When tasked with boosting event attendance, planners often worry that a large budget is needed to reach new goals. Fortunately, there are many ways to deliver a big boost to attendance without breaking the budget. Many of these methods use tools you may already have or require just some minor shifts in how you think about your event.
1. Use Past Registration Data
The data collected from previous year’s events presents a treasure trove of valuable insights. Perhaps the most useful way to delve into this data is to look for common categories of attendees. Not only can you group by demographics, but also by registration category. For example, are your one day registrations more popular than the entire conference? Also, what types of organizations attend your conference? Is your non-profit component stronger than your corporate attendance? If so, this should change how you price your registrations and target your marketing.
2. Easy Online Registration
One of the best things a planner can is make it easy to register for an event. The key to that is great online registration software.. Such software can be customized to let each registrant “choose their own adventure”. The form should also be based on your event’s brand and not look like a cheap invitation! If the latter is the case, the potential registrant may think your site has a bad link.
Other features of the online registration form that can help you and the registrant include:
- Building an itinerary
- Easy payment options
- Membership/CRM validation
3. Make Them Feel Safe!
Many people are still hesitant to pay online because they are concerned that their credit card information can be stolen and/or that their personal information is sold to the highest bidder. If these concerns are not addressed, the person may forgo registering and you will have lost an attendee.
There are two big ways you can assuage these concerns:
- Make your commitment to security clear. First of all, all online forms should use a secure https:// link. Secondly, make sure to use and highlight that your online registration software vendor is PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant. This will provide extra comfort that their credit card is safe.
- The newly enacted massive European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) lays out steps that will help you adopt a privacy first attitude towards your registrant’s data. Using a vendor that offers a GDPR toolkit will go a long way towards meeting your compliance requirements and protecting your registrant.
4. Effective Email Marketing
Targeted Email communications still remains one of the best ways to get companies and individuals to sign up for your conference or trade show. Some ways to get the most of your Email invites include:
- Great subject line
- Highly targeted recipients and an accompanying message
- Make Email look great on Mobile
- User friendly – easy opt-out and smart conditions (don’t ask people who have already registered to register!)
- Track everything – opens, click-thrus and bounce-backs
5. Mastering Social Media
Social Media remains one of the most powerful ways to get your word out.
While many of the channels are evolving, there are some basic principles for consistent messaging.
- Choose your hashtag carefully.
- Your hashtag may not be used the way you want, so a hashtag curator is essential.
- In most cases, Twitter is the best social media tool for promoting your conference.
- The blog-spoke model is a nice way to create a content model for your event marketing.
6. Use FOMO!
Have you ever experienced FOMO, aka the Fear of Missing Out? FOMO is not just about having fun. Fear of being left behind professionally by missing a great conference, for example, can have the same effect. The funny thing is that high quality face-to-face meetings, rather than being hurt by virtual events, have been helped by social media through the public sharing of the value of the event.
Here are some ways you can generate FOMO into prospective attendees:
- Use Twitter before, during, and after the show.
- Make your content a tease with great video clips of your speakers and related activities
- Create a sense of exclusivity. Include top names (the “movers and shakers”) in your industry and beyond. Expand this to reflect the titles of the attendees (CEOs, C-Level…).
- Make it a “WOW” event. Your theme is critical to this, but so is your décor. You may also highlight industry announcements, celebrities, or even something crazy like a stunt at the opening ceremony. Hopefully, you can also knock the socks of your attendees with the venue and the destination.
- Use onsite to create FOMO for next year. This is mainly encouraging social media posting by prominent hashtag displays, social media wall, curating posts and live streaming.