event strategy

Mastering Event Strategy: A Comprehensive Guide to Success

Unlock the secrets to planning successful events with our expert event strategies. Learn how to maximize attendee engagement, leverage innovative ideas, and deliver exceptional events that leave a lasting impact.
June 1, 2023

In today's fast-paced and highly competitive landscape, organizing a successful event requires more than just careful planning and execution. Organizing in-person, virtual, or hybrid events entails substantial resource allocation and inherent risks. Event professionals constantly juggle multiple responsibilities. They are responsible for defining event goals, developing event websites, selecting event planning software, and ensuring the achievement of event objectives. 

Forrester's research highlights that B2B companies allocate up to 40% of their budgets to events. Therefore, organizations and event planners striving to excel in their respective industries must establish a comprehensive event strategy to maximize return on investment (ROI) while minimizing potential risks. It is a fundamental aspect of achieving success. 

In this comprehensive blog, we will explore the concept of event strategy and delve into the five stages of strategic event planning. By mastering the art of event strategy, you can create memorable experiences, drive attendee engagement, and achieve your desired outcomes.

What is an event strategy? 

An event strategy is a holistic plan that outlines the goals, objectives, and approaches for achieving success in an event. It involves careful consideration of various elements such as event goals, target audience, branding, budgeting, promotion, and evaluation. An effective event strategy acts as a roadmap, guiding event planners through the entire event lifecycle and helping them make informed decisions to maximize success.

The five stages of strategic event planning

Event professionals are well aware of the immense challenges involved in planning and executing successful events. To assist you in navigating every aspect of the event-organizing process, we have curated a comprehensive event strategy guide that focuses on five essential steps:

  1. Plan the event
  2. Launch the event
  3. Promote the event
  4. Manage the event
  5. Wrap up and measure event success

In the current landscape, events have never been more crucial. After years of primarily virtual or limited in-person experiences, attendees eagerly anticipate the evolution of events. The question is: Is your event strategy prepared to meet audiences' expectations in 2023? Let's explore and find out.

Step 1: Plan the event 

The planning stage of an event is undeniably the most crucial phase, as it sets the groundwork for the entire event. This section covers key aspects of building a solid foundation for your event, from establishing goals to selecting the appropriate event type and format. By following these steps, ensure a strong and well-defined foundation that will support the success of your event.

Setting event goals

The initial and paramount step in your event strategy is clearly defining your event's purpose and objectives. What are the specific goals you aim to achieve? Here are several common goals that you may consider incorporating into your event strategy:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Generating leads
  • Enhancing customer/organization relationships
  • Educating prospects
  • Educating employees
  • Driving engagement in target accounts
  • Retaining or delighting customers
  • Creating sales opportunities in target accounts

While there are numerous reasons for organizing events, selecting and prioritizing a few measurable goals is essential. This approach allows for easier event marketing and facilitates the measurement of success.

Once you have established your event goals, ensuring they adhere to the SMART and CLEAR criteria is crucial. It is vital to set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. They should also be CLEAR, meaning they should be Collaborative, Limited, Emotional, Appreciable, and Refinable. These criteria provide a structured framework for measuring goals post-event, preventing ambiguity or clarity.

event smart goals

Identifying key performance indicators (KPIs) for event success

You must identify the KPIs aligning with your event goals to measure the event's success. 84% of event planners use attendee satisfaction as a KPI. Here are some of the most popular event KPIs from the perspective of the demand generation funnel:

  • Registrations
  • Gross revenue
  • Attendee satisfaction
  • Attendee engagement
  • Cost-to-revenue ratio
  • Number of qualified sales leads
  • Sales pipeline created

On the other hand, if you are assessing your KPIs from an account-based marketing (ABM) standpoint, you will want to focus on metrics that reflect engagement across your target accounts. By pinpointing the appropriate KPIs that align with your event goals and strategic approach, you can effectively measure the success of your event and gain valuable insights.

