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How To Use Paid Search & Social Ads For Promoting Events

Paid search and social advertising can help promote awareness and earn participation in virtual and in-person events.

How to Use Paid Search & Social Ads for Promoting Events

In the last few years, COVID has changed how businesses host special events and interact with customers and the community.

Special events have changed, and time-sensitive activities have a more flexible, virtual perspective.

Generating awareness and earning participation perfectly aligns with promotion through paid search and social advertising.

Consider business events promotion as a separate strategy from your ongoing campaigns, so it has a dedicated budget and set-up.

The event should receive a separate and unique targeting and messaging strategy.

Let’s dig in!

What Types Of Events Can Be Promoted?

First, let’s take a look at a few examples of possible “events”:

  • Virtual conferences.
  • Webinars.
  • Grand openings or re-openings.
  • “Return-to-normal” business offerings.
  • Company’s booth at tradeshows.
  • Speaking at tradeshows.
  • Product launches.
  • Open houses.
  • Sales events.
  • Pet adoptions.
  • Sports events.
  • Festivals, fairs, and farmer’s markets.
  • Registration for classes, either virtual or in-person.

For an “event,” we generally look for a special, notable activity outside of normal business, with a limited time for engagement.

What To Consider Before Campaign Setup

You can add any special event to your campaigns as an ad extension, such as a sitelink or promotion extension.

Please note that promotion extensions are sales promotions and require a discounted amount. Both should include start and end dates set up in the extension creation.

ad extension schedulingScreenshot from Google Ads Ad Extensions, July 2022

A new campaign should be created for each event to accommodate its settings and to track conversions and ROI per event.

Allotting event campaigns their own additional budget, instead of shifting from the ongoing campaigns, will help to keep the main account stable and retain volume.

4 Tips For Designing Event Campaigns

After creating a new campaign for your event and allotting its own budget, there are many other factors to consider unique to promoting events.

1. Be Clear, Concise, And Creative

Responsive search and display ads related to the event should follow the best practices with clear details on the event purpose, date, time, and an enticing CTA.

Searchers should see how to participate, sign-up, or register.

As with standard marketing practices, you’ll want to throw in some features, benefits, and any unique selling proposition if it’s a competitive business event.

Paid events such as conferences or training courses often offer “early-bird specials” or team discounts. Be sure to include this in the ad copy.

Bells and whistles: Try a countdown timer that can be inserted into ads on Google Ads and Microsoft Ads. Microsoft has a great explanation of how the countdown feature works.

Below is the Google Ads example of setting this up in a headline:

google countdown timerScreenshot from Google Ads, July 2022

Unfortunately, it’s not all fun and flash. In today’s business environment post-COVID, it will be important to address the following simply in the ad and in detail on the landing page:

  • Virtual or in-person.
  • Relevant government safety guidelines.
  • Event safety requirements, such as the use of masks, social distancing, etc.
  • Event security responsibility or expectations of attendees.

2. Timing

Timing on designing event campaigns is mission-critical, especially if your event is only occurring for a few days or one day.

  • Do you want to reach your audience on the exact days the event is running? Or build up to it for days, weeks, months?
  • Does the “build-up” promotion to the event require a different approach than during the event?

For example, promoting weeks before a webinar or product launch makes common sense. Some local events may only require a few days, so it is fresh in the user’s mind.

When setting the run dates and ad schedule, pay attention to the time of the day the ads will end. Google will end at midnight that day, so you could miss an entire day.

Facebook has the ability to set a specific time of the day. Please note this is in military hours!

3. Locations

The geotargeting will be largely dictated by the event’s location, but there are a few things to consider.

Depending on the density of the customer base, the geotargeting will look different for each advertiser. For example:

  • A local sidewalk sale in the city will have a narrow radius or city target.
  • A large event, like a tradeshow, will have attendees from the local area and travelers to the area.
  • A national target, such as a webinar, will present the most challenges to hyper-target it to reach your audience.

With national targeting, you may want to prioritize budget allocation to major metro areas. Another approach is to review your customer purchase data for trends in revenue or ROI by location.

4. Targeting

Targeting for events will likely be different from the main ad account targeting.

Let’s take an example of a tech trade show since this applies to many scenarios where the event is in a physical location.

Assuming that the ad copy is specific to the event, you will want to reach people searching at or near the show while they are physically at it.

The search queries used for Google and Bing could fall into keyword groupings such as:

  • Technologies at the show.
  • Companies at the show.
  • The name of the show, such as “tech expo.”

These possible search terms provide a great opportunity to target individuals who are currently physically at the event.

As a layer to the keywords, or on its own, you could target your market in the search engines by using audience lists such as “technology news and trends” or “new technology products” within your target geography.

Interests and behaviors will be our primary targeting strategy on Facebook and other paid social media channels.

Interests and behaviors will obviously be our primary targeting strategy in Facebook and other paid social media channels.Screenshot from Facebook Ads, July 2022

Bonus Tip: How To Leverage Events (Local Or Otherwise) Even If You Are Not Participating In Them!

If you have been assuming during this post that you are participating in or hosting the events, that’s great, but you can also piggyback off of any events that are related to your business to get extra exposure.

For example, in the spring, home shows are in full swing.

Even if you are not exhibiting in the show, you can leverage the exposure around the show to promote your local home services or related content on your website.

Considering today’s business environment, being armed with new tips on promoting your business event will be critical to success.

Think creatively about how to reach your target audience to participate or register in-person or online. The key is to laser-focus on location, searcher intent, and relevant interests.

Break a leg!

More Resources:

Featured Image: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

VIP CONTRIBUTOR Lisa Raehsler SEM Strategy Consultant at Big Click Co.

Lisa Raehsler is a search engine and social media ads pay-per-click (PPC) strategist, International speaker, and columnist for leading search ...

How To Use Paid Search & Social Ads For Promoting Events

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