Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the events industry was changing as event professionals adapted to modern times. Marketing efforts have gone increasingly digital. Today, event professionals also have a variety of formats to choose from when it comes to planning their events. Aside from traditional in-person events, many are choosing to go entirely virtual. Others are creating hybrid events, combining both in-person and virtual elements. EventMB concluded in a State of the Event Industry report in November 2020 that 34% of event organizers viewed increased attendance as the most positive outcome of switching to a virtual format. The second-most-positive result event professionals cited was lower overhead costs (27%).
With all of these technological changes, event organizers can bring in more attendees than ever before. After all, you put a lot of time and effort into your event. You want your event attendance to increase over the years, not stagnate or worse, decrease. Here are 12 strategies that can help you achieve just that.
1. Send Custom Invitations
If you send the exact same invitation to every attendee, these invitations could end up in spam folders. Recipients may also gloss right over them, deleting them with other random messages.
On the other hand, personalized invitations are a great way to stand out in your recipients’ inboxes. According to Campaign Monitor, personalization can increase open rates by around 26%. Additionally, marketers see an increase of about 20% in sales when they personalize their emails.
If it’s an event you’ve held before, send personalized invites to past attendees. Consider including a gift such as a discount or admission to an exclusive event. For a brand-new event, you could send your personalized invites to those on your email subscription list.
2. Use a Refer-a-Friend Program
The people who plan to attend your event can be one of your best event marketing sources. They’re attending your event for a reason. There’s a good chance that they know others who might be interested in coming, too. The right incentive can help encourage them to spread the word. One such way to do that is with a Refer-a-Friend program.
With a Refer-a-Friend program, you encourage your attendees to invite people they know to your event. You can give their friends an incentive to register with a set discount. Then you can reward your current attendees with a discount of their own after they successfully bring in a predetermined number of new participants.
3. Try Affiliate Marketing
An affiliate program is a process that involves a promoter receiving a fee for helping an event organizer sell tickets and increase event attendance. With Events.com, the affiliate marketing tool offers an alternative to a Refer-a-Friend program. It also enables you to bring on more influential figures, such as relevant social media influencers and niche bloggers.
By offering great rewards such as referrals, free or discounted tickets, branded swag, and VIP access, you can encourage more people to register for your event. Provide each affiliate with a unique code to track their progress and actively engage with them to encourage their efforts.
4. Plan Discounts Strategically
Strategically planned discounts can go a long way in boosting event attendance. You also have a lot of options at your fingertips. For instance, one option is to offer a discount for the next event immediately after your current one ends. Give your attendees a limited time, such as 48 hours, to jump on special pricing to encourage them to register for the following year.
Another popular option is the limited-time early-bird registration discount. Again, give interested individuals a set period during which they can register for a lower price. After 24 to 48 hours, your tickets go back to their regular prices. You could also offer special prizes, promotions, or event features for those who register early.
5. Simplify the Registration and Ticketing Process
Online form abandonment is a common problem that plagues all kinds of industries. A study by the Baynard Institute found that nearly 70% of online shoppers abandoned their carts. Of those who did, 18% cited a long and complicated checkout process. Among the other reasons respondents cited for cart abandonment were high fees or additional costs, slow delivery, and the requirement to create an account. For those in the event industry, that could mean a lot of lost event attendees.
Simplifying the event registration and ticketing processes for your event can dissuade potential attendees from navigating away from your website part-way through the process. Keep the registration page itself short and simple. Request their name, contact information, and other relevant details such as T-shirt size or dietary restrictions. When it comes to the checkout process, keep them on your page rather than a third-party site.
6. Offer Giveaways
While this one might sound a little counterintuitive, consider giving away a few event tickets. There’s a chance you might have some unsold tickets, so put them to good use. Consider some of the following options:
- Host a giveaway on your social media page
- Give a set to a trusted affiliate for them to give away in a contest of their own
- Offer tickets to a local radio station as a giveaway prize
- Create a giveaway for your email subscribers
These are just a handful of ideas. While you might not get the revenue from the tickets this time, impressing your free ticket recipients could turn them into future (ticket-buying) event-goers.
7. Leverage Your Sponsors and Partners
Many of your event sponsors and other partners share some similarities with your industry. There’s a good chance that some of their audiences will be interested in your upcoming event. If you haven’t already, ask them to promote your event too. And their audiences already trust them, so anything they promote is likely to generate some interest. With the help of your partners, you can spread your reach further than you could on your own. The more people who help spread the word, the more potential attendees you can reach.
8. Promote Your Event in All the Right Places
You have more options than ever before when it comes to event marketing. Along with the traditional channels like newspaper ads and billboards, you also have digital marketing solutions like social media ads, paid search ads, and search engine optimization.
The great news here is that you don’t have to settle for one form of marketing. You may find the most success with a combination of different tactics. Test out a few methods to see what works best. For instance, you could try sending postcards or flyers via direct mail, email announcements, contacting local radio stations, and optimizing your event’s website for search. Double down on your highest-performing marketing strategies to achieve the best results.
9. Highlight Your Event Location
While your event is the main attraction, don’t forget to highlight the local area. People may be interested in getting out and exploring, especially in urban areas with lots of options for leisure. Showing off what the area has to offer can make things more convenient for them. It can also make your event even more enticing.
Make mention of all the area has to offer in your event invitations, emails, and website. You might even consider creating a blog post or two, highlighting some of the best restaurants in the area or the best things to do there. You might also mention some of the most popular attractions or local landmarks that attendees shouldn’t miss.
10. Create Video Content
Video content such as live streaming is so much more interactive/engaging than PowerPoint slides and photographs. With it, you can make your event more accessible than ever before. In other words, streaming your event online allows people who might not otherwise be able to be there to attend. You provide value to those who might have wanted to attend in person, which can boost your credibility. It can also increase their overall positive sentiment toward your event and your brand as a whole.
Another great thing about video content is that it’s sharable. Snippets that can help promote your event include:
- Sneak peeks of the event space
- Interviews with staff and volunteers
- Announcements and updates
- Q&A sessions
11. See What Your Competitors Are Up To
Your competitors could actually play a key role in helping you increase your event attendance year after year. Check out where they’re holding their events and when. Also, be sure to compare the dates of your event with other big events in your (or a similar) industry. There’s a good chance some of those attendees may also be interested in attending your event. Marketing to them could help encourage them to register and buy tickets.
12. Don’t Forget to Thank Your Attendees After Your Event Ends
You take so much time to prepare for and put on your event. You want things to be perfect for your attendees. So many event management teams tend to forget one essential component of attendee satisfaction, though — saying thank you.
A simple email thanking your event attendees can make them feel genuinely appreciated. It can also help encourage current attendees to attend again in the future. Ideally, you should send it out within 24 hours after your event ends. Be sure to also include an attendee satisfaction survey. Listening to their feedback and implementing some common suggestions also shows you care about your attendees and want them to have an enjoyable time at your events.
Increase Your Event Attendance Each Year
You have a variety of options for promoting your event and generating interest. Choosing the best solutions can help you increase your event attendance year after year.
If you’re looking for help with your event, Events.com is here for you. We offer a wide range of end-to-end event management and event marketing solutions, including ticketing, email marketing, and on-site sales and check-in. We can assist you every step of the way to ensure a successful event that not only brings people in but keeps them coming back year after year for unique experiences they can share with other people who have similar interests. Visit Events.com today to get started to create your event or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.