Strategize your event budget

The next crucial step in your event strategy is to develop a comprehensive budget that accounts for all aspects of your event. Begin by collaborating with your leadership team to gain a clear understanding of the funds at your disposal. Start outlining your event budget by itemizing each element you anticipate needing, providing a description, estimating the cost, and tracking the actual price.

Keep in mind that your event budget will vary depending on the chosen format of your event. Here are some essential items to consider including:

  • Event technology software
  • Video production software
  • Security personnel and staff
  • Badges and onsite services
  • Food service and other vendors
  • Printed materials and other promotional items
  • Speaker fees
  • Transportation and hospitality expenses
  • Venue rental fees
  • Thank-you gifts

A clear understanding of your budget will enable you to make informed decisions about the most effective channels for promoting your event and select the appropriate event management tools to streamline the planning and execution process.

event budgeting

Setting event ticket pricing

Determine the pricing strategy that aligns with your event goals and target audience. During your budget planning, it's important to discuss ticket pricing. Setting the right ticket prices is crucial unless you organize a free virtual event or webinar. 

If you have a specific revenue target, consider the various ticket pricing tiers to help you achieve that goal. Explore options such as offering free tickets for virtual events, subsidized tickets for different socioeconomic classes, or any other suitable alternatives. By carefully considering your revenue goals and implementing a strategic pricing structure, you can optimize ticket sales and ensure that your event remains accessible to a wide range of attendees.

Choosing the right event management tools

Select suitable event management software and tools to streamline planning and execution. Event planning can be complex, but various event planning tools are available to make the process more manageable. Regardless of your goals, KPIs, budget, or team size, utilize the following tools to enhance event planning and execution:

  • Event registration software
  • Event planning and analytics software
  • Event marketing software
  • Onsite event registration software
  • Video production software
  • Mobile event app

Whether you opt for a combination of platforms or an all-in-one event management solution, ensure that your event tech stack encompasses essential features that align with your event goals. By utilizing the right event planning tools and integrating them effectively, you can streamline your event management process, improve attendee experiences, and optimize the overall success of your events.

right event management tools

Develop an effective onsite registration strategy

Design a seamless and efficient registration process to enhance the attendee experience. The initial interaction with attendees at your event is crucial, and a well-executed onsite registration process can make a significant impact. By creating a plan for onsite registration and having a contingency plan, you can ensure a seamless and enjoyable experience for your attendees.

Consider exploring an event ticketing and registration platform that offer features like onsite kiosks for attendee check-in. While this can expedite the check-in process, it's essential to have technical support staff available in case of system outages or other troubleshooting issues. By carefully considering the onsite experience, you can efficiently capture important event data for analysis, including:

  • Total number of attendees
  • Total number of checked-in attendees
  • Total number of checked-out attendees
  • Total number of attendees with no status
  • Real-time check-ins

Access to this data in real-time enables you to track attendance accurately and make informed decisions throughout the event. By prioritizing a smooth onsite registration process, you can enhance attendee satisfaction and gather valuable insights for post-event analysis.

Define strategies for audience engagement

Plan engaging activities and interactions to create a memorable event experience. Once attendees have checked in, creating an engaging and immersive event experience is crucial. One effective approach is to invest in a mobile event experience that empowers attendees to interact in real-time. By offering a branded, in-app event experience, you can enhance brand recognition, foster attendee engagement, cultivate your event community, and provide sponsors better opportunities to connect with their target audience.

Additionally, consider partnering with an event software provider that offers high-tech wearables. These innovative badges can enhance engagement by facilitating networking and contact sharing among attendees and sponsors. 

By implementing these audience engagement strategies, you can create a dynamic and immersive event atmosphere that captivates attendees and maximizes the attendee's participation.

Define strategies for audience engagement

Finalize your event branding

Establish a compelling brand identity that connects with your target audience. Every aspect of your event, from the website to promotional emails to onsite decorations and catering, should reflect and align with your event's brand. The key question to ask yourself is: What emotions and experiences do I want to evoke in attendees? What experience do I want them to have? What conversations do I want them to engage in after the event?

An example of an annual event that consistently delivers an unforgettable brand experience is SXSW. Attendees can expect exceptional brand activations, an expo hall brimming with engaging experiences and freebies, and thought-provoking sessions that generate discussions for months.

