3 Best Ways to Promote a Virtual Summit

summit promotion Dec 12, 2019

You've done the work of preparing your virtual event and now it's time to promote. Let's cover the 3 best ways to promote a virtual summit.You've done the work of preparing your online summit and now it's time to promote. 

Especially if you're starting with a smaller audience, this can feel intimidating. You want to deliver for your speakers and hit the big goals you set. Where do you even start?

I'm happy to say that the success of a virtual summit does not rely on the size of your audience. To help, today we'll cover the basics of the 3 main pieces of promoting an online summit.

Promoting Your Summit to Your Audience

Let’s start with promoting your virtual summit to your own audience.

No audience? That's okay too! Just know that you'll still want to go through these steps, as getting your own promotional material ready makes future steps a whole lot easier.

There are two pieces that go into this: your email list and your main social media channels.

Promoting to your Email List

I’ve heard some people say that your existing email list doesn’t really matter when it comes to a virtual summit because you already have them on your list.

That is SO not the case in my opinion or my experience!  

It's important to leverage your email list for a few reasons:

  • It’s an opportunity for all-access pass sales. Your existing audience is going to convert higher than totally cold audiences coming in. Ignoring them in your promotion process is basically saying you don’t need or want those sales.
  • It'll warm them up for anything you’re pitching afterward. A great thing about hosting a summit is that you get all kinds of warm leads to offer your products and services later. If you leave your existing audience out, you won't be able to make those offers to them or do so effectively.
  • It's an opportunity to impact your speakers. It’s really important that your speakers can benefit from your summit as well. Involving your existing audience is a great way to get more eyes on them.
  • It's an opportunity to serve your audience. If you’re running your summit to impact the lives of your audience, why would you skip the audience you already have? You want to make a difference in their lives too.

We talked with Elli Runkles about increasing summit signups. She had a simplified strategy that will get you started, but we'll cover mine as well.

My email list promotion strategy

First, it's important for you to know that I frequently communicate with my email subscribers. I don't fall off the face of the earth for months and suddenly pop back up asking them to attend a summit I'm hosting.

As of right now, I'm sending that email list high-quality, actionable content on a weekly basis. In the past, I've done bi-weekly newsletters, which also works just fine. 

While the content I send doesn't always relate to my summit topic, I get much more strategic in the two months leading up to my summit. All the content I send is centered around my summit's goal, which primes my audience and makes them start thinking about what’s possible.

About a month out from the summit, I start adding a PS to my emails or work it into the copy naturally, letting subscribers know that something big is coming and to watch out for the announcement on a certain date. I also let them know to watch out for behind-the-scenes looks on Instagram. 

Once registration opens, I only send summit-specific content.

On Day 1, subscribers get an email with the sole purpose of announcing the summit. I include both a link to the sales page and a link they can click to have a ticket automatically added to their account. When they click that link, it brings them to the regular thank you page with the fast action offer for the all-access pass. It keeps it nice and simple and prevents them from having to enter their details again.

After that, I send a sequence of emails that continue until the summit starts. Some are pure pitch emails, while others are value-add with links to learn more about the summit mixed in. 

Have a 2.5 to 3 week promotion period, where you’re sending at least two emails a week. A little bit of pitch, a little bit of value-add, and all kinds of directions to get existing subscribers to want to sign up for your event.

Social Media

Once you have your emails written, you can modify the content for your main social media channels. Focus on a maximum of 3 platforms - the ones where you already get the most engagement. 

Take your emails, make slight edits and pair them down to fit in social media captions, and use those as your posts. Easy!

The same goes for any live video platforms you use. If I send a value-add email a certain day, I’ll pull that email up and use it as my script or outline for a Facebook live. 

I encourage you to also give behind-the-scenes looks at what you’re working on, in addition to repurposing emails. This can be done naturally on social media and really increase your results. People love that kind of stuff and you’ll get so much engagement from it.

And last, use your social media platforms to show off your speakers. A couple of my favorite strategies include:

  • Have Instagram Story takeovers with your speakers. Get all the speakers you can to take over your account for one day, and on that same day you take over theirs. That way, you’ll be able to share about your summit effectively on their platform and give them visibility on yours.
  • Show off your speakers. Have graphics featuring each speaker individually, and one graphic with them all as a group. Throughout your promotional period, post a couple per day and tag your speakers. This will both show off your incredible lineup and encourage your speakers to repost to their own platforms.

Overall, it’s a mix of adding value, pitching, and giving behind-the-scenes looks regardless of what platforms you use. Giving that nice mix will catch the attention of all kinds of people.

Your Speakers and Affiliates

As important as it is to promote your summit to your own audience, your speakers and affiliates are even more important because this is where all of your growth really comes from.

You need to provide them with everything they need to share and give them the encouragement to do so. The most important material to provide includes:

  • Email swipe copy
  • Social media swipe copy
  • Graphics in different colors and sizes
  • Sharing schedule

The good news is that if you've got your own promotional material ready to go that this step is nice and easy.

Grab your own emails and social media posts, make some tweaks so they can add their own spin and include what they're speaking on. From there, your swipe copy is ready to go!

The graphics you plan to use to promote on your own social media accounts can also be shared with your speakers. 

I also encourage you to offer to do some promotions for your speakers and affiliates. You could be a guest on their podcast, do a Facebook live in their group, take over their Instagram stories, or even write a custom newsletter just for them.

Paid Advertising

Paid advertising is the last thing we'll cover and is totally optional. If it’s not in your budget or you don’t have experience running ads, don’t feel like you have to do it.

But if you know your way around Ads Manager, it's totally worth doing. 

The first type of ads I like to run are to the registration page. I recommend running these ads both to your warm audience as well as lookalike audiences.

Second, if you have at least 1000ish people who have signed up without purchasing your all-access pass, retarget those people with ads straight to the all-access pass sales page.

Check out more info about growing your summit through Facebook ads in this podcast episode with Tony Rulli

Action Step

Most importantly, I want you to go in with a plan for your virtual summit promotion. 

To start, outline what your email strategy will look like. That will get you off to a strong start and you can repurpose that content for social media, speakers, affiliates, and even paid ads.


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