7 Proven Tips to Increase Attendees for Virtual Events

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Posted on October 27, 2023

7 Proven Tips to Increase Attendees for Virtual Events

If you want to increase attendance for virtual events, we have some ideas. Many event hosts like you are looking for ways to reduce no-shows at their online events, so you’re not alone. 

One of the very few upsides to the pandemic was the increase in popularity of virtual events. Connecting with a diverse audience all at the same time is a dream for businesses. 

But as with all trends, there are peaks and troughs. Sometimes, it can seem as if it’s harder than before to draw a good attendance at many virtual events. 

The obvious question is why – and what can we do? In this guide, we share seven tips to help event hosts tackle the issue. 

But first, why is attendance dwindling?

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When virtual events became a thing, their popularity rose fast. But recently, there seems to be less enthusiasm. Here are a few reasons why.

  • Audiences are tiring: According to Don Neal in his article for pcma.org, people are exhausted from the amount of videoconferencing taking place. What was once a means to streamline communication has lost its shine. That’s not to say that videoconferencing has lost its value, of course. However, too many faces on the screen can lead to nonverbal overload. Neal added, “Experiencing the trial and error of first-generation virtual events soured many participants on the online event format overall.”
  • VOD streaming: Lisa Bennet, marketing lead at Kaltura, makes the excellent point that because people can access an online event via VOD at any time, they have less motivation to attend live. So, the onus is on event organizers to make the idea of attending virtually appealing — but how do you deliver that?

How to increase attendance at virtual events

Getting people to attend online events these days is no easy task. However, here are seven steps you can take to try to persuade them. 

1. Understand your target audience

Whether you are hosting an in-person or virtual event, you need to have a goal. That means you should find a way of determining what you want to achieve from gathering a group of people together. And this is why it’s crucial to understand your audience. 

You can achieve this with pre-event surveys, observation, or direct requests. It can be a good idea to leverage technology that will enable you to do this at scale. For instance, the best auto dialer software can help boost your data collection and analytics capabilities.

2. Determine your event KPIs

Having a massive turnout for your event is great — it shows that whatever tactics you employed worked. However, using only attendance as a performance indicator doesn’t tell the whole story. Some other metrics to consider include the following.

  • Engagement: Monitor how long attendees stayed for the event and how active they were. For instance, by participating in pools or Q&As.
  • Content interaction: Track how many attendees download resources, such as presentation slides, handouts, etc., and measure the number of views for breakout or live sessions. 
  • Networking and interaction: If your event includes networking, assess how many connections or contacts attendees made. Evaluate the number of messages exchanged within networking platforms or one-on-one chats.
  • Lead generation: For business-focused events, track the number of leads or contacts acquired. 
  • Feedback and survey: Collect feedback through a survey to gauge satisfaction and gather suggestions for improvement. 
  • Technical performance: Ensure that the virtual event platform remains stable and accessible throughout the event. That way, you can monitor how many technical issues are reported and dealt with promptly. 

3. Put the right logistics in place

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Speaking of technical performance, your platform and technology will influence attendance. People are busy — think about how many virtual events you get invited to weekly. So, if your tech is too complicated, they may not show up. 

Invest in the right technology.

Choose an event management platform that doesn’t require sign-ups or downloads. Provide a seamless experience throughout the event. For example, make it easy for attendees to participate in Q&As or breakout sessions. 

If possible, integrate all the tools you need for presentation, networking, and polls on the same website. This way, everything is consolidated, reducing the chances of attendees logging off or not showing up.

Make registration easy. 

Once you have their attention, make their decisions easier by simplifying sign-up. For instance, use a clear call to action to nudge them to register. Don’t ask for too much information initially. 

Registration should take no longer than five minutes. If you have attendees from different regions, use country-specific URLs. If you have an ae domain name for a UAE audience, say, it will inspire confidence that you’re genuinely interested in reaching out to attendees in that area.

4. Promote your event 

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Now you have all your logistics in place, the next step is to generate buzz for your virtual event. Unlike physical events, where people can get excited about visiting a new city or meeting an industry legend in person, it is tricky getting people pumped up to stare at their screens for an hour. However, it’s not impossible. Here are a few tips:

  • Request a registration fee: It may sound counterproductive — why should you charge people when trying to get them to attend your event? But it’s a question of projecting value. When people pay for something, they’re more committed to seeing it through. 
  • Ask speakers/sponsors to promote the event: Telling your partners to spread the word about your event can increase attendance. For example, if you are hosting a marketing event where Neil Patel is a speaker — asking him to promote the event to his network means more participants. 
  • Use social media: Your business should already be represented across several social networking platforms. So these channels should be used as a core platform for promoting your event. 
  • Leverage email: Email marketing is one of the best ways to increase attendance for virtual events. It is personal and cost-effective. No wonder 76% of marketers say it is the most effective way to drive registration. Depending on your audience, several email services have templates for you to reach them. 

However, sending emails to an extensive contact list without ensuring their accuracy is counterproductive — that’s why email verification is crucial. Before launching an email campaign, ensure you email verify your contact list. This way, your invitation reaches real people. You should also send reminder emails — after registration and a day before the event. 

  • Ask attendees to invite their friends: They can post about the event on their social accounts or share links. 
  • Consider swag: You don’t need to spend a fortune, but giving people something back can generate excitement. For instance, granting early-bird access to new products or coupons can go a long way. 

5. Be mindful of timing

With physical events, you can prepare an event itinerary that keeps everyone active throughout. But you have to be more time-conscious with virtual events, since your attendees can simply switch off whenever they want. An event that is too long tires people out easily and is more likely to send them scurrying away from their laptop and taking a nap. Schedule regular breaks so that everyone stays engaged. 

6. Engage attendees

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Remember that attendance is not the only metric to determine the success of your event. Other indicators like engagement are equally important. 

Incorporate engagement in every phase of your event, including live networking, in-session polls, etc. Attendees crave interaction, and being able to network with their peers is crucial. A few ways to generate audience engagement include:

  • Breakout rooms
  • Games and rewards 
  • Polls
  • Networking sessions
  • Live chats

7. Follow-up after the event

Congratulations! You’ve successfully hosted a virtual event with record attendance. So, what now? Well, you should enjoy the moment. But at the same time, you should be plotting for an even better event soon. 

After an event is the best time to follow-up on hot leads. They are still raving about your event, so it is the best time to engage. 

Use this period to assess your event. Try to keep your outreach consistent with your original messaging. So if you used email advertising to promote your event, try asking for feedback via email too.

There are lessons to learn from success as well. Evaluate both the positives and the negatives to help fine-tune your efforts next time. 

Technology can facilitate this step—for instance, a power dialer software can have a significant impact on the results. That’s because the best power dialer software can automate calls or messages to attendees, optimizing the process.

Increase attendance for virtual events with creative solutions

In the early days of videoconferencing and virtual events, people needed little convincing to participate. 

However, in recent times, it has been trickier to get people to show up for virtual events because there are now so many to choose from. 

It’s up to event organizers to make their event stand out from the crowd. Differentiate it by highlighting the value it will add to your attendees’ day. Offer experiences they can’t get from simple VOD streaming alone, like a chance to ask a special guest questions or early access to new products.

In the end, it’s all about keeping your focus on what your potential attendees are genuinely interested in. Manage that, and you won’t go far wrong. Good luck!

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