Membership Tips

24 January 2017 Tricia

Top tips on how to increase your event attendance

For many membership organisations across the UK and beyond, events are one of the most vital sources of revenue stream and a priced member benefit, so maximising booking and attendance is important.

Even before set out creating your event there are a couple of questions to ask yourself:

  • How much resource can we justifiably dedicate to this event in terms of money and time?
  • Who is the target audience for this event?
  • How are we going to track the effectiveness of our marketing channels

The answers to these questions will help define your next steps; the level of commitment you dedicate to the event and the range of marketing activities you’ll need to embark on.

A couple of quick top tips before you start your event is to first generate a sense of urgency by using ‘save-the-date’ tactics and encouraging people to sign up to be notified of updates. You can also offer an early bird discount combined with a countdown clock to encourage people to book early, like the one on BCME’s homepage.

Dedicate a space for your event

People will judge the quality of your event by the quality of what they see online, so demonstrate commitment and professionalism with good imagery and well written content.

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Ensure your event is on your website, create a custom event theme or, even better, launch a special event microsite to showcase your event. People will judge the quality of your event by the quality of what they see online, so demonstrate commitment and professionalism with good imagery and well written content. Ensure that the benefits of attending your event are clearly stated, especially if it provides CPD value to add to members professional learning diaries.

'Save the date', venue information, speakers, calls for papers, on-the-day agenda, sponsors, how to get there and accommodation are all incredibly important pieces of information to get across. It’s amazing how often people forget to make booking onto an event obvious with a call-to-action right there on the homepage!

Get the word out

It’s important to segment your membership CRM to identify your target candidates and ensure you keep communication relevant and few, as constant bombardment with a wide range of topics can ultimately reduce the effectiveness of your communications over time. Write a communications schedule to help keep activity on point.

Get the word out

Email is a powerful tool for events. It can be used to invite attendees from a previous event or those who have attended a similar event. Follow your emails up with a round of phone calls; not everyone will read their emails and some may become distracted so trickle and chase campaigns - hit the phones. Set up email signature banners for all staff and encourage members to put a standard one their email eg: “I am attending the XYZ conference, check it out!”

Promote your event via a series of news stories; again referring to your communications schedule and all the important details. Publish these on your website and if you have the ability to set embargo dates on your news you can pre-populate these. Get social involved by publishing content from your article and emails on Facebook, Twitter or other social channels, making sure to include engaging graphics and a link to your event site. Release as a press release via free News Wire services.

Check your analytics to identify your busiest pages on your website and post banners and calls to action on these pages.

The majority of membership organisations publish magazines, so look at featuring your events here. To get seen by your target audience try and get on the cover, a story in the main section or as an insert.

If your event is a minimum of 3 months away and has some longevity, then you could consider search engine optimisation (SEO). Carefully balancing the range of phrases across your website could improve where your event is found in search engines. If you don’t have the time then you could consider running a Pay Per Click (PPC) or Google remarketing campaign to raise the profile of your event.

If you run lots of other events they can be a great way to get some free advertisement. Purchasing reusable or changeable roller banners and pop-up banners is fairly cost effective.

Making sure people turn up

People are more likely to attend an event that they have paid for as opposed to a free one or one that they will get an invoice for.

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Ask for payment upfront, ideally using an online payment facility. People are more likely to attend an event that they have paid for as opposed to a free one or one that they will get an invoice for. Make sure your Terms & Conditions allow you to charge an event fee for non-attendance (if not properly cancelled).

Send reminder emails to your booked delegates, pre-plan your topics eg; only 10 days to go, heres a guide to transport and parking, see who else is attending, all delegates on the day will receive a special bonus (% off next event)  etc Consider hitting the phones again to check all is OK and see if they have other collegues who might attend?

On the day

Encourage event attendance

On-the-day activities and marketing are great opportunities to inform your audience of your next event. Ensure that you register people into the event – if your system allows you to check people in online then having a tablet or smart phone dedicated for this is ideal.

Give a staff member responsibility for posting comments and information on your social channels and websites, ‘live posting’ or responding to Twitter comments with a unique hashtag.

You could call people who have not been checked in on the day to remind them (a late attendee might be better than an non show?)  Ensure you mark no shows into your CRM so you can start to spot any patterns.

Even while you’re enjoying a successful event, it’s important to always be thinking of your next step and right now you have a captive audience. Start ‘teeing up’ for next time, signposting delegates to your website and posting valuable videos, commentary or speakers summaries on a news timeline on your website. Encourage people to register to receive details of the next event.

Once your event is over

There’s lots of marketing you can do post event to both hail its success and generate buzz for your next one, from an email follow up thanking attendees for showing up, to posts on Instagram and other social platforms to phone calls asking for feedback.

On your website, post event photo galleries, speakers notes or delegate reviews to keep people coming back. If you have a save the date ready for the next event then flag it here.

To find out what really worked for you, use your website analytics to identify and track where your visitors came from, so you know where to spread the word next time.

View more like this: What payment methods should you make available to your members?