The clock is ticking. Your event is just around the corner, maybe even tomorrow, but not a single person has bought the ticket. You’ve spent a fortune on speakers, venue, equipment, catering, what have you, but a disaster seems imminent.
This is perhaps the worst nightmare of every event organizer. Even webinar hosts who avoid venue expenses would still sustain a huge opportunity cost, as it takes a great deal of time and effort to create a high-quality webinar.
How do you prevent this nightmarish scenario from becoming a reality? In this article, we will examine the question in great detail and provide many practical tips for both webinars and live performances.
Research Your Market and Audience
Do your research before you even so much as think about organizing an event. You can do it in the following ways:
1) Online tools such as Facebook Audience Insights
Facebook Audience Insights allows you to filter people based on their interests and consequently determine your target audience.
Let’s say you want to organize a webinar on responsible recycling. You may type in recycling in the “Interests” field and find out what type of people have this interest: their age, gender, location and even such personal details as household size, income and spending habits.
This information will help you craft a more informed marketing strategy.
2) Polls, surveys, feedback
This is a more direct method of obtaining the needed information, however, it is hard to do if you do not have any following, or if it is literally your first conference or webinar.
Polls and surveys are best done before, during and right after the event. Feedback before the conference or webinar will give you a chance to adapt your content and meet the attendees’ expectations. Post factum polls and surveys will provide you with areas of improvement for your next event.
Do not procrastinate with asking for the feedback though. Encourage attendees to share their impressions via social media.
The longer you wait, the more people forget about your conference, and the less willing they are to spend their free time filling in surveys. That is why it is often best to devote 10 minutes to polls during the event itself.
3) Competitors’ feedback
Find out what people say about your competitors on the internet. What did they like and what do they complain about? Then simply do better. This is a very time-costly method of obtaining the necessary info, but it is personal and free.
Create a Strong Online Presence
Once you know who your potential attendees are, you can move on to the next step – the leads generation. To get the most leads, you need to build a strong online presence across multiple channels.
So, our main tips are:
Create a website and accounts on every popular social network
“But I hate Twitter. It only allows 280 characters, it’s so constraining!” Well, in that case, you need to make a choice between your own comfort bubble and a bigger outreach.
If you are new, you may not have the luxury of choice here. You never know where most of your leads will come from, as social media algorithms can be pretty fickle. But it’s best to knock on every door.
Make engaging, informative and versatile posts regularly
Make your posts engaging by asking the attendees to re-post, share their opinion in the comments and make predictions about the future webinar or conference. The posts that get commented on are higher up in the feed and are, thus, more likely to attract other people’s attention, potentially inflating the ranks of your attendees.
Make your posts informative by giving a sneak peek into the event’s content, speakers’ credentials and other perks such as food, additional materials, prizes, etc. You should do your best to inform your potential attendees on the value of your webinar or conference.
Vary the type of your posts. Do not just do status updates, when video content is all the rage in 2019. As an example, you may create a video overview of a venue, or publish an excerpt from a previous webinar.
Most importantly, you should post regularly, especially if there is less than a month left before the event. Not only will it help increase your ranking in search results, but you’ll also consistently pop up in your attendees’ feed, reminding them of your conference or webinar.
Get involved in email marketing
While website updates and posts are important, many people either have no time to read your content or try to avoid social media altogether. However, no one can eschew emails, as this is where people get information from governmental and other official institutions.
In addition, there is no danger of getting lost in the newsfeed, as emails reach your attendees directly.
So how do you get more attendees via email marketing? Here are some ideas:
Use succinct and relevant subject lines that create a sense of urgency
Subjects lines should be curt so as your attendees can read them in 3 seconds (this is how much time advertisers have on average to grab audience’s attention).
They should be relevant, as there is nothing more spammy than a headline which doesn’t correspond to the content. Moreover, they should instigate a sense of urgency (why should anyone bother paying for your event now, if there are still two weeks to do so?) A small “early bird” discount would definitely help here.
Good subject lines increase your emails’ open rate, thus, giving you a chance to be heard.
Create short, appealing and grammatically correct body copy
Nobody has time to read pages of text nowadays. If you feel a need to express yourself, it’s best to do it on Facebook or in your blog. Keep your message as short and expressive as possible.
Double check your email before sending. Grammar errors may not only dissuade your potential attendees from paying for your webinar or conference but also cause them to unsubscribe from you altogether.
Have an eye-catching and promising call to action button
If your potential attendee can’t find a button to pay for your event, most likely they will just leave and look for a different proposition (unless they are loyal, or your offer is really something special). In any case, you do not want to risk annoying your customers.
Make the CAT button bigger, use contrasting colors and professional designs with sufficient white space. Personalize the button to make it match your offer (Boost Your Traffic Now instead of a simple Register). Learn more about call to action buttons in this article.
Reach out to Sponsors, Influencers and Previous Attendees
A few words about sponsors
Sponsors can help you decrease the cost of your event and provide more value to your audience by sharing a relevant proposition. The key word here is relevant.
Basically, do not get a petroleum company to sponsor your conference on renewable energy.
In addition to the obvious monetary benefit, sponsors can help drum up the number of attendees. How? – you may be wondering. Well, by sponsoring your event, the company or individual in question indirectly endorses you and your proposition.
So if you get a big name in the industry to support your efforts, you are in luck. However, even reaching out to smaller local businesses with a good reputation in the area can be very beneficial, especially if you plan to hold a conference nearby.
Just make sure not to smear your name with shady sponsorships. Those will be detrimental to your efforts of boosting up attendance.
A few words about influencers
Just like sponsors, influencers should be involved in a niche similar to yours.
You may ask influencers to do affiliate marketing for your event. Simply provide them with a unique discount code for your webinar or conference that they can share with their subscribers. This way you can track how many of your attendees came from those influencers and properly calculate commission.
You may also pay influencers to talk about their experience with your webinar or conference in a form of storytelling. This is a more natural way to get attendees, as they will be interested in the value you provide rather than a discounted price.
A few words about previous attendees
Previous attendees can share their experience with your event on social networks, often absolutely for free. What is more, this is the most genuine and believable type of advertising you can get.
To get feedback from previous attendees, you should a) hold a successful event that provided real value; b) stay in touch throughout the year via email marketing, blog posts and social media updates; c) offer incentives for sharing, such as a discount or a special gift (a fun T-shirt should do).
The latter is often not necessary. After all, many attendees just feel genuine gratitude that they want to share with the world. Sometimes you just need to ask them to share it.
As you can see, increasing the number of attendees can be achieved through a strong online presence via social networks, website and emails as well as mutually beneficial partnerships with sponsors, influencers and even your previous participants.