When Semra Ergun, programming and logistics coordinator for SMPS, reached out the PCMA Catalyst community forum for suggestions on how to encourage registration to virtual events, Barbara Mattox shared a few incentives that worked for her organization, Balance Body, where she serves as education events manager:
“As I am sure you know, there is always great success with early-bird [offers], in-person or live,” Mattox wrote. “So, of course, this is a great place to start. My organization had a nice push when we offered the last day to register for an ‘attendee box’ which was sent to all who registered by [a certain] date. This was just a swag item with a few snacks, but it really pushed the needle. Another promo we ran to drive up registration was to ask attendees to pose a question that would be addressed during the virtual session — [registrants] who sent in a question [were] automatically entered to win a free registration for the following event.”
Ergun wasn’t the only one seeking advice. During a year in which digital events proliferated, the challenge of attracting attendees was a hot topic among event organizers. Influencer marketing expert Kristen Matthews along with Stephen Wynkoop, owner of online event platform VconferenceOnline, offered their own top tips for attendee acquisition in a blog post published by marketing analysis and advisory firm Convince & Convert. Here are a few:
- Equip your presenters with easy-to-share pre-con content. Examples include conference logos, posts about the upcoming event, and pre-written tweets to help presenters get the word out in a natural way. “Asking my presenters to share the event was my most successful organic tactic to acquire registrants,” Matthews writes.
- Highlight important topics and presentations at your event. Potential registrants won’t want to sign up for an event without learning about the content. Matthews suggests sharing as many presentation topics as possible in marketing “so that prospects don’t think it’s just a marketing tactic to gather up email addresses.” Added Wynkoop, “When you’re talking with people about attending, they need to know it won’t waste their time, won’t be a trap for their information, and will help them. Consider a teaser session or an introduction video that talks about what they’ll learn, your presenters, or other information to help calm worries about the content.”
- Don’t forget to have fun. “Make it apparent that your event will be entertaining on top of educational,” Matthews writes. She tweeted that one of her events was a “no pants required conference,” due to it being a virtual event, and promoted the fact that laughter and networking alongside would be a part of the conference program.