By focusing on your event's branding and creating a cohesive experience, you can leave a lasting impression on attendees and cultivate a strong connection with your target audience. It will contribute to your event's overall success and reputation.

Finalize your event branding

Building your event website

Create an intuitive, informative, and visually appealing website as a central hub for event information. In most cases, it is the first point of contact for prospective attendees and stakeholders. Your event website should have a memorable and easy-to-share vanity URL, be accessible and mobile-friendly, and effectively convey the mission and purpose of your event. Here are some key elements to include on your event website:

  • Date, time, and location
  • Agenda
  • Speakers
  • Reasons to attend
  • FAQ
  • Clear registration CTA
  • Images & content from last year's event

Depending on your event timeline, creating a pre-event "save the date" website may be beneficial as a preliminary step before fully developing your digital event infrastructure. This pre-event website can be a simple landing page that provides basic information about your event. By building an engaging and informative event website, you can attract and captivate potential attendees, encouraging them to register and participate in your event.

Facilitate attendee connections with an event hashtag

Simplify the process of attendee engagement and connection by implementing an event hashtag. By proactively selecting an event hashtag, you ensure that the conversation around your event remains organized and aligned with your brand. Include the current year in your event hashtag, and choose a hashtag that is easy to remember and aligns with your brand identity. By proactively selecting and promoting your event hashtag, you enhance attendee engagement, gain valuable insights, and foster a sense of community around your event. Embrace this powerful tool to maximize the impact and reach of your event's online presence.

Facilitate attendee connections with an event hashtag

Starting outreach to partners, speakers, and sponsors

Begin reaching out to potential collaborators and secure partnerships that add value to your event. Starting the outreach process early on will make it easier to leverage their support and expand the reach of your event. Create a comprehensive stakeholder list to organize outreach efforts to potential event partners. Include the stakeholder's name, role (e.g., speaker, sponsor, partner), the purpose for reaching out, the contact person's name, email address, and the status of their responses. It will enable you to launch personalized outreach campaigns and initiate meaningful conversations. By proactively engaging with partners, speakers, and sponsors, you can strengthen your event's impact, broaden its reach, and enhance the overall experience for attendees.

Prepare your Go-to-market teams

Equip your marketing and sales teams with the necessary resources and information to effectively promote the event.

It's crucial to communicate your event goals, KPIs, vision, and other relevant information to your sales and customer success teams early, ensuring they are well-prepared before the event launch. This preparation will empower them to conduct effective outreach and drive registrations.

Consider implementing a gamification element in the registration process as part of your go-to-market strategy. For instance, you can offer a gift card to the representative with the most registrations. Establish a minimum threshold for registrations to make the reward meaningful and achievable.

Develop an event contingency plan

Anticipate and plan for potential challenges or unforeseen circumstances to ensure smooth event operations. The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized having a contingency plan for event organizers. It is no longer an optional aspect but a fundamental requirement. To benefit yourself, your attendees, and your team, it is essential to proactively create a comprehensive contingency plan that prepares you for the unexpected. This plan should encompass various potentialities, such as natural disasters, pandemics, or any other unforeseen circumstances that may arise. By being prepared, you can navigate through challenging situations with greater resilience and ensure the safety and success of your event.

Develop an event contingency plan

Step 2: Launch the event 

Once all the necessary preparations are complete, the next crucial step in your event strategy is officially launching your event. It marks the exciting moment when you introduce your event to your target audience and generate anticipation and enthusiasm. A well-executed launch can significantly impact the success and attendance of your event. Once your event plan is in place, it's time to generate buzz and excitement around your event. 

Begin by crafting an email from your CRM that aligns with your event's branding, concise yet captivating, and includes essential event details and a clear call-to-action for registration. While sending the announcement email to your entire contact list might be tempting, employing a thoughtful approach by segmenting your audience and tailoring unique email content for each segment is advisable. Here are a few strategies:

News announcements and press releases

Craft compelling press releases and news announcements to garner media coverage and build anticipation among your target audience. To effectively promote your event, employing a multi-faceted approach encompassing your website and various communication channels is essential.

