For all the many steps required in virtual event planning, attracting attendees is the key to its success. Virtual event management is no joke, and in a sea of webinars and virtual content, how do you stand out from the pack? In this article, we’ll discuss eight proven ways to attract attendees to your virtual event, how to keep them engaged, and virtual event best practices on how to follow up post event.
How to Attract Attendees to Your Virtual Event
1. Create compelling event content
Whether we’re talking about virtual or in-person events, arguably the most important step in your event marketing strategy is to create compelling content that resonates with your target audience. Even as you’re reading this you’re likely rolling your eyes and muttering, “thanks Captain Obvious.” However, there’s a reason this is number one on the list. Whether it's an informative webinar, an engaging panel discussion, or an interactive workshop, your content must be relevant for the audience you’re targeting. Not sure what they want to learn about? Ask them! The best way to understand the pain points from your audience is to talk to them about it. Send out surveys, ask questions in registration forms, talk to sales and customer experience teams about feedback they’re hearing. This ensures your online event is something of interest to the people you want most to be there.
For example, if you're hosting a virtual conference for professionals in the tech industry, consider inviting industry experts and influencers to speak on trending topics and share their insights in keynotes. This will not only provide valuable information to attendees but also position your event as a must-attend for industry professionals seeking the latest knowledge and networking opportunities.
2. Leverage social media marketing
Social media is a powerful tool for event promotion. Create buzz by sharing teasers, behind-the-scenes footage, and testimonials from previous attendees and/or event organizers. Engage with your audience by hosting live Q&A sessions, contests, and giveaways with branded swag (with a CTA to the event registration page). Leverage the platform where your audience spends the most time, whether it’s LinkedIn, TikTok, or Facebook.
Additionally, consider partnering with industry influencers who have a strong presence on social media. By collaborating with them to create engaging content related to your event, you can tap into their large and dedicated follower base, increasing the visibility and credibility of your virtual event.
3. Collaborate with influencers
Partnering with relevant influencers who align with your event's theme or target audience can give your event a significant boost and aid in driving registrations. Collaborate with them to host live interviews, guest appearances, or influencer-led sessions.
For instance, if you're organizing a virtual beauty and health summit, teaming up with beauty influencers who have a strong online presence can help you attract a larger audience. They can share their personal journeys, provide expert advice, and create a sense of excitement and motivation among their followers to attend your event.
4. Optimize your event landing page
Your event landing page is the first impression attendees will have of your event. Make sure it loads quickly, is mobile-friendly, and has a clear and compelling call-to-action. Use persuasive copy, eye-catching visuals, and testimonials to entice visitors to register.
In addition to these best practices, consider incorporating interactive elements on your landing page. For example, you can create a virtual tour of the event venue or include a countdown timer to create a sense of urgency. These interactive features not only engage visitors but also make your event more memorable and enticing.
5. Offer early bird discounts
Everyone loves a good deal, so offering early bird discounts can incentivize people to register for your virtual event sooner rather than later. Create urgency by setting a limited-time offer and clearly communicate the benefits attendees will receive for taking advantage of the discount.
In addition to early bird discounts, consider offering exclusive perks to those who register early. This could include access to pre-event workshops, priority networking opportunities, or bonus content. By providing additional value to early registrants, you create a sense of exclusivity and reward, making your virtual event even more appealing.
6. Provide networking opportunities
One of the biggest advantages of attending an event is the networking opportunities it offers. Create virtual networking spaces, such as breakout rooms or dedicated discussion forums, where attendees can connect with each other, in real-time, share ideas, and build valuable relationships.
Consider incorporating gamification elements into your virtual networking spaces to make the experience more engaging. For example, you can create virtual business card exchanges, icebreaker games, or even a leaderboard to encourage attendees to actively participate and connect with others. These interactive networking opportunities will not only enhance the attendee experience but also increase the chances of them returning for future events.
7. Utilize email marketing
Don't underestimate the power of email marketing when it comes to attracting attendees. Build an email list of potential attendees and send them personalized invitations, event updates, and reminders. Craft compelling subject lines and include engaging content to pique their interest.
In addition to regular email updates, consider sending exclusive sneak peeks or behind-the-scenes content to your email subscribers. This will make them feel like insiders and create a sense of anticipation for your virtual event. Remember to segment your email list based on attendees' interests or engagement levels to ensure that the content you send is relevant and tailored to their needs.
8. Offer valuable post-event resources
Extend the value of your virtual event by providing attendees with post-event resources. This could be access to session recordings, presentation slides, or exclusive bonus content. By offering additional value, you encourage attendees to share their positive experiences with others and increase the chances of them attending your future events.
Consider creating a dedicated online platform or resource library where attendees can access these post-event resources. This not only allows attendees to revisit the valuable content they experienced during the event but also serves as a valuable marketing tool, as attendees are likely to share these resources with their networks, generating further interest and attendance for your future virtual events.
9. Co-market with industry leaders.
Leverage the audience of like-minded industry friends to help promote your event. Sarah Noel Block, Founder of Tiny Marketing, has a checklist of items she runs through when launching a new event. One promotion strategy she deploys is arranging newsletter swaps with other marketers in her industry. She promotes their lead magnet to her audience, and in return, they promote her event to their audience. This not only expands visibility to Sarah’s event, but it specifically targets an audience that matches the audience she’s looking to attract.
