5 things we learned about event marketing by hosting our first Meetup
Last week, Rebrandly hosted its very first marketing Meetup from our Dublin base. We’re really happy with how it went and are already planning more. We learned a few things about event marketing along the way and are looking to organizing future get-togethers with more confidence.
Here are some event marketing ideas, tips and strategies that we think could help you out when it comes to hosting your own event:
1. Aim high and don’t worry about inviting too many
The venue for our event had enough seats to accommodate 100 people. But we set the attendance cap on our Meetup page at 250.
This may seem a bit risky – and as the number of attendees for the event surpassed 200, we did break into a bit of a sweat – but when it comes to free events, there are going to be a lot of no-shows. When an attendee hasn’t paid for a ticket, it’s far easier for them to change their mind at the last moment.
From my experience of helping to arrange free events, usually about half the people who say they will attend actually show up. From my research, reading, rooting and digging around online, this figure pops up most often for other event organizers too. And in the case of last week’s event, this was just about right.
We did start to worry we’d be overwhelmed and a couple of days before the show asked those who could no longer come to take their names off the list – the final tally was 190 and just under half attended.
The audience reached just the right size and we had a fairly full-house. If you decide to go against this advice and limit RSVPs to the number of seats in the venue, make sure you have someone to guide people towards the front on the night or there’ll be gaps in the crowd.
2. Be niche and provide value
Nobody is going to click ‘attend’ if your Meetup sounds like it will be an extended sales pitch. To get people through the doors, we decided it would be better to build a community of marketers and provide them with real value. The benefit of our events will come from expert speakers, niche insights that aren’t available elsewhere and the opportunity to network.
You can see our Meetup mission statement below:
While it would have been tempting to talk at length about how great Rebrandly is, we decided it would be better to take a step back. This will help the community grow and have a longer-lasting impact on our brand.
It seems to have worked too, as the ‘Online Marketing Dublin‘ membership has grown to over 300 since it launched a month ago.
You can check out the brilliant talk ‘How to Double Organic Traffic’ by HubSpot’s David Ly Khim below or over on Rebrandly’s Youtube channel.
3. Don’t underestimate the value of offline marketing
To get people to click attending, we did the usual promotions you’d expect – we posted about it on social media and emailed the news to our Dublin-based users.
But because most of our followers and customers aren’t actually based in Ireland, we decided to promote the event locally with some offline marketing. This definitely helped create some buzz around the event and boosted attendance. We recommend trying it as part of your event marketing strategies too.
Some flyers and posters featuring a memorable branded link were handed out to drive traffic to the event page. We could see the number of people who typed the leaflet’s custom URL into their browser to arrive on the Meetup page.
The leaflets covered the what, where and when of the event and we think this drove people online to find out more information.
We were impressed with the traction our offline event marketing had and will keep this in mind when hosting future events. We’ll try out flyers with QR codes and maybe some more mysterious messaging to see how this affects CTR.
There was also a Rebrandly coupon on the back, so the leftover leaflets could be handed out on the night of the event.
We would recommend using offline event marketing (and event marketing software as well) for local events because the people who see and engage with it are actually capable of attending – this should help increase attendance. Just make sure to distribute your flyers to places where your target audience hangs out.
Offline marketing materials also give you something visual to share on social when promoting your event.
4. Track what event marketing methods work
We tracked all the links used in our event marketing campaign. This allowed us to see what methods were actually driving traffic to the Meetup page. This is how we discovered the power of our offline marketing.
Next time, we’ll print off more leaflets with different links tagged with where we distributed them. This way we can attribute exactly which handouts and locations are boosting our attendance.
We also included retargeting pixels on all our event links. So even though people clicked through to a third-party website – Meetup.com – we can still add these prospects to our retargeting lists. At the moment, we’re using this feature to retarget those who clicked through to the event with the below advert. The aim is to boost their awareness of Rebrandly. But in future, we’ll be able to present them with ads to let them know about upcoming events.
5. Promotion on the day of the event is important
Getting people to click attend is just the first step. There could be weeks between someone confirming attendance and the actual event.
We posted pictures of the event prep on social media that morning to jog people’s memories. To get rid of any barriers that might prevent people from attending, we made the location crystal clear. We also reminded everyone that there would be beer and pizza! Most of our attendees were rolling up straight from work and we didn’t want dinner-time hunger pangs to hurt attendance.
During the Meetup we also made sure to tweet out what was happening. This helped us connect with some of the attendees on social media and we also managed to get #OnlineMarketingDublin trending locally. During your event, make sure to highlight a single hashtag to help build momentum.
We saw an increase in group membership, which will help us out for our next event. There’s nothing like a little FOMO and social proof to get people interested.
Don’t forget to follow up with your guests! In the coming weeks, we’ll make the most of Meetup’s photos and discussions features to encourage engagement and build a sense of community. Meetup allows you to reach out to group members in a number of ways and, on the night, we also had a fishbowl for collecting business cards for those who wanted to stay in touch.
If you’re based in Dublin, Ireland, make sure to join our Meetup group so you can check out our future events. If you’re further afield, let us know your event marketing ideas in the comments below.
- What is link retargeting?
- UTM parameters: 15 things marketers need to know
- How to track offline marketing metrics
- Inbound marketing content strategy: How to double organic traffic
This Article is About:
- Event marketing ideas
- Event marketing strategies
- How to market a Meetup
- Examples of event marketing
Photo in main image by Chris Lawton via Unsplash