How to Make Your Virtual Event Stand Out in 2024: Insider Tips from HubSpot Marketers

In 2024, the virtual event market is more crowded than ever before. Since the pandemic-driven online event boom of the early 2020s, virtual conferences, webinars, and summits have become a go-to tactic for driving business growth.

But with so many organizations vying for audience attention in the digital space, it‘s gotten harder than ever to fill virtual seats. According to Markletic‘s State of Virtual Events 2023 report, the average no-show rate for virtual events was a staggering 35%. That means over a third of registrants never end up attending – a big problem for marketers pouring time and resources into promotion.

So what does it take to create virtual event FOMO in 2024? How can you cut through the noise, drive registrations, and deliver experiences that turn attendees into loyal brand evangelists? We asked HubSpot‘s own virtual event marketers for their secrets to success – here‘s what they had to say:

1. Start with a Standout Event Concept

"With so many lookalike virtual events out there, it‘s crucial that your event premise is unique and ultra-relevant to your target audience," says Janna Pugh, Senior Marketing Manager of Brand & Strategic Partnerships at HubSpot. "Instead of just another generic industry conference, build your event around a provocative theme, an emerging trend, or an urgent problem facing your customers."

For example, HubSpot‘s World Certification Week 2022 centered on the timely theme of "Grow Your Career with the Next Big Skills" – and attracted over 40,000 registrants seeking to future-proof their marketing expertise. By tapping into a pertinent pain point and promising concrete value to attendees, the event positioned itself as a can‘t-miss learning opportunity.

When brainstorming your event concept, ask questions like:

  • What‘s keeping our target audience up at night right now?
  • What skills or insights will be most important to their success in the next year?
  • How can we put a fresh, provocative spin on our usual event or webinar topics?
  • What would make someone feel like they‘d be missing out by not attending this event?

The more distinctive and valuable your event premise is to your specific audience, the easier it will be to attract the right people and deliver on your promises.

2. Harness the Power of Influencers & Partners

Another way to make your virtual event stand out is by tapping high-profile experts and partner brands to contribute to your event – and help promote it to their followings.

"Influencer partnerships have been a game-changer for driving buzz and registrations for our virtual events at HubSpot," notes Senior Marketing Manager Pam Bump. "When an industry thought leader or prominent company promotes their participation in your event, it adds instant credibility and appeal for people who follow and trust them."

Bump recommends starting your influencer outreach early – at least 2-3 months before the event if possible. "Share your event vision and value props, and make it crystal clear what‘s in it for them – whether that‘s expanding their audience, building their brand, or creating content they can use elsewhere."

When your influencers and partners post about your event, be sure to equip them with unique tracking links so you can measure the full impact of their promotion. Provide them with click-worthy social copy and visuals to make sharing easy.

"We‘ve seen some of our best virtual event registration results when partners heavily promote their sessions to their own lists and social followers," says Bump. "When done right, it creates a multiplier effect for your total promotional reach."

3. Double Down on High-Converting Channels

With virtual event promotion, where you promote is just as important as what you promote. To maximize registrations with limited resources, it pays to focus your efforts on the channels that consistently drive the highest conversions for your audience.

"Email has always been our top channel for converting virtual event registrations," says HubSpot Senior Marketing Manager Kayla Carmicheal. "The key is to segment your database and tailor messaging to each persona‘s priorities and pain points."

Instead of blasting your full list with one-size-fits-all event invites, Carmicheal recommends mapping out targeted email sequences for key segments like customers, prospects, blog subscribers, and past event attendees. Use compelling subject lines, personalized copy, and clear calls-to-action optimized for each group.

Landing pages are another essential tool for driving registrations – but not all are created equal. "We‘ve found that conversion-optimized landing pages can boost registrations by up to 30%," notes Carmicheal. Key elements include:

  • Benefit-focused headlines and subheads
  • Scannable bullet points and visuals
  • Short forms with minimal fields
  • Prominent, repeated CTAs
  • Urgency-inducing countdown timers or limited offers
  • Easy social sharing buttons

By directing your promotional efforts to channels like email and landing pages, you can gain more registrations with less effort than trying to spread yourself thin across every platform.

4. Get Creative with Interactive Formats

In 2024, simply offering informative content is no longer enough to drive virtual event sign-ups and attendance. To stand out, savvy marketers are reimagining static webinars and sessions as interactive, participatory experiences.

"One of the biggest virtual event trends we‘re seeing is a shift from passive content consumption to active attendee engagement," says HubSpot Senior Content Strategist Amanda Zantal-Wiener. "Polls, Q&As, breakout rooms, and hands-on exercises are becoming the norm – not the exception."

Zantal-Wiener points to HubSpot‘s recent experiments with virtual escape rooms, quizzes, and even scavenger hunts as examples of creative formats that boost attendance and engagement. "By gamifying parts of our events and adding an element of fun, we‘ve seen session attendance rates jump by 20-30%."

