4 event marketing strategies to boost your attendance today

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Storytime.

It’s the day of your virtual event, people have started to log in, and the show’s about to start. You’re now 5 minutes into your presentation and you get distracted by a number on your screen: 19% show-up rate.

Sounds familiar?

Don’t worry, it happened to all of us.

The hype of virtual events has worn off, people’s calendars are jam-packed with back-to-back virtual meetings, and having to attend another event can sometimes feel exhausting.

Sooooo… Attendance rates of in-person events are excellent, right? It depends.

While it feels amazing to talk to humans IRL and share a glass of wine after the keynote, people have been used to clicking on a button to join. Taking your car or public transport and skipping dinner with your kids is a whole other commitment.

But what if I told you there’s a science behind getting butts on seats or eyes on screen?

Besides the obvious of having a hot topic and great speakers, here are 4 event marketing tactics that will boost your event attendance:

Contents

  • Micro-commitments
  • Social Proof
  • Authority
  • Reciprocity

Micro-commitments

The principle of commitment declares that people have a deep need to be consistent. In other words, get them to take micro-steps first, and they’ll step into your venue.

For example, ask them to complete their profile, accept the calendar invite, answer pre-event questions, join your online community, participate to your pre-event matchmaking…

Are you hosting a paid event? Then sit back and enjoy a margarita, paid tickets are the holy grail of micro-commitments. But not all events are created equal and if you want them to remain accessible to anyone, why not get them (micro-)committed by charging a symbolic $5?

Social Proof

There’s nothing like feeling validated based on what others are doing. Your colleague’s answer to your Slack message ‘Are you going?” can be the difference between ghosting or showing up. Us planners know this, but we don’t know how to amplify its impact.

That’s why a word-of-mouth marketing platform like Snöball comes in so handy. Attendees, speakers, and exhibitors can share their participation across social in just a few clicks, which gives planners access to a whole NEW audience. After all, 92% of consumers trust the referral or recommendations of people they know personally.

Besides being an excellent commitment strategy, pre-event matchmaking is also a powerful way to use social proof. A platform like Twine can help you facilitate this. Attendees get connected with people matching certain criteria, usually based on questions asked at registration.

Authority

Do you tend to trust people wearing suits or uniforms? That’s because of the principle of authority. People get excited when they consider guest speakers as authority figures in their domains of expertise. Will they register for your event? Yup. Will they show up and get a chance to meet them? You bet.

With Snöball, speakers can record branded teaser videos and share them across social. These personalized video invitations get high engagement and are a great way to leverage the power of word-of-mouth marketing in attracting new attendees.

Reciprocity

Why do restaurants give you candies with your bill? Yes, you do have a pretty smile. But they also understand a powerful principle of persuasion: reciprocity. Turns out, we are all wired to return favors and treat others how they’ve treated us.

So what types of ‘candies’ can turn your registrants into attendees?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Content, content, content. Will they get the recording? Are you offering templates, cheat sheets, an ebook? Don’t stop when your event is over. Mobilize your speakers to share their talks on social. Your repurposed content becomes lead gen materials for audience growth or attendee growth for your next event. Here’s a sexy example from Eurostar.
  • Offer lunch to everyone who shows up. Are people joining remotely? Use Hoppier so that everyone gets their food at home, anywhere in the world.
  • “Free drinks? Nope.” Said no one, ever. A must-have for IRL events.
  • Go beyond the keynote and host experiences that delight. Live DJ, professional MC, magic show, photobooth, wine/beer/cheese tasting,… People love surprises.
  • Swaaaaaag. Forget the branded pens and USB keys, time to get creative: branded cat or dog toys, stress reliever balls, funny socks, a small office plant,…

Sadly, many organizers fail to communicate these incentives and experiences BEFORE the event.

Apply these event attendance tactics starting today and turn ‘Hope I can make it’ into ‘I’ll be there’.


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Adam Parry
Author: Adam Parry

Adam is the co-founder and editor of www.eventindustrynews.com Adam, a technology evangelist also organises Event Tech Live, Europe’s only show dedicated to event technology and the Event Technology Awards. Both events take place in November, London.

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