ‘Vegan Baking Event in San Diego — VegansRock San Diego.’Finally, make sure all event pages have search-friendly descriptions (including the keyword several times). Make sure to use professional formatting, headers, links, and bullet lists.Note: Remember to give all of this optimized copy to your affiliates for their pages, too.
6. Use Social Media
Creating a strategic social media plan for your affiliates is crucial to meeting potential attendees where they’re already at.Here are some ways to take advantage of free social media features.
Have affiliates post videos, still photos, and fun GIFs about your upcoming event on their social media stories.Instagram alone had 500 million daily active Stories users worldwide in January 2019, and it doesn’t look like those numbers will drop anytime soon.Ask affiliates to link registration pages and important event information into each story.
Provide affiliates with images, graphics, discount codes, videos, and giveaways to use for social media posts. Make sure to come up with a strategic posting schedule — like posting three times a week for two months before the event, for example.(Image Source)
Have affiliates build excitement for upcoming events by using Instagram countdowns with easy-to-see registration links. You can also schedule giveaways on special countdown days, such as two weeks before the event, one week before, and three days before.
Ask affiliates to go live a certain amount of times per week to answer questions and motivate audiences to attend your event.Make sure to have them link the registration page into the video description before starting the live video or it won’t show up. It’s also important to include plenty of CTAs throughout. They can even incentivize viewers to come with extra discounts or gifts.
Create an ‘event’ on Facebook. This is just a place on Facebook to list event details for your target audience. The platform will automatically send reminders to attendees who RSVP. Affiliates can also build anticipation by using a posting strategy directly inside the Facebook event page.
7. Create Co-Marketing Opportunities
Give affiliates extra incentives for creating co-marketing opportunities with their other affiliate and influencer marketing friends.You can have them collaborate on a contest or giveaway, host live videos, or show up on Stories together. The co-marketing options are endless.
8. Use Paid Ads
Increase visibility and attendance by having affiliates run paid ads for your event (you’ll have to fork up the cash, of course).Make sure to provide them with effective copy, registration links, and a few incentives for ad viewers that register first (like prizes, coupons, or free tickets). Make sure to put a cap on how many early registrants can qualify for these gifts.
9. Email Marketing
Popular affiliates come with their own client base and email lists.Take advantage of this perk by having them market your event as part of their email newsletters. You can also create a series of emails to build up your event. Just make sure they provide loads of value so you don’t annoy people.Here are some other email marketing tips:
Once again, don’t forget to provide affiliates with visible registration buttons and curated copy to include in their marketing emails.
10. Use Assessments to Capture Website Visitors’ Attention
Odds are, your affiliates are using strategic landing pages with the goal of increasing sign ups to your event.But what if the page’s bounce rate is proving that a page with information alone isn’t enough?In cases like these, try using personalized assessments or quizzes to capture visitors’ attention while offering something in return.For example, if you are trying to sell sales consultants on attending a virtual sales conference, try offering a maturity assessment to measure how mature their sales strategy is at that moment.Remember that if they are taking the assessment in the first place, they clearly are seeking help or guidance.Once they complete the assessment, you can provide valuable feedback while pointing the user to your event for further guidance and insights.
There’s a lot more where that came from, but these nine tips are sure to get you on your way to selling out your virtual events fast.Need help? Contact the experts at Hubilo, the only hybrid events platform focused on building for all stakeholders in an event. See for yourself by requesting a demo today.
Guest Author Byline
Dustin Howes owns an affiliate marketing agency that is dedicated to helping companies maximize their affiliate marketing efforts. Through group coaching and private consulting, Dustin teaches program managers how to recruit the right affiliates, optimize working hours, and how to take the growth of the program to the next level. Learn more affiliate marketing tips at dustinhowes.com.