If interactive elements are a key selling point for your event, be sure to highlight them prominently in your promotional messaging. Use action-oriented copy like "Join the challenge," "Put your skills to the test," or "Connect with peers," rather than passive phrases like "Learn about" or "Hear from."

"When you invite people to actively participate – not just passively spectate – you give them more reasons to register and actually show up on event day," Zantal-Wiener notes.

5. Embrace Multimedia Promotion

For maximum virtual event reach and impact, top marketers are tapping into the power of multimedia formats like video, audio, and interactive visuals.

"In a crowded virtual event landscape, text-based promos tend to blend into the background," says Jon Dick, HubSpot‘s Senior Vice President of Marketing. "But compelling multimedia assets can stop the scroll and hook people‘s interest faster."

Some multimedia promotion tactics to try:

  • Teaser videos offering sneak peeks of key sessions or speakers
  • Audio clips or mini-podcast episodes interviewing presenters
  • Interactive tools like quizzes or assessments themed around your event topic
  • VR or 360-degree views of your event platform or virtual venue
  • Animated GIFs or motion graphics teasing key event themes or activations

"For our INBOUND 2022 launch, we created an interactive 3D desk that spotlighted different speakers and sessions as you explored it," Dick shares. "It was a hit on social media and drove a ton of buzz and registrations in the crucial weeks leading up to the event."

The key is to choose multimedia formats that align with your event brand and target audience preferences. Make sure assets are optimized for each promotion channel, from email and landing pages to social media and paid ads.

"By adding that extra layer of interactivity and immersion, you can make your event stand out in a sea of static promotions and build excitement people can‘t help but share," says Dick.

6. Prove Value with Attendee-Driven Content

One of the most powerful ways to generate FOMO and social proof around your virtual event? Let your audience do the talking.

According to a 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, 40% of consumers say they trust user-generated content (UGC) more than branded marketing messages. That makes attendee testimonials, speaker quotes, and user-generated visuals some of your most valuable promotional assets.

"We always make a point to tap our past attendees and loyal customers to help get the word out about HubSpot events," says Allyson Hughley, Director of Customer and Community Marketing. "When people see folks they know and trust raving about their event experiences, they‘re way more likely to register themselves."

Some attendee-driven promotion tactics Hughley recommends:

  • Quote testimonials from past attendees in emails and on registration pages
  • Prompt registrants to share customized social posts about why they‘re excited for the event
  • Publish Q&As or video interviews with your speakers on their session topics
  • Live-tweet or live-blog your event to give non-attendees a taste of what they‘re missing
  • Gather and repurpose screenshots of attendee chat messages, social posts, and event reactions

"Nothing is more compelling than handing the mic directly to your attendees and empowering them to sell your event for you," Hughley notes. "It adds authenticity and credibility you simply can‘t fake with branded content alone."

7. Experiment, Analyze, and Optimize

Finally, to stay ahead of the virtual event curve, marketers must commit to continually testing new promotional strategies, rigorously analyzing performance, and quickly iterating based on insights.

"It‘s not enough to simply rinse and repeat the same event playbook that worked a year or two ago," says HubSpot‘s Vice President of Marketing Meghan Keaney Anderson. "Audience preferences and virtual event best practices are evolving at breakneck speed – what drove registrations last quarter might fall flat next month."

To uncover the event promotion tactics that work best for your brand and audience today, Anderson recommends running small experiments before, during, and after every event. Test variables like:

  • Email subject lines and CTAs
  • Landing page copy, visuals, and form fields
  • Ad creative and targeting parameters
  • Social media post formats and send times
  • Agenda release and pricing promotion timing
  • Attendee referral and VIP access incentives

Use virtual event platforms with robust analytics capabilities to track registrations driven by each promotion channel, message, and asset. Double down on tactics that generate the most sign-ups and lowest cost-per-acquisition, and continually test new optimizations.

"We‘ve dramatically improved our virtual event ROI and attendee satisfaction by making data-driven experimentation a core part of our process," Anderson shares. "Don‘t be afraid to fail fast and let the numbers guide your promotional strategy – that‘s how you‘ll stay agile and keep winning the registration game as virtual events evolve."

Virtual Event Promotion Mastery: Craft Your Winning 2024 Strategy

Ready to skyrocket registrations and blow your virtual event goals out of the water? Now you have the inside scoop on what it takes to rise above the noise from marketers who have been in the trenches at HubSpot.

As you craft your own 2024 virtual event promotion game plan, remember these key takeaways:

  1. Lead with a unique, must-attend event concept that speaks to your audience‘s most pressing priorities.
  2. Tap into the star power of influencers and partners to expand your promotional reach.
  3. Prioritize high-converting channels like email and web pages to gain registrations efficiently.
  4. Embrace formats like interactive sessions and multimedia content to stand out and boost engagement.
  5. Empower attendees to sell on your behalf with authentic user-generated content.
  6. Continually experiment, measure, and adapt to win the virtual event game long-term.

No matter your industry, audience, or event goals, you have the power to build FOMO and drive record registrations in 2024 and beyond. Get ready to execute on these insider tips and watch your virtual events transform from afterthought to the main attraction.