One initial step is creating a news article on your website's dedicated press or news page announcing the event. Additionally, it would help if you considered publishing a press release to expand the reach of your event. When crafting the press release, emphasize the unique aspects of your event that set it apart. Is it the notable speakers, the mission, or the compelling topics? Remember that potential attendees and journalists may receive automatic Google Alerts based on the keywords you include. 

Prioritize social media and co-marketing

Leverage the power of social media channels and collaborative marketing efforts to expand your event's reach. Encourage influencers, partners, and attendees to share event-related content. Create engaging and compelling copy accompanied by eye-catching images to capture the attention of your target audience. Incorporate your event hashtag into your posts to facilitate conversation and increase visibility.

Diversify your social media posts to highlight different aspects of your event. Give your partners event sponsorship packets containing ready-to-share copies, images, and promo codes. To further assist your partners, tailor the materials based on social media networks, newsletters, and blog articles. Each platform may require content of varying lengths and styles, so be adaptable and customize accordingly. Remember that while organic reach on social media has limitations, you can enhance event awareness by considering paid social media placements. It will help you extend your reach and maximize your event's visibility among a wider audience.

Prioritize social media and co-marketing

Activate your Go-to-market (GTM) teams

Collaborate closely with your marketing and sales teams to execute targeted campaigns, generate leads, and drive event registrations. Provide them with the necessary resources, such as email templates and unique registration links, to drive registrations and actively contribute to increasing event attendance. Consider scheduling a call with your GTM teams to refresh their understanding of the event and address any inquiries.

Step 3: Promote the Event

Promotion plays a crucial role in attracting attendees to your event. It's time to ensure your event remains at the forefront of people's minds through effective event marketing. This crucial stage focuses on promoting your event to drive registrations and build excitement. 52% of marketers think event marketing drives the best ROI. It's important to establish a well-defined schedule for email promotion to strike the right balance and avoid overwhelming your audience while maintaining constant awareness of your event. Implement these event promotion strategies:

Level up social media event promotion

Take your event promotion to the next level by leveraging social media and co-marketing strategies leading up to the event. Utilize social media channels to showcase event highlights, speaker profiles, and interactive content. To maximize impact, keep these tips in mind:

  • Maintain a balanced approach with social media posts to avoid overwhelming followers, which can lead to unfollowing your account.
  • Utilize promo codes strategically to incentivize registrations and drive attendance.
  • Highlight last-chance opportunities through compelling social media posts to create a sense of urgency.
  • Consider incorporating paid social media advertising to extend the reach of your event promotion efforts.

By implementing these strategies, you can elevate your event promotion on social media and effectively engage your target audience in the lead-up to your event.

elevate your event promotion

Encourage registrants to promote actively 

Harness the power of your event attendees to extend your event promotion efforts. In addition to engaging partners, you can encourage your attendees to become event ambassadors through various strategies. Here are a few examples:

  • Leverage social media integration: Provide attendees with the option to connect their social media accounts to their event profiles. It enables them to share event-related content directly from the event platform on their social channels.
  • Implement Ticket Boost: Offer attendees the opportunity to share a unique event registration link on their social media accounts. When someone purchases a ticket through their shared link, the original purchaser and the new attendee can receive discounts or other incentives.
  • Create exclusive promo codes: Generate special promo codes for attendees to share with their networks. By tracking the usage of these codes, you can measure the effectiveness of each attendee's promotional efforts.
  • Incentivize event referrals: Encourage attendees to refer others to your event by offering special prizes or rewards for successful referrals. Assign each attendee a specific tracking link to monitor and reward their referral activities.
  • Encourage social media sharing: Motivate attendees to share your event on their social media profiles. Consider offering a prize or recognition for the post with the highest engagement or reach.

By implementing these attendee activation strategies, you can turn your event attendees into valuable event ambassadors, amplifying your event promotion efforts and driving further engagement and attendance.