How to Maintain Attendee Engagement during Your Virtual Event
Maintaining attendee engagement during your virtual event activities is crucial to ensuring a positive experience for everyone involved. Here are some strategies to keep attendees engaged throughout the event:
- Interactive sessions: Incorporate interactive elements such as live polls, Q&A sessions, and worksheets to keep attendees actively participating
- Virtual networking: Facilitate networking opportunities by creating dedicated networking sessions or virtual social gatherings.
- Engaging speakers: Select speakers who are not only knowledgeable in their respective fields but also have a dynamic and engaging presentation style.
- Gamification: Introduce gamification elements like quizzes, challenges, and leaderboards to make the event more entertaining and competitive.
- Breaks and stretch sessions: Schedule regular breaks and include short stretch sessions or mini-workshops to prevent attendee fatigue.
By implementing these strategies, you can create an interactive and engaging virtual event that keeps attendees invested and excited throughout the program. Be sure your virtual event platform can serve the needs of engagement.
Another effective way to maintain attendee engagement during a virtual event is by leveraging the power of storytelling. Storytelling has been a fundamental part of human communication for centuries, and it continues to captivate and engage audiences in various settings, including virtual events.
Consider incorporating storytelling elements into your virtual event by inviting guest speakers who can share compelling stories related to the event's theme or topic. These stories can serve as powerful tools to connect with attendees on an emotional level, sparking their interest and keeping them engaged throughout the event.
Furthermore, you can enhance attendee engagement by providing them with pre-event materials that set the stage for the stories to come. This can include articles, videos, or even interactive content that introduces the main characters, themes, or challenges that will be explored during the event. By immersing attendees in the narrative before the event even begins, you create a sense of anticipation and curiosity that will drive their active participation during the virtual event.
Check out other virtual event engagement ideas.
How to Follow Up with Attendees after Your Virtual Event
Your relationship with attendees doesn’t end when the virtual event concludes. Follow-up is essential to nurture the connections made and potentially convert attendees into loyal customers. Here's how to effectively follow up with your virtual event attendees:
- Send personalized thank-you emails: Express your gratitude to attendees for their participation and support. Personalize the emails, mention specific highlights or topics discussed during the event, and include any promised post-event resources.
- Follow up with additional content: James Wilkinson, CEO of Balance One Supplements, designed a virtual event catered specifically to health-conscious individuals eager to incorporate supplements into their fitness routines. The purpose of the event was not only to educate attendees on their products' benefits and scientific backing but also to nurture an informed consumer community and boost sales conversion rates. Following the event, James segmented the attendees based on event engagement. Engagement was defined as time spent in the session, in Q&A following the session, and participation in engagement resources such as downloading documents. The audience was segmented into three tiers based on their engagement: high, medium, and low. James and team set personalized follow ups to their audience based on their engagement tier and the product they were most interested in. This follow-up campaign yielded a 20% sales increase in the first month post-event.
- Seek feedback and testimonials: Send out surveys to gather feedback on the event experience and ask attendees for testimonials or reviews. These testimonials can be powerful social proof for future events.
- Share key takeaways and highlights: Recap the key takeaways from the event and share relevant resources or recordings with attendees. This allows them to revisit valuable information and reinforces the value they gained from attending.
- Continue the conversation: Establish ongoing communication with attendees by inviting them to join exclusive online communities, follow relevant social media channels, or subscribe to your newsletter for future event updates.
- Offer exclusive post-event offers: Provide attendees with special offers or discounts on your products or services as a token of appreciation for their attendance.
- Host a virtual networking session: Organize a virtual networking event exclusively for your event attendees. This provides them with an opportunity to connect with each other, exchange ideas, and potentially form valuable professional relationships. You can facilitate the session by creating a social media private group, or slack community.
By following up promptly and with relevance, you show attendees that their participation was valued and create opportunities for future engagement and collaboration.
By incorporating these strategies into your follow-up plan, you can extend the engagement beyond the event itself and create a lasting impact on your attendees. Remember, the key is to maintain a personalized approach and continue providing value to your audience.
How to Measure Your Virtual Event Success
Measuring the success of your event helps you measure virtual event ROI and identify areas for improvement. Consider using the following metrics to evaluate your event's success:
- Registration and attendance: Measure the number of registrations, actual attendance, and conversion rate from registration to attendance.
- Audience engagement metrics: Monitor attendee engagement during the event, such as participation in polls, questions asked, and comments made.
- Feedback and survey responses: Analyze the feedback and survey responses received from attendees to understand their satisfaction levels and areas for improvement.
- Social media reach and engagement: Track the reach, mentions, and engagement on social media platforms using relevant event hashtags.
- Lead generation and conversion: Assess the number of leads generated from the event and their conversion into pipeline, customers or expansions.
By analyzing these virtual event metrics, you can gain insights into the success of your event and make data-driven decisions to improve your next virtual event.
Attracting attendees to your virtual event may require some effort, but by implementing the proven strategies mentioned above, you can create a memorable and successful virtual event that leaves a lasting impression on your attendees. Good luck!