It can be a challenge to get attendees out to your signature event. They’re busy and they have many competing demands for their time and money. Here are 6 proven tips to boost attendance and excitement for your event. In our work with our clients we have used all of these and we can vouch for their effectiveness.
Offer an Early Bird Rate: This is a tried and true method to incentivize registrants to sign up early for your conference. A discount for early sign up is particularly effective when registrants will be paying for the event themselves. For those whose employers will pick up the tab, it gives the employer an incentive to grant budget approval well in advance of the event.
Open Registration Early: Open your online registration 3-6 months before the event. If it is a conference, start closer to six months out to make the early bird rate meaningful and to sell it out early.
Boost Your Conversion Rate: When you’re hosting a trade show, the most important consideration is to get qualified buyers to the show, to support your exhibitors. A typical tactic is to ensure that there is a meaningful walk-in price that can be covered with a discount code. The discount code incentivizes registrants to sign-up, but the challenge is getting registrants who have no financial skin in the game to actually attend the show.
In order to manage this, ensure that you have marketing plan that focuses specifically on pre-registrants to get them to the show. Remind them that they have registered, and focus on new products that will be featured by your exhibitors, on-floor activities and social events.
Use Discount Codes Effectively: At a trade show, your exhibitors want attendees and their contact lists may be more comprehensive than yours; particularly given the CASL restrictions. Give each exhibitor a unique code that they can offer to their contacts. This allows you to leverage their marketing resources to support your registration. Consider offering a prize for the exhibitor that brings in the most attendees.
For a conference, also consider using a time-stamped discount code offered at renewal time. The code is available to members who renew before a given date and purchase conference registration at the same time. This tactic has the additional advantage of encouraging members to renew in a timely manner.
Vary Your Subject Lines: You already know that a compelling subject line is key to getting the attention of your prospective attendees. You will send multiple emails to promote your event. Don’t make the mistake of using the same subject line on each outreach. Use each message to focus on an interesting and exciting aspect of the event. This could be high profile speakers, leading edge topics, event activities and social/networking opportunities.
Cap Supplier Attendance: Your supplier members attend your event to interact with the core members who buy their products and services. Your core members want to interact with other core members. Be careful not to have suppliers dominate attendance. This diminishes the value of your event for both the suppliers and core members. Set a goal for supplier attendance and let them know there is a cap. This lets registrants know you’re looking out for their interests, and encourages suppliers to sign up early.
Using these tactics effectively requires careful advance planning and ongoing monitoring and tweaking to measure the effectiveness of each tactic. Get your marketing plan and collateral in place a year in advance of your event and use your experience from the previous year to boost your results.