Promote last-chance & limited-time offers

Create a sense of urgency by sharing early-bird and limited-time offers and highlighting the approaching registration deadline. Pay attention to the importance of last-chance event promotion as your event date approaches. Even in the final weeks or days leading up to the event, there are effective tactics you can employ to boost registrations. Consider the following strategies:

  • Email follow-up: Review your database and identify a segment of potential registrants who still need to sign up. Send them a targeted email highlighting the value and urgency of attending the event. You can even enlist your go-to-market team to conduct personalized outreach on a one-to-one basis.
  • Paid targeting: Utilize paid advertising platforms such as Google AdWords, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter to create targeted ad campaigns for your ideal attendees. Tailor the ads based on geographical location, industry, job title, and other relevant criteria to maximize their impact.
  • Co-marketing collaboration: Engage your partners and request their support in promoting the event. Communicate the benefits they will gain from increased attendance. Make it easy for them to promote the event by providing them with ready-to-share images and compelling copy.
  • Offer incentives: Consider incentivizing people to sign up if you need more registrations. For instance, you could offer participants a chance to win a one-on-one session with the keynote speaker or the opportunity to win a gift card. Clever incentivizing can help drive registrations even in the final stages.

By employing these last-chance event promotion strategies, you can make a final push to secure registrations and ensure a booming turnout for your event.

last-chance & limited-time event promotion

Send out event reminder emails

Send reminders to registered attendees to ensure participation and enhance their event experience. Ensure your attendees stay informed and excited about the upcoming event by sending out reminder emails at strategic intervals before the event day. By sending timely reminders, you can help attendees keep the event top of mind and minimize the risk of any last-minute dropouts.

These reminder emails are particularly crucial for smaller or free events where attendees may not have a significant registration fee serving as a potent reminder. By proactively contacting them and providing relevant event details and updates, you can reinforce their commitment and ensure a higher attendance rate. By sending out event reminder emails, you demonstrate your commitment to providing a positive attendee experience and help create a sense of anticipation leading up to the event.

Step 4: Manage the Event 

Efficient event management is crucial to deliver a seamless and memorable experience. After putting in the effort to attract attendees to your event, it's crucial to ensure a seamless experience during the event itself. Here are the key steps to ensure everything runs smoothly:

Send a welcome email

Start the event experience on a positive note by sending a personalized welcome email to attendees. 76% of marketers say email is the most effective way to drive registrations. The contents of the email may differ based on the event format, whether hybrid, in-person, or virtual. Here are some ideas to include in the email:

  • Provide the venue address and offer directions or transportation options to help attendees arrive smoothly.
  • Explain the check-in process and provide information on where and how attendees can check in upon arrival.
  • Share the Wi-Fi password or any other relevant connectivity details to ensure attendees stay connected during the event.
  • Give an overview of the event day, highlighting key sessions or activities, and provide links to a detailed agenda if available.
  • Emphasize the importance of the event app and encourage attendees to download and explore its features. 
  • Provide login information for the event website where attendees can access additional resources or engage with the event community.
  • Communicate important event policies or expectations for a smooth and enjoyable experience for all attendees.

By sending a comprehensive welcome email, you can set the stage for an engaging event while providing attendees with the necessary information to make the most of their experience.

Encourage attendees to download the event app

Encourage attendees to download and engage with your event app, emphasizing its value in enhancing their experience. Once attendees arrive, reinforce the significance of utilizing the event app through clear signage and frequent reminders.

For instance, Hubilo offers a customized event app solution that empowers attendees to seamlessly engage with event-related content such as agendas, speaker details, and community networking features. The app is a central hub for networking, scheduling one-on-one meetings, and connecting with sponsors and vendors. Take advantage of the app's capabilities by setting up in-app notifications to inform attendees about important sessions and keynote presentations. You can facilitate seamless communication and interaction by actively promoting and leveraging the event app, elevating overall attendee engagement and satisfaction.

