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For event planners and professionals today, marketing your event can be a headache. Gone are the days of posting flyers to billboards or relying on word of mouth to garner a wide audience. Now, digital marketing leads the way in terms of getting the news of your conference or event out to the masses. There are numerous tools and platforms dedicated to taking your event from an idea to a reality; the challenge is knowing how to utilize its capabilities and differentiating yourself from your competition.

In the second installment of our four-part series, “Digital Marketing for Today’s Event Professional,” we break down how leveraging today’s top search engine can “make or break” your event’s success.  If you missed the first installment in this series, Knowing Your Audience and Their Expectations, it can be found here.

Let’s jump right in:

Google… what a complex, yet integral, beast to today’s digital marketer. Your presence on Google can literally be the difference between a sold-out audience and a speaker staring at a bunch of empty seats in the crowd. If your webpage doesn’t show up within the first few results on page 1 on Google, there’s a good chance it will never be found.

Luckily, there is a workaround to ensure that you can rank highly on Google, but like the old adage states – you have to spend money to make money.

Google Ads is an incredibly useful tool to a digital marketer as it allows us to accomplish a couple of different things. Through a strategic and effective Google Ads campaign, you can:

  • Control the narrative and messaging to your audience
  • Ensure that your page is ranked within the first few results
  • Target certain audiences based on keywords
  • Monitor exactly how well a certain campaign is performing

While the above points sound like a digital marketer’s perfect dream, it should be noted that it takes a good amount of planning, preparation, and execution to ensure that your Google Ad campaigns perform well. The last thing you want to do is throw money into a campaign to not see any return on investment. 

I am going into the next few parts of this article with the assumption that everyone reading this has a basic understanding of how Google Ads works (and if you don’t there are some extremely helpful resources out there – just Google it!). My mission in writing this is to help event professionals see the value in Google Ads as a marketing tool as best practices on launching a basic campaign. You can very easily go down a winding rabbit hole when it comes to Google Ads and since everyone has a different overall objective to their campaigns, there is no secret recipe for success when it comes to rolling an ad out. There is, however, a general set of guidelines that will help you get your initial efforts off the ground successfully!

When launching a campaign on Google Ads it is important to have your end goal in mind. For some, the main goal of promoting their event would be to gain leads and generate sales through registrations. Others might focus more on brand awareness and exposure. This is where controlling your narrative and messaging comes into play, as you can include both headline and description text that is geared toward your specific audience and the takeaways you want them to have. 

As mentioned in the previous article, the information overload that consumers face on a daily basis means that you have a small window of time and opportunity to capture the attention of your target audience. You want to include precise information in your event marketing messaging that lets your audience know exactly what your offer is and how it can help them. 

Here’s what that looks like:

This is a good example of an ad that we are currently running to highlight Fran Hauser as one of our speakers for Women’s History Month. We have Fran’s name pinned in the first headline position to highlight our speaker, then a very clear definition of our speaker afterward of “Top Women’s History Speaker.”

Next, there is a place to add several descriptions (of up to 90 characters each). Descriptions highlight what we want to deliver if someone books Mindy for their event. Keywords and phrases help to point the audience toward our value propositions and, in turn, solve the question of why they came to Google in the first place. Finally, we have clear callout extensions that allow a user to see our phone number displayed, view testimonials from previous customers, get in contact with us, or view similar lists of speakers.

With the limited amount of time and real estate marketers have on Google, it’s important to keep your headlines and descriptions short, pointed, and on topic to allow your audience to get a clear and accurate picture of the value that your company or event provides. Let’s use an imaginary scenario for a minute. If you were launching a campaign to try to drive web visitors to your new event, “Speaker-polooza,” you would need to highlight the name of the event, who it is targeted to, the benefits of attending, and strong callout extensions that let your audience know exactly what you want them to do to convert. 

Something that looks similar to this:

Now that we have your ad copy finalized and looking good – let’s talk keywords! Again, the best place to start your keyword planning is on Google itself. Utilize the search bar to enter some top terms someone will use to find your event, and pay special attention to the suggestions that Google prompts because these are related terms that are also being searched. 

You can also use free tools like Google Trends to see what (and when) keywords are popular to include in your campaign as you see fit. 

One last important note on keywords. You only choose keywords that relate to what you are offering. While you can add an unlimited number of keywords, you will want to make sure they are relevant to the offer and targeted to how your audience would search. It is very unlikely Google will even display your ad if your keyword is irrelevant to the context of your offer. 

One feature that may be of interest to local event promotion is the ability to geolocate and target your audience on a global or local scale. If you are a university trying to attract potential students to an event hosting on your campus, you might want to consider setting a smaller, more localized geographic range to optimize your spending. Depending on the message you are sending out, you have the ability to narrow your audience to a state, city, or even county level. While this obviously limits the ability to broadcast out to the masses, amplifying your message to a specific audience based on geography can help key in on the appropriate target market. 

One more thing:

Finally, any good marketer will tell you that it is impossible to do their job without having quality data at their fingertips. Utilizing Google Ads has the benefit of being able to see how well your campaigns are performing in real-time. You can be as proactive as possible with building and launching campaigns, but being able to see overall spending, impressions, clicks, and conversions helps you make informed decisions quickly. If you see a campaign is performing well and gaining conversions, then you can increase your budget. If a campaign is spending too much of your budget and not getting any results, you can pause, reassess, and evaluate what needs to be done.

What are healthy stats? There are many metrics available in  Google Ads, but generally, here’s what to look for to ensure your event marketing campaigns are running properly:

  • Your Click-Through-Rate (CTR) or Interaction Rate
    • A low CTR means that while people are seeing your ad (impressions), few are actually clicking it. The CTR you’re aiming for will vary depending on your industry, but an average of between 2-5% is what most digital marketers strive for. If you aren’t seeing the results you imagined, reassess your headlines, descriptions, or callout extensions.
  • Cost
    • You don’t need me telling you that you want to keep an eye on the money you’re spending. Have a budget in mind before you begin this exercise and be prepared to spend it.
  • Average Cost per Click (CPC)
    • When it comes to CPC, lower is better. However, not all keywords cost the same price. Some industries like attorneys and legal services have average CPC’s around $8-9, while others like travel and real estate hover around the $1.50 range! Fortunately, most keywords are available for around $1-3 per click.
  • Conversions and Conversion Rate
    • You’ll set up a unique conversion (normally a form submission, registration, or something of the sort) and track how well your campaigns are ultimately doing. Conversions tells us how many times this action was taken, so long as you have Google Ads tracking in place. Also, conversion rate measures the effectiveness of your conversion action. A low conversion rate means you should re-evaluate your conversion method and also confirm your keywords are accurately reflecting your offer.

The end word on Google Ads is that with a well-defined offer, a flexible budget, and the right keywords, you can see your investment doubled, tripled, or even more. Launching Google Ads can take some time, planning, and budget, but the end result of ending up as the top result of a Google search on your exact subject is a priceless outcome that can pay huge dividends for brand awareness and actual registrations.

If you enjoyed the tips listed above, stay tuned for the next parts of our four-part series on “Digital Marketing for Today’s Event Planner” in which we will tackle the following:

  • Keeping Your Content Honest, Fresh, and Relevant
  • Following Up With Your Attendees