How to Increase Attendee Engagement Before Your Event
70% of users become regular customers after an experiential marketing event. (EMI & Mosaic)
Take a moment and think of the last 5 company events (virtual or in-person) that you’ve attended and how the experience impacted your perception of the brand—the good and the bad.
Was the sign-up process easy? Did the website seem clear and trustworthy? Were you sent any reminder emails leading up the event? If so, were they personalized? Did they contain any new or exciting information?
If the event was free to attend, what made you excited to commit your time and go? Maybe it was the free drinks, good company, or (hopefully) there was value offered.
In-person events are an important stepping stone in nurturing leads into customers and building lasting relationships. But the overall experience starts way before the main event. This vital “pre-event” stage is key to generating awareness as well as building excitement in your registrants.
From the first moment a prospect hears about your event, the registration experience, all the way to how you follow-up with your attendees after the event, your goal should be to create a consistent experience that educates and builds excitement.
Use Social Media
51% of event organizers say the biggest challenge in using social media is how to use it effectively. (Event MB)
No surprise here, social media is truly the #1 way to generate buzz and excitement for an event (sometimes it works too well). Not only does it encourage a community, but your followers can also be strong advocates for promoting your event.
However, it’s important to understand where your brand fits into the social media sphere (what channels your customers are on, what they are looking to interact with, etc.). LinkedIn and Twitter are powerful channels for B2B events, while Facebook and Instagram are generally more effective for B2C events.
Some effective strategies for promoting your event and generating excitement are:
- Hold A Contest: Ask followers to answer questions or post photos with the event hashtag that would enter them into a contest. Announce the winner and deliver the prize at the event to encourage attendance.
- Use Influencers: Find users who are already passionate about your brand, or who have a known-following in your industry, and ask to work with them on promoting your event to their followers.
- Extended Learning: Offer exclusive content to your followers, such as interviews with the speakers, content downloads, and more.
Share Educational Content
74% of readers trust educational content from brands -- as long as it doesn’t push a sale. (Contently)
Chances are (at least I hope!) that you’re throwing your event because there is a demand for the solution or product that you’re offering. Use guides, E-books, blog post, white papers, and other content that you already have to help educate and provide value to your registrants leading up the event.
BONUS TIP: You don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time you have a new event coming up. Refresh older content with event branding, add a few updated stats and send it to your registrants in a personalized email.
Send Strategic Reminders
“Businesses that do use event software are 24% more likely to prove event ROI compared to those that do not use event software.” (Bizzabo)
Especially for free events, such as webinars, it can be common for people to register with no intention of actually attending. Not necessarily to be mean. They might have a meeting at that time but know your webinars always have great content and want to make sure to get the slides later.
One of the best ways to grab the attention of these folks and encourage them to attend the event in person is by sending reminder emails. Use known information about the registrant, such as their name and company to personalize the email to the user, and include any important event updates.
BONUS TIP: If you’re throwing a large event that has multiple sessions and speakers, consider segmenting your registration list by what the user signed up for. This way, you can send even more customized emails and include content more relevant to what they are looking for.
Personalize Your Website Experience
56% of marketers claim personalized content drives higher engagement. (Contently)
When you already know a user’s information because they have registered for your event or previously filled out a form, don’t ask them again! (Or at least use a pre-filled form.) This is where progressive profiling also comes into play. Further the conversation by asking for new information, such as interests or job duties. This type of contact data is also very useful when creating new content.
Additionally, use personalization tokens and messaging to create a custom experience across your entire website. Many marketing automation platforms allow you to add content blocks to your website that will display custom messages, such as “Welcome back, Jamie! We’ve just published a new e-book. Want to see?”
Send A Survey
46% of event marketers claimed that curating content and building their event agenda are the most time-consuming aspects of event planning. (Bizzabo)
The best way to ensure that your event is geared towards what your attendees actually want is by asking them. Send a short survey to your network, either before the event to better the overall theme/topic, or after they register to ensure you are getting the right speakers, content, and more.
Exclusive Slack/IM Channels
26.4% of marketers don’t know which online tool to use to help them market events. (Hubspot & Constant Contact)
Many businesses use Slack, Google Hangouts, or another instant messaging platform to interact with teams internally during the day. Take advantage of the fact that your potential customers are already using the platform, and create your own event-specific channels. Invite registrants to the channel and encourage people to ask questions, post updates, and more.
More than 92% of millennials regularly watch digital video. (Contently)
No matter what type of product or service you’re selling, no one wants to interact with a boring brand. Use video, gifs, and animations to show your company’s unique personality.
51% of marketers believe one-on-one interaction and relationship building at events furthers an organization’s business goals. (CMO Council & E2MA)
Finally, set goals throughout the process to measure success. If you’re promoting a lot of content on social, how many followers do you hope to gain? Likes? Shares? What about the number of content downloads? Or website visits? Whatever you decide, make sure your metrics are easily measurable and support the overall goals of your event.