Encourage attendees to download the event app

Monitor social media and stay engaged

Monitor mentions, feedback, and questions in the social media channels, and promptly respond to engage attendees and address concerns. Whether it's positive feedback about a speaker, constructive criticism of a session, or inquiries about the event, responding and interacting with attendees and participants is crucial. User-generated content on social media serves as valuable and authentic advertising for your event, creating a sense of FOMO among those who didn't attend. By engaging with social media posts, you can leverage this content to generate excitement and attract future attendees to upcoming events.

Regularly check the event hashtag, and strive to respond to as many posts as possible. Identify the most relevant and compelling content to reshare, amplifying its reach and impact. By actively participating in social media conversations, you demonstrate your attentiveness and commitment to attendee engagement, fostering a positive event experience and cultivating a community around your event.

Provide an early-bird incentive for future events

Start building anticipation for your upcoming events by offering an early-bird discount to prospective attendees. Generate early registrations by creating a sense of urgency by providing a limited-time offer. This proactive approach allows you to secure registrations well in advance, giving you a head start in planning and strategizing for future events.

Step 5: Wrap Up and Measure Event Success 

Congratulations on orchestrating a successful event! However, there are still important tasks and valuable insights to gather. Evaluating its success and gathering valuable insights for future improvements is essential. Take the following steps to wrap up your event and measure its success:

Send a Thank You Email

Express your gratitude to attendees and stakeholders by sending a heartfelt thank-you email for their participation and support. Let them know that their presence and support are important in making the event successful. Post-event engagement is a crucial part of the event planning and event management process. Utilize email segmentation to ensure personalized messaging. Leverage the capabilities of your event software to segment emails based on ticket types, sessions attended, and other relevant factors.

Send a Thank You Email - post event engagement

Evaluate Event Success

Evaluate the success of your event by analyzing the data collected. Review your event analytics to measure the achievement of your predefined goals, such as attendance, revenue, and attendee satisfaction. Utilize your event software's dashboard's comprehensive insights to understand the event's performance clearly.

Evaluate Event App Analytics

Review event app analytics to gain insights into attendee engagement, popular sessions, and areas for improvement. Ask critical questions such as the number of app downloads, active users, message exchanges, networking connections established, and meetings scheduled. Assess whether sponsors received the expected number of leads and determine the overall value generated from the app investment.

Send Out Event Surveys

Collect feedback from attendees to understand their experience and identify areas of improvement to enhance future events. Implement a post-event survey to allow attendees to share their thoughts, preferences, and suggestions. Consider using a combination of open-ended questions and the Net Promoter Score (NPS) to gather valuable insights. In addition to the NPS survey, consider contacting highly engaged attendees to gather qualitative feedback. Engage them in discussions about their likes, suggestions for improvement, and other insights to understand their experience better. You can comprehensively evaluate your event's success using quantitative and qualitative feedback. By conducting event surveys and actively listening to attendee feedback, you can continuously refine and enhance your future events, ensuring a positive and memorable experience for all participants.

event surveys and feedback

Building a Stronger, Better Event Strategy

Developing a robust event strategy is crucial for creating successful and memorable events. It involves careful planning, effective promotion, seamless event management, and comprehensive evaluation. By implementing a well-crafted strategy, event organizers can maximize attendee engagement, drive registrations, enhance the overall event experience, and achieve their goals.

In the realm of event management, Hubilo stands out as a valuable event partner that can assist in creating and executing an exceptional event strategy. With its comprehensive suite of event management solutions, Hubilo empowers organizers with the tools they need to streamline every aspect of their events. From attendee registration and engagement to seamless event execution and analytics, Hubilo offers a range of features that can elevate event experiences and deliver successful outcomes. The platform's event management capabilities, such as event website creation, attendee engagement tools, live streaming, networking features, and analytics dashboards, provide a holistic approach to event planning and execution.

By harnessing the power of Hubilo's event management solutions, organizers can unlock the full potential of their events, deliver exceptional experiences, and achieve their desired objectives. Whether it's a virtual, hybrid, or in-person event, Hubilo offers the support and capabilities needed to build a stronger, better event strategy for lasting success.

Are you ready to take your event strategy to the next level? Request a demo with Hubilo today and discover how our innovative event management solutions can help you create and execute successful events.

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